Legislature analyzes pornography while budget fizzles
We aren’t sure there is any public official in West Virginia who is not aware of the disastrous economic conditions the state faces. Be assured that if there is such a person, he or she simply refuses to face the facts. The Mountain State revenue is not nearly matching traditional state expenditures.
While Republican leaders finally got around to recommending a state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, they spent considerable time working on a resolution that defines pornography as the world’s greatest evil. While we are not here to defend pornography in any form, the conclusions reached by a group of State Senators are remarkable indeed.
“Whereas, pornography is contributing to the hyper sexualizing of teenagers and even prepubescent children in our society …” the concurrent resolution begins.
Among the more space cadet assertions made by the resolution is, “pornography … teaches girls that they are to be used and teaches boys to be users ….” Really?
Further, the resolution says, “The use of pornography can potentially affect brain development and functioning ….”
Just how this group of 12 Republicans acquired all this information is not known. Perhaps it was engraved on a stone on the mountaintop. Regardless, how ridiculous is it to promote a resolution like this while the state budget fizzles. Maybe GOP senators could begin popping popcorn and relax for the remainder of what must be a dull session for them.
Senators Patricia Rucker, Mike Azinger, Craig Blair, Donna Boley, Charles Clements, Ed Gaunch, Robert Karnes, Kenny Mann, Mike Maroney, Mark Maynard, Jeff Mullins and Randy Smith apparently have the psychological expertise to draw all of these conclusions. They are listed as sponsors of the resolution. Oddly enough, they are all members of the Republican majority.
Again, nobody here is trying to defend pornography as the salvation of society. Far from it. But to waste time and effort on a resolution like this begs the continued question: what, exactly, were Republican legislators elected to do?
After more than 80 years as the minority party, we believe voters expected much more from Republicans than resolutions and puffery. If they expect to remain in charge, the GOP needs to tackle the real issues — such as the budget. In that regard, instead of recommending the return of a “food tax,” the Republicans should reasonably consider the instant financial gain of establishing legalized marijuana in the state. Then, presto, chango, the state would no longer be staring at continued budget deficits.
Instead of condemning pornography as the end of life as we know it, these Republicans should address the real concerns of West Virginians.
Ojeda’s “stroke” and public right to know
Some readers are certainly right in questioning our interest and inquiries into the health of State Senator Richard Ojeda since his wife reported him having a stroke days before the May 2016 primary election. To those who are saying we are mean-spirited and just attempting to embarrass the senator, we say, “no way.”
First, we did not ask the Senator’s wife to disclose he had a stroke. She did it after he was allegedly attacked on Sunday before the election. We all know that strokes can have serious health issues — mental and physical. By pointing out his “stroke,” we believe Mrs. Ojeda made it fair game to ask what the after-effects are. The Senator, who ran an entire campaign on transparency in government, apparently disagrees. In fact, he seems to disagree that ANYTHING he does should be public knowledge.
The bigger issue includes his manipulation to issue a “press release” without actually releasing one. Ojeda and his pals blasted a “press release” on social media, responding to this newspaper’s reporting of his activities. It was even labeled as such, apparently. But the good senator did not send the press release to this newspaper and, thusfar, has avoided a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) act request to provide us with a copy. We have announced our intention of seeking a circuit court order compelling production of the press release to be filed after the legislative session when Ojeda can no longer claim legislative immunity.
Most readers wonder why the senator, favoring openness, would refuse to simply provide a copy of the “press release” intended to respond to this paper. For that and many other reasons, we think questioning the effects of the stroke on his thinking processes becomes valid. Simply put: why would any public official issue a “press release” and refuse to give it to the press? And, by the way, did anyone see his “release” in any other paper? Did he actually issue a “press release” that nobody received? Surely not.
Senator Ojeda seems to have time to waste on the floor of the Senate and committees on a regular basis re-emphasizing his support of marijuana. But he can’t see that a “press release” gets to the press.
And he can’t say that his “stroke” had no effect on his mental capacities. Maybe because it did? If so, constituents, we believe, have a right to know. Ojeda often talks about “duty” from his insistence of being recognized as a lifetime military man. We think he has a “duty” to reassure his constituents regarding his medical situation. From what we hear, voters agree.