Oct 052015

Mother Jones has an excellent article about the coal industry and one of its big players, Don Blankenship.  As the former CEO of Massey Energy Co., Blankenship is charged with conspiracy to violate safety laws, defrauding the federal government, securities fraud and making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission.  If convicted in this corporate accountability case, he could face 31 years in prison.  Not enough in my opinion for the misery and death he created and left in his wake.  Perhaps his golden parachute, nay platinum parachute he received from Massey Energy Co in 2010 when he left, will be taken back and distributed to the families of miners killed at a Blankenship operation.  That would be an attempt at justice for those families.


…he was a harsh taskmaster whose cutthroat management style transformed what was once a modest family business into the region's largest coal producer.  

Blankenship cultivated an image as a Mingo County son made good—a good ol' boy who ran a multibillion-dollar company from a double-wide trailer. And he saw himself as a heroic figure who brought jobs to the depressed enclaves of his native West Virginia. But with his gaze fixed on the bottom line, Blankenship crushed the mine workers union that was baptized in his backyard. Voluminous court records and government investigations show that he presided over a company that padded its profits by running some of themost dangerous workplaces in the country. Massey polluted the waterwaysthat had sustained Blankenship's forebears, rained coal dust on the schoolyards where his miners' children played, and subjected the men he grew up with in southern West Virginia to unsafe working conditions.

A mascot of the coal industry's worst excesses, Blankenship pumped millions of dollars into West Virginia's political system to promote an anti-regulatory agenda and curry favor with state lawmakers and officials.

The irony is that, even at the nadir of Blankenship's power, his ideology is ascendant. He transformed West Virginia not just physically (entire towns have been wiped out by Massey's footprint), but politically. Now, by playing off fears of creeping government involvement, the coal industry has strengthened its grip on state politics. Lawmakers friendly to the industry, with financial support from Blankenship, have won sweeping victories at the ballot box and used their mandate to roll back health and safety regulations while trumpeting the survival-of-the-fittest capitalism that was Blankenship's gospel. The man on the mountaintop may have fallen, but the widespread impact of his legacy shows no signs of diminishing.  

Down the road from Upper Big Branch, a memorial funded in part by Alpha touted the job-creating legacy of the coal industry. By a back entrance to the now-shuttered mine was a more informal installation—29 hard hats and two mourning angels. Their wings were solar powered.  



These are pictures of mountain top removal . . . from lush forested mountain tops to wastelands that resemble tar sands mines like those in Alberta.

From Alternet

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. had this to say about Blankenship in a report on EcoWatch last fall:

Don Blankenship once boasted to me that it was impossible to conduct mountaintop removal mining without violating the law. He prided himself on his cold-blooded capacity for turning America’s purple mountains majesty into coal company cash. His criminal mind allowed him to view the human beings of Appalachia as disposable production units. He is a sociopath and gangster whose gift was felonious greed and a stone-cold heart that allowed him to put his yearning for money and power ahead of human lives. Those qualities had great value to his friends and investors: the Wall Street robber barons. But they were poison and destruction to the noble communities of coal country.  We can’t bring back the towns he destroyed, the lives he took, the mountains he flattened, the rivers he poisoned, but there is some consolation in knowing that he’s getting what he deserves: three hots and a cot and long days in the company of fellow criminals of lesser appetites and lesser distinction.

Blankenship's trial has begun with the jury selection expected to be completed by today.  I understand that he has top notch counsel and is pleading innocent to all charges.  I wonder how far his cultivated political connections will get him?  Any doubt that he is a Republican!


Please sign the Protect Communities from Hazardous Coal Mining Waste prepared by the Sierra Club.


Sep 232015

This afternoon, I spent some time looking at Racel Maddow tapings as well as some other worthy videos on YouTube.  That's when I came across the video of Bernie Sanders speaking at Liberty University.  Here it is, approximately 53 minutes in length, speech and a Q&A.  It is refreshing to see someone, especially a politician, that acknowledges that he can't be all things to all people.



What do you think about his stance on family values . . . moral values?  I was suitably impressed.

Feel the Bern!

