The rules don’t say I can’t do that

“I did not create the rules,” he (Cary) said. “I don’t disagree the rules need to be changed. But the rules don’t say I can’t do that.”

That’s how Alabama Supreme Court GOP candidate Tracy Cary declines to explain where got an estimated $650,000 in campaign contributions after just filed a finance disclosure waiver saying he had raised less than $25,000.  Eric Velasco of  The Birmingham News wrote “Alabama Supreme Court candidate Tracy Cary uses campaign finance rules to keep donors secret”:

Cary was asked what he would tell voters, who will not know until months after the election who financed his campaign. “I’m going to give them all the law requires me to do,” he said.

Brendan Kirby of The Mobile Press-Register wrote: “Supreme Court challenger says he’s raised less than $25,000 as TV campaign launches”:

The ads come days after Cary filed a campaign finance report stating that he had raised less than $25,000, the threshold that triggers a requirement that candidates in statewide races detail their contributions and spending.

Scott Stone, a spokesman for Bolin’s campaign, said information taken from the state’s major TV stations shows that Cary has reserved almost $650,000 worth of ad time throughout the state. That includes $207,485 in the Mobile market.

Doc’s Political Parlor says:

All in all, a slick piece of lawyering, but does it meet the intent of the law that candidates make full and complete disclosure of their contributors?  Does it provide Republican primary voters with the information they need?  Will the electorate continue wit its well founded cynical view of all candidates?  Guess we will find out on Election Day.

In a battle of scripture (Cary quotes chapter and verse often), Representative Mike Ball wrote “It Might Be Legal, But it Sure Ain’t Right” (Mike 3:19) saying:

When I start a tirade on transparency, I often start with the scripture where Jesus said, “Men seek darkness, rather than light, when their deeds are evil”. Loopholes in our campaign finance law provide many opportunities for candidates and special interests to operate in darkness.

A nomination for the most blatant exploitation of the glaring loopholes in our campaign finance law during this primary election cycle has to go to candidate for the Supreme Court Tracy Cary, from Dothan.

Incumbent Republican Justice Mike Bolin was elected to the Alabama Supreme Court in 2004:

Mike is dedicated to justice and fairness, and he will continue to serve with integrity while honoring his conservative values…

Alabama Propane Gas Association – Amendment One

From the Alabama Propane Gas Association:

Alabama Propane Gas Industry Seeks Support for Amendment One on the June 1st Ballot

by Lisa Fountain

On June 1st, Alabama voters will vote on a state constitutional amendment that would pave the way for the creation of a state propane check-off program. It is the only statewide constitutional amendment that will be on the primary ballot. Passage of this amendment will allow the propane gas industry the right to levy upon itself an assessment per gallon to fund promotional programs which will benefit consumers.

This program was designed by and is supported by the propane gas industry. There will be absolutely no  state tax dollars used to fund this program. In addition, funds will not be controlled nor collected by the state. It will be funded solely by propane gas dealers. Legislation previously passed by the Legislature establishes the Propane Education and Research Council. This Council will have the authority to collect the assessment and control program initiatives. The members of the Council will be selected by the Alabama Propane Gas Association from nominations received from the industry. Those nominations will then require Senate confirmation before serving.

The industry in Alabama has lost approximately 300 million gallons over the past 14 years. We must do something to reverse this trend before it is too late. There are many ways we can use this fund to promote the industry and provide benefits to consumers: 1) rebates to consumers on energy efficient appliances; 2) rebates on regulators for consumer tanks; 3) educate consumers on safe usage practices; 4) educate consumers on new technologies such as propane as a motor fuel; 5) educate industry employees on new technology and installation practices; and I’m sure there will be even more ideas as we continue forward.

The assessment is 1/10 of a cent per gallon of propane. To put this into perspective for you, a typical propane consumer uses 400 gallons annually. Therefore, the propane dealer would pay an assessment of 40 cents on that consumer yearly. The fund will collect between $120,000-$150,000 annually to be used to provide the items above. So as you can see, we are not talking about a substantial amount of money.

To make this program fair for all dealers and all consumers, we must go through this process to make it law. As with anything, there may be a few propane dealers who will not want to participate in the program; however, they will be more than eager to reap the benefits. Passing a constitutional amendment is the only way to have a successful and fair program for all.

