Friday, August 17, 2007

"You're doin' a heck of a job, Stickly!"

A major criticism of the Bush administration has been that it lets foxes guard America's hen houses. For instance, it let the oil industry influence its energy bill. Another criticism is that the administration has given political appointments to unqualified candidates based on loyalty rather than competence. For instance, Alberto Gonzalez, Michael "Brownie" Brown or Harriet Myers (who was almost "Justice Myers"... wow).

It seems these two criticisms may have converged in the person of Richard Stickler, who, as our country's mining czar, is in charge of mine safety. Well, after over 80 years of improved mine safety, mine deaths have been going up the past few years. And yesterday there was a second tragedy in the Utah mines-- 2 more miners are dead, another 7 injured. This on the heels of 6 miners trapped, and still unrecovered.

So this decline in safety could be just a string of tragically bad luck.

But yet, some saw it coming.

President Bush nominated Mr. Stickler for his current position last year, but was forced to withdraw the nomination amid opposition from ALL the mining unions, families of victims of mining disasters, Senate Democrats, and some Senate Republicans. The opposition was so strong, the Bush had to sneak Stickler in the through the backdoor: a recess appointment, where the Senate doesn't give an up or down vote. What was all the fuss about?

As a mining executive, the guy's safety record sucked.

Now, Keith Olberman and bloggers at Huffington Post are taking Stickler (and President Bush) to task. Check their takes out here and here.

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