All posts by JD Pendry

Coal Miners

In January 2006, we had the Sago Mine accident. 13 miners lost their lives and it prompted me to recall some of my life in the West Virginia coal fields and I wrote what follows. Now we have had another. What’s changed these days is an all out assault on the Coal Industry by environmentalists and the Federal Government’s Environmental Protection Agency. If you scan the stories in the news, you won’t find much information about Coal Miners, their families and what the coal industry means to my state and to our country. Instead of writing something new about the recent accident, I will just repost what I wrote 4 years ago – although some of the links had to be updated. Pray for the families and the community.


*I was born one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said “Well, a-bless my soul”

I was born in Pineville, West Virginia, the county seat for Wyoming County, which sits in the southern end of the Logan Coal Field. I lived in Green Camp about three miles from Pineville, about a mile past the main Wyoming Coal Camp. The Island Creek Coal Company built these camps. I don’t know the origin for the name of Green Camp, but recall that all of the old company built houses were green.

*Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

The train tracks ran beside the Island Creek Company Store, pictured at the bottom of these Wyoming pictures. These tracks were for coal trains. The tracks ran beneath coal tipples that filled the cars at the mines. Sitting between the tracks that ran beside store and the Guyandotte River was Wyoming Grade School. I couldn’t find any pictures of the old one story wooden school house, which no longer stands. It held grades 1 through 6 and it’s where I spent my first 6 school years. Principal Harvey Stoneman introduced, Buddy Parks, Jimmy Coy and me to the board of education there after we sneaked out of the schoolyard, across the tracks beneath an idling coal train and into the company store to look at toys stocked for Christmas. I was playing basketball on the schoolyard’s dirt court with other boys when Jim Warner (our little league baseball coach, also a coal miner, and relative of former NFL player Curt Warner) came by and told us that someone shot President Kennedy. Mr. Stoneman told Jim that was a bad joke and admonished him not to say such things in front of us kids. A solemn Jim Warner said, “No sir, it ain’t a joke.”

Skin Fork Creek ran through the middle of Green Camp separating the upper and lower camps. I lived in the lower camp that stretched from WV State Route 10 down to the river. Lower Green Camp consisted of two rows of boxlike green coal company houses, one row on each side of a narrow dirt road. We used to go down to the end of the road where it touched the river – a center of activity for us kids. We’d go swimming, fishing or rock skipping. At night, we’d build a fire and sit on the riverbank telling lies. In the winter when the river froze over, we’d play on the ice. Some summer days, we’d wade across a shallow spot on the river and play on Frog Island. We named it that because it was thick with frogs. There was a pond on Frog Island. It was a small inlet from the river that we named Sunfish Hole because it was full of Sunfish. You may call them Bluegills. We used to swim in Sunfish Hole, although we stopped swimming there for a whole summer when Jackie Swick drowned in it. On that day, when we all came back across the river, no one missed Jackie. Later that night, the whole camp went out searching for him. Finally, the men lit their kerosene lanterns and headed across the river to Frog Island. They came back in a while having found Jackie at the bottom of Sunfish Hole. Jackie’s was the first funeral I ever attended and the first dead body I’d seen. They dressed him up in a suit and laid him out in the living room of Elzie Warner’s house. Jackie didn’t have a father at home and his mother didn’t have much of a place for a visitation.

Our Church sat on a hill in the bend of the road between Green Camp and Marianna. I remember Sunday school class contests to see who was the fastest at finding Bible verses. Sometimes, in the summer, we’d have cookouts after Church. We called them weenie roasts. The adults would cook hotdogs and we’d eat them – usually way too many of them.

There was a lot of porch sitting on summer nights in Green Camp. Many men worked at night. The miners called it the Hoot Owl shift. One night we got news that Ralph Bledsoe died in a mine accident. I remember all of us going to the Bledsoe house that night. They lived in the upper camp and the sons were Gary and Jerry.

