by One Citizen
This is adapted from a piece originally published on Wed Jan 27, 2010 at 05:39:03 AM EST on a supposedly “Progressive Democratic” website that has since banned the author altogether for attempting to reveal the corporate hijacking of both major parties in West Virginia
If you live in West Virginia, whether you realize it or not, you live in a war zone. Wealthy corporations in the form of robber-baron businessmen declared all-out class war on the citizens of the state around a century ago. It has been waged both openly and subversively ever since.
Although there has been no small amount of consternation in the progressive blogosphere about the Supreme Court’s decision to open the floodgates for the outright purchase of lawmakers everywhere, the lack of reporting by the mainstream media about the strain it puts on our democracy is pretty solid proof that the U.S. mainstream media is anything but “liberal”. Corporate-owned media has always been self-serving because corporations by their very nature are primarily self-serving entities. In fact if corporations are “persons”, then the largest corporations likely grew that way because they have a predatory predilection built right into their DNA.
Despite an apparent news brownout on what the Citizen’s United case can, or will, unleash here, to observe the textbook example of the devastation that corporate-run state leadership has wrought one need look no further than the true, unfiltered history of West Virginia. The stranglehold that King Coal has had on our political process long before Citizens United is legendary, and its unfortunate outcome very tangible. Although the landmark decision is yet to change how democracy works in other states, because West Virginia has long-established a corporate dynasty which rules both major parties, the new national political dynamic under Citizen’s United really won’t effectively change much here at all.
Despite the fact that our public schools have never taught the reason why mine workers and their families were compelled to take up arms to throw off the oppression and depravity in coal company communities all across southern WV, it’s no secret that wealthy corporations and individuals have always “invested” huge amounts of cash specifically to influence those who run our state government. The obvious reason is so that they may continue to reap windfall profits while killing anyone foolish enough to try to survive the widespread and wanton industrial holocaust wrought under the extraction industry collective.
In West Virginia, our corporate-owned media has long had a vested interest in never reporting the full truth, not just because fossil-fuel backed politicians have always been able to spend incredible amounts of cash on advertising. In West Virginia’s extraction industry dynasty entire media chains have long been literally owned by coal operators and others who are personally invested up to the hilt.
Most everyone has heard the old adage about history repeating itself, but few understand why it’s true. History, at least as it’s been taught in West Virginia, has purposely been crafted to repeat itself. The industrialists that have long controlled both our media and our state education system have constructed a virtual firewall specifically to prevent voters from ever learning certain details of events. Nowadays, according to surveys rarely revealed to the public, more and more folks are suspicious of the media. For good reason.
Many suspect that our education system is “broken” as well, but few understand why. State and county education administrators, hand picked (or bought off), purposely see to it that certain subjects are never taught. Ask any member of the state’s Golden Horseshoe Society what they learned in public school about the Battle of Blair Mountain or about any of our rich labor history here in the Mountain State and then ask them what they were taught about the Hatfield and McCoy feud. The reason no one knows about the fight to throw off the oppression of the combined forces of the state and corporations is because it wouldn’t serve the vested interests of those in power if voters were being taught that our political leaders –from both major parties– have always supported the oppression of the state’s populous to enrich their wealthy political benefactors.
Since its inception, West Virginia has always been recognized as having within its borders the some of the greatest energy producing resources of all the states, yet the childhood poverty here has always been rated as one of the worst in the nation. Have you wondered why the full story behind the march to Blair Mountain has never been a part of any curriculum in any of West Virginia’s public schools? Or why, in its coverage of the commemorative march CNN completely skipped the history of state-sanctioned atrocities against its laborers and their communities all across our coalfields? Although the Battle of Blair Mountain is widely recognized by state-paid “historians” as the largest armed insurrection since the Civil War, what they don’t people to realize is that it was by far the largest armed uprising of the people against any state government. It’s because they don’t want us to ever figure out how corrupt our politicians were because then it would be far more difficult for them to continue corrupting them, generation after generation.
