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To the miner let me say that he stands where the farmer does - the work of the world waits on him.  If he slackens or fails, armies and statesmen are helpless.  He also is enlisted in the great service army. -- Woodrow Wilson, 1917

We may not like to acknowledge it, but Wilson's words are just as true today as they were in the midst of World War I.  More than half of the electricity supplied to homes and factories in the United States comes from coal.  The miner stands behind your light switch and behind the screen you're using to read these words.

When a coal miner goes underground, he knows he is going into danger.  The training that you get on the first day in the mines is designed to force you face to face with the worst that came happen -- dust that can destroy your lungs, dangerous equipment and electrical lines hiding in the gloom, buildups of gas that can suffocate or lead to devastating explosions, and the horrifying idea that the tons of rock above your head might come crashing down.

Against those fears, the miner must trust the people operating the mine.  He has to trust that their engineering is sound, that they are monitoring for dangerous gases, and that they've designed the mines entries and panels so that the roof is well supported.  He also has to trust the government.  Trust that the mine is being regularly inspected, and that attempts to take shortcuts on safety are met with swift, severe penalties that are large enough to discourage repeats of that behavior.

Unfortunately, over the last seven years both those trusts have been betrayed.  When the Crandall Canyon mine collapsed last summer, the mine owner swore that he was not responsible.

Scientists at the University of Utah, for example, had initially reported the Crandall Canyon event as an earthquake measuring a magnitude of 3.9, but have since said the pattern was more consistent with a structural collapse inside the mine.


"There is no blame," said [mine owner Bob Murray], who also took time to blast critics of his mine company, Murray Energy, including United Mine Workers Union leaders who he said would like to organize the nonunion Crandall Canyon Mine. "It was a natural disaster."

On multiple occasions, Murray denied that his company was "pulling pillars" at Crandall Canyon.  Pulling pillars means removing the coal that supports the roof, and is one of the riskiest maneuvers in mining.  It's usually done only when a mine is nearing the end of life, and then only in conditions where engineers are sure the roof will hold up long enough for the operation to be done safely.  Pulling pillars in an area where there was known instability would be the worst kind of recklessness.  And with awful disregard for his workers that's exactly what Mr. Murray did.

Newly released meeting minutes show that, in the months before the Crandall Canyon mine disaster, its co-owners were dealing with serious structural problems, higher-than-expected costs and subpar coal, but were hopeful that plans approved by federal regulators would get things back on track.

Those plans hinged on extracting nearly all of the coal from the south barrier pillar, the 450-foot-thick coal wall that helped support the roof of the mine, where three months later the walls collapsed, entombing six miners. Three other men were killed in the subsequent rescue effort.


The meeting minutes contain the disruption caused in March by a severe mine "bounce," in which the pressure created by the mountain bearing down on the coal pillars supporting the mine caused coal to explode from the roof and walls.

"The mine started taking bounces and had to retreat the equipment very quickly. There were no injuries and all equipment was recovered out of the area," Crandall Canyon's operator, UtahAmerican Energy, informed IPA officials in a March 21 meeting.

Though Murray has claimed he knew nothing of the earlier collapse, the meeting minutes show that he clearly did.  Maybe that's why Murray Energy has fought so hard to keep these notes from being released to the public.

What Murray and his company describe under the word "bounce" is more widely known by the less friendly term rock burst.  A pillar of coal can stand a tremendous amount of weight, but when a mine is as deep as Crandall Canyon, the massive pressure makes the pillars literally groan under the stress.  Cracks form.  Curved sheets of coal sheer from the side of the pillar.  In the worst case, the pillar literally explodes horizontally from the force, spraying coal into the surrounding entries in the moments before the weight of the roof comes crashing down.  Bounce seems far too mild for such an event.

No matter what you call it, the collapse of a section of Crandall Canyon pushed Murray Energy to an area where the coal had a higher ash content.  The reduced quality meant that Murray was in danger of losing contracts with electrical generators.  To keep their quality up, they had to find a source of better quality coal, and they found it in the pillars holding up the roof at the south end of the mine.

There were no questions raised, according to the minutes, about the safety of going back into the south barrier pillar, but company officials reported that they had worked out a contingency plan with the Mine Safety and Health Administration that would still allow the company to recover some of the coal if they ran into problems with bounces. A federal MSHA spokesman declined to comment on the minutes, citing the agency's ongoing investigation of the disaster.

