Coal-Baron Manchin Mugs Mother Nature
It’s too hot to go out in Southwest France, report my cousin Jen and her husband Sam.
Bulletin: Wildfires in Nouvelle Aquitaine and Gironde,
Meanwhile, London was bracing for 104-degrees Fahrenheit – which would set a record.
Back in the southwest corner of Virginia, they are still digging out after the aptly-named Dismal River suffered a flash flood last week.
I know that portion of Virginia, from my days on the coal beat. Decades of strip-mining – lopping off the tops of mountains to get at the coal – have destroyed the watersheds of Appalachia.
(I wrote a book called “One Sunset a Week,” about a miner’s family in adjacent Russell County. Every time the heavens erupted, the rains washed down detritus from strip-mining, known as “red dog.” That was 1974.)
If only the governors and senators of Appalachia knew about this. Perhaps they might do something.
The prototypical politician from Appalachia is Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
He must know the ultimate flood is coming because he’s fitted himself out with a yacht, anchored outside Washington. When the Potomac rises, Commodore Manchin is going to float safely downstream – but to where?
The Commodore has been busy. Last week, he slipped up behind the helpless ancient figure of Mother Nature and whacked her with a coal shovel and stole her pocketbook.
He did it by voting against the tax bill that would have at least recognized the danger of rising temperatures, and the role of fossil fuel, not only all around the world but in his home state of West Virginia.
His Inner Republican said he was being a guard dog for fiscal sanity, blah-blah-blah, but we know better. We know that decisions that affect the future of world ecology are made by the (white) (old) men who are either rich or wannabes.
The Commodore is not only a scientific authority but also a coal baron, via his family business. It’s in trust, the Commodore tells us. He knows nothing – just like it was a shock to him that his daughter, Heather Bresch, presided over a drug company, Mylan, when the price of EpiPens – used to treat allergic reactions -- soared to $600 a shot. This was a shock to the Commodore. These kids today never tell their parents anything.
Maybe the flood on the Dismal River in neighboring Southwest Virginia was a shock to the Commodore.
Maybe the flood in Yellowstone National Park was a shock to the Commodore.
Maybe the heat wave in far-off Europe would be a shock to the Commodore, if he heard of it.
But the Commodore doesn’t have time to monitor events in such distant places. He just wants to balance the books, like a good Republican, although he is nominally a Democrat, and make sure energy moguls continue to make an honest buck, so they can all afford yachts to escape the cataclysm, so they can float off to some safe place, like maybe the Marshall Islands.
Oh, wait. The Marshall Islands are going under, day by day.
But don’t tell Commodore Manchin. He is heroically standing up for his constituency – energy barons, coal-mine operators. He’s a man of the people. A few of them.
* * *
I seem to be writing a lot about Commodore Manchin these days::
7/18/2022 11:59:22 am
At some point-maybe his antecedents thought "ethnic" names wouldn't go down so well in rural America-the Mancini family became the Manchin family. I've always had a certain ingrained distrust of people who change their names to mask their identity, even if I know that sometime they had good reason to do so, mostly having to do with prejudice, bigotry, anti-Semitism and racism, but sometimes because a name was just very difficult for Anglo-Saxons to pronounce. They needed to blend in and be more "American" and less "foreign" if they wanted to be accepted and successful. Understandable, I guess.
7/18/2022 12:40:19 pm
John: good point. I flinch when I hear people pronouncing their names in a more Anglicized way. Then I shut up when I remember that my family name is pronounced VAY-chay in Hungarian. The change was way before me. I got bawled out by the tour guide, Mrs. Horvath, on our overnight bus ride from Vienna to Budapest. Then she sent the rest of the busload on a walk around Vecsey Square while she gave me and Marianne a personal talk and walk. Still, we say VES-see. But I have one other comment: DRUMPF.
7/18/2022 12:55:06 pm
The Human Resources department that staffed Ellis Island did a terrific hiring job, didn't they? ..... not a single employee who could spell or pronounce a foreign name.
7/18/2022 11:59:26 am
It is right to come down on Commodore Manchin.....but we should not forget the 50 Republican senators where voting no on climate saving measures is just another day at the office. They seek herd immunity, but everyone of them bears shame.
7/18/2022 12:44:24 pm
Marty: well said. I see flickers of humanity in Murkowski. I think she knows the tradeoffs she makes. Collins, hopeless. And maybe because I got to know Romney when he ran the SLC Olympic committee, I thought he was a better person, but his inner weasel almost always comes out. They voted against the human race for profits for energy interests. GV
Edwin W. Martin Jr
7/18/2022 12:55:56 pm
I wrore the NYT a letter yesterday, we shall see.
7/18/2022 02:54:35 pm
7/18/2022 03:07:57 pm
Rep. Jamie Raskin recently was the annual speaker for our organization. He optimizes what a public servant should be. His take on the majority of Republicans was that the privately know what should be done, but are afraid to break from the herd mentality.
7/18/2022 03:48:29 pm
Thanks, George. I first became attuned to the Manchin problem here on your site several months ago. It gets more depressing, but a some observations and devil's advocacy.
7/18/2022 05:17:59 pm
Andy, I never used to be this way. There have always been liberals, conservative sand moderates in both parties, but they often joined forces on important issues.
7/19/2022 01:21:02 am
Amen, Alan, and thank you. If I have time, I'd do well for myself by reading it, and I'd like to think it would be preaching to the choir. Government often needs to transcend the voice of its constituents and, rather, to lead.
Angela R McKenzie
7/18/2022 05:14:39 pm
How can we, the people, be stupid enough to continue voting for power-hungry politicians who care not one iota for America, or for us, yet expect to remain safe from the harm their inaction is causing?
7/18/2022 07:57:34 pm
Hi, Angela, great to hear from you. I totally agree...."the people" are willfully ignorant, partially because of the Murdoch empire, partially because they no longer believe in "we the people," in all its glorious ramifications. Hope all is well with you. G
7/22/2022 12:24:39 am
Go to the place where George writes "I wrote a book called “One Sunset a Week" ..." Click on the book title, and up comes a terrific review of the book by A.H. Raskin. Don't miss it.
7/24/2022 03:15:38 pm
Gene is correct. It is a interesting book with a strong message. Definitely a must read.
Dave Your Son
7/26/2022 01:50:44 pm
I just finished reading "Thunder in the Mountains," by Lon Savage, about the murder of Sid Hatfield and the Mingo War of 1921. There was a line in there about how the miners had stood by as coal operators stripped them of their pride, just as their fathers had stood by as purchasers had stripped them of their land, just as THEIR fathers had stood by as speculators stripped them of their digging rights. ... Astounding how the hard-working people down there are still passively being abused by their politicians, particularly this Mazerati-driving, houseboat-living, filibuster-proof fraud Joe Manchin.
7/29/2022 03:52:43 pm
8/2/2022 03:57:48 pm
Randolph, the book is filled with stories like yours, the author clearly earned a lot of trust and got people to share experiences either they had personally or had been told about by family. It's not the greatest 'read' in the world, but it does convey the shared experience that episode had on the region.
7/27/2022 01:12:19 pm
George—I grew up listening to the radio from about age four or five. I was in bed with scarlet fever, which was very dangerous at that time. No medicine for a cure and only complete bed rest. My father and sister moved out of the house for about three months.
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From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.