NewsShed, Tuesday, Feb. 7: Wrath and cabbage

Struggling to keep up with the firehose of news coming out of our nation's capital lately? You're not alone. Here at WP HQ, we're searching for a happy medium somewhere between scrolling through dumb clickbait GIFs on Facebook and having the Washington Post's Politics RSS feed physically installed in our brains. 

A few recent highlights: 

Betsy DeVos was confirmed for education secretary by the Senate today, in a vote that was so close that Vice President Mike Pence stepped in as tie-breaker. [New York Times]

One thing on our minds: What will that mean for rural school districts? DeVos is a die-hard champion of school choice -- an idea that isn't particularly meaningful in rural areas with no real access to private and charter schools. [The Atlantic]

Like pretty much all of his fellow Congressional reps, Rep. John Faso, our new Republican Congressman representing the Catskills and Hudson Valley in NY-19, is under a lot of pressure from constituents lately. Recently, about a thousand of them showed up to his house in Kinderhook for an informal protest of Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In a surprise move, Faso came out to speak briefly with the protesters, and gave one protester with serious medical issues a hug and a promise to protect her healthcare. [Kingston Times, YouTube]

Required reading for anybody in NY-19 interested in how Faso will act on healthcare: An account of a meeting he held with constituents from the Affordable Care Task Force, a subgroup of the Columbia County Democratic Committee that's working to promote universal healthcare. In it, Faso comes off as a cautious moderate, more interested in reforming the ACA than repealing it outright. [Carol Peckham on the Affordable Care Task Force blog]

Faso has also come out against -- well, sort of against -- Trump's recent executive order on immigration, calling it "neither well drafted nor well implemented" in a statement of cautious criticism. Congressional Democrats are already drafting legislation opposing the order, which caused chaos in airports across the country as refugees and immigrants with valid visas and green cards were detained on arrival. For now, the immigration order is on hold after a Seattle federal judge suspended it, and headed for an appeal. [WP, The Hill, CNBC, Reuters]

The House of Representatives (including Faso) has voted to repeal an Obama-era regulation that sought to keep severely mentally ill people from buying guns, a move that has made temporary allies of the NRA and the ACLU. Critics of the regulation held that it violated due process. [Washington Post, Vox]

In statewide news: The New York Senate took a vote this week that brings us one step closer to having ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft upstate. [Democrat & Chronicle]

Meanwhile, in the Catskills, things continue to happen: 

A bunch of local nonprofit types are in Albany today with the Catskill Park Coalition, trying to convince state legislators to put $10 million for Catskills tourism and recreation funding in the state budget. One thing they're not asking for is funding for the Belleayre Ski Center: a budget item many local residents and business owners are clamoring for, but that has some opposition within the Coalition's ranks. [WP]

This year's Super Bowl goalposts were made right here in Delhi. Nice. [Daily Star]

Most cultural trends end up in the rural Catskills eventually -- it just takes a few years. "Woke" has officially arrived. [Daily Star]

A couple with a house in Bethel, unable to get one person to buy their house for $825,000, are hoping to get at least 5,500 people to gamble on buying it for $149 (plus a 200-word essay on how owning this house would change your life). They're also hoping to make contests the next big thing in real estate. (That didn't work so well a couple of decades ago.) [New York Times]

The Catskills were a bright spot in a dour report from the state comptroller's office that showed sluggish growth in sales tax for 2016. Among just a handful of counties with more than 4 percent growth: Sullivan County, with 7.5 percent, and Delaware County, with 7 percent. [NYS Comptroller]

Congratulations to the Catskill Forest Association, whose radio show "From the Forest" on WIOX recently got an award from the New York Society of American Foresters. [Catskill Forest Association]

While we're on the topic of awards: a little overdue love from us to local writer David France, whose recent book about AIDS activism, "How To Survive A Plague," has gotten so many accolades from reviewers we're having a hard time keeping up with them. France recently sat down with NBC's Joseph Neese to talk about his book; here's a video clip. [NBC]

Let's hear it also for Roger Ross Williams, a local documentarian who's hoping to take home his second Oscar this year for "Life, Animated," a feature-length film about an autistic boy who learned to communicate by watching Disney movies. [The Wrap]

A recent committee meeting in the Greene County Legislature about the county's proposed new jail featured much squabbling. [Daily Mail] 

Newspapers used to be so much more entertaining. Proof: this item from local historian Ray LaFever's Bovina History blog, featuring an editor's note published in the Delaware Gazette on Jan. 11, 1821. We may have to start replying to our nastier mail like this: 

Who this James Miller is we do not know nor very much care:- but brim full of "wrath and cabbage," he has, with great labor, in an epistle of some considerable length most outrageously attacked my reputation in regard to the management of the paper. We have neither time nor disposition to notice James Miller farther:- he has perfect liberty to withdraw his name, for we neither think him capable of writing, spelling or judging of a sentence correctly. [Bovina History]