Why did MSHA approve such a plan?  Well for one thing, Murray Energy never informed MSHA about the collapse as required by law.  However, that's not the full picture.  Months passed between the collapse that took part of the mine, and the disaster that took the lives of the miners.  During that time, the Crandall Canyon mine should have been inspected numerous times, and those inspections should have including having an inspector walk every inch of every air course in the mine.  If that had happened, the inspector surely would have noticed that the north air course had been blocked in the earlier collapse.

Why didn't MSHA catch that?  Maybe it was because under Bush MSHA has been wrecked.  Bush placed an executive from Beth Energy -- a company with a miserable safety record -- at the head of the agency.  Richard Stickler was such an awful choice for this role, that he was rejected by the Senate while Republicans were still in control.  Bush didn't care.  He's thumbed his nose at Congress and subverted every rule of Senate oversight to ensure that Stickler can continue his work of weakening MSHA.  Under Stickler, inspections are down, citations are down, and mining deaths had reached record levels even before the Crandall Canyon deaths were added to the heap.  

With the publicity around the Sago Mine disaster in 2006, Bush had promised tougher enforcement and a raft of new safety regulations for underground mining.  Republicans rushed through the MINER Act, even though many contended that its safety assurances had no teeth.  There is another bill, S-MINER, now pending in Congress to address mine safety in a way that would put serious requirements and penalties in place.  What is Bush's reaction to this bill?  

The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto a mine safety bill, saying the new regulations proposed by Democrats would interfere with legislation President Bush signed in 2006.

Republicans contend that S-MINER would weaken the (not yet implemented) safety guarantees of the MINER Act.  Democrats say S-MINER is tougher.  Who is telling the truth?  You can get a good idea by who supports each bill.  The MINER Act is supported by the National Mining Association, a trade group that includes Murray Energy.  S-MINER is supported by the United Mine Workers.  Which do you think is looking out for the interest of miners?

When it comes to mine owner Bob Murray, I have to agree with Kossack jlms qkw.

We know that Bob Murray lied from the beginning of the Crandall Canyon disaster. ... We know there are 6 dead miners at the bottom of that mine. ... Now we know that the mine owners and MHSA put miners' safety at risk for the sake of profits.  Now we know that indeed, there was retreat mining going on down there thousands of feet below ground.  We know how much Bob Murray lied.  ... What we don't know is, why isn't Bob Murray in jail on criminal charges ?  Where are the lawsuits of the families ?  Why isn't Congress clamoring for the removal of Stickler ?  

When will 9 dead miners and rescue workers have justice ?

Republicans are fond of claiming that they "support the troops" and Democrats are quick to follow.  When it comes to the troops of Wilson's "service army" -- men and women who are daily subjected to danger so that Americans can have heat and light -- they are standing on the front lines, fighting a battle against greed, corruption, and disregard for human life.  That's a fight that Democrats at all levels must join.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:02 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  To these Republicans, (10+ / 0-)

    workers--and soldiers--are just bodies, infinitely and easily replaced.

  •  When (21+ / 0-)

    I read they were recklessly pulling pillars my jaw almost hit the floor. This is the blood icing on the corporate cake: this guy and any accomplices needs to be put on trial for manslaughter. A cryastal clear signal must be sent, or we'll be burying more miners for the same unnecessary reasons.

    Read UTI, your free thought forum

    by DarkSyde on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:07:06 AM PST

  •  Like in one of nyceve's diaries: We are ants. (10+ / 0-)

    We, the working people of America, citizens, tax payers, voters--we are little worker ants.  And if a few fall to ill health or an industrial accident or a useless and illegal war?  <Shrug>  There's more where they came from.  As easily replaced as a paper napkin, and as well respected.

    We have to take our country back from these people!

    To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

    by Dar Nirron on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:09:39 AM PST

  •  teflon (10+ / 0-)

    Back in the day, St Ronnie was called the teflon president--shit never stuck on him.  Actually, the media teflons all Republicans--and they use industrial strength teflon. Sadly, many union members can't see through the fog of media neglect and conspiracy.

    •  It IS sad. (8+ / 0-)

      Sadly, many union members can't see through the fog of media neglect and conspiracy.

      Very important distinction worth making.  It would be interesting to know how many miners nationwide vote Republican - or voted Bush in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.

