People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Sorrow Turns To Anger

And a lot of questions arise:
Deaths at West Virginia Mine Raise Issues About Safety
By Ian Urbina and Michael Cooper, New York Times

Montcoal, W.Va. — Rescue workers began the precarious task Tuesday of removing explosive methane gas from the coal mine where at least 25 miners died the day before. The mine owner’s dismal safety record, along with several recent evacuations of the mine, left federal officials and miners suggesting that Monday’s explosion might have been preventable.

In the past two months, miners had been evacuated three times from the Upper Big Branch because of dangerously high methane levels, according to two miners who asked for anonymity for fear of losing their jobs. Representative Nick J. Rahall II, a Democrat whose district includes the mine, said he had received similar reports from miners about recent evacuations at the mine, which as recently as last month was fined at least three times for ventilation problems, according to federal records.

It is still unclear what caused Monday’s blast, which is under investigation. But the disaster has raised new questions about Massey’s attention to safety under the leadership of its pugnacious chief executive, Don L. Blankenship, and about why stricter federal laws, put into effect after a mining disaster in 2006, failed to prevent another tragedy. [link]

Overlooking the editorial use of the word "pugnacious" in describing Don Blankenship - who is anything but - there are certainly questions arising out of this tragedy that demand answers.  And if he was too far removed from the day-to-day operation at this particular mine, than answers from the man who is directly responsible for the safety - and lack thereof - of the human beings that work at this particular Performance Coal Company facility are called for.

- - -

People not familiar with the relatively isolated regions of America's coalfields won't appreciate the devastating impact that an accident like this has on the community psyche.  Just ten days ago or so I was in conversation with a gentleman who lives and works about 20 miles northeast of this location (as the crow flies) - in Montgomery - talking with him about how hard it was to find good help in the area.  He told me that "the smart ones leave" and the remainder are either on meth or they work in the mines, where the pay is much better than he could ever afford.  All the able-bodied (and non-drug-impaired) men work in the mines.  And when an accident like this occurs, everyone is affected.

I was listening to a talk radio station coming out of Charleston yesterday, trying to get a better understanding of what had happened (and to learn the fate of those four miners still missing) and heard of a story of one particular miner who was reporting for shift duty on the day tragedy struck.  He had just entered the mine when the blast literally tore the shirt off his back.  Though severely injured, he lived to tell the tale.  But his son, brother and nephew didn't.  They died instantly when the mine blew up.  That's how these things can devastate whole families and entire communities.  Everyone works in the mines in this part of the world.  Everyone is affected.

That makes something like this all the more sorrowful.

And the need for answers all the more demanding.

- - -

In that same radio conversation, I also listened to a lot of caller anger directed at those who were responsible for mine safety.  Understandable.  And justifiable.

This should not have happened.

The Worst Writers In America

Now you'd think a newspaper publisher would have as a prerequisite for hiring someone to write for his or her paper the ability to convey thoughts in a succinct and meaningful way.  Especially if that person is being hired to write for the editorial page.

Well not at the Charleston (WV) Gazette.  Apparently hiring the mentally impaired takes precedent.

I dialed up the Gazette this morning to get the hysterically radical editorial page's take on the mine tragedy that took place up in Montcoal on Monday to see just how hysterical the writers there would get about the coal industry and those who put profit before human lives, and all that.  And they didn't disappoint.

See "Coal horror: Methane-filled mine."

What immediately distracted me though was this:

"Federal records say that up to 2 million cubic feet of deadly methane gas seeps daily into the large Massey Energy mine at Montcoal, Raleigh County. It's a highly gassy mine."

It's a highly gassy mine?

What in God's name is that?  Does the Charleston Gazette have eight-year-olds writing its columns now?

It's a highly gassy mine?

Doesn't gassy mean flatulent?  Colicky?

It's a highly gassy mine.

Highly childy, if you ask me.

Can We Talk About This?

Any regular reader of this weblog will tell you that there is no one in this country more in favor of separating the body parts of those foreign terrorists hell-bent on killing our children and grandchildren than I am.  I've made it abundantly clear that I want them all dead.

But when the United States government starts targeting American citizens who are deemed terrorists for termination, summarily, without due process, we need to have a discussion about where such an action is taking us.

(Try and picture Bush getting away with this without hue and cry fulminating from the New York Times):
U.S. Approves Targeted Killing of American Cleric
By Scott Shane, New York Times

Washington — The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.

American counterterrorism officials say Mr. Awlaki is an operative of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the affiliate of the terror network in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They say they believe that he has become a recruiter for the terrorist network, feeding prospects into plots aimed at the United States and at Americans abroad, the officials said.

It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing, officials said. A former senior legal official in the administration of George W. Bush said he did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing under the former president. [link]

Well, not Bush.

That cowboy Barack Obama.

Look, it wouldn't bother me at all to see this Anwar al-Awlaki have his head handed to him.  But not before he has the opportunity to provide for a defense of his actions.  We have - or had - this thing called the Constitution, you see.  And as trampled as it has been, it is still the only thing keeping us from each other's throats.

Let's not go down this road, whadda ya say?

- - -

For what it's worth, the New York Times editorial page has no opinion on the matter today.  Nor does the ACLU web page.  If this had been George W. Bush trying to pull this, do you think they'd be silent?

At Its Essence

Ann Althouse provides the definition of the Tea Party movement - in just seven words - that to this point has eluded all of the mainstream press and most of Washington:

"Meade [her husband] and I stopped by the Tea Party Express event over on the far east side of Madison [Wisconsin]. There were about 300 people there, with various flags and signs. No violence. No epithets. Just a lot of people opposed to socialism."

A lot of people opposed to socialism.

Welcome to the revolution.  Grab a pitchfork.  We owe it to those who came before us and made this country great.  And to those generations that will follow us so that they too may thrive and prosper in this "the last best hope of earth."  Let's vow to nobly save or meanly lose it.

But He Promised ...

I want to meet the guy who believed candidate Barack Obama when he stated unequivocally: "I want to provide a tax cut for 95% of Americans. If you make less than a quarter of a million dollars a year, you will not see a single dime of your taxes go up. If you make $200,000 a year or less, your taxes will go down."


A lie.  As was foretold.

The tax man cometh:
Volcker: Taxes likely to rise eventually to tame deficit

(Reuters) - The United States should consider raising taxes to help bring deficits under control and may need to consider a European-style value-added tax, White House adviser Paul Volcker said on Tuesday.

Volcker, answering a question from the audience at a New York Historical Society event, said the value-added tax "was not as toxic an idea" as it has been in the past and also said a carbon or other energy-related tax may become necessary.

Though he acknowledged that both were still unpopular ideas, he said getting entitlement costs and the U.S. budget deficit under control may require such moves. "If at the end of the day we need to raise taxes, we should raise taxes," he said. [link]
As with talk about establishing a flat tax, politicians in Washington are willing to entertain the notion of adopting a value-added tax only if it is added to our existing (confusing and unwieldy) tax structure.  Not in place of it.  Which means in plain terms, these jokers want our taxes to go through the roof in order to maintain their precious (bloated) government. 

"Your taxes will go down."  A campaign promise.  So much for that.

Out of Darkness And Into The Light

After dabbling in the fantasy world for a period of time, the American people are resetting their priorities to the basics in life.  Food.  Shelter.  Clothing.

The fundamentals:
Americans Prioritize Energy Over Environment for First Time

Princeton, NJ -- Americans are more likely to say the U.S. should prioritize development of energy supplies than to say it should prioritize protecting the environment, the first time more have favored energy production over environmental protection in this question's 10-year history.

The March 4-7 Gallup poll was conducted a few weeks before President Obama came out in favor of oil exploration off some sections of the U.S. coast, and shortly after he advocated the expanded use of nuclear power in the United States.

The current data represent a continuing shift in opinion toward energy production. Since 2007, when Americans' preferences for environmental protection were the greatest (58% to 34%), Americans' opinions have shown significant movement each year in the direction of prioritizing energy production. This change has been evident among nearly every major demographic subgroup, although self-identified liberals have remained relatively steadfast in saying the environment should be a higher priority. [link]
Obama can be thanked for this.  At least in part. Fear of what he might do to our way of life to save "the environment" will have that effect.

But the economy plays a big part in this shift as well.  As does the fact that the environmental movement - think Al Gore - has been largely marginalized after it was revealed that those participating are either socialists, zealots, hucksters, or boneheads.

Whatever the reason, the American people are coming to their senses. 

And not an oil drilling rig too soon.