Benefit Contra and More 11/8: Toss the Possum and Shawn Brenneman

September 9, 2009


Yes! Save the Date of November 8 from 7 to 10 p.m. for a benefit raise money for Montain Justice Blacksburg, Concerned Citizens of Giles County and Energy Justice Network.

The contra dance band extraordinaire, Toss the Possum (check out their new logo above, and Blacksburg’s equally gifted caller (musican and contra dancer) Shawn Brenneman have graciously volunteered to show us a wonderful time


So come on down on at 7 p.m. Sunday, November 8 to the the YMCA’s dance floor at 1000 North Main in Blacksburg, Virginia, marked “B” on the map. (“A” is the Lyric Theater, where Coal Country is showing tomorrow night at 7 – 9:30.)


You can charge a ticket by donating $10 or more here (just save a receipt to show at the door. ) Action Center Inc. is our non-profit umbrella, so your donations are tax deductible. Just write “November 8 contra dance” on the designation line. And if you can’t come, you can still donate and be a sponsor. And please help us spread the word. We’d like to get at least 100 dancers. If you pre-register, we won’t be sweating it.

So come on out. And if you’ve never contra danced, don’t worry. We’ll show you how. You’re allowed to completely mess up for your first year of dancing. After that, you may mess up, if you smile while you do it. We LOVE new dancers. And if you refuse to dance, the music will be worth listening to, I promise you.

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The outrage, oh, the outrage

September 8, 2009


Cartoon by J.D. Crowe (
website, email) of the Mobile (Alabama) Register

The White House released a transcript of this speech slated for today. It was a pep talk, nothing much controversial, with this ending:

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

But a transcript and a mind speech weren’t enough to quell the row and accusations of indoctrination, commented on by the BBC.

The Cato Institute wants us to understand the context for this:, while slyly calling the speech “politicized.”

The furious reaction to the politicized lesson plan and Obama’s speech to schoolchildren cannot be understood without the context of the bailouts, the stimulus, the debt, GM, the attempt to take over health care.

And now, our kids. And not just the speech and lesson plan, but federal expansion into preschool and early childhood initiatives and home visitations (however voluntary and innocuous-seeming in different times).

They . . . the government, the meddlers, the nannies . . . they are coming for our money, our doctors, our guns and our kids. They won’t stop until they control everything.

That’s how it looks to millions of Americans. Fair or not, people are now very sensitive to any actions by the Obama administration.

Just as a lifetime of exposure to an allergen and modest immune reactions can reach some ill-defined tipping point and bloom into full-blown anaphylaxis, many Americans have developed an acute allergy to government intervention and Obama’s grand plans.

Which makes me wonder, just who is politicized here? Could there be some truth to this cartoon by Bill Schorr of Cagle Cartoons?


Count me as one who is furious about the bailouts the stimulus, the debt. But who started that mess, anyway. And, as for health care–if the insurance companies had done a better job, there would be no need for single payer, or it’s way-weaker sister, the public option.

As Bill Clinton said in Esquire,

All we have to worry about is getting things done and doing them as well as we can. Don’t even worry about the Republicans. Let them figure out what they’re going to stand for. ‘Cause as long as they’re sitting around waiting for us to mess up, they don’t have a chance.

Now, if he’d only talk to those Blue Dog buddies of his.

President Obama, Listen to Bill Moyers.

September 7, 2009

Photo of Billionaires for Wealth Care.

Billionaires for Wealthcare is a grassroots network of health insurance CEOs, industry lobbyists, talk-show hosts, and others profiting off of our broken health care system.

We are not a political, religious or even particularly well-organized group. We’re simple folk, thrilled profiteers pouring out of our corner offices to dance on the grave of “Change.”

We’ll do whatever it takes to ensure another decade where your pain is our gain. After all, when it comes to healthcare, if we ain’t broke, why fix it?

On Friday, September 4, the veteran journalist and former press secretary (to Lyndon Johnson) tried to the President some advice in an essay at the end of his PBS program, Bill Moyers Journal. Referring to the editors of The Economist saying the health care debate had become delirious, he found that charitable and preferred the term “deranged.”

