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Wednesday Open Thread

Does anyone feel like blogging today? I need to attend to other things, so I hope readers will take over.

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  • Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#1)
    by Linkmeister on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 11:32:54 AM EST
    Tune in NPR's Talk of the Nation. Our host is speaking to Neal Conan as I type. ('Course, she had to follow Glenn Reynolds, but better the last word than the first.)

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 11:39:57 AM EST
    Yes, that was me. A short ten minute segment on Jack Abramoff with lots of callers questions. NPR is great. But now I have to go to the airport to pick up the TL kid who is finally making it home for the holidays. I'll be back tonight.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 12:07:40 PM EST
    Interesting history of West Virginia's "mine wars" over at the WV archives. From the first few paragraphs is this:
    In addition to the poor economic conditions, safety in the mines was of great concern. West Virginia fell far behind other major coal-producing states in regulating mining conditions. Between 1890 and 1912, West Virginia had a higher mine death rate than any other state. West Virginia was the site of numerous deadly coal mining accidents, including the nation's worst coal disaster. On December 6, 1907, an explosion at a mine owned by the Fairmont Coal Company in Monongah, Marion County, killed 361. One historian has suggested that during World War I, a U.S. soldier had a better statistical chance of surviving in battle than did a West Virginian working in the coal mines.


    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 12:22:48 PM EST
    Great link punisher. For an artistic take on the plight of W. Virginian coal miners and their fight to unionize, check out "Matewan" starring Chris Cooper. Great flick.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 01:01:38 PM EST
    during World War I, a U.S. soldier had a better statistical chance of surviving in battle than did a West Virginian working in the coal mines. And, earlier today Rush said there was a CSM article saying that currently coal mining is safer than driving. I can't find it, but perhaps someone could find statistics from this century, not last. In other news, journalistic-minded folks are invited to submit posts for Katrina Coverage which, surprisingly, uses the same theme as TL. Drop your post in one of the "Pages" in the middle sidebar and I might promote it to the front page.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#6)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 01:31:49 PM EST
    Kdog, Excellent call on the film "Matewan". It's by far, to me, Sayles' best film, and indeed a Great American Film. At Hillard's funeral, when that lone Appalachian woman's voice sings out to God and the West Virginia mountains, lordy, I could convert from the sheer and simple heartbreaking beauty and truth of it. Everyone else should go find it and rent it.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 01:32:31 PM EST
    And, earlier today Rush said there was a CSM article saying that currently coal mining is safer than driving. I can't find it, but perhaps someone could find statistics from this century, not last.
    Well that says....absolutely nothing! Skydiving is safer than driving. Terrorism is less of a threat to your life than driving. The question is did the mine's disregard for safety regulations contribute to this tragedy. Time will tell.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#8)
    by owenz on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 01:35:07 PM EST
    Atrios reports that the Supremes punted on Padilla. Probably want to wait for their next member to be in enshrined before taking on the Imperial Presidency.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 01:45:16 PM EST
    kdog: did the mine's disregard for safety regulations contribute...
    WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao issued the following statement on the Sago Mine announcement in Buckhannon, W.Va.: The Mine Safety and Health Administration is launching a full investigation to determine the cause of this tragedy and will take the necessary steps to ensure that this never happens again.


    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#10)
    by desertswine on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 01:45:38 PM EST
    A little late, here's my nomination for 2005's most bizarre story. Alistair Cooke's Bones Stolen

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 01:57:35 PM EST
    Outrageous.
    White House spokesman Scott McClellan called Abramoff's confessed conduct "outrageous." "He needs to be held to account, and he needs to be punished," McClellan said... Abramoff was among President Bush's Pioneers, who raised at least $100,000 for his re-election in 2004.


    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#12)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:02:11 PM EST
    I love White House press secretaries. THEY, not lawyers, are the living, breathing, stammering definition of mouthpieces. It must be hard having the puppeteer's big hand up your arse all the time. Medic!!

