Thursday, March 11, 2010

Waiting For Senate - Will This Bus Ever Arrive?

Significant legislation has been piling up in the Senate for some time now. According to The Progressive Professor site, 290 bills have passed the House and await action in the Senate. Among the measures is a bill removing earmarks given to for-profit organizations. Conservative Democrats are opposed to it because it will cost jobs. Republicans say their opposition is all about principle and they just want all earmarks removed. Both groups leave out their pockets being stuffed with contributions from these same organizations.

Another bill languishing concerns removing the middleman from the Student Loan Program. At present, private banks administer the governments money to recipients, adding costs to both the lender and recipients. Cutting out the banks and making the government the direct lender would save billions. Who could object? Well, Republicans and conservative Democrats. They claim this will hurt the job market because, it seems, they fear bankers will lose their jobs. There you go, side with the bankers, and then wonder why you lose in November.

National school standards, needed to correct the race to the bottom caused by No Child Left Behind, has also stalled. Conservatives claim this would be too much government interference. I guess they think it was okay to force the states to lower their standards so they would not be punished under the provisions of No Child Left Behind, but somehow it is wrong to reward those who raise standards.

This story is getting tedious. No matter what the issue, the script reads the same. President Obama talks of moving forward on a new initiative with a fresh spirit of bipartisanship. The House of Representatives quickly pass legislation. John Boehner attacks and says "Speaker Pelosi has rammed another bill down our throats." Eric Cantor urges caution about "changing the fabric of our nation." Rush and Beck go apoplectic. Palin continues to be incoherent. And then we get to the Senate. Harry Reid announces that the bill will be carefully considered and all opinions sought. Mitch McConnell will denounce the bill as government expansion on an unprecedented scale, but announce that he is once again "willing to be bipartisan and negotiate." Then Reid appoints Democrats who don't really like the bill to negotiate with Republicans who are planning to stall and negotiate in bad faith. A watered down version with no teeth eventually emerges from the appropriate Senate committee, passing along party lines.

Then comes the filibuster. Well, not an actual filibuster but a threat of one. This virtual filibuster has served to completely stifle the Senate for some time. Acting as if there can be no votes unless there are sixty votes for something has stymied action on numerous bills. Ah, but the Democrats had sixty you say. Yes, and this is where the next act starts. Raise the curtain on a few "moderate" Democrats who suddenly find reasons to object. This is the hostage scene. Suddenly, a few see the opportunity to grab some pork, power or votes and threaten to bring it all down unless they get their way.

Procedure and process then enter as the fall guys. It's the filibuster we are told. But no one is ever forced to filibuster because somehow that might be going too far.

And that's how a bill doesn't become a law.

British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Costs

  • 11 workers killed in initial blast
  • Damage to Ocean Ecosystem
  • 35,000 to 60.000 Barrels of Oil Per Day. That's somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 gallons a day or 150 to 300 million gallons already spilled into the ocean as of July 27th by that estimate.
  • Gulf Fisheries Industry
  • Gulf Tourism (ongoing costs)
  • Long Term Health Effects to Humans and Wildlife (to be determined)

Worst Oil Spills

  • Kuwait 1991 - 520 million gallons: Gulf War I
  • Gulf of Mexico 2010 - 206 million gallons: BP Oil
  • Mexico, Bay of Campiche 1979 - 140 million gallons: Pemex Oil
  • Trinidad & Tobago 1979 - 90 million gallons: Greek Oil Tanker Atlantic Empress
  • Russia 1983 - 84 million gallons: Leaky Pipeline collapsed into Kolva River
  • Iran 1983 - 80 million gallons: Tanker collided with Oil Platform
  • South Africa 1983 -79 million gallons:Tanker Castillo de Bellver sank
  • France 1978 - 69 million Gallons: Amoco Cadiz ran aground and broke in half.
  • Angola Coastal Waters (700 miles at sea) 1991 - 51-81 million gallons: ABT Summer exploded at sea.
  • Italy 1991 - 45 million gallons: M/T Haven Oil Tanker exploded.
  • Source: Mother Nature Network. The 13 largest oil spills in history. by Laura Moss. Friday July 16, 2010.

Nuclear Accidents (Under Construction)

  • 1957 Windscale, UK
  • 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US
  • 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, US
  • 1984 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1985 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1986 Plymouth, Masachusetts, US
  • 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR
  • 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US
  • 1989 Griefwald, Germany
  • 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
  • 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US
  • 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan
  • Source: Benjamin Sovacool

Mining Disasters (Under Construction)

  • China 1942 - 1549 deaths
  • France 1906 - 1100 deaths
  • Japan 1963 - 447 deaths
  • Wales 1913 - 438 deaths
  • South Africa 1960 - 437 deaths
  • Source: Epic Disasters Website
  • Note: Do not look at the dates herein and conclue that mining disasters are a things of the past. Every year thousands of miners die worldwide in largely unreported accidents.

OIL IS OVER! - Resources

  • Hibbert's Peak - "The" source that explains why Oil is Over.
  • Tragedy of the Commons -Garrett Hardin
  • The Land Ethic - Aldo Leopold
  • Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight - Thom Hartmann
  • Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching


  • The Dirt People - Ray Bawarchi (yes, that's me)
  • The Razor's Edge - Somerset Maugham
  • Demian - Herman Hesse
  • Black Elk Speaks - Black Elk (as told to R. Neimur)
  • The Quiet Don - Mikhail Sholokov
  • Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  • Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • Delicious Laughter - Jallahudin Rumi
  • The Sybil - Par Lagerksvitz
  • The Fixer - Bernard Malamud
  • Spirits Rebellious - Khalil Gibran
  • The Quiet American - Graham Greene
  • Midaq Alley - Nagib Mafouz
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Farenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
  • We - Yevgeny Zamyatin


  • John Coltrane - St. John the Divine
  • Patti Smith
  • The Clash - the only band that matters
  • Billy Bragg
  • Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
  • Art Blakey
  • Death - pre-punk visionaries from Detroit
  • PJ Harvey - Polly Jean, Polly Jean
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Michael Franti (Spearhead)
  • Public Enemy
  • Ray Charles - the Genius
  • Bob Dylan
  • Velvet Underground
  • Flaming Lips
  • John Doe & X
  • The Beatles

opiate of the masses

  • God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. - Voltaire
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and inellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei
  • The ink of a scholar is worth far more than the blood of a martyr.- Mohammad
  • If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. - Sheldon Kopp
  • No one will be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. - Louisa Mae Alcott
  • When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.- Voltaire
  • If God were alive today, he'd be an athiest. - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The god I worship is not short of cash, Mister. - Bono
  • Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. My sins they only belong to me. - Patti Smith
  • God sure baked a lot of fruitcake baby, when Adam met the Eden lady. - Joe Strummer