      I'm genuinely curious.  There are existing surveys indicating that 1/3 of union members voted Bush in 2004.

      •  I would hate to think (6+ / 0-)

        that 1/3 of union members voted for Bu$hCo in 2000 and 2004. Ragged-trousered philanthropists indeed, if true, cutting their own throats in the voting booth.

        I could have been a soldier... I had got part of it learned; I knew more about retreating than the man that invented retreating. --Mark Twain

        by NogodsnomastersMary on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:35:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  True, but we have to understand (9+ / 0-)

          that the attitudes of many, if not most, blue-collar, union households are a reflection of us - meaning liberal activists.

          If we ignore these folks socially, don't recruit them to Democratic political meetings, and neglect to propagandize them effectively and attempt to SELL the Democratic message, we simply leave them vulnerable to Republican spin.

          Perhaps because of a poor education system and/or parental ignorance or neglect, many blue-collar or union members have no automatic or intuitive grasp of the link between labor rights and voting Democrat.  Making the problem worse is the reality of weak grass-roots ties between the Democratic Party and traditionally working-class events or civic organizations.

          We need to close the gap.  When was the last time you saw a huge Democratic Party flag and booth at something like a gun club shooting competition or a monster-truck rally??  Why should this crowd be left to the GOP?  Do we really know how to "work" a blue-collar crowd?  

          •  Here in Texas (3+ / 0-)

            the union movement is small and chronically embattled. It's also solidly Democratic.
               You are absolutely right, though.

            I could have been a soldier... I had got part of it learned; I knew more about retreating than the man that invented retreating. --Mark Twain

            by NogodsnomastersMary on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 09:08:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  During the '04 (5+ / 0-)

            election, there was this idiotic TV ad in WV (I'm in Ohio, but not far from the river). It showed some hard-hatted "miner" - straight out of central casting - yammering about how "John Kerry voted to take away mah coal mining job!" By which he probably meant that Kerry voted in favor of clean water or some such.

            Miners were abundantly aware that it was the draglines and MTR operations that took away their jobs, but media keeps hammering home the idea that it was anything but that.

            Sadly, telling a big enough lie often enough works to make it true in people's minds. Especially in today's information overload world. That's why it's the Rovian political strategy.

            You're correct, this is what we should be countering face to face. Most of these people were Democrats at one time. We need to get them back.

            Meddle not in the affairs of dragons... for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

            by Pariah Dog on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 10:35:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  A plug for my candidate (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SomeStones, jlms qkw, Pariah Dog

              You're correct, this is what we should be countering face to face. Most of these people were Democrats at one time. We need to get them back.

              One positive thing for Obama, is Doug Wilder's experience.  He made political history as the first modern African-American candidate to become Governor of Virginia.  This was back in '94.

              In his memoirs, he said that the tough old coal miners up in the hills embraced him and wouldn't let go.  They were among his strongest backers.

              I find it offensive that the Democratic elites simply ignore the workers as much as they do - speaking in terms of outreach.  If there ever was a candidate who could re-unify Americans into a winning FDR-style coalition, I think it's Obama.

  •  More Bad News (4+ / 0-)

    ...oh, yeah, and the cheap/quality coal is running out, too, which is why we need to kill miners every year or so desperately digging out what's left.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:14:50 AM PST

  •  what a pleasant surprise! (11+ / 0-)

    to log in, first thing in the morning, and find oneself quoted on the front page !  thanks Devilstower.

    what is the true cost of my lifestyle ?  how many resources ?  how many resources to get those resources to my home ?  

    and how many lives ?

  •  Excellent, cogent, astute post, DT (4+ / 0-)

    Crimes like these are all a part of the pile. George W. Bush and Bob Murray have much to answer for.

    Like you said...where are the lawsuits? Where are the prosecutions for these crimes? Where are the 'trial lawyers'?


    Nation of Sheep Ruled by Wolves Owned by Pigs

    by DaddyO on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:16:54 AM PST

  •  award winning post (6+ / 0-)

    truly moving, and insightful

    "You may be on the right track, but if you sit still, you'll get run over" Will Rogers

    by gaspare on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:16:56 AM PST

  •  my morning rant on the topic (6+ / 0-)

    Reading this news this morning made my blood boil. Here's my rant where I channelled my righteous anger.

    Thank you, Devilstower, for continuing to fight the good fight and raise awareness on these important issues.

  •  That's a beautiful piece of writing. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Floja Roja, gatorcog, SomeStones, jlms qkw

    "Yes dear. Conspiracy theories really do come true." (tuck, tuck)

    by tribalecho on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:19:38 AM PST

  •  Coal Mines on Fire, Centralia, PA, etc. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Floja Roja, Tuba Les, SomeStones, jlms qkw

    Another coal issue and quality of life...

    Late night C-Span, BookTV, ran a short on the Centralia PA coal mine fire that's been burning since the 1960's.  An underground fire, never put out, has been smoldering.

    Even more shocking, this fire isn't the only one.  There's a web-site devoted to these coal mine fires, some allegedly burning for close to 100 years.  


  •  As for S-MINER... (6+ / 0-)

    you can add that one to the veto pile (PDF).

    •  i like how w dissed the bill (6+ / 0-)

      the day before the story broke about the meeting minutes.  the white house has excellent timing.  

    •  Is it needed? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rolfyboy6, SomeStones, jlms qkw

      Is this a question of needing a new law or needing to enforce what's there?

      After all, the best law in the world does no good if it's not followed.

      I looked at some stats on mine fatalities, and I saw that the record from the Bush 41 through Clinton years was much better than the Bush 43 years have been.  Really surprising to me because I thought that coal companies were moving from deep shafts to destroying mountaintops to get the stuff.

      •  the mining techniques (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        are different between eastern and western mines due to different geology.

        my read is that the MINER bill is for all/eastern mining.  the S-MINER bill has provisions for the deep underground mining that is used out west.

        this mine was 2-3 thousand feet underground.  and ?a half-mile in from the side.  

        the coal out west lies between the sandstone layers.  

        •  Is that a recent phenomenon? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SomeStones, jlms qkw

          If it was being done at a similar level during the Bush 1/Clinton years, it argues for proper enforcement more than a new law.

          If it's a recent growth trend, it could well argue for new regulations and/or a new law.

          One thing is certain:

          Shaft mining never has been and never will be truly safe, but we should make it as safe as we reasonably can.

          People taking a dangerous job should be able to weigh the risks they're taking.  They can't do that when the boss doesn't value their lives.

          •  it's hard to tell with bushco (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            whether it is enforcement, or that they've gutted (through executive and admin crap) previous laws.

            i really don't know.  

          •  Weighing the risks (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            phonegery, SomeStones, jlms qkw

            I think most underground miners are acutely aware of the risks they're taking.  It's a very dangerous job, and I've never heard a miner say anything but.  However, it's good money if you've only got a high school degree, and it's about the only job available in a lot of coal mining areas.  The only truly effective safety measure is a democratic, responsive union that empowers workers to make complaints when they see safety violations.  Without a union, workers still know when the company's cutting corners, but there's nothing they can do without getting fired.  The UMWA is great for organized miners, but they haven't had much success, and probably haven't tried very hard, at organizing non-union mines in the past 15 years.

      •  miners die in MTR, too (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jlms qkw

        With all those explosive blowing mountains to bits, there's still plenty of danger in MTR. The first mining death of this year was an MTR incident.

        The disaster that buried two man alive in Western Maryland last year was also an open-pit mine. A retaining wall collapsed.

        But, yes, there are a lot less people employed in open pit / MTR mining than underground mining, so you would expect fatalities to be lower. Bush 43 has been esp. bad at oversight.

        When will our nation learn, you don't put people in charge of government who do not believe that government can work. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  •  Excellent article (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SomeStones, jlms qkw

    Words escape me, but deeds are always noticed

    by utopia on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:28:25 AM PST

  •  miners "truly the canaries in the mineshaft" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smintheus, SomeStones, jlms qkw

    Excellent post. This case cries out for justice---not only that, but mine safety issues bring down entire regimes. Think back, back to the late 1980s, when striking miners in the then-USSR's Donbass region drove the final nail in the coffin of the moribund Soviet economy. Today, in China, thousands of miners die annually; protests are quashed with military force and protesting miners forced back to work. Stay tuned: this case may have legs and resonances far beyond Murray's despicable role

  •  One more crime (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Floja Roja, SomeStones, jlms qkw

    by Bu$hCo.
       My hopes have faded for impeachment. However, to keep any belief at all in any decency in this country, I must think that Bu$hCo will be prosecuted for the long, long list of murderous felonies it has perpetrated.

    I could have been a soldier... I had got part of it learned; I knew more about retreating than the man that invented retreating. --Mark Twain

    by NogodsnomastersMary on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:31:06 AM PST

  •  Retreat mining (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tuba Les, SomeStones, jlms qkw

    is the metaphor that captures the spirit of the Bush administration. Greedy, dangerous, and short sighted.

    It cats could blog, they wouldn't.

    by crystal eyes on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:33:54 AM PST

  •  Trial Lawyers are Essential in America (7+ / 0-)

    The only way this kind of worker safety abuse is stopped is by huge lawsuits.

    The government won't stop this abuse under Republican administrations. Even Democrats are hard pressed to ensure safety regulations are followed.

    Only huge monetary penalties stop this kind of event.

    "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:35:17 AM PST

  •  so sad (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rolfyboy6, Tuba Les, SomeStones, jlms qkw

    i am sure too many union miners voted bush in 2000 and 2004. in the post office there were     many union carriers who voted bush because the democrats wanted to take their guns is a fair guess that if every union letter carrier(or any union member) in florida voted for gore we would not be in this mess.

  •  Me Grandda went down into the mines in Wales (7+ / 0-)

    leading the pit ponies to the coal face when he was 12 years old.  

    John L. Lewis was a family hero. When I was in college I worked part of a summer in a coal mine in West-by-God-Virginia - $36 a day portal-to-portal - I tend to take mine safety and the unending greed and duplicity of mine owners pretty seriously.

    "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by bobdevo on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:38:16 AM PST

  •  Nice to Know (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw

    It is nice to know where our next batch of carbon for the atmosphere is coming from, and at what cost. Ultimately, those miners will give there lives for Global Warming.

    "Vice President Cheney is expanding the administration's policy on torture to include tortured logic" Sen. Dick Durbin D-IL

    by Tuba Les on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:46:00 AM PST

  •  workers rights are human rights (4+ / 0-)

    It's nice to see when worker's rights stories hit the front page.  I wish there'd be a front page post on scabbing, too.  Yep, I'm talking once again about Colbert and Stewart and the silence on the progressive blogs (sans Firedog lake who has a link up to contact the studios but then also SUPPORTS Colbert and Stewart for scabbing? Seriously, Hardin-Smith, you just don't get it).

    There are other workers out there fighting these same battles everyday in Smithfield plants, on Amtrak, in Tyson plants and packers with Blue Diamond.  As important as it is to discuss this legislation and these issues, it's just as important to remind people about Aramark and Wastemanagement workers.  

    In the end we are all in this together.  It's about time we started acting like it.

    •  Are they Scabbing? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlms qkw

      Or crossing the picket line. Is there a difference?

      "Many individuals, particularly on partisan blogs, are spreading misleading and malicious information." Sen. Hatch 12/17/07

      by phidda on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 08:51:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They are scabbing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jlms qkw

        They are union members who have returned to their jobs and in doing so, have crossed a picket line.  It's called scabbing and dates back to the early 1800's.  Scabs can also be people who cross a picket line to work who are not part of the union.

  •  You Say You Want A Revolution? (n/c) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SomeStones, jlms qkw

    Just so we're clear: I favor Obama

    by David in Burbank on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:50:46 AM PST

  •  Their regulatory M.O. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rolfyboy6, smintheus, SomeStones, jlms qkw

    Multiply the inmpact of Stickler at Mines across the whole Federal Bureaucracy.

    Food Safety, Consumer Products, FDA, Interior, EPA, VA, all of them.

    Put a corrupt industry jerk-off in charge and cut the budget. If the grass roots actually manage to push an issue to enforcement of the actual law, intervene and put them down. Stack the courts with cronies. Sound like Musharraf, much? (In Pakistan they call him Mush - pronounced like Bush.)

    I've said before that a critical piece of long term survival for people in North America (and of course every other place under the heel of the criminal elite) is what to do with those criminals.

    Will we choose leaders who will prosecute and punish as a deterrent to the rapacious mindset that is dominant? I am generally opposed to the death penalty, but I can make exceptions.

    "Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you king!" - Dylan

    We are talking about nothing less than a revolution in how regular folks think about what they can tolerate.  The criminal elite's miscalculation may be about what happens when people really have nothing to lose. But, maybe they have plans for that, too.

    (PC: -5.75, -6.56) Good men through the ages, tryin' to find the sun, still I wonder, still I wonder, who'll stop the rain? -J. Fogerty

    by RichRandal on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:50:57 AM PST

  •  Devilstower, thanks. My Granddad was a miner. (6+ / 0-)

    My grandmother spent more of her 'married' years collecting Black Lung pension checks than she did holding the man she loved. She lost him early and never married again because he was all she'd ever needed.


  •  Bush with his his appointments; (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rolfyboy6, SomeStones, jlms qkw

    and his appointees are murderers. People have died (not just here but in other places, too) because he has the fox-in-the-henhouse attitude toward appointments.
        Why someone hasn't gone right through the front doors to these offices-Oval office included-slapped on a pair of handcuffs and dragged these killers out, put them into the back seat of police cars and taken them to the station house to be booked, is beyond me. Somebody really needs to do this.
        A complaint needs to be filed; these people need to be picked up. They've caused loss of life. Why aren't they answering for it? Tell mw who to call and where to sign; I'll file the damn complaint. Be more than happy to.

    "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction." --Blaise Pascal

    by lyvwyr101 on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 07:58:34 AM PST

  •  Thank you (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catleigh, Floja Roja, SomeStones, jlms qkw

    and I guess I am emotional but this brought me to tears.  Watching my husband and other working people fight every single day, against enormous odds and in dreadful conditions, albeit not like coal miners, to just survive, makes me frankly resent the fetishistic worship of the military at the exclusion of all the other real heroes in America.

    I am not suggesting one disrespects soldiers.  They, too, are working people in dangerous jobs. But all working people are heroes, all people who struggle in this brutal soul and body destroying system are worthy of our respect.


  •  The documentaries (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catleigh, SomeStones, jlms qkw

    of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory should be mandatory viewing for all schoolchildren.  Then they can start on the history of mining, which is filled with the blood of American workers sacrified to greed.

  •  Most Coal Comes from Surface Mines - (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SomeStones, jlms qkw

    An additional reason for safety issues in underground mines -
    As well as pressures for mountaintop removal in Appalachia -
    Is that underground mines have much higher costs per ton of mined coal.

    Worker safety has been compromised in all industreis under Bush.
    The nonunionized surface mines in the West have significant safety issues, too.

    Still, I think it important for people to realize that when they turn on the light switch, most of the power is coming from western low-sulfur coal mined in surface operations. Almost half of all coal mined in the U.S. comes from one area in Wyoming - the Powder River Basin.  Its coal is used almost exclusively for electric generation.  

    This does not detract from the safety issues faced by all coal miners.  However, the economic center of coal mining has been west of the Mississippi for a generation.

  •  It's worldwide - Conservatives hate miners. (5+ / 0-)

    I wrote a diary that touched on how the current GOP shenanigans mirror the actions of Thatcher's Conservatives in Britain twenty years ago. One aspect - the Right Wing brought down the coal industry because they had a strong Union footing with the National Union of Mineworkers.

    Between 1979 and 1981 economic output declined by 15 percent, and unemployment rose to the 3 million mark. Anything not bolted down was privatized. The coal industry, for example, was completely decimated after its Unions went on strike. I can't stress enough what this one act did to the mind-set of Britain at the time. How much the Conservatives wanted to shut down the coal mining industry because it had the strongest Union.


    So what happened next? What has happened to the UK Conservatives since those days?

    Well, Labour swept to power ten years ago and have won three successive General Elections since. The Conservatives lost every single seat they ever had in Scotland in '97. No major party had ever lost every seat in a United Kingdom country before. Their defeat was total, utter embarrasment.

    Since then, the UK Conservatives have toned it down considerably. Their website says they're pro-Green, they have no anti-abortion platform, but quite honestly they have no idea where they stand. They're asking the public what they should run on. I think the most ironic message on their website is from their editor, that says "In the very near future we will have to re open the coal mines and build new power plants...". Remember how much the Conservatives wanted to shut down the coal mining industry? Like I said: they have no idea where they stand now.

    It's surprising that the Republicans openly WANTED to use the UK Conservative's playbook, considering how long the Tories have been out of power. One telling reason why they made exactly the same mistakes: Mark Thatcher, son of Margaret Thatcher, has worked extensively with Texas Republicans, especially through people like David Wallace.