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#13)
    by Slado on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:08:32 PM EST
    Abramoff slung money and favors all over washington. The real question is how many Abramoffs are there in Washington working with both sides of the aisle? I side with the majority of Americans in feeling that everybody is crooked. Trying to potray one party as the king of slimey politics only shows partisanship. That said if you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar you should go to jail or at least lose your seat. But most of the things that Abramoff is admitting too are unfortunately standard procedure in Washington. What's the real law on this? What do you have to have done to be successfully prosecuted. Don't lobbiest give gifts, money, compaign contributions all the time? Don't you have to be shown as giving a vote that you wouldn't have voted for anyway in return for a gift/cash?

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#14)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:10:15 PM EST
    Ariel Sharon has had another stroke. Power has been transferred to his deputy. It sounds like he's at death's door.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#15)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:10:34 PM EST
    I suspect that management can expect a clean bill of health from Chao's investigation:
    Taxes paid by the coal industry and by utility companies that make electricity using West Virginia coal account for two-thirds, or over 60% of business taxes paid in our state... Coal is responsible for more than $3.5 billion annually in the gross state product.


    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#16)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:14:04 PM EST
    Slado, I will be surprised, but not shocked, if those tainted by Abramoff are NOT predominantly Republican. That's his base, as they say. Don't get me wrong, plenty of graft in politics everywhere, period, but...with this specific story, I smell a largely Republican scandal. But I certainly could be wrong.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#17)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:18:33 PM EST
    Dadler: Power has been transferred to his deputy. It sounds like he's at death's door. Any idea who the potential successors are, how they stand re preemptive attack on Iran, strikes against Gaza, etc?

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#18)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:25:12 PM EST
    Edge, From what I can gather, Ehud Olmert pretty much considered Sharon's right hand man, pretty much in step with him on policy. Ehud Olmert's Knesset Info Ehud Olmert's Wikipedia page

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#19)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:28:30 PM EST
    Edger--According to this AP report (para. 12), as posted recently in the New York Times online, departure of Sharon as Israeli PM would throw Israeli (and Middle Eastern) politics into (further) "turmoil."

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#20)
    by Sailor on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:29:31 PM EST
    Sluggo, Jack Meoff gave zero $$ to dems. Just ask the FEC. Ya gotta stop listening to rush et al and do your own research.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#21)
    by desertswine on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:33:51 PM EST
    Any idea who the potential successors are
    I nominate anyone who was in the "Office of Special Planning."

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#22)
    by BigTex on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:37:17 PM EST
    The successor isn't as important as the upcoming election. Sharon was the candidate for the centrist party, who is not expected to have a good showing without Sharon. Benjamin Netanyahu is the new leader of Lukid and Amir Peretz ousted Shimon Peres un November for the top spot in labor. Not suprisingly, Netanyahu is holding a hard line vis a vis the Palestinans, and Peretz wants to give in to almost all Palestinan demands. Because Peretz wants to make giving in to the Palestinans a priority over other issues, the March 28th election will probablly end up as a gut check for the country.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:37:31 PM EST
    I hear that punisher..my best guess is more fines, if anything at all. Maybe time won't tell. And it seems merely fining the mine's owner(s), in this case Wilbur Ross and Int'l Coal Group, is not enough of a deterrent. It's probably more "cost effective" to simply pay the fines than to make the actual safety improvements. Perhaps some jail time for the serial offenders may be in order. Not that any investigation will ever get that far, I'm sure the 620th richest man in the world has some friends in high places, but if it could be proven that ICG was previously fined for a specific lapse that led to the explosion, could the owner(s) be held criminally liable?

