Tuesday Open Thread

“There are more things to alarm us than to harm us.”

–Seneca

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56 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ParkHill says:

    WOTD from David Roberts at Vox: "Vulture Capitalism – Coal Mining in Wyoming"

    That is the model: buy the mines (or assets) for cheap from a company in restructuring, thereby escaping health, pension, and environmental obligations; take out huge loans to keep the mines going; pay yourself and your executives handsomely from those loans; and then, when the mine goes under anyway, pay yourself additional bonuses for “managing” your own bankruptcy and walk away richer than you started.

    So here’s Wyoming Sen. Liz Cheney, ludicrously (still!) blaming “Obama’s War on Coal” for the mine closures and pledging “to stop the coal company exodus.” Oh? How does she plan on doing that? She doesn’t say. She just repeats the latest administration propaganda: “Ensuring the reliability of our electric grid by supporting coal—a crucial baseload power source—is an economic and national security priority.”

    Meanwhile, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell continues to block consideration of a bill that would ensure miner pensions, despite pleas from West Virginia Democrats.

    The truth is, the US coal industry has never been a capitalist enterprise. In a purely capitalist system, a business pays all its own costs and keeps all its own profits. 

    The business model of the coal industry, as with most extractive industries, wherever they operate, is to capture the profits while avoiding the costs. That’s why they appear profitable as long as they do: their steadily rising costs, in terms of humans (deaths, injuries, illnesses like Black Lung), the local environment (scarred land, dirty water, air pollution), and the atmosphere (climate change) are kept off their books. The public pays for those. The business model only works as long as the industry is able to offload costs.

    • The realistThe realist says:

      And the industry is always able to offload costs because there are always helpful electeds to ensure laws and rules help them do this. 

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      What better way to do that than wrapping yourself in a flag and re-naming the company Patriot Coal while you're putting that red hot poker up their back end?? 

      Forget the war on coal. The war is on miners

      Price worked for Peabody Energy and its spinoff company, Patriot Coal, in West Virginia for nearly 30 years. When those companies went bankrupt, they cut pensions and health benefits for retirees. Now, Price is at risk of losing the insurance he was promised would last the rest of his life.

      …and the money shot: 

      Miners are fighting for their health and safety well into retirement. A group traveled to Washington and met with Congress this month to encourage passage of the Miners Protection Act, which would secure health-care funds for coal workers. Though the bill has support from 26 senators across state and party lines  —  including West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D), who introduced the bill  — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has introduced alternative legislation that calls for short-term funding and a repeal of safeguards that he said are hampering the industry (emphasis mine).

      • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

        Is this what it takes to pry McConnell's sorry ass out of that seat? Champion coal over any alternatives, and then piss on the miners who spend their youth digging the filthy stuff up when they inevitably develop respiratory disease in middle age? 

        A representative from the UMWA ought to take him on. I'll bet they could beat him with his own words and voting record.

        • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

          Lexington and Louisville are becoming a dark shade of blue.  Whether that can overcome the rural vote is another issue.  I was in Kentucky two weeks ago and albeit I was around hemp farmers who are 'all-in' with Mitch, I was also in Rockcastle County where meth and teen pregnancies are off the charts.  Rockcastle county has only voted for a Democratic candidate for president during Civil War Reconstruction in 1868, 1872, 1876, and 1880. In all other elections since 1824, it has voted for the Republican, American, Constitutional Union, Whig Party, or National Republican candidate. Twenty-nine percent of the population under the age of 18 live in poverty. 

          Red hats and Trump signs are common here – but a waitress at the small restaurant in Mt. Vernon mentioned that shouldn't be a sign of how everyone votes. Hope springs eternal? 

          • unnamed says:

            I would love to see Kentucky ditch Cocaine Mitch.  

          • MADCO says:

            Rockcastle County?

            You are aiming for the HIGH bar.
            No way.

