A week ago Sunday I wrote about the News-Register’s front page non-story in which Attorney General Patrick Morrisey complained that the legislature was not consulting him. I wrote the story off as the News-Register just giving him publicity before he began his next political campaign. While that may have been true, apparently this wanting to get the AG’s office involved in matters outside its domain is a much wider occurrence and not as innocent as Morrisey suggests. Sunday’s Charleston Gazette-Mail features a front page story in which a number of county prosecutors are saying that Morrisey is trying to get the AG’s office involved in local prosecutions – something the prosecutor’s state association says is only permitted in circumstances involving the prison system.
As Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Sorsaia (a Republican, by the way) noted: "This is not about Morrisey wanting to help one prosecutor in a county. It’s really about the attorney general getting prosecution powers that they never had."
Additionally, today’s Charleston Gazette brings word that a Cabel County businessman, Andrew D. Nelson, has filed an ethics complaint against Morrisey arguing that:
Morrisey has "an incurable conflict of interest" with two attorney general lawsuits against drug wholesalers accused of fueling Southern West Virginia’s prescription drug problem.
Nelson says the board should discipline Morrisey because he hasn’t properly distanced himself from the cases, which he inherited from former attorney general Darrell McGraw.
Morrisey was a former Washington, D.C., lobbyist for a drug industry trade group that represents 10 of the drug distributors that his office is now suing. Morrisey’s wife, Denise Henry, also lobbies for another lawsuit defendant, Cardinal Health.
The conflict of interest charge is not new and when the legislature tried to pass legislation earlier this year that tried to prevent this type of conflict of interest, the Wheeling papers gave only Morissey’s point of view.
Of course, Wheeling papers are not covering either of these stories. Long-time readers of Wheeling "newspapers" can only imagine the outrage if former AG Daryl McGraw had taken either of these actions. (For those unfamiliar with how the local "newspapers" treated McGraw, the animosity they currently show toward President Obama and Harry Reid doesn't begin to match the near-constant criticism that McGraw received during his tenure.)
Another "guilt by association" editorial: "Tennant Claims Not Believable"
Didn’t I read this same editorial last week and two-weeks ago, last month and two months ago?
Yes, I did. It says that no real West Virginian could possibly vote for Natalie Tennant because Michele Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and, of course, "ultra-liberal" (obviously Michael Myer wrote this) Harry Reid all support her. The only thing that makes this different from previous editorials/Myer columns is the addition of Debbie Stabenow (D, Michigan) who apparently made the mistake of being both a Democrat and supporting Tennant. Yeah, and isn’t she the politician who said: "I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people, and that (coal) plant — that plant kills people." No wait, that was Mitt Romney who was in WV last month campaigning for Capito. See, anybody can play "guilt by association" in a political campaign – it’s also the lazy way to write an editorial.
What a terrible election campaign. Despite what Myer and the "newspapers" keep editorializing, there is very little, if any, difference between the two candidates on the issues of coal and guns which apparently are the most important issues in this campaign. The local editorials never give us concrete reasons for supporting Capito (other than pointing out that she is not a Democrat) nor do they explain what she has accomplished beyond supporting fossil fuel industries and voting against Obamacare. And rather than dealing with what Tennant actually says, all we ever get from the editors is personal attacks on her (she can’t be trusted) because Democrats support her (as though this explains anything). And Natalie Tennant, for her part, keeps trying to out-Capito Capito – a losing strategy if there ever was one.
What do the candidates think about a potential war in the Mideast, a jobless economic recovery, widening income inequality, racism, the immigration issue, and the success of Obamacare? I don’t know. Maybe we will find out next week when they debate. I wouldn’t count on it, however.
What do you think?
Does West Virginia deserve the title of the unhappiest state in the Union? That’s what Wallethub.com concluded in their recently released study which ranked the happiness/unhappiness of all of the states and the District of Columbia.
What Wallethub did was to analyze "the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 26 key metrics, ranging from emotional health to income levels to sports participation rates."
Here is what emerged:
Top 5 states
3. North Dakota
Bottom 5 states
51. West Virginia
(If you’re interested, wallethub does provide the entire list of states, details of their methodology, and an "ask the experts" feature on their website.)
Okay, the study does use numerous and varied measurements to draw its conclusions. I do have some problems, however, when social scientists use quantifiable/objective measurements (divorce rates, income, life expectancy, suicide rates, obesity rates, etc.) to try to measure something that is very subjective (happiness). That said, I do find the conclusion intriguing especially if you bring the politics of the bottom five states into the picture.
What do you think? (To comment, click on the "read all" below.)
If there's no difference between Democratic and Republican candidates, why hasn't the Mountain Party done better?
