Monday, June 28, 2010

Robert Byrd (1917-2010)

The longest-serving member of the United States Senate died early this morning at Fairfax Hospital. He was 92.

It stands to reason that Senator Robert Byrd was very good to the people of West Virginia whose interests he represented, so much so that, despite the state having the second-lowest per capita income of the Union (only Mississippi is lower), the Mountain State was the beneficiary of a vastly disproportionate share of Federal aid. This distinction earned him the pejorative title of "The Prince of Pork."

PHOTO: Huntington, West Virginia, where the author spent part of his internship ... but that's another story.

Of course, one man's pork-barrel project is another man's ... well, the population of this mostly-rural state remains largely distrusting of the Federal government, which is rather ironic in light of the above. You could say this mistrust is warranted, its people having been raped of much of their natural resources over the decades, from corporate interests from out of state. On the other hand, many of their ancestors were foolish (or were deceived, depending on whom you ask) enough to have signed away the mineral rights on their own properties in perpetuity. And so it goes ...

Citing their own statutory law
, as well as a ruling from their secretary of state, West Virginia will not be holding a special election, but will wait for that which is scheduled in 2012. Meanwhile, the governor will appoint a provisional replacement, probably a Democrat. One wonders if the pipeline of generosity from inside the Beltway will ever flow so freely again.

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