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#24)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:48:05 PM EST
    Susan, Thanks for the additional link. No doubt his death would have potentially massive consequences in Israel and the region. I don't think, however, that the nation would fall into complete dysfunction. If THAT happens, the whole nation's security would be in much more danger than from any suicide bomber or even army of martyrs. Implosion is like that. And I think it's a "free and democratic" enough place to know that. I sure could be wrong, tho, wouldn't be the first time. Peace. Sailor, There you go. Outstanding FEC link. The complete list at the touch of a few keystrokes. Even a luddite activist would have to love that. Then flog themselves for loving it.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#25)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:51:59 PM EST
    Thanks, Susan, and Dadler. Looks like Sharon was (is) the favorite for the March 28 election there... and his "party's strength is centered on Sharon himself" (from the AP article). Sometimes things can get pretty wonky and strange in a country if the countries policies are dependent so much on one personality. The ME seems more and more like such a ticking time bomb lately.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#27)
    by Wes on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:56:31 PM EST
    Democracy 21 Urges Senate Finance Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Group Organized by DeLay Associate The Democracy 21 letter states: According to an article in The Washington Post on December 31, 2005, a copy of which is enclosed, U.S. Family Network was ostensibly organized to promote conservative ideas through grass-roots advocacy, but may instead have served primarily as a political operation and a vehicle to buy access and influence in Congress. According to the Post article, USFN ''was funded almost entirely'' by corporations linked to lobbyist Jack Abramoff. ... ''The Post article further states that the former president of USFN was told by Buckham that two Russian oil and gas executives gave $1 million in initial funding to USFN 'specifically to influence DeLay's vote on legislation the International Monetary Fund needed to finance a bailout of the collapsing Russian economy.'' RussiaGate?

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#28)
    by Che's Lounge on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:21:28 PM EST
    Israel needs to start looking for a new prime minister. AP is reporting that Ariel Sharon suffered a massive intracranial hemorrhage (stroke) at home and is on a ventilator.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#29)
    by Che's Lounge on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:27:07 PM EST
    What really made that most vivid to me was the reporting right after the first ambulance went by Anderson Cooper, when he and the family members who were celebrating all failed to emphasize how unlikely it would be that any of the other "live" "rescued" miners would be coming directly to the church to meet their families. That seemed extremely far-fetched. Susan, that is exactly when I turned it off in disgust. Such BS.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#30)
    by Patrick on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:36:29 PM EST
    Sluggo, Jack Meoff gave zero $$ to dems. Just ask the FEC.
    Does this link cover "gifts" as well or only donations to campaigns? I want to have all the information.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#31)
    by Sailor on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 05:47:38 PM EST
    Patrick, the FEC database has any donation above $200, including gifts.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#32)
    by Sailor on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 05:54:24 PM EST
    Of course this DB is mainly self-reported. It is rare for a statement to be challenged. BTW, Patrick, you won't ever find me saying dems are honest and only repubs are crooked. I think a lot of them break the law. Of course I think a lot cops break the law. Go figure;-)

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#33)
    by jimcee on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:42:55 PM EST
    Sorry if I skipped some posts here but: Matewan is a great film, and I love Chris Cooper. As far as safety in a mine of any sorts is safe to say there is not much. Burrowing into the ground to great depths is a dangerous business as is construction, farming or lumbering. Those who enter into that trade know the risks as do thier families. I've worked in all excepting the mining thing (because I'm claustrifobic) and one enters the work knowing the risks. The shameful rumours, enabled by mobile phones, apparently have led to severe disappointment by the mourning families who knew of the tough, rough and dangerous living that thier husbands/brothers made for them. There were citations about safety that were given to this particular operation and that may have contributed to these mens demise. More likely they were rather minor things that eventually led to a path of neglect, not only by the employer but by the employees alike. I have worked as a farmer, lumberjack and construction worker. There is an inherent amount of danger in all those professions but it is a 'given'. Mining is no exception. The real question is why is the media so quick to except hearsay as truth when they should have known better after thier 'Katrina' nonsense. Perhaps they just can't help themselves. What has become most obvious is that most people in the media bubble have never, ever, had a really dangerous job and are nothing more than 'Geraldo-esqe' type posuers primping for the cameras. The media bl%ws in general and in this case they are trying to cover thier asses for thier shlock workmanship.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#34)
    by Patrick on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:46:05 PM EST
    I think a lot of them break the law. Of course I think a lot cops break the law. Go figure;-)
    I imagine politicians break the law at a much greater rate. But who knows, nowadays.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#35)
    by kdog on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 08:24:48 AM EST
    Freedom on the march in South Carolina Are anti-gambling laws and statutes inherently unconstitutional?

