April 10, 2014

Annals of absurdity

This quote from former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint caught my eye:

"...no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves."

Sorry, Jim, but I don't think we can chalk that advance up to the market, since markets in states like yours sold human beings. As for how all that ended, I seem to recall something the unfortunate Confederate general George Pickett said in another context: "The Union Army had something to do with it." Which was a public institution. Kind of a big one.

COAL MINERS AND CODE. I'm not sure how much Michael Bloomberg knows about coal or coal miners, but he might have been right about the whole coding thing.

SUFFERING AND SUCH. I'm not always on the same page as David Brooks, but he gets a pass with this one.


April 09, 2014

A scary business

I mentioned earlier that I just got around to reading Laurence Leamer's The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption, about WV's adventures in Masseyland. Here's a paragraph that jumped at me:

Blankenship and his cohorts made it a scary business to live in West Virginia and dare to suggest that the state could no longer be so dependent on coal for economic growth. Not a single major politician in the state directly faced the realities of a declining coal industry and a future in which, if the state's leaders did not wake up, the historic coal fields would be nothing but wastelands of the lost and the left behind. Politicians knew if they offered even the mildest criticism, the coal industry would immediately vilify them as traitors and look for ambitious candidates to challenge them. There would be no easy solutions and no technical magic wand that could place mini-Silicon Valleys, for instance, up mountain hollows--but no one was asking the questions that had to be asked.
I would say there there were some exceptions, such as Senator Byrd in his last years or Senator Rockefeller as he approaches retirement. There are even some state legislators who want to move in a post-colonial direction. But overall the paragraph stands.

HERE'S A SURPRISE. The rich rule.

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, nonviolence trumps violence when it comes to making revolutions.

SPEAKING OF VIOLENCE, this item argues that climate change is just that.

DOING THE NUMBERS. Here's a look at health care reform enrollment.


April 08, 2014

Dogs and cats living together...mass hysteria

If I was going to write a book about the intimate relationship between humans and their dogs and cats, I hope I would have thought of a title like Citizen Canine. The link has a bit about the book and an interview with the author.

Here's something practical I got from the article: next time my cat complains, a pretty much daily event, I'm going to tell him how lucky he is not to have lived in the Middle Ages.

CLEARING A HURDLE. Here's the New Yorker on the Affordable Care Act.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, here's Dean Baker on the same.


April 07, 2014

Quick shout out

I admit it, I'm behind the times. I just got around to reading Laurence Leamer's 2013 book The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption. My pet name for the book is Alice in MasseyLand, except Alice isn't a character.

The world it describes, that of the almost unchallenged power of the no longer existent Massey Energy and its former CEO Don Blankenship, is as weird in its own right as was the one the fictional  Alice found down the rabbit hole.

If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it. I was involved in dealing with many of the same issues, but in different arenas. It was quite enlightening to read this account. I almost feel like I finally understand many things that were going on, like watching a previously unintelligible foreign movie with English subtitles.

If you do read it, you will no doubt understand and support my personal campaign to change the state motto of West Virginia from "Mountaineers are always free" (which used to be true before so many of my fellow West Virginians acquired the habit of corporate servility) to "You can't make this **** up," which at least is current.

April 06, 2014

Four years back

It's sad that four years after the worst coal mine disaster in 40 years, Congress has yet to act to improve coal mine safety. It's also sad that West Virginia's legislative response was as weak as it was. Here are Ken Ward's reflections from Coal Tattoo and a piece by WV Public Broadcasting.