    It's one thing to not learn the lessons from history's mistakes (and thus be doomed to repeat them). It's altogether more spectacular to learn those same mistakes from the son of the woman that made them in the first place, and somehow think they would work somewhere else!

    The nation can be made to produce a far higher standard of living for the masses of the people if only government is intelligent and energetic... (FDR, '37)

    by ShawnGBR on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 08:13:34 AM PST

  •  and these bastard sons of bitches have our gov't (4+ / 0-)

    at their beck and call.

    and some idiots here talk about the "irrational anger" of populists, and -- I just can't over this I'm sorry, and I'm sure I'm not alone -- we have a people=powered candidate for President who's telling us that the problems in D.C. can be laid at the door of "bickering" and "the partisan divide."

    well, it doesn't look like my candidate for President, John Edwards, is going to win this election, which is a damned shame, considering the fact that he's the first mainstream and "most electable" while also the "most progressive populist" candidate for President that I've seen in my lifetime. But I really don't think he's going to go away and shut up about how the big conglomerates and those at the very top have far too much power in Washington, D.C.

    Maybe John Edwards will help these families sue Bob Murray and his conspiring, apparently criminal cohorts.

    thank, Devilstower, this great piece doesn't deserve to get buried by the new flush of morning posts - I wish you'd think about reworking this piece a bit, and trying to get it published where others will see it, too.

    •  Edwards' troubles (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SomeStones, jlms qkw

      well, it doesn't look like my candidate for President, John Edwards, is going to win this election, which is a damned shame, considering the fact that he's the first mainstream and "most electable" while also the "most progressive populist" candidate for President that I've seen in my lifetime. But I really don't think he's going to go away and shut up about how the big conglomerates and those at the very top have far too much power in Washington, D.C.

      Maybe John Edwards will help these families sue Bob Murray and his conspiring, apparently criminal cohorts.

      Great suggestion, Jennifer.

      While I'm an Obama man (and you might consider this to be a concern troll post), I have great enthusiasm for Edwards' message.  His major problem is one of credibility.

      To counter his disastrous voting record, he really needs to get some kind of "boots on the ground" operation up and running on behalf of underprivileged people.  Organizing a lawsuit on a pro bono basis would be one great thing to do.

      In a prior post, I indicated that he should take a page from Oprah, and simply build a modern high-quality school from the ground up in the most impoverished county of his state.  Even if he didn't want to fund the whole thing himself, he'd be a very persuasive fund-raiser on the liberal philanthropy circuit.

      Whether it's volunteering to help the miners for no charge or something else equally high-profile, he'd be well-served by DOING more progressive stuff and talking less.

      •  Edwards hasn't gotten much media coverage, but (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SomeStones, jlms qkw

        he's gotten some -- and what he's been talking about --  right there on the TV screen! -- is corporate greed and how Big Money interests have way too much power in D.C. and how everyday people have way too little power. This IMO is the very most important issue we face, and an issue that most Americans agree on, even though most politicians never talk about it, except occasional pro forma claims that the Big Money contributions are irrelevant to how they vote. See Gallup poll from March that shows 76 percent agree that the political leaders in D.C. pay too much attention to the needs of the big corporations, and 77 percent agree that such leaders pay too little attention to the needs of the poor.

        IMO it is a very big deal for a mainstream politician to be talking about this at all on TV. You obviously disagree -- that's your perogative. let's not devolve this thread into trading charges, OK? I apologize to Devilstower for mentioning  the "bickering" thing in the first place.

    •  "irrational anger" (0+ / 0-)

      Have you ever thought that it really maybe - "irrational anger" ??

      Have you reall considered that this is (Coal Mining) a very dangerous occupation and it can nver be made 100% safe.

      In fact nothing in this world (as far as work goes) is 100% safe !

      Considering how few men die each year (less under Bush than under Clinton) you are being "irrational" than compared to other pursuits in life which you readly and quite willing engage in.

      Under Bush and even with the fact this is a very hazardous activity only 28.8 miners per 100,000 died while he was in office.

      For a hazardous job, those are not bad stats.

      Here are some work place stats in the 2000s under Bush.
      In 2003  - When the number of workers in each industry was considered, the highest death rate was in the sector of agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, with 31.2 deaths per 100,000 workers.  Mining was next, with a rate of 26.9 per 100,000 workers.  Construction's rate was 11.7, and transportation and warehousing's was 17.5.  