For over a century now there has been a secret strategy to keep voters from ever learning that our elected leaders, from the governor on down, have been profiting from the oppression of laborers, their families and their communities. As far as any soulless multinational corporation is concerned we surface-dwellers are no more than a liability, to be controlled or otherwise eliminated, just like the strikers and their families were back when scrip (a.k.a. counterfeit money anywhere else in the U.S.), yellow-dog contacts and systemic rape were all fully supported by the state and passively sanctioned by the fed -until the march to Blair in 1921.
To this day coal operators are able to pull the strings of our puppet politicians because we, as children, were never taught the horrific legacy foisted, by both industry and state, upon our own fore bearers Robber barons have blossomed into multinational corporations by pitting laborer against laborer, both nationally and internationally once trade barriers were dropped several decades ago. While West Virginia exports record amounts* of the highest grade metallurgical coal in the world, the counties where that coal is extracted rank among the highest poverty rates in the nation.
*in man-hours spent per ton produced.
Those in power can only continue to destroy for us as long as we re-elect those who support this evil dichotomy. And that power will be possible only for as long as they continue to trick us into believing that our collective votes will never count as much as the amount of money they can spend for each election.
A VIDEO BLAST FROM THE NOT-SO-DISTANT PAST
In the online video below, witness West Virginia’s top coalocrat, former governor Joe “Retail Government” Manchin literally panting as he embarrasses us all with his plan to honor “The Coal” in the same manner that we now honor our war veterans. Then watch him publicly give his pal the ol’ reacharound (politically speaking) as he makes a number of outrageous claims which are so contrary to the facts that they’re utterly ridiculous. Finally, after listening to him play the patriotic card to sanctify “the Coal”, wonder in amazement how Manchin avoids getting whiplash as he immediately goes from patriotic pandering to criticizing America for making us “energy unsecure” by not subsidizing the coal industry even more than it already does!
It is important to note that although Manchin’s nearly breathless pandering was taped prior to the Citizen’s United decision, yet after he had served as the state chairman for the extremist multinational American Legislative Exchange Council(“ALEC”) (-PDF FILE). Since that time ALEC is known to have drafted, and then pushed legislation through many statehouses all across the nation. One major legislation is that which is fully supportive of Corporate Personhood and the Citizen’s United decision. (see pdf file at this link).
ALEC has not needed to push that particular law in West Virginia because there is already a well-established stranglehold on our political system.
While political leaders all across the nation have marveled at our state’s leaders ability to take pre-Citizen’s United pandering to a whole new level, the corporate media’s local brownout on the following spectacle back in 2009 was so complete that Joe Manchin (D-Coalocrat) was elected by a majority of unwitting voters, and now openly represents only his corporate backers in the U.S Congress.
All video and audio sources used in the making of the above video editorial are in the public domain and therefore are not prohibited by copyright laws.
The original interview was produced by the State of West Virginia’s Library Commission Video Services around October 2009 (ref. no. c 122.07).
Although the video takes a lighthearted look at the former governor, his lies are not only substantial they are obviously intentional. Despite Manchin’s lack of any pretense whatsoever regarding the pandering that he’s doing, West Virginia’s corporate-owned media somehow manages to never reveal the man. At the same time they let himget by with never addressing the fact that thousands of people have died and are dying due to virtually unregulated coal operations across West Virginia. However, try as they may, the argument by the coal operators and their land companies that leveling mountains will attract businesses is extremely hard to accept since those of us who live here know that only about three percent of the land razed by surface mining has ever bbeen truly developed. That was around fifty years ago, when literally thousands of deep miners were laid off, only to be replaced by far, far fewer folks who now extract the same coal as drag bucket operators and dozer jockeys.
If you’d like to check the video source for the quoted Forbes magazine article citing their editors who voted West Virginia the most polluted state in the nation, just go to Forbes.com: Home Page for the World’s Business Leaders where they noted that West Virginia ranked at #50 (see chart at this link), “suffer from a mix of toxic waste, lots of pollution and consumption and no clear plans to do anything about it. Expect them to remain that way.”
If you’d like to check out the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report that failed WV’s air quality while Manchin was lying about it, you can download this PDF FILE
If you doubt that the water quality in West Virginia is a major problem here, then you probably missed this New York Times article. Note that I had intended to link to a particular article by the Charleston Newspapers about this subject, but curiously its editors decided to wipe it from easy internet access.