Drew Gibson over at Virally Suppressed has a lengthy, well-documented analysis of the failure of third party politics in West Virginia politics. West Virginians, he says, are often confronted with choosing between the lesser of two evils. As an example, Gibson examines the candidates and issues in WV's third district and concludes:
On one side, you have a pro-gun, pro-coal, anti-environment, anti-abortion, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT white guy and, on the other, you have a pro-gun, pro-coal, anti-environment, anti-abortion, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT white guy. It’s bipartisan politics at its very finest.
His point is well-taken. (He could just as easily have focused on WV's senate race where Tennant's strategy appears to be to out-Capito Capito.)
So why hasn't West Virginia's version of the Green Party, the Mountain Party, done better in recent elections? In the rest of his post, Gibson provides his take on the party's failures and then makes suggestions for how they can become more relevent.
You may not totally agree with Gibson's perspective or his conclusions. However, if you are tired of having to decide between Tweedledum and Tweedledee on election day, you owe it to yourself to give him a read.
Warmest August ever
From Think Progress:
Last month was the warmest August since records began being kept in 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Thursday.
Read more about it here.
China’s war on coal
According to Cleantechnica, China is continuing its war against coal:
It may not be the first place you’d think to look for regular efforts to improve emissions quality, but China has spent the past several months targeting its coal emissions in a series of regulatory measures aimed at reducing its emissions and well-known smog issues.
. . . . Early in August the Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that the capital of Beijing was set to lt ban coal use entirely in six inner-districts by 2020, in an effort to "cut air pollution".
The move was immediately backed up by news that the country had cut coal use by 7% over the first six months of 2014, following news earlier in the year that China had "declared war" against pollution, adopting revisions to the country’s Environmental Protection Law.
This makes you wonder about the frequently-used argument that "it doesn’t matter what we do – the Chinese won’t do anything about their carbon emissions."
But he may not understand irony
Paul Krugman of the New York Times had an interesting blog post on Sunday:
Last week John Boehner, the speaker of the House, explained to an audience at the American Enterprise Institute what’s holding back employment in America: laziness. People, he said, have "this idea" that "I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around."
Mr. Boehner was clearly saying what he and everyone around him really thinks, what they say to each other when they don’t expect others to hear. Some conservatives have been trying to reinvent their image, professing sympathy for the less fortunate. But what their party really believes is that if you’re poor or unemployed, it’s your own fault.
Back to Boehner – he apparently said this without any sense of irony. As Politicus USA reports:
The problem is that Boehner made these remarks as the House left work early to go on a seven week taxpayer paid for vacation. They won’t be back until after the November elections.
Politicus goes on to point out that, while it is not unusual for Congress to take an election break, this will be the longest break since 1960.
Patrick Morrisey watch
Patrick Morrisey, our carpetbagger Attorney General, once again gets lots of column inches in today’s News-Register. This time it’s a front page story, "Morrisey: Legislators Need to Consult AG." Here’s the shorter version of a long article – the Attorney General thinks the legislature needs to consult him more. After I finished the article, I googled "Morrisey" with "legislature" to see how other West Virginia newspapers were handling this non-story. Not surprisingly, the only other hit on this subject was for the same article in another Ogden-owned newspaper, the Parkersburg News and Sentinel. Obviously, despite its appearance on the front page, this is not a real story. What I think is happening is that Morrisey is going to run for governor or perhaps challenge Manchin in 2016 and the Ogden papers are giving him all the free publicity they can give him – we’re two years away but it’s never too early to start laying the groundwork for his campaign. (I believe it’s also the primary reason Morrisey has West Virginia leading a bound-to-loose law suit against the EPA.)
Editorial: "Defending Against Invasive Species"
When I saw the headline, I was surprised. Given the front page story, is the News-Register really going to do an editorial against Attorney General Morrisey? (Genus – carpetbagger electus or is carpetbagger erectus – I always get those two confused!) To my disappointment, the editorial was about gypsy moths.
Covering the worldwide environmental march
Could the Sunday News-Register be the only paper in the country that didn’t have an article about what will likely be the largest environmental march ever? Maybe. Despite not previewing the event, I think we can look forward to a future editorial or column about how all these radical environmentalists (is there any other kind?) and long-haired hippie types are secretly getting their marching orders from Harry Reid.
New Film from Brave New Films
Brave New Films is out with a new short film - this time on the consequences of our "war on terrorism." Like their previous film (mentioned and linked in my September 8 post on militarization), it is very short (a minute and a half) but very much to the point. As with their previous film, I cannot embed it on my site so that you will need to click here on the Youtube site to view it.
Do the local "newspapers" even care?
Let’s go back to April 23:
The federal government on Wednesday said it would cut the amount of coal dust allowed in mines in an effort to prevent black lung disease, which has contributed to an estimated 76,000 miners' deaths since 1968.
"Today, we advance a very basic principle: you shouldn't have to sacrifice your life for your livelihood," Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said.