My Dad was a miner. When he was 12 years old, his Father died in a mining accident. Dad was the oldest of seven children. At 15 years old, he went into the mines to work and support his mother and siblings. That was in 1933. He spent more than 30 years at it. A slate roof slab fell on him once. It injured him seriously, but he recovered and went back into the mines. It was pick and shovel mining in the days that my Dad did it. Miners spent hours on their knees digging in coal seams where it was too low for them to stand.

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt

Paid by the tons they loaded, they worked until they loaded their quota for the day. My Dad died from Black Lung disease years after he came out of the mines. The requirement for proper ventilation systems helps prevent that disease now.

I hope you didn’t mind me running the home video for you, but I wanted to tell you a little about life in a Coal Camp, which was much like life anywhere else except that everything revolved around the mine. There are no more Coal Camps and no more company stores, but the close-knit mining communities where practically everyone is involved in some way with mine operations do exist. The recent accident reminds us of that.

When my Father started mining, more than a half million men worked in coalmines. The year I estimate that he began working in the mines there were 532,182 miners. Fatalities were 1,064. That’s less than ¼ of one percent. In 2004, we had 108,734 miners and 28 fatalities. For a business that’s inherently dangerous, that’s not bad. You may be surprised to know that truck drivers have a higher accident and fatality rate than miners do. So when you hear about mine safety violations keep it in perspective and understand that inspectors can walk through an office building and find many safety hazards.

Coal is important to the United States and the world’s economy and it’s especially important to West Virginia’s economy. For example, coal-burning power plants provide nearly half of our nation’s electricity. Clean fuel technologies that turns coal into clean burning liquid fuel has the potential to free us from our Arab Oil strangle hold and create many new jobs in this region and across the country. An accident such as the one just experienced is a tragedy. Still, we must remember the importance of coal mining, the reliance our country has on it and the important contribution miners make. If America’s politicians truly want to help miners, they’ll do it by placing the emphasis on this tough job performed by courageous men that it needs and deserves. Whatever else happens, we cannot allow a reaction from political opportunists or other interests that diminishes what the coal industry does and has the potential to do for our country.

*Lyrics from Sixteen Tons – Tennessee Ernie Ford

Copyright © J.D. Pendry 2006

American Twilight Zone

ThinkerHave you ever felt like you were zapped into another dimension? Maybe propelled into a parallel universe or fell through one of those worm holes you can hear about during your bouts of insomnia while listening to George Noory’s Coast to Coast AM program? In there, you encounter a member of the United States Congress who expresses his fear that the Island of Guam is about to capsize? Boomer, I hope you are aware of this dilemma and are taking action to correct the ballast on the lighter side of your island.

If you listen closely, you can hear the Twilight Zone theme music playing in the background. Geeze-o-Pete, what kind of nuts do we have running our country?

Also in this strange new dimension, a man who admitted that his cap and tax policies would necessarily cause energy prices to skyrocket and would bankrupt the coal industry tells us that we can now drill for some oil. Back in the realm of reality, what he meant to say is that we can drill somewhere, sometime, maybe, if we can actually find some offshore oil for which to drill, at the only location where he says it is okay to drill, and only if we promise no fish, seagulls or liberal sensitivities will be harmed in the endeavor. However, we cannot drill for the oil at any of the offshore and inland locations where we know the oil is plentiful. And if you tea bagging, Bible clinging, gun toting, rednecks have a problem with that, well bring it on.

I feel obligated at this time to share with you my inconvenient truth theories about drilling for oil. If we sink any new wells, our drills may open up a giant hole into another dimension and the planet will be sucked into it. My alternative theory is that we will unbalance the earth by extracting oil and coal from it and converting it into a weightless harmless gas which is also exhaled by humans and is used by trees to make oxygen for said humans to breathe. Once we have all of the oil, coal, gold for NBA players’ bling and other stuff sucked out of the ground, we’ll be too light to maintain our galactic orbit and will speed headlong into the sun bringing a fiery end to humankind and subsequently devastating the polar bear population. My theories that the earth will either disappear into a worm hole or be vaporized in a collision with the sun, I believe, merits nomination for a Nobel Prize and maybe an academy award. Minimally it should qualify me for a position of national prominence. I could be the Chairman of the Congressional Committee for Capsized Islands. Or I can become an incredibly wealthy fat ex-Vice President selling carbon credits to myself to compensate for the energy that it is okay for me, but not for you, to waste.