Sep 152015

Today has been a long day for me, taking my mother to a specialist doctor's appointment.  In July, she had botox injections for muscle spasticity as a result of dementia.  I am happy to report that the shots have made a difference to her pain level and quality of life.  The problem today . . . the doctor's office is on the third floor and there is only one elevator.  Sometime after we arrived, the elevator broke down so anyone in a wheelchair is stuck waiting.  There we waited for 2 hours.  That set my day back.  The good part . . . at least we weren't stuck IN the elevator!

Fantasy FootballI hope that this works out.

Rank Team W-L-T Pct Stk Waiver For Against

Playing without a helmetPlaying without a helmet

1-0-0 1.000 W1 10 118.24 116.10

Progressive UnderdogsProgressive Underdogs

1-0-0 1.000 W1 9 102.86 70.20

Monster MashersMonster Mashers

1-0-0 1.000 W1 8 98.12 89.62


1-0-0 1.000 W1 7 89.04 79.56


1-0-0 1.000 W1 6 83.24 80.94

Purple DemonPurple Demon

0-1-0 .000 L1 5 116.10 118.24

BALCO BombersBALCO Bombers

0-1-0 .000 L1 4 89.62 98.12

Lefty HillbilliesLefty Hillbillies

0-1-0 .000 L1 3 80.94 83.24

Size 9 StompersSize 9 Stompers

0-1-0 .000 L1 2 79.56 89.04

TomCat Teabag TrashersTomCat Teabag Trashers

0-1-0 .000 L1 1 70.20 102.86

It would appear that TC and I are at the bottom of the league.  He has an excuse.  What's mine?

PuzzleToday’s took me  3:44 (average 4:51).  To do it click here.  How did you do?

Rolling Stone — This is the present, and the future, of climate change. Our overheated world is amplifying drought and making megafire commonplace. This is happening even in the soggy Pacific Northwest, which has been hard-hit by what's been dubbed a "wet drought." Despite near-normal precipitation, warm winter temperatures brought rain instead of snow to the region's mountains. What little snow did hit the ground then melted early, leaving the Northwest dry — and ready to burn in the heat of summer.

The national data is as clear as it is troubling: "Climate change has led to fire seasons that are now on average 78 days longer than in 1970," according to a Forest Service report published in August. In the past three decades, the annual area claimed by fire has doubled, and the agency's scientists predict that fires will likely "double again by midcentury."

The human imprint on the bone-dry conditions that lead to fire is real — and now measurable. According to a major new study by scientists at Columbia and NASA, man-made warming is increasing atmospheric evaporation — drawing water out of Western soil, shrubs and trees. In California alone, the epic drought is up to 25 percent more severe than it would have been, absent climate change. And this impact doesn't respect state borders. The study's lead author, Columbia scientist Park Williams, tells Rolling Stone, "There's the same effect in the Pacific Northwest."

Standing near fire lines in late August, Inslee vowed to extinguish the blazes in his state. But the governor also called on Americans to confront an enemy fiercer and more insidious than fire itself. He declared, "We've got to attack this at its source: carbon pollution."

The fiery future is upon us. Pervasive drought and record temperatures — July was the warmest month ever physically recorded on planet Earth — have turned forests from Fresno to Fairbanks into tinderboxes. In Alaska, more than 5 million acres burned — surpassing the 10-year average for the entire country. With months left in the fire season, the blazes of 2015 have already scorched more than 8 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center — a record pace, likely to top the 9.8 million acres that burned in 2006. "Some of these fires that are in these forested areas could burn until it snows," said NIFC spokeswoman Jessica Gardetto.  …

For a glimpse of the future, look north, to Alaska and the Arctic — which President Obama, during a visit to Anchorage this summer, highlighted as "the leading edge of climate change." Soaring temperatures and an early-melting snowpack have brought raging wildfires to landscapes that have not been kissed by flame for millennia. "Climate change is no longer some far-off problem," Obama declared. "It is happening here. It is happening now."

The world is warming most toward the poles, and temperatures in Alaska have been increasing nearly twice as fast as the rest of the country in the past 60 years — up almost three degrees. And the state's average fire season has increased by more than a month — 35 days — since the 1950s. "We can detect the climate-change influence on fire," says Glenn Juday, a forest ecologist at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, who points to three indicators all on the upswing: "the area burned, the severity of the burning and then the frequency." 

Rolling Stone

Earlier today, I was thinking about all the wildfires in western Canada and the western US.  Australia has also found itself with severe drought and wildfires.  It seemed to me that it is one big "chicken and the egg" situation.  Drought makes for tinder dry conditions; human activity and severe lightning storms bring wildfires; wildfires generate carbon pollution in the air which generates climate change . . . and the cycle rolls on.  This is a long article but worth the read.  We must break the cycle which means making fossil fuel decisions, and of course that means keeping Republicans out of the White House and Conservatives out of Parliament. Everyday people like you and I need to have a bigger say in the sustainability of the planet, not greedy corpoations.

Daily KosThis is a short piece.  An "Awesome cartoon about Bernie Sanders @ Liberty Univ".

Daily Kos

Now that is a genuine WWJD!  I think that would really confuse Kim Davis and the Republicans.

Alternet — “Richard is sentenced to death because he’s poor,” Glossip’s new attorney Donald Knight told the Guardian. “Not very many people can afford a death penalty defense. That should scare everyone.”

With 60 more days, his attorneys say they could gather more evidence to present a petition allowing them to litigate in a court that could grant a new trial or a clemency review. 


In my book, the death penalty is never OK.  It is state sanctioned murder.  I think we all know where TC stands on this.

My UniverseThis is how I feel about TC's shoes!

Damn, they are soooooooooooooooooooooooo big!


Aug 282015

This anonymous essay comes from a friend of a friend with whom I do volunteer work.  I do not know who she is.  However, I have heard many stories from people who believed in the criminal justice system in this country, until they or a member of their family learned first hand that their experience was the polar opposite of what they had believed.  This is one mother’s reaction to such an experience.

July 26, 2015

0828thematrix5What I want people to know is what I’ve learned over the past two years – how my life is upside down both philosophically and emotionally. Philosophically, because what I learned, believed about our justice system is just thrown under the bus. I am angry. Angry at people who are charged with our wonderful, ideal system and have perverted it and made us all accomplices in torture and harm. We were standing shoulder to shoulder with prison guards who abuse prisoners; DAs and police who lie, who give up honesty and integrity to convict.

We became part of the problem. Only we didn’t even realize there was a problem. They lie. They suck us in to be their accomplices. We asked no questions. We believed them. No. We believed the idea of a system. We believed they were the embodiment of truth. They kept us safe from people who would harm us, who were really terrible people.

But what do they do? “Lose” evidence, lie to protect themselves, serve as judge and jury to convict whom they have decided is guilty. Screw looking at evidence. How did they get to the place where they are in such a hallowed system of our country, protecting our country’s ideals, being the keeper for those ideals and now corrupting those ideals.

Am I naïve? Not now. Was I? Yes. But I’m in the company of the majority of our country. I listen over and over and OVER again to “I had no idea how this system works! I was shocked to learn how it really works.” Problem is – no one does know until it happens. No one believes until it does happen.

I’m angry that I was blindsided. Is it my fault? Should I have known better? WHY SHOULD I!?!! Where’s the disconnect here? That our system as taught to high-schoolers is just too much of a fairy tale? I should know better than to believe such a fairy tale could actually work? Are the people in the justice system just laughing at me for being so naive?

Or is the disconnect in how people have subverted the ideal? The people who have gotten used to having it their way? People who have decide they are smarter than tedious “truth and justice” and will improve a hopelessly naïve system?

Are we in The Matrix*? They have created this fake world that they’ve sold us on that every thing is right in our world, that they have the knowledge and expertise to keep it the ideal it is.

But behind their words and assurances that create the perfect illusion is a world of crumbling, moldy, derelict laws. A blighted world wildly out of control with more and more laws, penalties, and incarcerations for longer and longer times. A world destroyed with smoking embers, blown out, burned down buildings, haunted people. Out of sight behind the illusion they create with their paternalistic, mesmerizing lies! Do we choose to believe their lies because it’s just easier? No! I think we believe because we truly believe that they are the pillars of our justice system. We hear their excuses—which they call “reasons”—and that reinforces what we already instinctively believe.

But now pieces of their façade may be cracking. Can they hold it together and continue to make us believe their fake world? We know what is really behind their world of “safety, justice and truth”. We’ve seen and heard the destroyed lives, the money taken from society and spent to warehouse people and then return wasted people with wasted lives and difficult options. The LIES – The harm – The self-supporting arguments.

What will it take to bring down the phony façade of a tough on crime, retribution, vengeance model of justice and return us to where most people already think we are: convicting wrong-doers but with consideration of mitigating or extenuating circumstances, incarcerating only people who are a threat and then rehabilitating them so they can live as successful citizens. Giving people a chance to pay for their crime and then re-joining society. Being humans helping humans.

My passion. I want people to know what I’ve learned. I want to shock them awake to what our criminal justice system has become. No, ladies and gentlemen, it is not what you believe it is.

Unfortunately, most of you will never really find that out. No, it’s not fortunate that you will never have a loved one, or yourself, caught up in this horrible system. It’s not fortunate that you’ll never have an accusation made at you of something you never did. It’s not fortunate that you get to keep living oblivious to how our criminal justice system has lost its way in mandatory sentencing. Because unless you are unfortunate enough to have personal contact with this devastating system, you won’t try to do something about it.

(From Wikipedia: The Matrix movie depicts a dystopian [an imaginary community or society that is undesirable or frightening] future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality called "the Matrix", created by sentient machines to subdue the human population,)

Personally, I find what she has to say both believable and compelling.

Jun 202015

Yesterday I completed all the little tasks that I have been putting off and paid bills.  I also cleaned my email boxes, a herculean task in itself, as I typically receive over 300 items on any given day.  The plan for the weekend is to blog, relax and do some solar basking.  Maybe I’ll even feel rested by Monday.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:12 (average 4:45).  To di it, click here.  How did you do?

Fantasy Football Recruiting:

We still need two new players for Lefty Blog Friends, our fantasy football league.  How about you?  For more information, click here.

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: The Presidential candidate Donald Trump blasted Pope Francis on Friday, arguing that the Pontiff’s recent call to save the planet had largely overshadowed his “far more reckless” call to feed the poor.

“Look, if the Pope wants to spout off about climate change, that’s his prerogative, I guess,” Trump said. “But when he starts talking about feeding the poor, that is totally dangerous and irresponsible.”

“Every other candidate is ripping the Pope’s comments about climate change,” he added. “I’m the only one in this race who seems to have noticed his truly crazy talk about feeding people.”

Trump said that, as President, it would be his job not to feed the poor “but to keep them from getting into the country in the first place.”

“We need to build a wall they’re too hungry to climb,” he said.

Andy has found the place where Trump’s soul should be. But Republicans have ass-souls instead of souls.  Trump must think that Jesus fed 5,000 billionaires.

From Daily Kos: On Wednesday night, nine African-Americans were gunned down by a vile, racist killer as they attended a Bible study class at Charleston’s historic Emanuel AME church. And now Charles Cotton, a "dedicated" board member of the NRA—perhaps tiring of his political soul mates’ attempts to shift the blame from racism to religious intolerance for the mass murder—decided to weigh in with his own explanation of who was really to blame for this horrific act of domestic terrorism: One of the murder victims. In a discussion on TexasCHLforum, it is pointed out that one of the victims was State Senator Clementa Pinckney. Said Cotton of the murdered public servant and pastor of the church:

And he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.

I think I’m going to puke.

From Crooks and Liars: I’ll bet this is not that unusual. What’s unusual, I think, is that the student finally refused to comply:

A former Delaware State University volleyball player is now suing her old school for allegedly serving up religious discrimination.

Natalia Mendieta claims she lost her athletic scholarship after she refused to attend church or participate in Bible studies – optional activities that were reportedly made mandatory by her coach.

Had this been a religious institution or religious college, this would not be an issue. The focus of this lawsuit is on a taxpayer supported state university.

The allegation is that a newly hired coach violated a student’s first amendment rights.

The coach should be immediately fired. However, I worry that, if she is, she might end up in Congress.



Jun 192015

I’m still very tired after yesterday’s visit to the Orthopedist, but not so much so that I come empty handed.  One thing really impressed me about them.  When I was done, I had to wait for the LIFT bus for an hour and a half in a small alcove on the ground floor.  Knowing I would be stuck there people from their office came down to check on me three separate times.  I consider that superior service.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:29 (average 4:53).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Fantasy Football Recruiting:

We still need two new players for Lefty Blog Friends, our fantasy football league.  How about you?  For more information, click here.

