AMERICAN POLITICAL PRISONER ISSUES PUBLIC STATEMENT FROM PRISON
October 6, 2016 10:30 AM   Subscribe

On April 5th, 2010, the Upper Big Branch Mine suffered a coal dust explosion, killing 29 miners. Massey Energy CEO and 'American Competitionist' Don Blankenship was charged with conspiring to violate safety and health standards, facing up to 31 years in prison; he was ultimately sentenced to a single year in prison. And now, "...Appalachia’s infamous imprisoned coal baron just claimed he’s a 'political prisoner.'"

In a 68 page document (pdf) on his website, Blankenship lays out how "...prosecutors were motivated by anti-coal Democrats and mining unions who wanted to see him gone." (NY Daily News, WSJ)

WV Metro News:
Blankenship accused MHSA of issuing a false report following the explosion.

“I want to take this opportunity to re-emphasize that MSHA issued a false investigation report following the UBB mine explosion. They likely did so to cover-up that they had required the miners to reduce the mines airflow shortly before the explosion.”

He took a part of the letter to criticize both U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (West Virginia’s governor at the time of the explosion) and President Barack Obama for jumping to conclusions before the facts could come out.
Coal Tattoo Blog:
We’ve seen this movie — literally — before. For example, the booklet runs through Blankenship’s theory that the Upper Big Branch disaster was caused not by poor safety practices at Massey under his watch, but by an uncontrollable flood of natural gas into the underground mine. Investigations by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, the Governors Independent Investigation Panel (the McAteer team), the state Office of Miners Health, Safety and Training, and the United Mine Workers of America all reached conclusions contrary to Blankenship’s theory.
The Daily Beast:
A great man has been smeared here. Yeah, he’s only serving one year over those 29 deaths (Good Lord willing, less—there’s a hearing on that this month). And yeah, he’s in a minimum-security facility that, according to one ex-inmate, has a vast sports complex and six pool tables and six foosball tables. But it’s the principle of the thing, dammit.
posted by Existential Dread (30 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Clearly a miscarriage of justice; he should be running for president.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 10:31 AM on October 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Bless his heart.
posted by jscalzi at 10:31 AM on October 6, 2016 [33 favorites]


I want every prison and jail cell in the world emptied, but for the one that holds this rotten piece of shit.

First substantive page of this turd's pdf, and there it is: 'The mine [UBB] was located in the town of Naomi in southern West Virginia.' It's not Naomi, you fucker, it's Naoma. And the goddamn mine was in Montcoal, not Naoma.

Fuck you forever, Don. FOREVER.
posted by still bill at 10:40 AM on October 6, 2016 [36 favorites]


If Blankenship is a political prisoner, what does that make the 29 dead miners?
posted by easily confused at 10:40 AM on October 6, 2016 [24 favorites]


Gosh darn all these "regulations" and "laws" and "labor protections." Why, it was only a century ago that I could hire children to work in the mines, pay only in company scrip, send in the Pinkertons when the minions got uppity, and get away with killing them and a tax write-off.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:42 AM on October 6, 2016 [25 favorites]


After Pence's "war on coal" comments, I have to wonder how coordinated these kinds of announcements are, to try to make this an election issue, even at this late stage. Would love to see some hard journalism investigating the backdoor arrangements between Fortune/CNN editors, Trump campaign staffers, and coal industry lobbyists.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:53 AM on October 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


(Also, Don? In your opening paragraph alone, there are nine improper usages of the colon. Don't know if that's you or whoever is assisting you, but it makes you look foolish. Thanks.)
posted by easily confused at 10:53 AM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Don't know if that's you or whoever is assisting you

Well, you know that most jailhouse editors are self-taught, right?
posted by thelonius at 10:58 AM on October 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


> I have to wonder how coordinated these kinds of announcements are, to try to make this an election issue

With the "war on coal" rhetoric, they're trying to appeal to working-class people in coal country, right? Seems like it would be really counterproductive to use as their spokesperson a coal mine executive who carelessly killed 29 miners through negligence and greed.

But the Trump campaign has proven over and over that they're really staggeringly incompetent, so I'm not gonna say it ain't plausible.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 11:07 AM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hillary's policies might put you out of work, but this guy's will literally kill you. Coal miners of America, would you rather be unemployed or dead?
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:13 AM on October 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


there are nine improper usages of the colon

You'd think an asshole would know better.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:22 AM on October 6, 2016 [62 favorites]


I am seriously sick of lowbrow polspeak. It is effective among the barely typing, and webemotion as a way of life set. We need to hurry up the renewables, so the once coal miners and their children, can slow walk out of one door, and into another. The era of digging free stuff up and making continuing fortunes off it, isn't nearly over, but it is a race for planetary survival to end coal and oil. The war on Christmas, the war on coal, the money that threatens not to be in their pockets, lines the pockets of the professional taker/talkers. If he had murdered my kin, he wouldn't be in Taft bad boys club. I would have made sure he was doing rough duty somewhere.

