Jeanette Riffle: Gardens Plowed

The Free Press WV

Weather finally permitted plowing and there were three gardens plowed down the road and one up here, recently. We have downsized a little to make things easier on us. At least we are still gardening. It’s hard to give it up.  We do have the modern way of plowing and tilling up the dirt. I remember how my Dad had to use a plow pulled by a horse. He and Mom had to break up the dirt, manually, and throw rocks out of the garden before planting. Dad taught my oldest brother and I how to plant beans and corn. I helped every year until my youngest brother came along and then I had to stay in the house and take care of him and do supper dishes while the rest went to the garden and across the creek to the hay field.  Gardening was hard work back in the day.

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Submitted Photo

We are still having those drastic changes in weather. It was up close to 90 degrees out in the sun, one day this past week and then rainy and cold the next. We had the air conditioning on one day and the furnace the next two days. The sun had a hard time cutting through the fog this morning before we went to church. We had 86 present and my nephew, Stewart Fitzwater, preached. Our pastor has been ill with bronchitis and Stewart has been getting a lot of experience preaching in his absence.  He brought a very helpful message on forbearance. The forbearing heart and how to be more understanding of people who are cruel, critical, and who make fun of you. Remember Jesus’s words as He hung there on the cross. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We are human and it is hard to be that forgiving. It is only by the help of the Holy Spirit that we can forgive some people. There was a baptizing after church down at the creek.  The water was cold but no one ever seems to get sick from it. When my husband was baptized, they had to move the ice aside to put him under. This was in winter and was at my childhood church of Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church of Stumptown, WV.

My great uncle, Onnie Vanhorn and great aunt, Bess Smith Vanhorn, had the ministry there at the time.  I have many good memories of going to church there while growing up and I was saved and baptized during Vacation Bible School when I was 11 years old.  We have been enjoying our bird watching here at Shock.  We had a new bird visit the backyard feeders this week. A gross beak stopped over for a meal and stayed all day. They are rare. You don’t see many of them. I saw one when we first moved here. It was lying dead on the ground, with the fallen blooms, under a poplar tree out back. I didn’t know what it was and had to look it up in my wildlife book. They are marked up so pretty with the striking, brilliant colors of red, black and white and that big thick beak is unmistakable. You can easily identify the gross beak. Until next time, enjoy everything coming to life outside.

If you want a Shock book, just send $20 to me plus a couple dollars for postage:  Jeanette Riffle, 7457 Rosedale Rd.,  Rosedale, WV 26636.

The Agony of the French White Working Class

The Free Press WV

NOTICE the difference between the US and France? In the US the white working class has invaded the Republican Party and the Republicans, courtesy of Trump, have listened to its grievances.

In France the white working class is isolated in the Front National, and it is outside respectable French opinion. So after Round One of the French presidential election the “far-right” Marine Le Pen is isolated and the “moderate” Emmanuel Macron (who is a complete insider having held ministerial posts in the Hollande government) is the fusion candidate that all the other parties are endorsing for the final runoff.

Here is Macron’s education:

[He] studied Philosophy at Paris Nanterre University, completed a Master’s of Public Affairs at Sciences Po, and graduated from the École nationale d’administration (ENA) in 2004.

It’s a shame, and it makes me realize how lucky the US is that all the folks tossed out of the Democratic Party over the years—Southerners, Christians, pro-family, and now white working class—were able to find a home without isolating themselves in a fringe party that could be easily marginalized by the establishment. Instead, by the magic of coalition, they have influenced the politicians in their new home to listen to their grievances.

I am trying to conceive of a catch phrase to symbolize the monstrous injustice that the left has perpetrated on the working class, first mobilizing it against the industrial revolution, the very thing that had saved the lower class from the previous centuries of starvation in the wake of the agricultural revolution; then acculturating the workers against embourgeoisement; and finally throwing them away as racist, sexist bigots. It is a Great Injustice to use people in that way, and the worst of it is that the left used the white working as cannon fodder in the left’s reactionary movement against the new culture of the market economy in which prices not force is the foundation of society, a reactionary movement against science and common sense and justice that is bound to fail.

The left’s culture is a culture of force, but the new post-industrial revolution market culture is a culture of cooperation. The person in the next village, or the next nation, is not your enemy, but your customer or your supplier.

The contribution of the market economy is, of course, in part in innovation, that nobodies can invent new ideas and product and sell them without getting permission from the ruling class.

But I am coming more and more to believe that the real contribution, the elephant in the room that nobody notices, is that the market helps most when things go wrong.

If you are a worker in a dying industry, or a company that can’t make a profit, the market tells you in no uncertain terms to raise your game or get out of the game into another one. If you lose your job, or your company goes bankrupt, then you have to change.

But with government when things go wrong the only response is to double down on failure. Workers petition government to force employers to pay them the full amount they had in mind; industry groups lobby the government for subsidies to keep the good times going. And so it goes until the whole thing collapses.