Mr. Noory, you have no story as strange as the one being written for America today unless maybe the Congressman from Georgia actually is an alien. Oh, I’m sorry for being so insensitive I meant to say an undocumented space traveler.

Unfortunately, we exist in a dimension with real problems requiring real solutions. Energy is a national security matter. We cannot continue to transfer wealth to people who threaten us whenever a political cartoonist exercises his freedom of speech. Nor can we continue to place our national security in the hands of people who believe that our problems will be solved by wind mills and saving snail darters.

A few, but not a comprehensive list, interesting facts mostly from U.S. Government sources.

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) manages over 500 million acres of land, or approximately one-fifth of the land endowment in the United States. Federal lands occur in all 50 States and the District of Columbia and contain the majority of the country’s natural resource wealth. -USGS

John Felmy, chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute, reminds us that more than 131 billion barrels of oil and more than 1,000 TCF (trillion cubic feet) of natural gas are ready to be exploited in and around the U.S. At nearly $100 a barrel, that’s a lot of national treasure being squandered. Much of these oil and gas resources — 78 per cent of the oil and 62 per cent of the gas — are on federal lands and in coastal waters, locked up under frozen tundra and the Outer Continental Shelf. – Investor’s Business Daily

The United States holds the world’s largest known concentration of oil shale. Nearly five times the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia underlies a surface area of 16,000 square miles. The enormous potential of this domestic resource is a key to the Nation’s energy security and economic strength, and to the quality of life Americans enjoy today and hope to ensure for future generations.

More than 70 percent of American oil shale — including the thickest and richest deposits — lies on federal land, primarily in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. These federal lands contain an estimated 1.23 trillion barrels of oil — more than 50 times the nation’s proven conventional oil reserves. – Bureau of Land Management

The United States has more oil and gas reserves on federally owned lands than previously thought. Federal acreage onshore and offshore holds more than 2,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (about 75 years worth of current domestic consumption) and 229 billion barrels of oil (about 50 years worth). – Forbes

Using a geology-based assessment method, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated mean undiscovered volumes of 3.8 billion barrels of undiscovered oil, 3.7 trillion cubic feet of associated/dissolved natural gas, and 0.2 billion barrels of undiscovered natural gas liquids in the Williston Basin Province, North Dakota, Montana, and South Dakota. – USGS

North Dakota and Montana have an estimated 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil in an area known as the Bakken Formation. A U.S. Geological Survey assessment, released April 10, shows a 25-fold increase in the amount of oil that can be recovered compared to the agency’s 1995 estimate of 151 million barrels of oil. – USGS

Is honesty too much to expect from our leaders? Is there any one of them with courage enough insist that we go after the energy we have?

Reality is that we have sufficient energy resources to become independent of any nation. What we lack are leaders willing to develop it for the American People. Development of our own energy resources, energy that can be used now, is the key that opens the door to security and economic boom. Unfortunately, we seem hell bent on heading into the Twilight Zone or steering toward the twilight of America.

Sorry to have such a sour message for this most Holy week. Pray that Godly leaders are provided for us so that we may experience an American resurrection. Have a blessed Easter. Matthew 28:5-7.

© 2010

JD quoted in WorldNet Daily article.

Freedom’s Armageddon

ThinkerSurrounded and cheered on by a well-screened and admiring group of Obamunists the President openly mocked and sneered at his political opponents [video] [text]. Resorting to Saul Alinksy’s tool box is not Presidential. In a few moments of displayed contempt, he stripped some more dignity from the Office of The President of the United States. That is assuming that there is any dignity left in the People’s house.

You turn on the news, you’ll see the same folks are still shouting about there’s going to be an end of the world because this bill passed. I’m not exaggerating. Leaders of the Republican Party, they called the passage of this bill “Armageddon.” Armageddon. “End of freedom as we know it.”

