The following are two stories of life in these United States under the Obama Administration. One is a story of the curious, uproarious anger that seems to have befallen a number of Americans these past 15 months, an anger that has become so vitriolic that it’s now becoming more and more troublesome. Considering the unfathomable acts that occurred in this country in the eight years prior, I still can’t seem to grasp just how venomous this anger has become.
The other story paints a picture in contrasts, a small one within the grand scheme of things, but telling just the same. We’ve all been witness to the latest coal mining disaster in West Virginia that took the lives of 29 people, and though not at the forefront of everyone’s minds, is troubling nonetheless. A recent action by the Mine Safety and Health Administration is a stark contrast to the ensuing action by the previous Administration after the Sago Coal Mine disaster, which took the lives of 12 Americans. This contrast paints a picture of a leader who takes action for the welfare of American citizens, and not that of wealthy business owners.
Loaded Weapons as a Protest Sign
On Monday, a Second Amendment rally was held just outside the nation’s capitol in Virginia, in a spot deliberately chosen for its proximity to the Capitol building. One of the several dozen or so participants was Daniel Almond, a three-tour veteran of the Iraq War, who participated in the so-called “open-carry” protest because he says he’s upset about “healthcare, climate control, bank bailouts, drug laws and what he sees as President Obama’s insistence on and the Democratic Congress’ capitulation to a ‘totalitarian socialism’ that tramples individual rights.”
Apparently a few of these gun-toting rallies have been popping up all over the place in anger over this “trampling” of our civil rights. I could make arguments all over the place over these contentions, but for the sake of space, I’ll save that for another time. Doesn’t anyone find it a little scary that these so -called patriots choose to protest in such a way that outwardly seems to proclaim, “Well, we’ve got guns…what are you going to do about it?” It’s one thing if you’re protesting actual threats to your Second Amendment rights, but to outwardly display loaded guns to protest healthcare overhaul? Bank bailouts? Drug laws? C’mon…this is potentially scary stuff here!
Swift response to mining disaster: a contrast in two Administrations
In recent days, 57 problem coal mining facilities have been hit with surprise inspections by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, following the explosion in a West Virginia mine that killed 29 miners. The inspections were aimed at preventing any further such accidents and shows how the Obama Administration reacts when faced with a problem.
During the Bush Administration, mining safety regulations and enforcement dwindled to an all time low. According to a Knight Ridder investigation, “Since the Bush administration took office in 2001, it has been more lenient than its predecessors toward mining companies facing serious safety violations, issuing fewer and smaller major fines and collecting less than half of the money that violators owed.“
The investigation found in 2006 that under the Bush Administration the number of fines levied on violators of mine safety regulations dropped by 10 percent from 2001 to 2006 and the dollar amount, when adjusted for inflation, had dropped by a staggering 43 percent in the same time period. In the aftermath of the Sago Mine tragedy in which 12 miners were killed, the investigation into the incident was kept secret, with much of the testimony withheld from the general public. Why?
Only time will tell whether the current Administration reveals the details of its findings in its own investigation of this latest incident, but I’d say that these surprise inspections evidence a genuine desire to prevent future mining accidents. Nothing of the sort occurred in the aftermath of Sago, which to me speaks volumes.
At Home. “A Second Amendment rally.” LI Newsday 19 Apr 2010: A19. Print.
Borenstein, Seth and Johnson, Linda J. “US- Under Bush, mine safety enforcement eased.” 08 Jan 2006. Web. 23 April 2010. http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=13087
Smith, Ellen, Mine Safety and Health News. “Editorial: Will the Sago Mine investigation gain public’s trust?” Web. 23 April 2010. http://www.minesafety.com/index.php?pageStewardLink=2821