In a company, declining profits soon force the company to abandon money-losing products and services and lay off workers. But when government revenue dries up it is almost impossible to cut spending, because people getting government benefits will riot in the streets rather than agree to a reduction in their benefits. So government has to respond to a reduction in revenue by the cunning of inflation.

Maybe my view is outside the mainstream because my family, going back to at least the late 19th century has been bourgeois and has responded to setbacks by taking its losses and moving on. One set of grandparents were in Russia during the revolution and had to get out with nothing. The other set of grandparents were in Japan in the run-up to World War II and sold their business in 1941ish, presumably at pennies on the dollar, to a Czech Jew. My parents found themselves in India at the time of independence and partition and went back to England, presumably taking quite a loss.

So when things go wrong you can sit where you are and hope that things get better; you can organize and try to force the government to bail you out, Or you can take your losses and start over.

The white working class was taught to believe that government would always be there when something went wrong, that government, in President Obama’s words, would “have its back.“ But government doesn’t care about you, it only cares about your vote, and what your vote can do for it.

So the French working class has voted for Marine Le Pen, and is going to go down to defeat in the runoff. And nobody will help the workers to build a new life. Because they are all racists and sexists and bigots.

~~  Christopher Chantrill   ~~

Pat’s Chat

The Free Press WV

I have failed to write Chats for the past few weeks.  Things are hectic.  I had hoped to get some things done, including Chats, but couldn’t.  My arm and wrists breaks were healing fine until last week I found out that I was dropping things from my left hand without knowing it was slipping through my fingers.  (My left arm is the one that was broken.)  I called and asked if this is normal and Dr. Persinger asked me to come in for an evaluation.  Turns out it has developed carpel tunnel.  He showed me what happens by using a fake bone that breaks.  He added a thin piece of metal to stabilize the break and explained that though the metal piece is thin, it can crowd the nerves, causing carpel tunnel.  My options were simple.  (1)Do nothing and get used to the strange feeling and dropping things due to numbness,  (2)get an injection to help, which would have to be repeated in a few days, few weeks or few months, or (3) get surgery which would help.  The surgery is outpatient, takes only 20 minutes or so with only my arm being numbed.  I decided for the surgery.  That happens the first week of May.

That will be the same week and the Buckhannon Seventh-day Adventist Church will be having a Rummage/Bake sale in the church’s Fellowship Hall, 8:30a.m. to 5:00p.m.  I hope many of you will come.  If you want to donate something to the sale, please bring it on the Sunday, April 30.  Call the church and leave a message if you have questions.  (304.472.0962)

Today and for the last two weeks I have visited the Tennerton United Methodist Church and the Mt. Hope United Methodist Church to play the piano for them while Sheri-Lyn Sapp, their usual piano player is orienting to a job.  (I love those Methodist people.)  If there are any piano players around, please let us know.  There is always a church in need of a pianist, probably.

About 65 years ago my brother, Harry (Sonny) Wiant, was on a Lookout during the summer before he finished college.  I want to share with you a poem that reading it makes me homesick for the good ole’ days when Mom and Dad were always home:


( August 13, 1952, on Disgrace Lookout, Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, Idaho)

The golden sun stands overhead

The wind has stopped, the day is still

I must not start thinking of home

I must not start, but yet I will

I see my mother, my sight grows dim

She stops, I know she thinks of me

O take me back, back to my home

Where as a youth my soul was free

My father’s voice, the day is done

The cow’s content, the chickens fed

He’s the kind of dad all boys should have

The kind to follow, not being led

We’ve hunted o’er the hills so brown

We’ve fished in streams during summer’s reign

Oh, take me back, back to my home

That I might be with him again

I bruise myself to do my chores

Carry water up the hill so steep

I admire the pines where they give way

To the barren rocks, so gray, so bleak

The hours will pass, the days will go

At last that happy time I’ll see

When I’ll be home, my own sweet home

My heart will sing, my soul is free

In a note from Danny Heater, I have great breaking news to add to my Chat.  Too late for some papers, maybe, but hopefully they will use it later and make a whole article on it from the research some computer savvy employee can dig up:

“Hi Patricia, just wanted to let you know the Senate passed a bill making January 26th, Danny Heater Day each year. What an honor. Who would believe a poor country boy from my beloved Burnsville would receive such an honor.”

The Emerging Worldwide Alliance of Rightwing Parties, Led by Putin and Trump

“Political parties on the far right are today enjoying a surge of support that they have not experienced since their heyday in the 1930s…”
The Free Press WV

Political parties on the far right are today enjoying a surge of support that they have not experienced since their heyday in the 1930s.

This phenomenon is particularly striking in Europe, where massive migration, sluggish economic growth, and terrorism have stirred up virulent nationalism, hatred of immigrants, and Islamophobia.  Trumpeting these sentiments, parties like France’s National Front (led by Marine Le Pen), Britain’s United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP, led by Nigel Farage), Netherlands’ Party for Freedom (led by Geert Wilders), Italy’s Northern League (led by Matteo Salvini), Austria’s Freedom Party, Alternative for Germany, and others have become major political players.