Only in a fantasy capital like Washington could Sunday morning talk shows become the high church of conventional wisdom, with partisan shills treated as holy men whose gospel of prosperity always seems to boil down to lower taxes for the rich. Poor Obama. He came to town preaching the religion of nice. But every time he bows politely, the harder the Republicans kick him. No one’s ever conquered Washington politics by constantly saying “pretty please” to the guys trying to cut your throat. Let’s get on with it, Mr. President. We’re up the proverbial creek with spaghetti as our paddle. This health care thing could have been the crossing of the Delaware, the turning point in the next American Revolution — the moment we put the mercenaries to rout, as General Washington did the Hessians at Trenton. We could have stamped our victory “Made in the USA.” We could have said to the world, “Look what we did!” And we could have turned to each other and said, “thank you.” As it is, we’re about to get health care reform that measures human beings only in corporate terms of a cost-benefit analysis. I mean this is topsy-turvy — we should be treating health as a condition, not a commodity.

Come on, Mr. President. Show us America is more than a circus or a market. Remind us of our greatness as a democracy. When you speak to Congress next week, just come out and say it. We thought we heard you say during the campaign last year that you want a government run insurance plan alongside private insurance — mostly premium-based, with subsidies for low-and-moderate income people. Open to all individuals and employees who want to join and with everyone free to choose the doctors we want. We thought you said Uncle Sam would sign on as our tough, cost-minded negotiator standing up to the cartel of drug and insurance companies and Wall Street investors whose only interest is a company’s share price and profits.

Here’s a suggestion, Mr. President: ask Josh Marshall to draft your speech. Josh is the founder of the website talkingpointsmemo.com. He’s a journalist and historian, not a politician. He doesn’t split things down the middle and call it a victory for the masses. He’s offered the simplest and most accurate description yet of a public insurance plan; one that essentially asks people: would you like the option — the voluntary option — of buying into Medicare before you’re 65? Check it out, Mr. President.

This health care thing is make or break for your leadership, but for us, it’s life and death. No more Mr. Nice Guy, Mr. President. We need a fighter.

Richard Trumka (WaPo profile by Alec MacGillis–email) will be taking over as President of the AFL-CIO. In a speech August 31 at the Center for American Progress he issued a call to arms.

Today, more than ever, we need to be a labor movement that stands by our friends, punishes its enemies, and challenges those who, well, can’t seem to decide which side they’re on.

I’m talking about the politicians who always want us to turn out our members to vote for them, but who somehow, always seem to forget workers after the votes are counted.

For example, legislators who don’t understand that their job isn’t to make insurance companies happy; it’s to keep Americans healthy!

Legislators who say they’re are all for health care reform, but refuse to stand up for a public system that puts people before profits!

You know, to hear some of them, you’d think the objective isn’t to come up with a health care plan that works; it’s to write a bill Republicans will vote for.

I think they need to understand that that you can have a bill that guarantees quality, affordable health care for every American – or you can have a bill the Republicans will vote for.

But you can’t have both!

Latest wingnuttery: Green for All logo is secret community iconography

September 6, 2009

Logo from the website Green for All, an Oakland-based non-profit started by Van Jones to press for environmental quality, justice and economic opportunity.

In the wackiest thing yet, stumbled on this comment at StealthFusion.com under research “Photo: Van Jones makes a Salute.” (Look it up, I’ll not bolster the Technorati score). Complete with a slew of supporting illustrations, “Ace, an administrator there, describes the above logo as

very creepy, are the miscellaneous Communist symbols seen elsewhere

Kind of reminds me of the supposed connection between Proctor and Gamble and the Church of Satan.

