Thursday, January 05, 2006

Miner’s blood on Bush’s hands?

Oh, why do I even bother with the question mark? (It makes me feel so cheap, as if I were a cable news network, or worse, the new Nightline.) You know, even I, who have nothing but contempt for this administration, find it tiresome (sometimes) when my brothers and sisters on the lefty left just default to blaming GWB for every horrid and horrible thing that happens these days, but goshdarnit if they just don’t make it so easy! There is no question mark needed; the newly-minted widows of Sago, WV, can thank George W. Bush for their death and disability checks.

I had forgotten, but this all happened before. As David Sirota points out, there was another nation-gripping mining accident in 2002. In that case, nine miners were trapped for 77 hours in a Western Pennsylvania coal mine. In what was called a “miracle,” all nine were rescued, and President Bush rushed to the town for a feel good photo-op.

At that time, Democrats in Congress challenged the administration to explain proposed FY 2002 cuts in mine safety programs. The response? A six-percent cut in FY 2003 mine safety funding.

Oh, but there’s more. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has been downsized by 170 since 2001, and the Republican Congress has cut MSHA’s funding by another $4.9 million for 2006. Many of those that are left at MSHA are Bush appointees with close ties to the mining industry. And, they’ve been busy, rolling back numerous safety regulations over the last five years.

MSHA and OSHA enforcement is also way down. Just to take the Sago Mine as an example, though inspectors cited this mine for 200 violations in 2005—96 of which were deemed “significant and substantial”—the International Coal Group (ICG), owner of the mine, was fined
only a few thousand dollars. ICG grossed $136 million in 2004.

I’m sure “investigative” hearings will be held at some level, but thanks to the tragic rumormongering that passed for reporting after rescue teams reached the West Virginia miners, we have a built-in distraction from the real issue at hand. That issue? That the greedy and cynical policies of the Bush Administration—and its congressional henchmen—have once again resulted in death and misery for hard-working, tax-paying Americans.


Blogger dnmiller said...

Bravo! I'm forwarding this blog to chris matthews!
Get your blog on for anything that makes your blood boil - that'll be good reading.

7:11 PM  

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