Only one of these rising rightwing parties is usually referred to as fascist:  Greece’s Golden Dawn.  Exploiting Greece’s economic crisis and, especially, hatred of refugees and other migrants, Golden Dawn has used violent nationalism and the supposed racial superiority of Greeks to become Greece’s third-largest party.  Its spokesman, Elias Kasidiaris, is known for sporting a swastika on his shoulder and for reading passages from the anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” to parliament.  The party also employs gangs of black-shirted thugs who beat up immigrants.

Although the other far right parties strive for greater respectability, they also provide reminders of past fascist movements.  Addressing a Northern League rally, Salvini wore a black shirt while supporters waved neo-Nazi symbols and photos of Benito Mussolini.  Alternative for Germany has revived words and phrases once employed by the Nazis.

Around the globe, this rightwing trend is evident.  In the United States, Donald Trump won a startling victory in his run for the presidency, employing attacks on Mexican migrants, Islamophobia, and promises to “make America great again.”  In Russia, Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party solidified their grip upon power.  Defending “traditional values,” Putin promoted an authoritarian nationalism, attacked multiculturalism, and aligned himself with the reactionary Orthodox Church.

Europe’s rightwing parties have been enthusiastic about Putin.  Unlike most other European political groupings, they applauded his war against Georgia, military meddling in Ukraine, and annexation of Crimea.  Hailing Russia’s president as a true patriot, Le Pen lauded him for defending “the Christian heritage of European civilization.”  Farage, asked which world leader he most admired, responded without hesitation: Putin!  Indeed, Europe’s far right parties blame the European Union and NATO for the crisis in Ukraine, support lifting sanctions on Russia, and back Russia’s military intervention in Syria.

In turn, Russia has assisted these parties in their struggle for power.  In 2014, the National Front received an 11 million euro loan from a Russian bank to help finance its successful municipal election campaign.  During the current French presidential race, Russian media outlets are promoting Le Pen, and Putin has received her in Moscow with the kind of buildup usually accorded a head of state.  Russian media and social networks have also aided the political fortunes of Alternative for Germany.  Meanwhile, the youth group of that party has forged an alliance with Putin’s United Russia party, as has Austria’s Freedom Party.

No one, however, has inspired the rising far right more than Donald Trump.  In late April 2016, Salvini traveled to Pennsylvania to participate in a Trump rally.  Here he held a “Trump: Make America Great Again” sign and afterward had a 20-minute meeting with the Republican presidential front-runner.  Farage took part in Trump’s presidential campaign that August in Mississippi, where he shared the rally platform with him and praised him fulsomely.  In October, Golden Dawn endorsed Trump on the floor of the Greek parliament, hailing the “patriotic wind” sweeping through Europe and North America.

Naturally, Trump’s election victory sent a surge of euphoria through the far right.  From France, Le Pen lauded it as “a sign of hope,” showing “that people are taking their future back.”  Addressing a victory party near the White House, Farage declared:  “Brexit was great, but Trump becoming the president of the USA is Brexit plus, plus, plus.”

When Trump announced his Muslim ban, it sent rightwing parties into ecstasy.  In Greece, thousands of Golden Dawn supporters surged into the streets, carrying torches and waving their Nazi-like flags.  “Well done,” President Trump, exulted Wilders; “it’s the only way to stay safe and free.”  Addressing a National Front rally brimming with nationalist fervor, Le Pen praised Americans for having “kept faith with their national interest.”

Viewing Trump as a kindred spirit, the parties of the far right are eager to secure an alliance with him.  Upon Trump’s election, Alternative for Germany informed him that it was a “natural ally.” Farage met with Trump three times during the first weeks of his presidency.  Salvini announced that his party was a logical ally, for it shared many of the policies of the new administration.  “We see eye-to-eye with President Trump,” he said, “and we look forward to partnering with his administration.”

The admiration is mutual.  When Trump first spoke with Salvini, he told him:  “Matteo, I hope you become prime minister of Italy soon.”  In addition, Trump, a fan of Farage, has publicly suggested that the rightwing leader be appointed British ambassador to the United States.  Political observers have also been struck by Trump’s consistent affection for Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s aides have been equally outspoken.  For years, Steve Bannon?the president’s top political strategist?ran Breitbart, a rightwing news service.  Under his leadership, Breitbart worked assiduously to provide favorable publicity for UKIP, Alternative for Germany, the Party for Freedom, and their ilk.

In this fashion, political forces around the world have been coalescing into a far right international.  Although its future remains uncertain, especially if Putin and Trump part ways, it certainly has plenty of political momentum.  “Long live Trump, long live Putin, long live Le Pen, and long live the League,” proclaimed Salvini in early 2017.  “Finally, we have an international alliance.”

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