So, did J. Edgar Hoover or Joe McCarthy rise from the grave? No, it’s shock jock Glen Beck, who’s very much still with us, Besides his television show on Fox, his radio program and his website, Beck has 118,277 followers on Twitter. On July 24, Beck tweeted this message to what he calls his Watch Dogs:

We are transforming as a nation. It is about Race, Social Justice, Control through czars etc, class warfare & global governance.Stand&speak

The Color of Change, of which Jones was a co-founder, had complained about Beck’s statement :

This president has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seated hatred for white people … this guy is, I believe, a racist.

The group wrote,

Beck is on a campaign to convince the American public that President Obama’s agenda is about serving the needs of Black communities at White people’s expense. It’s repulsive, divisive and shouldn’t be on the air.

So Beck put out a contract on Jones’s head, seemingly in retaliation for the Color of Change campaign to persuade advertisers to drop Beck’s show. And Van Jones, absent any support from Obama, announced his resignation today. That’s right, the only visible member of the administration to say Appalachian needed something new, not mtr.

Back on March 10, 2009, the Obama White House was happy enough to align itself with Van Jones, calling him “an early green jobs visionary” and appointing him as Special Adviser for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ).

Van Jones has been a strong voice for green jobs and we look forward to having him work with departments and agencies to advance the President’s agenda of creating 21st century jobs that improve energy efficiency and utilize renewable resources. Jones will also help to shape and advance the Administration’s energy and climate initiatives with a specific interest in improvements and opportunities for vulnerable communities.

Jones is the founder of Green For All, an organization focused on creating green jobs in impoverished areas. He is also the co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Color of Change, and was the author of the 2008 New York Times best-seller, The Green Collar Economy.

Now, however, they have thrown him under the bus. As Jane Hamsher noted in “Van Jones: A Moment of Truth For Liberal Institutions in the Veal Pen.”

If you can’t get it together to at least put out a statement of support for Van Jones and condemn the White House for using him as a sacrificial lamb to right wing extremists that will devour us all if left unchecked, it’s time to add “proudly liberal only when it doesn’t matter” to your logo and be done with it.

This kind of reminds me of when President Bill Clinton didn’t stand by Lani Guinier …And yet, it’s okay for Obama’s chief speechwriter Jon Favreau to drunkenly grope a cardboard cutout of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to “forget” his taxes.

If anything, Obama can be accused of the the opposite of Beck’s claims: the President seems willing to kowtow at the expense of the disenfranchised. Van Jones, when asked why Republicans were more effective when they held the Congress, infamously said

The answer to that is: They’re assholes. That’s a technical political science term. And Barack Obama’s not an asshole. I will say this, I can be an asshole. And some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama are gonna have to start getting a little bit uppity.

Now Verizon says it’s not boycotting Beck

September 5, 2009


Well, the Verizon saga continues. We know Verizon Wireless hears us now, as you can see above from a visit to my blog this morning. But Corporate Strategy and Policy chief Jim Gerace’s (email, 908-559-7508) says says bloggers got the Glenn Beck story wrong. In his interview w. Steven Mufson for today’s WaPo story, “Verizon Wireless Criticized by Green Groups for Backing Event,” he says,

We never pulled ads….We had a commitment to Fox for a number of ads. They placed them. We satisfied that commitment, and the last time any ad of ours ran in that time slot was Aug. 11 — about a week before bloggers attacked.

He also is staying put on Verizon’s sponsorship of the pro-mtr Rally for America.

Nobody knows what pullout means. All the damage is done. All the publicity for the event went out with our name on it . . . There’s nothing else to do….we also can’t allow the blogosphere to run our business.

He appears to be following the advice in the SF Advertizing Age’s September 2 article, “Verizon Catches Flak for Backing Rally Put on by Coal Producer: Local Sponsorship Undermines National Effort by Marketer to Establish Green Bona Fides,” In it, author Rita Chang (email) interviewed Marc Hausman, president-CEO of Strategic Communications Group (who also blogged on being contacted for the story.) while Hauser says that

Any level of participation in an event as a sponsor, supporter or even attendee lends the credibility of your corporate brand to that event or cause

and that he advises clients to steer clear of emotional, hot-button issues, he says that in the current case,

They’ve already taken the knocks; if they pull back now, they risk making the other side unhappy.