          • itlduso says:

            Amy McGrath was on Morning Joe today and was impressive. She’s the military pilot who narrowly lost a KY congressional seat in 2018.  Has great commercials.  Now, she’s taking on McConnell.  I gave her some money.  Hope springs eternal.

            • MADCO says:

              McConnell: She's never won an election or held elected office and she's a socialist with radical ideas.

              Is she impressive enough?

              • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

                She's impressed McConnell enough for him to attack her right out of the gate.

                MADCO, you seem to enjoy being Mr. Downer today. No progressive candidate, no progressive policy victories are ever possible, and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded, and their hopes must be quashed severely. Have another drink.

                Have I summed up your views correctly?

                • MADCO says:

                  wayy off.
                  Bernie could have won in 16. He's progressive.

                  Lots of progressive policies have been enacted. Many more will be. Some state, some federal and some local.

                  The biggest critiism CoPolsters have of many candidates is they lost last time.  Or they have never won. It's not an unfair criticism for a statewide candidate. Especially in a state that has elected Senator McConnell more than once.

                  as for Rockcastle… maybe you have to have been there. Electing a D there would be a lot like electing an R alderman in  the Chicago 25th. Or an R in Colorado 1.

                  I'm not saying don't run.
                  I'm saying winning is more important than purisists and crazy people want to admit.

                  McGrath is great. Can she win? Why didn't she before?

                  Speaking of winning, can you tell me how many presidents have won since 1910 without carrying their home state?

                  Beto is great. Can he carry Texas? Really?
                   

          • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

            “…Bowman, spokesman for the Kentucky Democratic Party”…cousin of yours, Michael?

            • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

              LOL.  Well,  'yes ', skinny.  My fourth-great grandfather Curtis was born in 1805 in Clay County, KY. His wife was Rebecca Sparrow, daughter of Peter Sparrow, and niece of Lucy Hanks, mother to Nancy Hanks, the mother of Abraham Lincoln.  I enjoy doing some genealogy work (when I'm here and have spare time – a rare event), enjoy my teeny-tiny link to Abe and meet distant relatives.

              As proof of my presence there here's the hemp flag made from hemp grown in Rockcastle County that flew over the US Capitol on Veteran's day, 2015 hanging in a barn near Mt. Vernon. It's going to hang permanently at the FarmAid headquarters. Artist Jane Kramer is standing in the loft strumming some tunes 🙂 

               

            • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

              Peering in through a broken glass into an abandoned feed store on Main Street in Mount Vernon: "No experts allowed, ONLY Country BOYS"

              • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                I am curious, Michael, if you have been to Renfro Valley. It was one of a handful of places around that part of Kentucky where bluegrass music grew and became assimilated into the country music industry.

                My mother was born a couple of ridges to the east, in a place called Brush Creek. The last time I visited the area was several years ago when I took Dad to visit his birthplace in Drunkard Springs, which is in Estill county.

                It is difficult to describe life in those hills and hollers to those who have never set foot on "that dark and bloody ground". But it has a grip that lingers. 

                • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

                  I spent a couple nights in a Renfro Valley hotel two summer ago; Willie's son Lukas has played in the Renfro Entertainment venue (at one time Willie and his partners held the lease on the property but then didn't exercise their option to purchase).  IIRC correctly, they aired the third-longest running broadcast radio program in America from Renfro (I think it was called The Gathering Radio Show).  That area is a place of intense beauty – and poverty.  It's seductive; the view of the morning dew on a holler full of hemp plants can bring tears to your eyes. The waitress-owner of the cafe in Mt. Vernon is one of us and a real doll! 

                  • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                    My mother, too, was a waitress. And like your friend, was one of us. She saw things the way they were in the mid-sixties there and made sure she got us out of there while we were still kids. Change comes hard in that culture…but it does come.

                    It makes for some pretty interesting contradictions. I recommend a morning spent at Berea College, then a drive up to McKee. It is an eye opener. The scenery is breathtaking. And you will pass an old, run- down gas station that is now the home of the congregation of "The Church of Jesus Christ of the Narrow Way."

