Little Country Lost is no longer maintained; you can view the author's latest work at www.congressionaldish.com. Congressional Dish is a weekly podcast pointing out the corporate influence in the bills passed by Congress.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Freedom to Mine Act

House of Representatives
HR 2018: Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011

The House of Representatives spent today debating and voting on a bill which would take enforcement authority and the power to sanction water polluters away from the Environmental Protection Agency. Instead of the EPA, HR 2018 will put individual states back in charge of enforcing clean water laws.

If the goal of HR 2018 to make sure our water is as clean as possible, this bill fails on it's face. As described by Tim Bishop (D-NY), the bill's most passionate opponent, "upstream states can pollute and down stream states would have no recourse."
On the other hand, if the goal is to make business easier for mining companies, this bill is brilliant! The EPA would no longer be able to regulate maximum amounts of chemicals dumped into water. The EPA would no longer be able to impose fines on polluters. Most importantly, the EPA would no longer be able to hold up mining contracts due to water pollution concerns.

The National Mining Association is HR 2018's endorsing organization. Need I say more?

The bill passed with 94% of the Republicans voting for it and 91% of Democrats voting against.

Dishonorable Mentions

It should come as no surprise to learn that the lead sponsor of HR 2018 is a Republican, Floridiot John Mica. However, a dishonorable mention needs to go out to its co-sponsor Rep. Nick Rahall (D) of West Virginia, because Democrats are supposed to be our environmental protectors. Rahall's sponsorship was not on behalf of his constituents; he represented the mountaintop mining industry of Appalachia. His motivations are clear; he didn't try to hide them. During a recent interview with West Virginia's MetroNews, Rahall explained his endorsement:
"Under the current practices of the EPA the permits for surface mines throughout the Appalachian states have been bottled up for months. That is not the proper roll, in my opinion, of a government agency."
Republican after Republican echoed his concerns. They don't want mining permits slowed or retracted. Companies over constituents every time.

What's Next?

The bill passed, but there is decent hope that it won't become law. It still needs to pass the Senate and President Obama has promised a veto.


* For more information and to easily share your thoughts on HR 2018 with your representatives, please click here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Health Care in America

I just want to document this for future reference. We've gone round the bend.

Individual Insurance

People also have the choice of buying individual health insurance, although it costs more. When buying individual insurance, the policy is written solely for that person, based on his/her personal medical conditions. If there is a pre-existing condition, it can make buying individual insurance difficult. Whether a person is accepted for insurance is very unpredictable at times. It may help to know that a person may be accepted for comprehensive insurance, excluding the pre-existing condition. One thing which affects the cost of individual health insurance is smoking—smokers always pay more.

In order to target the best insurance at the best price for yourself, consider the following guidelines:

•Individuals usually buy group health insurance because it is less costly.
•It will help you to learn about the various networks associated with the different types of group insurance (HMOs, PPOs, POSs, and Health Savings Accounts).
•Raising your deductible will always lower your premium.
•When you have narrowed your choice to two group insurance policies, compare the following of both: premiums, co-payments, deductibles, speculated out-of-pocket expenses, percentages of fees paid, maximum limits on each claim and on lifetime claims. It will help to make a chart.
•If you have less than perfect health, you may not be accepted for individual coverage.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Will President Obama Please Step Up?

Dear President Obama,

I'm afraid your refusal to lead is going to literally destroy the the human species. We cannot survive without oxygen and the oil/dispersant combo at the 100,000 + barrels per day spillage rate (which we both know is the more likely number) is killing every plant or animal in its path and is removing precious oxygen from the Earth.

I have been watching hearings in Congress and reading about the oil gusher. I think you also know that there is ample evidence to indicate that the relief wells are not going to work because the well itself is destroyed and oil is probably leaking from the sea floor. This is a much bigger catastrophe than BP or your government is letting on. Why are you allowing the public to be lied to?

Last night on Anderson Cooper 360 I learned that the Coast Guard is not allowing people within 60ft of any oil to take pictures. Cover up should not be the priority of our human resources! This should be an 'all hands on deck' situation. No one should be turned away from either documentation or clean up efforts.

I want the cameras to be allowed anywhere and everywhere. I want the underwater cameras turned to show us the sea floor. I want to see a massive influx of military and civilains deployed to the gulf to contain and pick up the oil. I don't want to see anymore super tankers sitting on the shore. We need to stop using dispersants, allow the oil to float, and then we can surround it and pick it up. With enough people and vessels we can surround this thing and hopefully save the Atlantic coast and Europe. If we can't stop the flow, containment needs to be the priority.

We need to start now!

Let BP continue the capping operation but the containment and clean up is clearly going to be up to us. This is not a time for prayer. This is a time for action.

Like it or not, Barack Obama, you won the Presidency of the United States. You are the most powerful person on this planet. You need to step up and help us save it!

Right now, I don't care about health care, or Wall Street, or Afghanistan, or the 2010 elections. I care about this oil gusher. This is a catastrophe with the potential to literally kill us all. Everything else is a distraction.