Verizon thought it was a great idea to invest $1,000 in the rally and get to table at the anti-mtr Rally for America. I wonder if the notice the support garnered has given the company any second thoughts? Chang also wrote,

Verizon Wireless, which has been trying to establish its green credentials nationally, is finding itself in hot water with environmentalists blasting it for local sponsorship of a rally organized by a coal producer….

Massey Energy, which last year agreed to pay a $20 million settlement to resolve Clean Water Act violations at coal mines in West Virginia and Kentucky. The Environmental Protection Agency said in a release on its website dated Jan. 17, 2008, that the settlement was the largest civil penalty in its history levied against a company for wastewater-discharge-permit violations.

In the WaPo, Mufson explained that

Verizon executives also said they are reluctant to tell legions of local managers that they lack the authority to take initiatives. Verizon says that the West Virginia sales team saw this as a music event and marketing opportunity; after all, the throngs that show up Monday won’t come because of the Waxman-Markey bill or speakers such as Lord Monckton, 3rd Viscount of Brenchley, who served as an adviser to former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and asserts that human activity is not causing climate change.

Of course Verizon Wireless in WV is not the only local office siding w. the climate change deniers. Back in August Greenpeace released a copy of an email from the American Petroleum Institute (API) about its series of “Energy Citizen” during Congress’s August recess.

The objective of these rallies is to put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy policy…. At the rallies, we will focus our message on…the adverse impacts of unsound energy policy (e.g., Waxman-Markey-like legislation, tax increases, and access limitations) on jobs and on consumers’ energy costs.

For the first soiree in Houston, TX, Anadark Petroleum Corporation ponied up four buses for a start (with more, if there was a waiting list, and let its employees start loading at loading at 10:15 a.m. for 11:30 company picnic (er, rally) complete with free hot dogs and sodas at the venue.

And guess where the venue for that first rally was on August 10? Yup, you’re right if you guessed Verizon Wireless Center. (hat tip to Kevin Grandia of the DeSmogBlog.) But seriously, Kevin, I’m wondering if that was at the actual company center or at the Amphitheater for which Verizon purchased naming privileges.

Can you hear us yet?

September 4, 2009


Banner from Verizon Wireless’s Verizon Wireless’ Green Initiatives

Well, it’s almost Labor Day Weekend, and no word from Verizon Wireless about its sponsorship of the Friends of America rally. See my August 31 post, “Can you hear us now? Verizon Wireless sponsors climate denial rally.”

So imagine my merriment, when I read on the company’s website how

Verizon Wireless works every day to protect our environment and give our customers opportunities to do the same.

Verizon even headlines one section on paperless billing

Save Trees When Accessing Account Information

There’s some kind of disconnect here. Does Lowell McAdam or his guy in charge of Corporate Strategy and Policy, Jim Gerace (email, 908-559-7508), realize that mountaintop removal operations don’t even take the time to harvest the timber, calling it and topsoil (and the mountain blasted to rubble) overburden–material which lies above the thin seams of coal which have caught their economic interest.

When I was writing August 31, In that post, I asked David Pogue to have his readers join in writing Verizon to complain. Dan wrote back,

thanks for the heads-up! Nicely done!

I sure wish he had joined us in getting the word out. The last time he wrote about Verizon Wireless’s shortcomings, he drew a letter to his publisher from Mr. McAdam, himself.

Instead we’re being dissed as a local issue. I say this because while Verizon backed down from its support of Glen Beck, in response to a campaign by Color of Change, the company was not as reponsive to questions regarding the rally by Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette. He writes:

I asked Verizon officials for a response to all of this, and after being kicked around from office to office for a bit, I landed on the phone with Laura Merritt, a Verizon Wireless spokeswoman whose region includes West Virginia. Her response?

Basically, this was a decision at the local level to support the community. It did not involve the company’s political positions at all.

