September 08, 2009
United Mine Workers president Cecil Roberts speaks at the union labor day celebration in Racine, WV.
Labor Day in southern West Virginia traditionally means the United Mine Workers District 17 celebration in Racine in Boone County, which has traditionally drawn hundreds of workers, family and community members and any number of current or aspiring politicians.
This year's event had some competition, as anyone paying attention to what's going on in this state knows. Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who has probably done more than anyone else in this state to damage the labor movement--and the UMWA in particular--spent God knows how much money on a "Friends of America" concert/propaganda event that featured Ted Nugent, Hank Williams Jr. and Fox "News" celebrity Sean Hannity.
The bushes were beaten to draw thousands of people to attend this free event on an old strip mine site in Holden in Logan County.
The aim of the event was to oppose any kind of proposed actions aimed at addressing climate change, which after all couldn't possibly be true because that might inconvenience the coal industry. Also targeted were any measures that might regulate or tax the industry. All things progressive came under attack as well.
Nugent is reported to have once invited President Obama to "suck on my machine gun."
By the way, the WV Chamber of Commerce, International Coal Group, the WV Coal Association and other such groups also co-sponsored the event. The extent to which Nugent speaks for them is unclear.
The irony of union busters pretending to protect American workers would make a cat laugh. On the other hand, Blankenship has suffered some setbacks lately in his attempts to influence state elections and court decisions so this may be the latest strategy. Here's hoping this one works as well as the last few.
Anyway, I attended the UMWA event as usual. Even without the bells and whistles, it was a good crowd. I had to walk about half a mile to get there. It was also nice to see that a large number of state elected officials, including Gov. Manchin, Congressman Nick Rahall, Treasurer John Perdue, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, House Speaker Rick Thompson and many delegates and senators not only attended but stayed all day.
UMWA president Cecil Roberts have his usual barn burning speech. My favorite part was when he said he received a call earlier in the week from Gov. Manchin asking if he was going to the Blankenship event. When Roberts said no, Manchin said that in that case he didn't have a ride and wouldn't be able to go either.
I don't know if that conversation really happened, but I'd like to think it did.
WHACKADOODLES. In keeping with last week's series on political paranoia, here are some of the odder conspiracy theories involving the president.
SPEAKING OF WHICH, here's the text of Obama's communist discourse for America's school children. I just scanned it and I'm already indoctrinated. The workers really do have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win! Arrgghh!!!!
PETS OR MEAT? Here's an unsavory look at the origins of dog domestication.
SPEAKING OF FOOD (SORT OF), a new study suggests it's not just what you eat that matters when you eat it.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED