Three stories from the Lexington Herald-Leader

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Eatery gains world attention hosting Beshear’s reply to Trump speech

If this were a GOP response, using people as a backdrop, left would have criticized lack of diversity.

By Cheryl Truman | | March 1, 2017 3:06 PM EST

The first Karin West knew of her diner’s impending worldwide exposure was when someone from Lexington Mayor Jim Gray’s office called to ask whether Lexington Diner could host a Steve Beshear event.

The event was Tuesday night’s Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s address to Congress, delivered by former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear.

The 49-seat diner at 124 North Upper Street opened in 2014. Beshear and his wife, Jane, had met diner chef and co-owner Ranada Riley at a Greenhouse 17 event in 2016. The nonprofit was previously known as Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program.

The televised response aired about 10:15 p.m. It showed Beshear sitting in the Lexington Diner with about 24 other people seated around the restaurant. West said she served beverages and some Mardi Gras fare including grits, gumbo, muffins and cake to the crowd before the segment aired.

Read more here:

Personally, I wondered why the Democrats would have selected former Governor Steve Beshear (D-KY) to give the rebuttal. After all, in his two terms, he paved the way for TEA Party Republican Matt Bevin to win the gubernatorial race in 2015, and win the majority in the state House of Representatives in 2016; the state House had been the last state legislative chamber controlled by the Democrats in the South prior to that.

But the more important story from the Herald-Leader is below:

Company plans to reopen Knott County mine, hire 60 workers

The Associated Press | March 1, 2017

Hindman, Ky. — A mining company is planning to reopen an eastern Kentucky coal mine within the next week and hire 60 workers.

WYMT-TV reports that Kingdom Resources plans to take over operations one of the old Enterprise mines in Knott County.

Kingdom Resources CEO Mark Wilson says the mine will be known as Kingdom Coal.

Knott County Judge Executive Zach Weinberg says he was told the company plans to hire 60 workers within the next two weeks.

It is unclear how long the mine has been closed.

The obvious question: did President Trump’s actions on undoing President Obama’s policies hurting the coal industry have anything to do with King Resources’ decision to reopen the old Enterprise #9 mine? I have thus far been unable to find a direct statement to that effect from Kingdom Resources, but the President’s actions sure couldn’t have hurt.

So, which is more important to Kentuckians: a speech made by a former governor, which might bring in a few more customers to the Lexington Diner, or sixty new jobs, sixty well-paying jobs, in the depressed coal region of eastern Kentucky?

Chapter 6: Coal jobs gone, perhaps for good

Thousands of unemployed coal miners are confronting the latest in a century of booms and busts in the Eastern Kentucky coal industry. This time, experts warn, the backslide looks permanent.

By Bill Estep and John Cheves | June 16, 2013

HINDMAN – Kyle Thacker’s bloodline in the underground coal mines of Eastern Kentucky goes back decades.

His grandfather Willard Thacker raised 16 children on a miner’s pay, beginning in the days when the back-breaking job involved blasting down coal and loading it into carts with a shovel.

Thacker’s father, Curby, went to work in the mines in the 1970s. He was rarely out of work during his 35 years underground.

“You could quit one day at one mine … and you could get a job the next day at another one,” said Curby Thacker, 66, of Knott County.

All five of Curby’s sons followed him into the mines, but their experience has been different. All five were laid off in 2012; Kyle, 26, the youngest, lost his job in June and hasn’t been able to find work at another mine.

“I’ve looked about everywhere. You can’t pay them to let you work now,” Kyle Thacker said.

Thacker, who is married and has two young children, cashed out his 401(k) retirement account to pay off some bills. He had started remodeling his front porch but stopped when the money ran out, and he is going without health insurance because it would cost more each month than he receives in unemployment payments. He might have to let the bank take back the white 2011 Ford Taurus he bought when times were better.

Thacker and thousands of other miners are confronting the latest in a century of booms and busts in the Eastern Kentucky coal industry. This time, experts warn, the backslide looks permanent.

Driven down by competition from cheap natural gas and other factors, coal production fell 27.6 percent throughout Eastern Kentucky in 2012, to the lowest level since 1965. The slide in Knott County was worse: 45 percent.

Read more here:

Had Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election, you could have bet your last euro that the regulations President Trump relaxed would not have been relaxed in the slightest, and might have even been made stricter. Would that have stopped Kingdom Resources from reopening the #9 mine? I suppose there’s no way to know, for certain, but my guess is that yes, the Democrats’ continuing war on fossil fuels would have made the #9 mine seem less profitable, and thus less likely to be reopened.

This is why the Democrats, for so long the party of the working class, has lost the votes of the working class so decisively: the wealthy leadership of the party has been so isolated from the people who voted for them for so long, that they have forgotten that their policy proposals have real world effects on people’s jobs. Somehow, some way, Donald Trump, the billionaire son of a millionaire father, did manage to understand working people, in a way that the Democrats of today do not. And that’s why he is President, and Hillary Clinton is not.