Two Dead Miners Are More Important Than 1000 Donald Sterlings

Yes, yes, we're all having such fun laughing at pathetic, old, self-deluded, old, racist old Donald Sterling, who proved last night on CNN that having billions of dollars does not, in fact, give you any insight into yourself or the world around you. What? You mean great-grandpa never got used to the Negros being able to talk back? It also proved that 80something rich white guys should just shut the fuck up and go live with their human playthings on an island they bought. But the circus goes on. So we get the to be entertained by the sight of rich guys acting all upset that Sterling said mean things about other rich guys, including rich black guys. Truly, honestly, and the Rude Pundit says this with all due contempt for the amount of time we've spent on this bullshit, "Whatever." Seriously, Sterling'll be dead soon, as will his entire generation, and, with them, just a little bit of evil in this world will go into the ground with them.

What you should actually give a shit about is that two coal miners died in a mine in West Virginia last night. No, it's not as glamorous as Sterling not knowing the different between having HIV and "the AIDS" when it comes to Magic Johnson. But it's more important by order of degrees.

Brody Mine Number 1 is owned by Patriot Coal, which has that name because of course it does. They are such patriots at Patriot Coal that, last year, when the U.S. Mine Safety and Health administration said that Brody No. 1 had a Pattern of Violations (an official designation for especially unsafe mines), they did their patriotic duty and made everything safe. Nah, just kidding. They issued a press release blaming the company they bought the mine from and said they're fixing the problems: "During the period of time it has operated as a Patriot subsidiary, the Brody mine has made considerable and measurable progress toward improved safety and compliance." They bought the mine in December 2012. The report was issued in October 2013. Patriot is suing to get the POV designation removed. That might be a harder case to make today.

Eric Legg and Gary Hensley died in what is called a "coal outburst." What that means is that the walls of the mine burst, ejecting coal and gas into the area where the men worked. It's a nasty way to die, hot and violent. It means that the gas wasn't drained out of the area to relieve pressure, which is a significant safety violation, which is what Brody No. 1 was already cited for: "MSHA said that its inspectors had cited more than 250 'significant and substantial' violations during the 12-month period that ended Aug. 31. An MSHA audit of the mine’s records found that injuries resulted in nearly 1,800 lost-work days at the mine, 367 of which were from eight injuries that the company did not report to MSHA. A separate audit in 2012 found 29 injuries that were not reported." To do the math, Patriot owned the mine for 8 of those 12 months.

As always with mining companies, Patriot has been on the forefront of doing vile shit to workers. The United Mine Workers of America was already pissed off at Patriot for using bankruptcy to dick over miners and retirees. Yeah, when it sought bankruptcy protection last year, a judge approved allowing the company to cut health benefits and pensions to union workers and retirees. It shitcanned a contract it had with the union and renegotiated one that cost the company far less. The workers got dicked, but it was with a smaller dildo. The deal allowed Patriot to emerge from bankruptcy in December 2013.

To celebrate, in February, Patriot spilled 108,000 gallons of slurry waste into a creek feeding the Kanawha River, the same river that was polluted by Freedom Industries. Don't worry, though. It wasn't supposed to significantly impact the drinking water, which could be another way of saying that things couldn't get worse. (You can make your own joke about how Patriot and Liberty have fucked the people of West Virginia.)

Conservatives are fond of talking about a "war on coal" by the Obama Administration. The blithering fucksacks at Freedomworks are especially into blaming any bad stuff that happens in the coal industry on this supposed war. What are the tactics of those waging war? Requiring pollution controls and increased safety oversight in the wake of the Massey mine disaster, where 29 workers died in 2010. Man, what evil motherfuckers those Obamabots are. Oddly, the war on coal miners by profit-gouging corporations doesn't seem to get as much play in the conservative media.

Maybe you're just a patriot when the government leaves you alone to do what you want.