Watch the soap: “As The Government Turns”

The machinery of the federal government is gearing down toward a halt. I know this from personal experience, but I will not go into it just because. No, I could relate some of that familiarity but I see no reason to, it being fairly pedestrian. Besides, we still have more than eight hours to go even though I don’t believe in miracles — at least when the federal government is concerned. By federal government, I include Congress.

Give us your tired, your poor and your idiots, the latter of whom will make our laws.

Military men and women aren’t happy campers, reports Navy Times, for the same reason I am not doing cartwheels. The threat of no pay sometime down the road is on our minds. The American Federation of Government Employees, a mighty fine labor organization I might say, a.k.a. AFGE, is seeking an injunction which would prohibit military and other federal workers who are deemed essential from having to work without pay. The AFGE says they have the Constitution to back them up.

“Hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be required to work during a shutdown, and there’s no guarantee that Congress will keep the administration’s promise to pay those employees once the shutdown is over,” AFGE National President John Gage said.

The suit charges that the Obama administration is violating the Appropriations Clause and Thirteenth Amendment by requiring federal civilian employees to work without pay during a period of lapsed federal appropriations.


Really, there isn’t anything to do but sit back and watch all the foolishness and silliness in this gargantuan soap opera played out by the people who govern the “greatest nation on Earth.”

For a little insanity not directly related to the government shutdown: BP has bought an eastern-facing beach of Cat Island, a barrier island in the Mississippi Sound. The part of the beach is the top of the “T” of the T-shaped island that is about eight miles south of Gulfport, Miss. Parts of the island were long in private hands. So, says a BP press flak,  it would be easier for the company to clean up the beach, due to the massive Deepwater Horizon explosion-caused oil spill which happened one year ago this month, than to have to deal with the regulatory niceties of cleaning up private property. You break it, you buy it, I guess. Candy, I bet. S**t, I reckon.

On that note, I know I am off from my part-time job until at least Tuesday. We shall see if it is longer than that, and if I will be back to begging for donations on the blog if the threatened shutdown materializes.



How to heal a broken oil company? A little congressional a** kissing

Boy howdy, talk about kicking an oil company when they’re down, or up, or down.

BP may have finally stopped their well from spewing oil all over the Gulf Coast after a test of a containment cap that had previously leaked. At least, things look rosy for the moment. Of course, that is how BP has managed this environmental disaster for the last three months after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig went boom, killing 11 crew members.

“BP will fix it and make it all better. I know that because I am from the Coast and I met a man named Scratch at the Crossroads down by Clarksdale who said he’d make me rich and play the guitar like Robert Johnson if I made a TV commercial for BP.”

So it would truly be some good news finally if the cap continues to hold back the old oil. We won’t mention just yet the clean up that will continue and will hopefully intensify once the oil is finally pronounced stop-ped (like, really stopped, man.) Let’s just keep looking for all the bright spots so that the massive Republican congressional ass-kissing of BP doesn’t seem so out of whack with the American sentiment that, actually, believes the BP oil leak is really a bad thing.

And there is this. Some members of Congress want an inquiry into whether BP helped grease the wheels to release the man convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. Let’s see that incident killed 270, including 11 on the ground. Bodies everywhere you go. Um, pile it on like fire wood.

I wonder which U.S. Members of Congress, of the conservative Republican ilk one might assume, will bow down to their masters at BP and cry out: “We’re sorry. So sorry. That I could be such a fool … ” Or “that we could be such fools.” Yeah, something like that. Then, “Smack!” The next sound you hear will the collective loud lips of the Caucus of House Conservatives puckering up for BP. Good for what ails every suffering oil company that might just like to cut corners and might just help let terrorists go free if it gives them free reign in a nation’s oil fields. That’s not say BP is a suffering oil company such as that. Oh no. Uh uh. Nope.

So that's what those big a** planes are for.

The WC-130 aircraft looked frighteningly huge as it ascended over the waters of the Mississippi Sound. How could something that large, flying at what appeared to be such a gradual pace, make it off the Keesler Air Force Base runway and over the beach highway in Biloxi without falling out of the sky, I used to ask myself?

They seem too big and slow to fly but they do and those of us on the Gulf Coast are grateful that they do.

I never really thought that much about what the planes were doing or where they were going. Nor did the fact that I only saw these planes fly so languidly when I hung out on a hot summer day with my friends provide a clue as to the aircrafts’ missions.

It was an Air Force-looking plane and it took off from Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi. I was a 19-year-old sailor stationed with the Seabees some 10 miles away in Gulfport. Since the planes were flying from an Air Force base, I figured they were up to Air Force things.

I knew, back then, that a lot of different activity went on at Keesler. I got my first pair of glasses — black, horn-rimmed ones which several later would look cool if you went for the Elvis Costello look — at Keesler because the dispensary at the Seabee base didn’t have an opthamologist or even an optometrist.

My homeboy, Jonathan, who lived with his first wife and then-baby girl over in Biloxi, attended air traffic control school at Keesler during a hitch in the Air Force. After I got back from Sea duty, one of my office subordinates on the ship transferred to Keesler to attend Chaplain’s Assistant school even though he was in the Navy.

