Last week, Rush Limbaugh responded to the West Virginia mining disaster by attacking “the left.” Limbaugh was especially incensed that “propagandists” linked the disaster to “tea parties, global warming, and capitalism.” He rallied to the defense of coal baron Don Blankenship, the CEO of Massey Energy, who promotes his radical philosophy of coal profits above all else on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
At Crooks and Liars, they’re the ones that are putting out the notion that this guy Blankenship — by the way he’s committed another crime, too — he’s on the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce. Yeah, that’s reported as though that’s a strike against him. Oh, yeah, he’s one of those guys, Chamber of Commerce guys. That means he’s for big profit at the expense of the working man.
Blankenship has, in fact, repeatedly admitted that he is “for big profit at the expense of the working man.” In 1984, he described how he works to “sell coal cheaper to drive union coal out of business.” He continued that “unions, communities, people, everybody’s going to have to learn” that capitalism is “survival of the most productive.” In 2005, he told his workers to “ignore” requests by safety inspectors “to do anything other than run coal” because “the coal pays the bills.”
Limbaugh also questioned why people are blaming Republicans who “fought new regulations” instead of the “Obama regime”:
Now, what the hell here? We’re going to blame Republicans for this? It was Bush’s fault at the Sago mine. Now we’re gonna blame this guy for contributing to Republicans because I guess Republicans fought new regulations? And now the Obama regime is angry? Has the Obama regime not been in office for over a year, have they not had their own labor board people in there? I’ll tell you, I don’t have a word to describe my disgust for these people. Every damn thing that happens gets politicized. I tell you what, folks, they are purposely dividing this country to create the chaos and the unrest that exists.
The Obama administration has, in fact, significantly stepped up enforcement of mine safety, even though Obama’s labor board nominees were filibustered by Republicans, and only recess appointed on April 1, 2010. Joe Main, Obama’s pick to run the Mine Health and Safety Administration, was confirmed by the Senate after a three-and-a-half month delay. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis’s nomination was blocked by Republicans for over a month. Coal mining companies have been appealing twice as many of the citations — especially the major ones. Under current law, unsafe mines can’t be shut down while the violations are being appealed.
(HT Dave Wiegel)