                    Once you climb Big Hill you come to Morrill, my mam-ma lived there for 2 decades before she died. If you keep going you will come to Clover Bottom. From there, Appalachia engulfs you.

                    I do miss it sometimes.

                     

                    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

                      I''ll be back in late September and be sure to take that drive! The scenery does take ones breath away, just like an early morning drive from Asheville to Greenville on the other side the hills.  Thanks to 23 and me we've discovered a new branch of relatives that lost contact with my tribe that moved west long, long ago.  Ours went from Clay County, the next two generations settled in Pike County, IL then off to Lamar, CO,  then Yuma County. 

                    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

                      For those interested in the history of segregated schools in the country – and why the make-up of SCOTUS matters here's the history on Berea College. 

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      This is worth the read: 

      America’s new redneck rebellion 

      “Moving to West Virginia radicalised me,” says O’Neal, who came from Texas. He and Comer were chosen for Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people last year. West Virginia’s schools strike triggered similar walkouts in Los Angeles, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky and elsewhere. “This state is run by the ‘good ol’ boy’ network,” says O’Neal. “It is government of the corporation, by the corporation, for the corporation.”

      “Chickens taught me to steer clear of big agriculture,” he says. “These companies are greedy bastards. They control West Virginia and Washington.” Like O’Neal, Weaver describes the nexus between local politics and corporations as “the good ol’ boy network”. 

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      Remember the utterly false and deceptive War on Rural Colorado campaign largely financed by Tri-State?  It turns out all the b* was just that….

    • MADCO says:

      coal is too expensive in most of the USA

      make it cheaper – market will come back.

  2. davebarnesdavebarnes says:

    So annoying.

    Billionaire Steyer Enters 2020 Democratic Race
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-09/how-middle-class-joe-biden-made-millions-campaign-update
    'The billionaire said Tuesday that corporations have bought the U.S.’s democracy and “politicians don’t care and don’t respect” citizens. The aim of his campaign would be “to make democracy work by pushing power down to the people.”'

  3. DavieDavie says:

    Paul Krugman condemns the corrupt, crony capitalists that support *rump:

    Trump and the Merchants of Detention

    Every betrayal seems to profit the president and his friends.

    Is it cruelty, or is it corruption? That’s a question that comes up whenever we learn about some new, extraordinary abuse by the Trump administration — something that seems to happen just about every week. And the answer, usually, is “both.”

    And running a prison, which is literally walled off from public view, is almost a perfect example of the kind of government function that should not be privatized. After all, if a private prison operator bulks up its bottom line by underpaying personnel and failing to train them adequately, if it stints on food and medical care, who in the outside world will notice? Sure enough, privately run prisons have a far worse security record than public prisons.

    How much of a role has this played in policy? It would, I think, be going too far to claim that the private-prison industry — merchants of detention? — has been a driving force behind the viciousness of Trump’s border policy. But the fact that crony capitalists close to the administration profit from the viciousness surely greases the path.

    And this fits the general pattern. As I suggested at the beginning, cruelty and corruption are intertwined in Trump administration policy. Every betrayal of American principles also seems, somehow, to produce financial benefits for Trump and his friends.

  4. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    Ladies and gentleman Jerry-Falwell-the-junior, may I introduce you to your President?

  5. JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

    Rep. Swalwell suspends his campaign to become President (gracefully exiting before he hears he would be pushed off the stage in favor of Gov. Bullock).

    Jennifer Rubin writes a column "Swalwell shows how it is done" and there are lots of comments saying — basically — "yeah, Hickenlooper should drop out and run for Senate."

    Anyone have added points for my responses to this idea?