In this particular situation, we are supporting the event because it’s a local event. It wasn’t an effort to take a position on any particular issue.

Another Verizon Wireless spokesperson, Jim Gerace, went a little farther. He said his company simply paid $1,000 for the right to be able to sell its products at the rally:

It’s nothing more than that … and the groups who are trying to make it more than that are misguided. I’m definitely bothered that people are trying to put us in the middle of an argument.

I almost raised the point about Beck in the August 31 post, but ran out of time. As my regular readers know, I write this blog from the library and that imposes a deadline. But, now I won’t have to spell it out, thanks to the latest post by Jeff Biggers, “Verizon Wireless Dumped Glenn Beck: Will It Dump Bizarre Big Coal Sponsorship?

So, if Verizon Wireless still wants to back the rally, maybe it would like to replace its banner with this photoshop illustration by wag “One Citizen” of Charleston WV, which accompanied his or her post, “Verison Wireless To Unveil New Sport Featuring Its New Anti-Environmental Stance.”

Meanwhile the opposition grows. The Center for Biological Diversity sent out a news release dated September 1, on how it had launched a campaign asking folks to write letters threatening a boycott of Verizon for its support of mountaintop removal. Today it came out with a letter from an additional 33 environmental groups:

  1. Broadened Horizons Organic Teaching Farm
  2. Caney Fork Headwaters Association
  3. Chesapeake Climate Action Network
  4. Christians Caring for Creation
  5. Coal River Mountain Watch
  6. Cumberland Countians for Peace and Justice
  7. Defenders of Wildlife
  8. Ecumenical Ecojustice Network
  9. Endangered Habitats League
  10. Environmental Protection Information Center
  11. Florida League of Conservation Voters
  12. Floridians Against Incinerators In Disguise
  13. Friends Committee on National Legislation
  14. Friends of the Earth
  15. Friends of the Northern San Jacinto Valley
  16. Global Exchange
  17. Grand Canyon Wildlands Council
  18. Great Old Broads for Wilderness
  19. Greenpeace USA
  20. HOPE (Help Our Polluted Environment) in Taylor County, FL
  21. Kentucky Heartwood
  22. Kids to the Country
  23. Mid South Mediation Services
  24. Natural Resources Defense Council
  25. Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility
  26. New Sustainability Project
  27. Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
  28. Public Resource Associates
  29. Rainforest Action Network
  30. Responsible Endowments Coalition
  31. San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society
  32. Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards
  33. Tennessee Environmental Council

The website adds these 11 groups who approved the letter after the 4 p.m. deadline:

  1. Allegheny Defense Project
  2. Appalachian Voices
  3. Bull Mountain Land Alliance
  4. California Chaparral Institute
  5. Clinch Coalition
  6. Energy Justice Network
  7. Highlands Nature Sanctuary
  8. Native Forest Council
  9. Rainforest Relief
  10. SustainUS: US Youth for Sustainable Development
  11. Tennessee Forests Council

Environmental Action has lauched a campaign September 2, “Tell Verizon to Dump Big Coal.”

Scott Parking of Rainforest Action Network announced a campaign on September 2 and updates us on Verizon’s response to the CREDO campaign against Verizon’s participation in the rally in his post at It’s Getting Hot in Here: Verizon Wireless: Open Mouth, Insert Mountain. (Of course I’d recommend any of the non-profit campaigns over CREDO, which can be accused of having a tiny conflict of interest in this particular case.

But I’d suggest a direct email or phone call, rather than signing a petition if you have time. You can go to any of the campaigns above and find suggested talking points. And go to my August 31 post for the contact information.

So, ” reach out and touch someone” as AT&T likes to say. After all, Verizon is one of the products of the ATT&T breakup. So Verizon Wireless, can you hear us yet?

Why have that Star of David on Israel’s flag?

September 3, 2009

Photo accompanying the May 25, 2009 story in the Telegraph, “Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel will expand settlements.”