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#36)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 10:47:44 AM EST
    et al - This just in.... Senator Durbin returning over $12,000 dollars received from.... Guess whooooooo? BTW Hillary got $12,500. oh me oh my looks like Demos were also getting the pie... money that is.... the long green coin of the realm... I am LOL

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#37)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:47:24 AM EST
    PPJ... Oh man...you must be mistaken! All Dems are as pure as the driven snow...the only politicians that are crooks are the Repubs .. don't you know that? If not, hang around awhile....all on here will be quick to point that out to you I'm sure..

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#38)
    by Sailor on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 12:34:55 PM EST
    BTW Hillary got $12,500. Provide links please. All I see is that she received and returned $2k given by "American Indian tribes that were clients of lobbyist Jack Abramoff." BTW, I never said or would say dems don't break laws, but $100k+ for bush buys a lot more influence than 2k. And once again, abramoff has never donated to a dem. Just ask the FEC.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#39)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 05:49:09 PM EST
    charlie - Your comments are truly breath taking. Check your local paper.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#40)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 05:54:09 PM EST
    was that Rose Bowl last night not intense?

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#42)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 06:20:29 PM EST
    et al - And the hits just keep on coming...
    Dingy Harry Reid refuses to return $61,000 in contributions from DC fixer/convicted felon Jack Abramoff. "He's done nothing wrong and sees no reason why he would need to donate it," said Tessa Hafen, spokesman for Reid, D-Nev. But what about the "Culture of Corruption" Mr. Minority Leader? And what about the "Appearance of Impropriety"?
    Link BTW - This is a twofer - don't miss:
    Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign, has agreed to a $35,000 civil penalty with the Federal Election Commission. The penalty relates to $721,895 in underreported in-kind contributions from Peter Paul for an August 2000 gala prior to the Democratic convention. Apparently some cultures are more corrupt than others...
    You know, there's a whole lot of that "aint done nothing" out there.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#43)
    by Sailor on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 06:24:14 PM EST
    ... still waiting for a link to Senator Clinton's $12.5k acceptance and refusal from JA and/or associates ...

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#44)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 06:27:19 PM EST
    Neither team could have beat FL, GA, U TN, AL or LA. What you saw was two great offenses with one having a marginally better defense.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#45)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 06:28:37 PM EST
    sailor - Keep waiting. The last two should give you something to think about.

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#46)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 08:34:18 PM EST
    PPJ: you saw was two great offenses with one having a marginally better defense. Just the kind of game I like to see!

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#41)
    by jimcee on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 10:25:50 PM EST
    Punisher, Yes it was!

    Re: Wednesday Open Thread (none / 0) (#47)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 10:31:56 PM EST
    Charlie, Jimcee's insult to you has been deleted. All you have to do is let me know. There are between 200 and 500 comments a day on the site, and I can't read them all. Feel free to e-mail me and let me know. I'm also going to delete some name-calling by you on this thread. I'm really not here to play policeman. I wish you would just modulate your tone a little. Also, rather than reprint the someone elses comment and the time it was written, please just put their name and make your comment. It really uses up bandwidth and makes the thread more cumbersome to follow. We can all scroll back up to the other comment and see what you are referring to. Thanks, Charlie, I think you are trying to conform and I appreciate it. Open threads are only designed to stay open a day or two. It's time for this one to close.