The Republicans' 'coolness' gap • After losing a presidential election to a candidate mired in a sluggish economy and badly fumbling what should have been a very good chance to recapture the U.S. Senate, Republicans around the country are wondering what to do to avoid more electoral thumpings two and four years hence. One bit of advice that is clearly unhelpful was offered the other day by Utah's recently re-elected Rep. Jason Chaffetz. He attributed his party's failures to an inability to reach young voters, the kind who get more of their information from "The Daily Show" and David Letterman than from, gasp, even The Salt Lake Tribune. It is, Chaffetz opined, no more than a "coolness" gap that the party suffers from. But, really, there isn't enough cool in the world to make the rising generation identify with a party that runs rape-minimizers for the Senate, calls on undocumented workers to "self-deport" and stands up, at every opportunity, for such losing stands as gay-bashing and tax cuts for the rich. Earth to GOP: It wasn't the messengers. It was the message.
The 1 percent speaks • And, speaking of shooting oneself in the political foot, consider the recent outburst of Robert Murray, bossman of Ohio's Murray Energy Corp. He marked last week's re-election of President Obama by openly lamenting the ruination of America and, just by the way, laying off 102 miners at his West Ridge coal mine in Carbon County. Murray, whose Crandall Canyon coal mine was the site of a disaster that claimed the lives of nine people in 2007, says Obama will now be free to continue an imaginary "war on coal," which forced the layoffs. Bunk. Coal as an industry is dying because it is being undercut by natural gas and other energy sources. And, where federal regulations are limiting the use of coal, they are right to do so due to the heavy damage that energy source does to the environment. Murray's bet on coal is going south. That's not the government's fault. For Murray to make his workers suffer and blame the voters is wrong. For him to do so, as he did, in the form of a prayer, is just ugly.