He was among several administration leaders who announced the much-debated rule from the department's Mine Safety and Health Administration that was more than three years in the making. Mines have two years to comply with requirements that lower the overall limit for dust from 2 to 1.5 milligrams per cubic meter of air. For certain mine entries and miners with black lung disease, the standard will drop from 1.0 to 0.5.
Murray Coal was quick to respond (I think the following is what’s called "projection"):
The Obama administration has no interest in protecting miners and, instead, is only seeking to further their own agenda, specifically, their ‘War on Coal,’ which has been destroying the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of coal miners and their families," according to Gary Broadbent, the company’s (Murray Coal) assistant general counsel.
And what do you think Murray Coal did? Of course, they sued. And what do you think the Wheeling Intelligencer did? The paper ignored the reasoning behind the new rule but it did devote a whole article to explaining Murray’s position.
Did the Mine Safety and Health Administration have a reason to be concerned? From Monday’s Charleston Daily Mail:
Coal miners in West Virginia and other parts of Appalachia are suffering from an advanced form of black lung at some of the highest rates in decades, according to new information released by federal health officials.
"Each of these cases is a tragedy and represents a failure among all those responsible for preventing this severe disease," states a letter about the research to a scientific journal.
The prevalence of "progressive massive fibrosis," a debilitating and lethal form of black lung, is at its highest rate since the early 1970s for miners in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia, according to new research. Experts with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a department under the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, summarized their study lt in a letter published Monday in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
"Excessive inhalation of coal mine dust is the sole cause of (progressive massive fibrosis) in working coal miners, so this increase can only be the result of overexposures and/or increased toxicity stemming from changes in dust composition," the study states.
. . . The percentage of veteran miners with progressive massive fibrosis in 2012 was nearly 10 times greater than the percentage in the mid-1990s, according to the new research. (emphasis mine)
No word from The Intelligencer on Murray Coal’s reaction.
A final note on the sourcing for this post. Both the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Charleston Daily Mail are conservative newspapers. That, however, did not keep them from publishing this important story about the increase in black lung disease. (It is, after all, news.) Contrast them with our local papers which continually tell us how "fair and balanced" they are while ignoring anything that doesn’t fit into their "Obama’s war on coal" narrative. The local papers also tell us over and over how they care about miners and miner’s jobs. Yeah? Where is their outrage over this?
A correction and an update
Correction – In the post I wrote about the Mine Safety Health Administration’s ruling on April 23: " And what do you think the Wheeling Intelligencer did? The paper ignored the reasoning behind the new rule but it did devote a whole article to explaining Murray’s position." In my original research, I missed that one of the papers carried the AP story about the ruling. I am unable to determine if it was the Intelligencer or the News-Register.
Update – This morning’s Intelligencer carried an editorial, "End Resurgence of ‘Black Lung.’" I find it interesting that neither paper has done a story on the subject since Monday when many Appalachian newspapers ran their first story on the subject but now it’s time to editorialize. Maybe that’s because editorials allow the writer more freedom to pick and choose what information gets used and what gets left out particularly for an audience that may not be familiar with the story. The editorial suggests that:
Federal investigators need to pinpoint what has happened - what has changed - to give black lung another shot at killing and disabling coal miners. Then, action needs to be taken to reverse the trend.
They don’t know? Why not cite the NIOSH conclusion that almost every other story or editorial used?
"Excessive inhalation of coal mine dust is the sole cause of PMF in working coal miners, so this increase can only be the result of overexposures and/or increased toxicity stemming from changes in dust composition."
Yes, it's the "sole cause."
On guns and the NRA endorsement
From USA Today:
For red-state Democrats, brandishing a gun in a campaign ad has become almost mandatory.
The newest entry? Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky, who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The ad shows Grimes shooting skeet, as she describes how she is different from President Obama. It’s a response to McConnell’s repeated charge that she would simply be a rubber stamp for Obama in the Senate.
She also mocks an image of McConnell at a political event holding a rifle over his head, saying, "Mitch, that’s not how you hold a gun."
McConnell’s response does sound familiar.
On the growing militarization around us
From Talking Points Memo:
More than 20 school districts in the United States have been equipped with military-grade equipment through the federal program that provides such gear to local and state authorities free of charge, according to civil rights groups.
A simple question: why?
On WV senate candidates talking about something other than the "war on coal"
From Jim Lees excellent op/ed piece in yesteray’s Charleston Gazette: "Let’s talk about war – not war on coal:"
This fall two very different candidates are asking me to choose which of them will join the ranks of the 100 Club in Washington, the U.S. Senate, a club in which members occasionally but too infrequently voice thoughts and ideas about the role of America in such conflicts. Perhaps I am different, but I would very much like to know the position of these two candidates on the issue of war. American war, as in the kind where our kids go overseas and come back in boxes. I would like to know when and under what circumstances these candidates believe we should send our children and when we should not.
I agree - where do these candidates stand on going to war?
(Sorry, unable to link to article.)