Larry Webster: Patriot bailed on pensions? Blame Obama

What beats all you ever seen? Arch and Peabody went back on a collective bargaining agreement so that they could take pension and health benefits from 20,000 miners, which they were able to do by putting 13 percent of the assets of the old company and 40 percent of the liabilities, including $1.6 billion in debt to its employees and their widows, into a new company named Patriot, and it ('hit', a lot of the miners would say) taking the bankrupt law. Bankrupt law allows, but mostly commands. Bankruptcy judges have few choices and are expert in dealing with mass anger anyway.

That's not the worst of it. Congressman La Ti Da Rogers of the Slowly Sinking section of the Forward Fifth shouted from Mr. Peabody's coal train that it was, of course, all Obama's fault. Now that beats all I ever seen.

What ain't the blues nuthin' but? The blues ain't nuthin' but a certain political party and we won't name any names here, who could take a Senate seat if only they could find a candidate who will not mind the other guy spending $15 million to advertise that he or she is a raving lunatic, and about that goat.

The blues ain't nuthin' but a political party that has pecked its own eyes out, lumbering about like elephants until they have trampled one another.

What is the damnedest thing that ever was? In about three months somewhere around a dozen lawyers in Kentucky killed themselves, without always announcing why.

That remarkably sad fact puts us right up there at the top with dentists, and if occupation is driving this spike, it may have to do with the fact that courts are guided less and less by principle and more and more by deadline or complex rules, used on you like steel traps. These rules are enforced on ever more expensive and soon obsolete equipment, and in the end, it's not about lawyering any more, it is about marketing.

The lawyers who market well get the easy stuff and those smiley ads mean that clients whose stuff is not easy expect to be happy all the time. That's the damnedest thing I ever saw. What would you rather be in the Floyd County jail than to have to do?

It is said that some bright young mountain woman spoke at her graduation this year and told her classmates "Bob Hope is dead: Johnny Cash is dead; Steve Jobs is dead. We have no hope, no cash and no jobs." That may have been the only thoughtful thing ever said at a high school graduation.

Some mountain kids mercifully drop out of high school as seniors to spare their families the torture of a graduation ceremony. Nobody wants to hear the smart kid get up and talk one more time. Nobody much likes choral music and you can't hear it very well in the gym anyway. And a cap and gown is ritualized rent robbery. Don't they teach home ec? Can't the girls make a robe?

I would rather be in the Floyd County jail than to have to go to a graduation.

Is white white and black black? That's a hard one to answer. We have demonstrated that in America we don't judge people by the color of their skin if they are not too dark. We will only know we have arrived as a high yeller civilization when somebody who looks like Congressman John Lewis gets elected president. Actually, who better than he, one of the two or three most heroic living Americans?

So the answer is that white is not white and black is not black.

Why was man born to die? Sorry, I've run out of space and will have to explain that later.

Reach Larry Webster, a Pikeville attorney, at websterlawrencer@bellsouth.net.