Please help us.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Clark

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gulf Oil Gusher Update

Today's Congressional hearing featured the American face of BP, Lamar McKay, sitting next to the other Masters of the Universe: Oil Division. We found out that the response plans of the other companies, such as ExxonMobil, ConoccoPhillips, and Chevron are almost identical to BP's. What is stunning (and extremely obvious based on BPs actions) is that the oil companies' responses are focused on media manipulation, not containment and clean up of oil.



The other hearing today addressed the health problems being reported by responders in the Gulf of Mexico. Most injuries being treated are being caused due to heat stress. "Hydrocarbon" issues are the second biggest problem.

The one suggestion made to what can be done to help this is to start holding clean up operations at night. Bad news: they aren't cleaning around the clock already. Get some lights and some people and get rolling.
The unianamous concern was for the dispersants. Due to their toxicity level and the unprecedented amounts being used by BP, no one is able to predict what kind of damage the dispersants are doing to the plants, animals, and people who are just now starting to be effected.

Last but not least, the official amount of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico being reported by the government has been increased to an upper limit of 60,000 barrels per day. This official number is not only important scientifically but also financially. Apparently, it's on paper (in the Clean Water Act) that BP needs to pay $4,300 per barrel of oil spilled. If the number is kept down, BP pays less and we pay more. The closer it gets to accurate, the more we, the suckered citizens of the United States, are reimbursed. Although it runs opposite to logic, people in the goverment are actually helping BP pay the government as little as possible.

The number I've been using as the real number of barrels released per day is the one provided by Steven Wereley, an engineering professor at Purdue University. After Ed Markey, Congressman of Massachusetts, got BP to put the live feed of the oil spill online, Mr. Wereley estimated over 100,000 barrels of oil were spewing from just 2 of the 3 "leaks" that existed before BP chopped off the top of the pipe creating one giant gusher into the Gulf of Mexico. I have trusted Mr. Wereley over others because he was not contracted by BP or the government, he was considered credible enough to have been asked to testify in front of Congress, and because the television media is staying away from him. I will not believe we are being told the truth until the official number is over 100,000 barrels per day. We're a little over halfway there.
My emails and calls to my representatives tomorrow morning will be requesting night time operations in the Gulf of Mexico, a massive mobilization of volunteers, and BP/government provided respirators for anyone who is helping clean up the ocean, wildlife, and beaches.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Email to President Obama

Dear Mr. President,

The Deepwater Horizon blew up a month ago today. BP has lied to us every step of the way. How is it even possible BP is being allowed to control the flow of information to the public?

Wake up, Federal government! You needed to take control away from BP two weeks ago.

This is starting to look worse than your Katrina. The catastrophe is starting in New Orleans, but at over 100,000 barrels per day, your Katrina might devastate the world.

Step up.

Mahalo,

Jennifer Clark
Honolulu, HI

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Least Favorite Super Bowl Commercial

If you had told me last week that the commercial that would bother me the most would be the one starring The Simpsons, I would have probably called that impossible; after all, there was a commercial approved by CBS telling me what to do with my uterus. But it is true. Coca Cola made a commercial titled "Hard Times" in which the poor and middle class residents of Springfield give Mr. Burns a coke to cheer him up. Here; watch it for yourself.




You know what? Fuck Mr. Burns.

This economic disaster is making all of us significantly poorer in one way or another. The commercial is designed to play on our sympathies for each other in these tough times. But I don't feel a bit of sympathy for Mr. Burns, and I don't think I should. This is the man that takes candy from babies, turns the dogs on his workers, and literally blocked out the sun. In the metaphor of The Simpsons is America, Mr. Burns represents the super rich who bought the country, ripped up the rules, and legally stole all our money.

Do not give this man a coke. And only lift him up on your shoulders if you are preparing to throw him off a cliff.

The scene takes place in a fake reality where the super rich are the victims; it's a scene that has nothing to do with real life in this country right now. Billionaires are not the ones losing their homes; at least not the homes they actually live in. That reality is reserved for the poor and middle class families who borrowed money from the billionaire owned banks; it was the billionaire who gave them loan sharky terms, gambled with their money, and then took $700 billion tax dollars in the biggest bank heist in US history. There have also been absolutely no runs on billionaire garage sales; however, my neighbor on the corner has sold almost everything he owns. Had it been Homer or Apu or even Mayor Quimby that was down on his luck and given a coke, I probably would have related and maybe liked the commercial. Instead, I got a message telling me that I should feel pity for the rich.

Even Spider Pig is too good for this filth.

I had 12 people in the room with me when this commercial aired during the Super Bowl and with the exception of my "Hated it" and a snicker from Ryan, the rest of the room was dead quiet. No comments. Nothing. Unlike the famous Coca Cola commerical in the 1970's where the cute kid gives the football player a coke, there was no sentimental satisfaction in this one. It also sucks that The Simpsons sold out to Coke. Maybe these are the reasons the commercial silenced my friends. However, I'm hoping at least a few of them disliked it for the same reason I did; because it was trying to sell me a steaming load of corporate crap.

And I'm not gonna take it anymore! I'll take a tap water, please.