The Netanyahu government in Israel is getting bolder all the time. Israel human rights group Peace Now (email) and Yesh Din have each brought suit about illegal construction on the West Bank and the state is no longer promising eventual demolition. This at least according to Haaretz, Israel’s English language newspaper. In “Israel hints it may retroactively legalize settlement construction,” Chaim Levinson writes,

The state prosecutor’s representative twice hinted that construction in West Bank settlements might be retroactively legalized Wednesday, seemingly representing a major policy turnaround.

The two responses are a departure from the state’s usual response that the structures are illegal and are expected to be demolished...

In several past cases, including construction in the settlements of Harsha, Hayovel, Neveh Tzuf, Netiv Haavot and Amona, the state told the court the structures were illegal and were due to be destroyed in keeping with the priorities of the defense establishment.

The statements in court seem to be a direct contradiction of Ehud Barak’s press statement in late August:

The defense minister has declared a number of times that the evacuation of illegal outposts is our obligation as a democratic state…This is a process which will be implemented in weeks, not years.

The statement came after Deputy Premier and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon three weeks ago had complained that the state prosecutor wa not faithfully representing the current government’s view on settlements in promising demolition.

And it’s not as if, even under the now maybe former party line, that the courts were siding with the Palestinians. Back last November, Akiva Eldar (email) had written a piece of news analysis, “Israeli legal system going soft on settlers.”

During 41 years of occupation, many settlers and supporters of Jewish settlements in the West Bank have risen to senior posts in the Israel Defense Forces and hold key offices in the Civil Administration as well.

The friendly handling of settler Noam Federman’s case a week ago, by Judge Moshe Drori, was not unusual. Although the settler breached an area declared a “special security zone,” violating a military order and promises made by the local council head to restrain renegade settlers, Drori reprimanded the state for removing Federman.

So what has happened to Israel’s obligations? Knowing what happened during the Holocaust and how other countries turned back fleeing Jews, I’ve always seen the value in a homeland. And yet I’ve been torn by the way the land was appropriated. And now, Israel’s possible change in policy has got me wondering. Would the current government want to be treated this way by the Palestinians if their situations were reversed. If not, what happened to the Golden Rule? Why have that Star of David on the flag. It’s besmirching those of us that believe our our faith requires social justice.

Take this job and shove it: former TMK security guards at Edwight treesit

September 2, 2009

Massey CEO Don Blankenship had told the AP that

The coal won’t spoil for a million years. I doubt the tree climbers will be there then.

Apparently Blankenship tells the AP one thing and TMK something else? Tonight, I got an email from Charles Suggs at Climate Ground Zero. He sent a link to a video of the almost hour-long interview (10 minute youtube version is here) with Chris Carey and Patrick Curry, two private security guards who say they walked off the job because of how they were ordered to harass Nick Stocks and Laura Steepleton.

Stocks and Steepleton are the Climate Ground Zero tree sitters at Massey’s proposed Edwight mountain demolition site. August 31, they descended from their platforms in two eighty foot poplar trees, after preventing blasting over the community of Pettry Bottom since the prior Tuesday.

Charles writes,

So here’s something out of the blue… Monday night I got a call from a fellow who worked a security shift at the base of the tree sit for Massey. He worked for the private security firm, TMK, that Massey hired to deprive the sitters of sleep and what not. Anyway, he walked off the job because of how they were ordered to treat the sitters and called me spillin the beans. Several others also walked off. Later that night, we got someone with a camera down to his house two hours away and recorded an hour-long interview with him and a friend of his who also walked off. They’re now also in touch with our lawyers.

Steepleton and Stocks had climbed the trees within 300 feet of blasting and 30 feet of the Massey Energy Edwight Surface Mine and hung two banners “Stop Mountain Top Removal” and “DEP – Don’t Expect Protection.” Mining Safety and Health Administration regulations require that non-blasting employees all be cleared from the area before blasting can take place. You can listen to an interview of Steepleton and Stocks by Bobby Nelson on Tri-State-talk, airing on Huntington station WRVC, one of the oldest radio stations licensed in WV. (Hat tip to Heath Harrison at West Virginia Blue.)