So after I signed the bill, I looked around to see if there any asteroids falling or some cracks opening up in the Earth. It turned out it was a nice day. Birds were chirping. Folks were strolling down the Mall. People still have their doctors.

He replaced it with trash talking more suited for the street than to the world’s most powerful man and a presumed statesman. It was the President after all that encouraged his following to knock on doors and get in people’s faces. I find nothing dignified about that nor is it very inspiring leadership. But, that is just my view. I am sure some still get thrills up their legs when the opponents of Obamunism get their come-uppance when the man himself gets in their faces.

Not only did he mock and sneer at his political opponents, he also did it to a majority of American people who oppose the leftward sprint led by his government takeover of healthcare. Yes he did! He is also testing one of freedom’s most enduring principles. You cannot govern against the will of the people.

There is more cheerful news sneaking out on the weekend. Did you notice that personal income is down across the country? To find out how your state fares, type “personal income down 2009” into your preferred Internet search engine. The results should not be too surprising. When unemployment goes up and personal income drops guess what else drops? The tax revenues that pay for the socialist utopia promised. At some point, there will be no more wealth to redistribute. Social Security is now upside down, meaning that it will pay out more money than is paid in by taxpayers. A Congressional Budget Office report shows that we are on a glide path that will put our debt at 90 percent of gross domestic product. How long before we are upside down there as well. Major companies (AT&T, Caterpillar, Deer..) have just forecast the enormous costs to them of nationalized healthcare. And there are the tax increases that we were promised would not happen.

Let’s see now. Unemployment is up. Personal income is down. Social Security is upside down several years quicker than anticipated. Ninety percent of what we produce will soon belong to our debtors. High costs to businesses will be transferred to us in increased prices or more unemployment. Our already exorbitant taxes are going even higher. It is not quite the end of freedom Mr. President, but we can see it from here. Now I ask you, what is not to like about such a great deal? The President’s adoring little birds are chirping about it like babes waiting for Mamma bird to feed them. The American Eagle, however, is scowling.

Narcissists certainly have grandiose opinions of themselves. That is why they like it if someone does compare their deeds to something as devastating as Armageddon. They like to believe they are powerful enough to bring about such destruction or the end of freedom. I think, if I was the President I would be cautious about who I mocked.

The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible. – Revelation 16 NIV

No Mr. President it is not Armageddon. It is also not the end of freedom. The problem for you and your Obamunist colleagues is that Americans have looked down the path on which you have placed us. We see where it leads. If we allow, it does lead to Freedom’s Armageddon. That is a road we will not travel on with you.

© 2010

You Ain’t My Folks

ThinkerYou left field politicians need to stop calling me the folks. I ain’t your doggoned folks. The next thing you know, you’ll have Government Motors producing Folkswagons. The mind is not quite the steel trap it once was, but I think that happened somewhere else before didn’t it? I could be wrong, but there is a vague memory of it. It will be the automobile that we folks can finally afford. Man, we’ll be living the dream. Then you’ll declare that owning one is a right. An unalienable right granted to us by you in all of your benevolence. It cannot be just any old Folkswagon. It has to be the one produced by party loyal union workers at the Government Motors factory operated by government bureaucrats that know nothing about cars, unless it’s the Goremobile that runs on captured cow flatulence. You will pass a law that requires me to fulfill my right by making me buy one. If I do not exercise my right, you will either fine me for it or make the cost of any another brand so blasted expensive so that I am forced… Well, you know how it all works out. You’ve done this before under the guise of looking out for the folks.

When you pull off your suit coat, take off your tie, roll up sleeves and put that phony possum grin on your weaslely face while looking in no particular direction don’t ask how we folks are doing. You don’t care. We know it. It is insulting when you pretend. Besides, we know that when you say folks you are really thinking gun toting, Bible clinging rednecks. My folks worked hard all of their lives. By their actions they taught me the values of self reliance, hard work and here’s a shocker for you – honesty. You are the antithesis of that. They also taught me to pick phony paid for skunks out of the crowd and to keep one hand on my wallet whenever they start looking out for the folks. My folks are dead and buried side by side. Let them rest. God is looking out for them now so you can take a break.