Then there are those ever-increasing warnings (now also known as “advice”, notably for the first time ever) from WV’s Department of Natural Resources about eating fish loaded with toxic substances.
Regarding the pollution of water by coal operations in WV, note that not after much delay the WV DEP (also known as the WV Department of Everything Permitted) finally reported to the WV legislature that it just didn’t have enough information to conclude that coal slurry injection at some point ended up poisoning rural community water wells in and around the WV coal fields. In WV, regulations require the coal operator to monitor the slurry sites, but somehow the WV DEP just never got around to making sure they were. The surprising result was that our coal-powered legislature has still never prohibited coal slurry injection.
Unfortunately, the WV DEP gets by with employing engineers who apparently can’t comprehend even one the most basic laws of physics (entropy) any better than WV lawmakers wish to recognize established federal testimony about toxic waste containment.
Top EPA scientists recorded their understanding of entropy on pg. 28315 in the FEDERAL REGISTER on May 26, 1981, when stating:
“Since disposing of hazardous wastes in or on the land inevitably results in the release of hazardous constituents to the environment at some time, any land disposal facility creates some risk.” [pg. 28315]
Our regulators and lawmakers obviously have never seriously considered that the RELEASE OF HAZARDOUS CONSTITUENTS TO THE ENVIRONMENT is INEVITABLE when they left it up to the coal owners to monitor coal impondments for leaks.
Pg. 28324 records EPA’s top experts establishing that “The longer one wishes to contain waste, the more difficult the task becomes. Synthetic liners and caps will degrade; soil liners and caps may erode and crack. …EPA is not
aware of any field data sh owing successful long-term containment of waste at facilities which have not been maintained over time.”
The EPA also states that “Ultimately, waste reduction and resource recovery probably provide the best alternative to land disposal,” [pg.28325] although the neither the WV DEP nor the coal-powered WV legislators will ever pass legislation to make THAT happen. Unless we force them.
We here in West Virginia have all been portrayed as inbred and uneducated buffoons because the multinational corporations want us to be written off. Our beautiful forests and mountains, and our very homes are in an industrial sacrifice zone. Those who live here are being poisoned or starved out due to lack of jobs. Resident and activists Maria Gunnoe and Bo Webb testified before a U.S House subcommittee hearing recently that coal companies were bringing busloads of Mexican workers into the heart of our southern coal patch. It’s not a question of whether they’ll work for less money than we will. The plain fact is undocumented workers are far more expendable, and far less likely to report atrocities than Appalachian-Americans. Plus, when the mine is played out, they can be bused back across the border. In the meantime after local communities are poisoned or starved out, their land is bought for a pittance and their homes and neighborhoods
bulldozed to oblivion. Eliminating property-owners eliminates potential whistle blowers when the mine site and surrounding environment (including the water table) goes through the “reclamation” process.
There are alternatives to allowing the wanton destruction of our state. We can get politically active, and support only candidates with a platform that will protect you and yours. Stop voting straight-ticket D and straight ticket R and start supporting third-party alternatives. And for God’s sake stop voting for the “lesser of two evils” when all both major parties have been offering are two sides of the same filthy coal company scrip!
You could do as most of West Virginia’s registered voters do most of the time and boycott politics entirely. And that’s fine, just so long as you understand that the act of not voting has always been a vote for the status quo. The sad turnout at our elections is clear evidence of how effective the corporate media is at alienating and confusing potential voters. Their strategy is to get all but the wealthiest voters to simply hunker down and accept the idea of being nothing more than collateral damage, and to never question the integrity of our political system.
If you get a chance, read Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay for a Landslide: The Sordid And Continuing History of Political Corruption in West Virginia by Allen H. Loughry and you’ll begin to understand how and why the Citizen’s United decision changed very little in how West Virginia is run.
BTW Originally a registered Democrat, Loughry is currently running as a Republican candidate in the 2012 election for the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. He changed parties when West Virginia’s Democratic Party essentially threw him out for revealing too much. Needless to say, WV’s Republican Party doesn’t seem too thrilled that a truth-teller is running in their party, either.