Charles said in a news release that date about the two:

For the past five days, they endured psychological torture, verbal assault and threats. Anonymous eyewitnesses said the Massey-hired security guards were telling the treesitters they were going to rape and kill the treesitters. On Sunday night, the guards put a running chainsaw to both trees, cutting them a little bit. The guards told Steepleton today that they oday that they were going to get them out of the tree no matter what because Massey ordered them to.

Stocks descended first and at that point, according to Suggs, WV native and activist Bo Webb had talked to State Police Sgt. about standing at the base of Steepleton’s tree to protect her from the guards, but Smith said he’d have to arrest Webb if Webb went up to the sit.

I told him he’s arresting the wrong people.

Judy Bonds sent us a copy of the letter to the editors she had sent the Charleston Gazette. (UPDATE: published on September 3):

Tree-sitters Nick and Laura are my heroes. These brave youngsters tried to protect the people living – or rather, dying – below a strip mine site. Tree-sitters are protecting all people living below these war zone sites. The coal companies are the ones who should be arrested for terrorizing, blasting and poisoning people. The sitters must deal with difficult living conditions sitting 80 feet high in trees. This requires courage and skill. The workers and security guards on the Edwight site behaved like thugs in rolling and kicking rocks down the hillside, blaring air horns and brandishing a chainsaw. This 24-hour sleep deprivation tactic made the situation more dangerous. The close-by community residents can hear and see their thug-like tactics. Gov. Manchin has been asked several times to stop the violence before a serious or fatal incident happens. Massey Energy’s anti-American hate fest will only incite more violence and make things worse as the governor’s inaction is an indication of his approval.

TMK Security of Delbarton, WV (photo below of its offices from its site shown above) boasts


TMK Security offers a wide variety of services to fit your companies needs and budget. From armed officers to plain clothed officers mobile or stationary TMK has the solution for you. Contact us and we will be happy to discuss your needs…TMK Security Officers are a cut above the rest. All TMK officers are drug screened and have a full criminal background check completed before their first day of employment, so you as a customer can have peace of mind your property is secured by the highest quality of officer.

The firm (B) is two-and-a-half hours southwest of Pettry Bottom (A), site of the Edwight mine according to Google’s driving directions:


If Blankenship is talking out of both sides of his mouth, it won’t be the first time. Remember how he called his PAC, “For the Sake of the Kids.” What a name for someone with a slurry impoundment sitting above Marsh Fork elementary school.

On the Right: the next tea party: Obama’s data mining?

September 1, 2009

Data mining graphic from Direct Marketing Magazine.

The name is innocuous: National Legal and Policy Center. The description benign, talking about how it was

founded in late 1991 following the release of the Senate Ethics Committee report whitewashing the Keating Five. The report made reference to the Code of Ethics for Government, but not by name, presumably for fear of giving it greater standing. NLPC was founded to promote ethics, and to give the Code the visibility it deserves.

Heck, it could be CREW. But a story by Ken Boehm which made it to the Mememorandum list today raised my suspicions “Obama White House Has Secret Plan To Harvest Personal Data From Social Networking Websites.”

In the course of investigating procurement by the White House New Media office, NLPC discovered a 51-page solicitation of bids that was filed on Friday, August 21, 2009. Filed as Solicitation # WHO-S-09-0003, it is posted at FedBizzOps.com. Click here to download a 51-page pdf of the solicitation .

While the solicitation specifies a 12-month contract, it allows for seven one-year extensions. It specifies no dollar cap.

I’ll look into the claims. After all, sometimes the mainstream media is a bit slow on the draw in criticizing Obama. And he’s been a disappointment in continuing Bush’s policies on domestic spying. But so far, the only bloggers salivating are on the right, such as Matthew Vadum,

But, I was right that the Center is not exactly non-partisan, according to Sourcewatch, which cites Susan Crabtree, writing for the hardly liberal The Hill. (I’ve linked to the page on Rangel’s website, because the orginal link is broken, although a look at Google’s cache reveals the story as genuine.