      Why should Colorado settle for

    • a 69-year-old freshman Senator?
    • a mixed record on a variety of progressive issues?
    • someone who has said over and over he doesn't want to be in a legislative role?
    • someone who heard the recommendation to drop out from his own campaign leadership AND STILL stays in the Presidential race?
  6. PseudonymousPseudonymous says:

    Welcome to the name recognition poll!

    Democratic poll puts Jena Griswold — who hasn’t announced she’s running — in top tier to challenge Cory Gardner: Colorado’s secretary of state has second only to Andrew Romanoff in new poll of Democratic contenders

    The survey found 42% still were undecided.

    Former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff led the candidate pack with 23%. Griswold got 15% and former state Sen. Mike Johnston rounded out the top three with 12%.

  7. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Voters will have a chance to see the Senate candidates debating this Saturday, July 13 in Akron, Colorado. I'll be there taking notes. Hopefully, some mainstream media will, too, since the local press ignores anything Democratic.

     

    Pols – have you disabled comments on the Big Line thread? If so, why?

    My comments, anyway:

    Ken Buck (CD4) has a credible opponent: Isaac "Ike" McCorkle, a retired Marine, intends to challenge Buck. There will be others. At least mention that Buck has a declared Democratic opponent.

    Here, again, are the pictures of the 10 candidates who have declared intent to run for Cory Gardner's Senate seat:

     

  8. The realistThe realist says:

    With so much insanity every day of the #TrumpsterFire administration, let us not forget that we still don't know why Pence was called back to the White House on July 2, cancelling a planned trip to New Hampshire. My theory: #TrumpsterFire completely lost it, and the Cabinet and Pence had to threaten him with Amendment 25 to get him to stop screaming and straighten up. 

    Other theories?

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      That feedlot of grifting sycophants?  Ha!

      Now, if you’d suggested that Pence was needed to to help change the royal nappy?   Well, . . . 

      Other theories:

      Maybe Prince Jared couldn’t find any other of “the help” around to unscrew the lid from his Grey Poupon? . . .

      Some other “Code Orange” national emergency? . . .

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      I've posted a list of other theories for Pence's rush back to the White House, including

      *that Democrats are getting closer to seeing Trumps taxes;

      *that the horrific conditions in the border camps are becoming more documented and that public outrage over the abuses is growing;

      *It had something to do with the submarine fire in which 16 Russian sailors died

      *other theories

      * My latest theory is that Pence himself is deeply implicated in for obstruction of justice, in the Mueller report. He was the transition manager; he talked with Mike Flynn multiple times; he lied for Trump, repeating the "no collusion no obstruction" line.  $rump may have wanted to lock down any potential problem statements from Pence, or make sure that they were all saying exactly the same things.

      • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

        That Mike Pence is an opportunistic, soulless, hypocrite, has been well established. That he is intimately involved with Steven Miller, (the Wormtongue of the Whitest House), Mick Mulvaney, Smelly and the rest, in the machinations of fascism and the subordinationtion of justice and the rule of law, will be coming into focus very soon.

        Perhaps I am unjustified in saying so, but I think Pence is personally, politically, and professionally in the top 5 for sliminess.

        He will crash and burn, too.

         

      • JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

        We've been told the sudden cancellation / turnaround wasn't health related, wasn't personnel getting fired, wasn't national security.  It was a "quick discussion" between Trump and Pence.  There was an effort to float a theory of a threat on the NH end of the trip, which got debunked by NH police force sources. 

        Other Tuesday events:

        • Census Bureau / citizenship question issues.
        • last minute “Salute to America” planning, including armored vehicle delivery & positions, tracking down people willing to attend, and speech text,
        • other dynamics, including an escalation of tensions in the White House Communication office, with the new Director/Press Secretary/First Lady’s Director apparently clashing with some of the old guard. One of the old guard is leaving for the Trump campaign, leaving (yet another) vacancy in the effort. Members of Pence’s staff were rumored to be in the mix to become part of the Communication team.

        I’m certain we’ll hear something. Possibly. And it may have something to do with what actually happened.

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