I was driving along by Taft, California. The driver said, "They're All Fuckin' Tweakers." I asked what that meant, she laughed and said, "That is just the locals acronym for TAFT."
posted by Oyéah at 11:26 AM on October 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


After Pence's "war on coal" comments, I have to wonder how coordinated these kinds of announcements are, to try to make this an election issue, even at this late stage.

Blankenship has a long history of making everything an election issue (as even he admits proudly in his pamphlet).
posted by Etrigan at 11:28 AM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


"GENERALLY SPEAKING AND WHAT PEOPLE
WHO KNOW DON SAY"?

I was expecting something slicker, this is terrible.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:36 AM on October 6, 2016


[A few comments deleted. As usual, comments/jokes about killing/torturing people aren't great for Mefi, please skip them.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:09 PM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I thought prisoners weren't allowed to have websites?
posted by monotreme at 12:19 PM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


'If he had murdered my kin, he wouldn't be in Taft bad boys club. I would have made sure he was doing rough duty somewhere.'

I don't think so, and I don't think it's necessary or right to frame it this way. His sentence and where he's serving it has nothing to do with the families of the men killed at UBB.
posted by still bill at 12:24 PM on October 6, 2016


I thought prisoners weren't allowed to have websites?


Clearly he wrote this on toilet paper, and had it smuggled out.


Like Antonio Gramsci.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:33 PM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


With the "war on coal" rhetoric, they're trying to appeal to working-class people in coal country, right? Seems like it would be really counterproductive to use as their spokesperson a coal mine executive who carelessly killed 29 miners through negligence and greed.

You'd be surprised. I live here, and I remember a person that's now running for my district in the state house was complaining that people were too upset because Don Blankenship was a job creator. Jim Justice, who's running for governor, thought it was stupid to even try Blankenship because he only got a year in jail.

People around here are attracted to rich tough guys, even if they kill their neighbors.
posted by repute at 2:27 PM on October 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Hey repute I grew up on Long Island in the same town where some bigshot mobsters lived and so will suggest that your comment about the attractiveness of rich tough guys holds true in lots of places
posted by Lyme Drop at 2:43 PM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


I grew up on Long Island in the same town where some bigshot mobsters lived

The difference being that unlike energy executives, mobsters live by a code of ethics.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:25 PM on October 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


I grew up on Long Island in the same town where some bigshot mobsters lived

If you're from the town I'm thinking of, my friends and I used to joke that if you needed the police, you didn't call 911, you just ran into the sketchy "members only, capice?" soccer club and state your emergency for the bugs to hear.
posted by dr_dank at 4:23 PM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]



Gosh darn all these "regulations" and "laws" and "labor protections." Why, it was only a century ago that I could hire children to work in the mines, pay only in company scrip, send in the Pinkertons when the minions got uppity, and get away with killing them and a tax write-off.

Hm, those days will return, if they haven't already, considering the vast potential for chicaneries in the national legislative chambers whilst our attentions are diverted by the ongoing saga of Donald vs. Hillary.
posted by girdyerloins at 5:04 PM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Now, folks, let's not forget what capitalism is. We can't very well kick up a fuss over a system that produces backpack nukes and the finest rubber chicken keyrings money can buy.
Oh, and Walmart.
posted by girdyerloins at 5:12 PM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Cry me a coal plant river.
posted by Catblack at 5:22 PM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


The war on Christmas, the war on coal

And where does coal go? In Christmas stockings! It's all falling together!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:36 PM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Huge chunks of my job--still--involve the fallout of Caperton v Massey (regarding judicial elections, campaign donations and resusal). And every so often I pause and remember that it's the same Massey under the same CEO and I want to learn some lesson about rooting out injustice or creating equity or just get some glimmer of hope that if we continue to identify these intersections of harms from single sources, we'll just get better as a society.

Then I remember I'm completely burned out and my student loans are still not yet forgiven.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:56 PM on October 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


Huh, just today there was an article in the local paper about one of the reporters who originally broke the Massey Energy story: Former Empire reporter rebuilds life, mobility, language after stroke.
posted by timelord at 10:54 PM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


nine improper usages of the colon

To be fair, he hasn't many other places to pull his facts from.
posted by flabdablet at 7:24 AM on October 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


improper usages of the colon I am sure he can find some sort of colonic solution. The world has gone crazy. They say that if you see things but, you know they are hallucinations as opposed to reality, then you are not crazy. This is a crazy year for delusional propositions in politics. They just keep playing to America's inattention.
posted by Oyéah at 11:25 AM on October 7, 2016


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