But only years later would I figure out that those huge, slow planes that I saw at some time during summers on the Mississippi Gulf Coast beach were so important to my life when I decided to be a p’ert-near coast resident.

Those planes I saw, but didn’t know or particularly care what they were for back then, were Hurricane Hunters.

The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Keesler fly the WC-130s, or Lockheed Martin WC-130J Hercules if you want to get technically anal about it, into tropical systems to detect vital information which helps hurricane forecasters determine what a storm might do and where it might go. Often the Air Force Reserve crews manning the aircraft will fly right into the eye of a hurricane. You might think “calm” when talking about the eye until you remember you have the hurricane surrounding you.

This is one of those days, today, you might see one of these big slow planes take off and ever so slowly climb up into the sky over the Mississippi Sound and its barrier islands. A National Hurricane Center advisory around noon Central Daylight Time indicated an Air Force reconnaissance plane was approaching a low pressure center between Grand Cayman and Honduras. The NHC has given the system an 80 percent chance for tropical cyclone development.

Of course, the cable news media is all over the possibility of a storm like a gecko on an insurance commercial. That is because of the massive BP oil spill that continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico and onto land from Louisiana to Florida.

My most not-favorite CNN anchor, Rick Sanchez, was making much ado about this not-even-tropical depression and the hurricane “models” which are already predicting paths for what could become the first named storm of the season. If it be comes a tropical storm it would be named Alex. The weather woman on CNN is at this moment as I write this saying which model would be “preferable” as for where the storm may go. She means what would be the best track for the storm, if there is a storm, as it might affect the oil spill and limit subsequent damage, if there is damage and if there is a storm. That is truly putting the dog before the pony show. The reason is that the models of where this storm might head currently extend from Tampico, Mexico, to Apalachicola, Florida. That’s a lot of ground, uh, water to cover and it includes the area in which I live.

In just the last five years I have been through three hurricanes, a tropical storm and four or five evacuations, if you count all those folks who came to this area from Hurricane Katrina until being chased away by Hurricane Rita. If I left out a storm, I apologize.

Don’t get me wrong. I am concerned about the BP gusher as I have been for awhile and not just for the oil-covered pelicans although I hate to see the environment f**ked up. But I am likewise concerned for my neighbors here on the Upper Texas Coast. That is why I am glad those building-sized, puzzling slow Air Force-looking planes I used to see when I was a young sailor are out there flying with confidence in the Gulf of Mexico hunting hurricanes. The information that those airmen out of Keesler gather is important to a lot of people and probably more folks than usual — because of the BP spill in the Gulf — await what comes from the storms that the Hurricane Hunters risk their lives to investigate.

Here is another look from AccuWeather about possible Alex paths.

Barton not the lone ranger. House group including E. Texas reps bemoan a "Chicago-style" shakedown

Oh this is rich.

I found this press release by a congressional caucus of right-wingers. Among them are Joe Barton, but also are most, if not all, of the Lone Star State’s GOP House members.

The Republican Study Committee called the fund agreed to by President Obama and BP chief Tony Hayward “a Chicago-style shakedown.” I have yet to see any apology from this caucus. Even more rich, I’ve not seen any apologies from our own East Texas congressional members. Among these members are Rep. Ted Poe, whose district includes the Upper Texas Coast and part of the Houston metro area; Rep. Kevin Brady, who represents the heart of East Texas; and Rep. Louie Gohmert, the congressman for the northern portion of East Texas.

I haven’t heard anyone mention this yet, but it looks like Barton wasn’t the lone idiot in suggesting BP were victims of extortion by our government.

Looking for a miracle cure in the Gulf

Barack is up to his ankles in oil.

The right-wing critics of the president are doing their best to mire Obama into the oily Gulf of Mexico waters although they know they don’t want to go too far because of their mantra: “Drill baby drill.” The right isn’t right by themselves in the criticism by no means. It is hard not to get frustrated as the oil continues to flow.

But if someone should really get the blame for the bungled response by BP to the cleanup from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster perhaps it should be Exxon Valdez captain Joe Hazelwood, or perhaps George H.W. Bush who signed the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 into law.

The law — in response to the catastrophic 1989 Alaska oil spill — restricts federal action in cleanup of such disasters to playing second-fiddle to the company responsible, which in this case of course is, BP. That is like letting the fox fix up the hen house.

For the time being the White House through its point man and Coast Guard commandant, Adm. Thad Allen, insists BP is doing all that it can. This is despite the fact that too many cooks can spoil the broth and too many federal agency heads can makes matter worse by not singing in the same tune as the White House. However, one could almost bet that in some point in time the Barackistration will seriously intervene unless BP comes up with a miracle cure.

Allen said today that the government was making up its position in response to the cleanup by BP on the fly. And one would think a White House filled with lawyers, including constitutional lawyers, will find a way to get that old Executive Order form out from the president’s desk drawer, dust it off and start using it. First, though, they have to figure out how to stop the damn oil.

If they could just stop the oil, the government, or BP, or the Coast Guard, or some lawyers or some ne’er-do-wells with a substance made from a chaw of Redman, and a coke bottle full of urine, all’s well that could end the oil well. Just shoot me.