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Two days of Congressional hearings on Utah's recent mining tragedy made clear that when it comes to government competency, the Mining Health and Safety Administration is neck-in-neck with FEMA under Mike Brown. Whether the Department of Labor agency proves as hard to clean up is the less certain issue that Congress-and mineworkers- face.
The two hearings, which were held seperately by the House and Senate Education and Labor Committees, turned into a civics lesson on "When Government Doesn't Work." MSHA's failure to communicate with families after the explosion of Crandall Canyon's mine roof has been pretty well documented. But the hearings additionally indicated that the agency lacked an effective inspection system, had no way to get needed information from other federal agencies, and still lacks a good-faith effort to evaluate its shortcomings.
As New Jersey Democratic Representative Robert Andrews noted to relatives of the six miners and three rescue workers killed, "We are sorry that government has let you down in so many ways."
On Wednesday the conservative Heritage Foundation took a short break from opposing the state children's health insurance program to ponder the tired conservative complaint that liberals control Hollywood. Steve Finefrock, founder of an outfit called the Hollywood Conservative Forum, and a screenwriter whose credits include Department of Homeland Security films, dramatized this right-wing tragedy to about a dozen concerned conservatives.
"All of life is a three-act structure," Finefrock informed them. In that spirit, his speech's first act brought back the age-old lament that "Hollywood is in the grip of PC liberals."
"If you're a conservative [in the movie business]," Finefrock said. "they block your career." He didn't say who "they" are. Finefrock estimated that more than one-third of Hollywood is conservative but like Communists in the McCarthy era they are afraid to speak out. Radical-turned-Republican David Horowitz has made a lucrative career out of this sort of moaning.