Do you know what else I don’t need from you? I don’t need any more lectures about moral issues. Nationalizing healthcare is not a moral issue. Like Ol’ Joe said, it may be a big F’ng deal for you, but it’s not a moral issue. Giving amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants is also not a moral issue. Do you really want to talk about moral issues? Talk to me about murdering innocent unborn children. Talk to me about normalizing sexual perversions. I’m sorry that was a little understated. Talk to me about glorifying sexual perversions. Talk to me about undermining the American family, which is the foundation of our society. Talk to me about demanding that we put God into all of the closets you have emptied.

While I am at it, there is one other little thing. You can put lipstick on a communist with big ears, but he’s still a communist. You can give a pot smoking, military hating, draft dodging, Pentagon bombing, Student for a Democrat Society, 1960s dirt bag hippie a haircut, a bath, a law degree, a 3 piece suit and a job in the Whitehouse and he’s still a communist too. And, he ain’t my folks either.

Want to know what my favorite 60’s expression was? I tell you anyway. Communism Sucks! So did Ho Chi Min and Mao and the rest of your folks.

© 2010

Once Upon a Representative Republic

ThinkerIn a pure democracy, the people exercise power directly rather than through elected representatives. The United States of America is not a pure democracy. The founders never intended us to be one. If we were a democracy, however, the American people would have voted directly on whether or not we should have government run healthcare. If you believe the professional pollsters who are mostly accurate, otherwise people who rely on them would stop paying them, there would be no nationalized health care.

Our government is a democratic form because we exercise power through elected representatives – that is the idea anyway. Therefore, we are a representative republic rather than a pure democracy. In theory, our representatives are supposed to govern with the will of their constituents in mind. Obviously, this is not working out so well for us since we now have the nationalized health care that most of us did not want.

Communism is a form of government based on Marxist socialism where the people own nothing. The government owns and distributes everything. Think about the phrase “redistribution of wealth.” It is a totalitarian system wherein a single party is in control and decides what is produced and how and what is best for you and me. The will of the governed does not count. We call this the People’s Democratic Republic of China or the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea. We once also recognized it as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR.

A dictatorship is a form of government where absolute power is concentrated in a dictator, a government organization or a group. We call this Castro’s Cuba, Chavez’s Venezuela, and Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

Each of our states elects people to represent them in the United States Congress. They are in the form of 2 Senators and a number of members in the House of Representatives determined by the state’s population.

So through the process of elimination, let’s see where we stand here in the Land of the Free. Although you hear the word often from liberals, it is clear that the United States of America is not now nor has it ever been a pure democracy.

We were founded as a representative republic guided by the law of the land which is the United States Constitution. A document with its guarantees of liberty and preservation of individual rights helped build the freest and most prosperous nation in human history. It provides most importantly the checks and balances of the separation of powers through the 3 branches of government, legislative, judicial and executive. The legislative branch crafts the bills. If passed by a majority of both houses of Congress, the executive signs those bills into law or rejects them with a veto. If it becomes necessary, the judicial branch determines the constitutionality of the laws.

We have problems when any of the branches of our government break outside their constitutional parameters. It can happen when Congress writes bills using bribery and parliamentary chicanery to pass bills that are in direct conflict with the provisions of the Constitution and the will of the people. This slips our representative republic down the scale in the direction of communism. It can happen when the Supreme Court decides that private property can be taken away and given to a for profit entity or that a choice to kill an unborn baby is a right. This moves us somewhere between communism and Alice’s Wonderland. It can happen when the executive branch actually believes that an after the fact executive order trumps federal law passed by both houses of Congress and then signed into law by the executive. This is the kind of thinking that moves us either toward mad hatterville or Zimbabwe.

That 8th grade civics lesson was for the benefit of the 3 branches government that forms our constitutionally directed representative republic and who all need to report to remedial middle school government class. Right after Election Day in November.

Today’s oxy-moron: Pro-life Democrat.

© 2010

American conservatives must fight on implacably to repeal Emperor Obama’s healthcare coup