Can Bernie Sanders economic arguments work in West Virginia?
Last week the Washington Post featured an article on Bernie Sander's chances in West Virginia:
“We have millions of working-class people who are voting for Republican candidates whose views are diametrically opposite to what voters want,” Sanders said in an interview. “How many think it’s a great idea that we have trade policies that lead to plants in West Virginia being shut down? How many think there should be massive cuts in Pell grants or in Social Security? In my opinion, not too many people.”
The Post goes on to argue that Sanders might do better than most people expect:
He has won elections in Vermont, a white, rural, gun-owning state, as a socialist. The social-issue “distractions” bemoaned by red-state Democrats have seemed to bounce right off his armor. (He has taken mixed positions on gun control, supporting a ban on assault rifles, for instance, but opposing the Brady Bill.) In the end, is the white guy who voted for him in Vermont any different than the white guy in West Virginia or Kentucky or Ohio who was told to blame liberals for his problems?
“What I’ve found in Vermont and around the country is that we go to people and say, ‘Look, we do have differences,’ ” Sanders said. “ ‘I believe in gay marriage. I’m not going to change your view if you don’t. I believe climate change is absolutely real, and some of you do not. But how many of you think we should give hundreds of billions in tax breaks to the richest 1 percent?’ ”
Robert Murray makes the front page of the Post-Gazette
Sunday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette features a long (over 1500 words) front-page feature on Murray Energy's CEO Robert Murray. "Not afraid to sue" is the headline and "Coal company owner on a mission to save his industry" is the sub-heading on the story by Post-Gazette staff writer Anya Litvak.
The article notes his willingness to sue the government over environmental regulations:
Mr. Murray says he’s fighting against corruption: The Obama administration doesn’t believe that its proposed regulations will help climate change or the environment, he said, nor is that even its goal.
“It has nothing to do with the environment. It’s a hoax,” he said. “It’s to pay back those who got him elected — radical environmental organizations, liberal elitists who have the money and don’t know what to do with it. Some unionists.”
While other coal companies let states or trade organizations take the lead in expensive, prolonged legal battles against new regulations, Murray Energy has greeted new government rules with press releases announcing lawsuits with him as the lead plaintiff.
But the primary focus of the article is not his suits against government agencies but rather his lawsuits against the media:
It is also a frequent plaintiff against another group that Mr. Murray says can threaten his ability to run a coal company — the media.
“My reputation has to be beyond reproach and it is. And when someone lies or even colors their media reports, we will absolutely sue them.”
Since 2001, Mr. Murray has filed at least nine lawsuits against reporters, editorial writers, a cartoonist, media organizations and radio stations that carried a paid advertisement from an activist group that was critical of Mr. Murray, claiming each time that their actions malign his reputation; threaten the jobs of his employees; and hamper his ability to get financing and negotiate with regulators.
The article covers a lot of territory and it presents a perspective that we certainly don't get with our local "newspapers." It's definitely worth a read.
West Virginia's top employers
WorkForce West Virginia is out with their annual list of the largest employers in the state. Walmart again heads the list. Five of the top ten are health care-related. A bit surprising, given the amount of attention it receives from West Virginia media, is that only one coal company makes the top ten (Murray Energy at #6) and there are only three coal companies in the top 50. The largest local employer at #12 is Wheeling Hospital.