      But logging workers had the highest death rate, with 131.6 per 100,000.  Pilots and flight engineers were second, with a rate of 97.4 deaths.  The rate for truck drivers was 26.7.

      This makes mining about as unsafe as any other hazadous job.

      Stats on volumtary activities are:

      Cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke caused 438,000 premature deaths in the United States each year from 1997 through 2001.  About 146 deaths per 100,000 of our population.

      Car driving kills or injures about 1.3 million people per year.

      What I fail to see here is the Hypreventlating about Truck Drivers, Loggers, Fisherman, etc., that have just as hazardous jobs or more so.

      So I do think you do have "irrational anger" but you are not the only one on this site that does.

      •  Dude, there's a difference between "can never (4+ / 0-)

        be made 100% safe," and the mine owner knowingly endangering his miners by not following proper industry practices and regulations, by deliberately doing something that every mining expert KNOWS is particularly unsafe, "pulling the pillars," and then lying about it.

        You want to side with lying Bob Murray and Bush's anti-regulation ideology against the workers who got killed, that's your perogative.

  •  None dare call it murder. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Floja Roja, jlms qkw

    In many states, if I drive the getaway car for a robbery, unaware that my buddy is going in with a gun, and he panics and shoots the clerk to death, I am guilty of murder.  If I engage in a plot that results in death, knowing there was a risk, I am guilty of conspiracy.  

    Bush and his people did what they did, knowing the risks. Murder.  

  •  the question re new mining legislation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw

    is will this congress support, regardless of veto?

    I think this is a core issue and I think most USians do support mine safety.

    Regardless of my very low opinion of Woodrow Wilson.

    This is us governing. Live so that 100 years from now, someone might be proud of us.

    by marthature on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 08:39:16 AM PST

  •  Watch (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw

    Having war is saying those that fought in the "war to end all wars" died in vain.

    by 88kathy on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 09:23:41 AM PST

  •  Thanks DT and jlms (5+ / 0-)

    I'm passing this along to my husband's boss.

    Bob Murray, is originally from the county next to mine and a load of people around here know him quite well.

    Murray owns the coal rights to the land the boss' house is on and now wants to strip mine it. The boss and he grew up together and have been wrangling about this for a couple years now. So far the boss has held him off by demanding multiple studies about the effects on the well, foundation, etc., but he's not sure how much longer he can hold out.

    Meddle not in the affairs of dragons... for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

    by Pariah Dog on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 10:49:05 AM PST

  •  Wilson quote (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw

    The Wilson quote opening the article is absolutely chilling.  Please don't get the idea he was praising miners (or other members of the "service army).

    Not at all.  

    He was far more likely to be complaining about them.  Several years ago, the Atlantic ran a remarkable article about the design of the US school system, noting in depth Wilson's hand in its design and adoption.  

    Interestingly, the article explicitly noted that Wilson approved of the idea that one of the chief purposes of school systems was to train workers to deal with tedium and boredom.  His point was that only a few people - the 'cream' would ever have an opportunity to realize their potential.  Consequently, Wilson viewed education as essentially wasted on most workers, other than a means to acquire a basic adaptable skillset for factory work and establishing social norms/expectations for day-to-day work.  

    Of course, this left college education for the rich, who as the result of school connections et cetera could continue to dominate the economic structure.  

    *     *      *      *

    This is why, IMHO, we need to treat all workers well - acceptable wages, acceptable working conditions, reasonable benefits including healthcare etc.  As Wilson noted, we're the backbone of the economy - and too many workers don't realize the power that we have if we band together.

    For the record, 'workers' can be broadly defined as the group of all people who must engage in daily work in order to meet their survival needs, and who do not subsist on income from invested capital.  This means those of you in soi-disant 'professional' jobs where you spend all day at a computer....just because you're not getting your hands dirty doesn't mean you're not a worker.  

    And we need to ensure that Democratic candidates speak to workers' concerns - there are a lot more workers than people who live off interest income, and we need to ensure that they know that we vote IN OUR OWN INTEREST.

    (end rant)

  •  The US is the Saudi Arabia of coal (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw

    So we need to watch out.

    This is us governing. Live so that 100 years from now, someone might be proud of us.

    by marthature on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 12:59:14 PM PST

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