Short Takes:

From MoveOn: Ideas to Save the Economy: End Mass Incarceration


The Reich on the left is right again, as I know so well. I would add a #5. Switch from retributive justice to restorative justice. This is the tenth and final video of the series. Click through to MoveOn to share it from there. Bringing this series to you has been a privilege.

From Daily Kos:

In 2014, I published two stories about the surreptitious attempts by the Koch brothers to bribe their way into the academic freedom and integrity of FSU/Florida State University. The most recent story can be found in this link. For several years, FSU students, along with faculty, alumni, and concerned citizens have been adamantly dissenting the Koch influence on campus. One of the many dedicated and relentless activists in the movement is Ralph Benton Wilson. This week he contacted me with some promising news:

"FSU students have released a report (May 28th) revealing new evidence regarding the university’s agreement with the CFK/Charles Koch Foundation. Not only does the report find that the Koch agreement violates FSU’s donor policy but, contrary to university claims, the agreement was found to violate academic policy by a 2011 faculty senate investigation whose numerous findings appear to have been suppressed until being published in the student report. (Other suppressed findings include the manner in which the agreement was "forced" upon the department through threats and intimidation despite severe faculty dissent.)"

"The student report makes several recommendations which have been submitted as public comment in FSU’s current review of its donor policy. As of June 4, FSU has conceded to half of the recommendations in the student report, but we are continuing to pressure them to accept the remaining recommendations. A new public comment period is open until midnight, June 25. We are calling on the public to submit comment so that we may once and for all have a donor policy that protects FSU from the undue influence of any donor."

Wilson also sent several links, which I have included below.

If the Koch Brothers are trying to steal FSU and convert it to a propaganda mill, you can be sure they are doing so all over. Check locally to make sure you’re colleges and universities are not forced to teach only how to suck … nevermind.

From Media Matters: Fox’s Steve Doocy: It’s Extraordinary That Charleston Church Shooting Is Being Called A Hate Crime

Barf Bag Alert!!


I don’t know where they got that "pastor", but because is title is "Bishop" I have a pretty good guess. The Republican Reichsministry of Propaganda, Faux Noise, is acting as if SC did not already have a long history of racist violence against black churches, so they can misrepresent this incident as part of the left wing war, which does not exist, against Christianity. Not only that, the shooter is clearly a White Supremacist.



May 162015

It’s another thoroughly busy day.  I pulled out my old notebook computer.  It’s been sitting in the suitcase without being touched for the last six months.  So far, I’ve updates my AV program, Firefox, Flash, Java, CCleaner, Glary Utilities.  Then Microsoft Update stared, and that might take a couple days.  I figure it will take six days of wok to use it on a three day trip.  ARGH!!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today‘s took me 3:21 (average 4:43).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: This reporter turned the tables on a group of men who tried to disrupt her work, and it’s awesome.



And I thought Canadians were so polite! 😉 They acted like Republicans.

From Daily Kos: What does it take to make Republicans want to keep religious leaders out of politics? A pope who disagrees with them, apparently. Pope Francis’ recognition of a Palestinian state is just the latest of the pontiff’s positions that have Republican politicians trying to put him in his place.

“It’s interesting how the Vatican has gotten so political when ultimately the Vatican ought to be working to lead people to Jesus Christ and salvation, and that’s what the Church is supposed to do,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), a hawkish defender of Israel.

So … Republicans get to use religion as a political club, but actual religious leaders should stay the hell out. We’ve got Texas Republicans trying to block marriage equality from being enacted, whatever the Supreme Court decides. We’ve got House Republicans passing yet another anti-abortion bill based more on religion than science. We’ve got an avalanche of bills legalizing discrimination in the name of religious freedom.

Republicans object to political action that stems from authentic faith, especially when it counters their own hatred. It is legal, because it is not imposed on others. Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christianity is the polar opposite.

From NY Times: The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office is combing through more than 150 criminal cases of black suspects arrested by Miami Beach police officers who wrote or received racist emails, the latest in a series of high-profile episodes around the nation that have raised troubling questions about the relations between the police and the communities they serve.

Two ranking officers at the Miami Beach Police Department sent about 230 emails that contained racist and sexist jokes and pornography from 2010-12, Chief Dan Oates announced Thursday. A former police captain, who had been demoted to lieutenant, was fired, and a major retired before the investigation was made public.

Fourteen other officers received the emails, the police department said.

Police Officer is clearly too responsible a position to give to Republicans like these.