When the news broke that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) may have been abusing New York City rent-control laws, Peter Flaherty and Ken Boehm smelled blood.

The two investigators are principals and founders of the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative watchdog group whose research has spurred news stories taking Rangel to task for alleged ethical violations.

The center has time, money and seasoned Washington hands, who research publicly available information.

The center’s nonprofit status allows it to keep its funding private. Flaherty wouldn’t disclose his donor list but acknowledged that the biggest source of funds comes from foundations associated with Richard Mellon Scaife, the billionaire heir to the Mellon fortune and well-known supporter of conservative public policy organizations….

Flaherty and Boehm, friends since their days at Citizens for Reagan, say their work is legitimate and motivated less by a conservative point of view than a belief that bigger government leads to more opportunities for corruption.

Like there was no corruption under their Republican heroes. Right.

Can you hear us now? Verizon Wireless sponsors climate denial rally

August 31, 2009

Photo of Ted Nugent from Rolling Stone story, “Ted Nugent Threatens to Kill Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton During Vicious Onstage Rant.

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New York Times columnist David Pogue drew the attention of Verizon Wireless CEO when he wrote about the cell phone industry. In his latest efforts as journalist and gadfly, he’s conducting a “Take Back the Beep” campaign to get the companies to stop making money off of customers with their long instruction messages for voice mail. In summing up his success, he wrote,

Next up: war, disease and global warming.

I’m going to take him up on that and invite him let his readers know that folks are writing Lowell McAdam, President and CEO of Verizon Wireless, asking that he issue a public apology and withdraw support from the Friends of America Rally, a pro-coal extravaganza to promote climate change denial and mountaintop removal mining. Put on by the Friends of Coal, it even has a YouTube invitation by Massey’s CEO Don Blankenship (Friends of Coal is an astroturf group for the West Virginia Coal Association.).

Hello I’m Don Blankenship and I’d like to invite you to a Labor Day rally in West Virginia. We’re going to have Hank Williams and have a good time but we’re also going to learn how environmental extremists and corporate America are both trying to destroy your jobs.

You can read about the rally, as detailed by Ken Ward in the Charleston Gazette. (UPDATE: 9/1/09, he writes about Verizon here.) There has been coverage by Peter Rothberg in The Nation, following up on a post by Jeff Biggers at HuffPo. Speakers include prominent global warming denier Lord Christopher Monckton and conservative pundit Sean Hannity, with Ted Nugent and others (including a WV State Policemproviding the music. Ted Nugent is a real charmer, having ranted, while waving a machine gun around:

Obama, he’s a piece of sh_t. I told him to suck on my machine gun. Hey Hillary, You might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless b_tch”

Verizon may call its co-sponsorship of the rally advertising, not a political statement, but Pogue;s colleague at the NYT, Adam Liptak, reported how Verizon Wireless, unlike other carriers, decided to block NARAL Pro-Choice America’s text messages from its network.

So if you want to write McAdam, his email is Lowell McAdam’s email is:

Lowell.C.McAdam@verizonwireless.com

And as Jeff suggests, why not write the head of Verizon, too. Dennis Strigl is President and Chief Operating Officer of Verizon Communications. His email is:

Dennis.Strigl@verizonwireless.com

If you like snail mail or the phone, Verizon HQ is:

1 Verizon Way
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920-1097
(908) 559-7000‎

Ten years ago, Julia Fox of University of Oregon and later Marshall University published a journal article called “Mountaintop Removal in West Virginia: An Environmental Sacrifice Zone.” It later became the second chapter of 2005 edition of the book Environmental Sociology. In the abstract she says:

Although the coal industry is regulated by the state and national governments, the regulators, it is argued, have been captured by Big Coal. The result is one of the most egregious and little-known instances of environmental degradation taking place in the United States today.

Well, things haven’t gotten any better and Verizon shouldn’t be casting its lot with the ravagers.

So, Mr. McAdam, can you hear us now?