I am excited about the possibilities for both the propane industry and consumers. I hope the citizens of Alabama will allow the propane industry the chance to provide something back to its consumers in an organized fashion. I would urge everyone to vote “YES” for Amendment One on the June 1st ballot.

Bradley Byrne GOTV

From Erin at the Byrne campaign to Right On Huntsville:

The Byrne campaign is going very well in Madison County. Since your group’s endorsement, we have only felt the momentum grow in this area. The Fish Fry last Saturday was a great success; we had around 400 people attend. It was the best political event the campaign has seen to date. A big thanks to the members who helped make the event a memorable one.

As we get in the last 5 days leading up to the (first) election, we are looking for a few more people to help us ensure a Byrne Victory in North Alabama. We need volunteers to make 25 phone calls each to remind others to Get Out the Vote on June 1st. There’s a short script and a list of names; calls can be made anytime beginning Friday, May 28, and ending Tuesday, June 1, at 6 p.m.

We also need volunteers to be Election Day “cheerleaders” for Bradley throughout the day. Our first priority is to fill the 7-9 a.m. shift at 35 GOP boxes. The REALTORs are working on filling some of these shifts, but I say the more the merrier. We will also look to place people at our biggest boxes from 11:30-1:30 and 4:30-6:30. All we need you to do is stand outside and wave a sign as people pass by.

If either of the above sounds like a winner to you, please let me know ASAP at 334.546.4831 or erinwalker@byrneforalabama.com.

Bradley can’t win up here without your help. The easiest way to jump in is to come by HQ (3125 University Drive) on Monday for a Memorial Day GOTV cookout. You can make 25 calls from here and then have a hot dog and drink. It’ll be a good time. If you want to help out this weekend, we’ll be here 10-5 (at least) tomorrow and Saturday and 1-6 Sunday. I’ll also be here all day Tuesday. You are welcome to come watch the numbers here after work that day.

Deepwater Horizon – Top Kill Update

Or to be more accurate – no update.

“Operations continue,” BP spokesman Jon Pack told UpstreamOnline.  “There are no further updates. It is difficult to say when there will be…it could take up to two days.”

It does not appear the drilling mud has eroded the riser or increased the flow rate so far, but in a worst-case scenario flow could increase 15%…

The Transocean semi-submersible rig Development Driller III… was continuing down hole at 11,000 feet below the drilling floor Wednesday on the first of two relief wells.  Suttles said on Friday that the rig was “slightly ahead of schedule.” 

Transocean semi-sub Development Driller II is drilling… at 8650 feet…  Both rigs spud their wells about 3000 feet from the original Macondo bore.  They will drill vertically to about 10,000 feet before directionally drilling to intercept Macondo at roughly 18,000 feet…

Once either well intercepts the Macondo bore, BP can pump cement and plug the producing zone.  Suttles said the company has no plans to ever produce from the Macondo well because it has been damaged beyond repair.

The Oil Drum has details about the Top Kill attempt complete with pictures and animations.  Read it to get a feel for the complexity of the situation and to see the tools and processes used in the procedure.

Our friends at ALFIN also make some good observations:

The range of 12,000 to 19,000 bpd is higher than the earlier USCG / NOAA estimate of 5,000 barrels per day, but is far lower than the fantastical estimates by academics from Purdue, UCB, and other universities who estimated flow rates to 100,000 barrels per day and higher. The higher spill rate would put the Deepwater Horizon spill above the Exxon Valdez in total volume spilled — although that is not taking evaporation into account.

Journalists and Obama — who are looking for “an unprecedented disaster — want to compare the spill to the Exxon Valdez in order to prove that the apocalypse has come. But the Deepwater Horizon spill is not comparable to the Exxon Valdez spill for many reasons: a deep undersea leak far offshore vs. a surface container spill close to shore; a lighter crude with high proportions of gas vs. a heavier crude; the warm fertile waters of the Gulf of Mexico vs. the frigid waters of Prince William Sound; the active Gulf Loop Current into open seas vs. the relatively closed waters of the Sound . . . and so on.

***

Obama fired (or she resigned)  Minerals and Management Service boss Elizabeth Birnbaum.  Birnbaum was a Congressional lawyer, Clinton functionary, and environmental activist before her appointment to MMS in July 2009.  Praise Obama for firing her, but he just fixed his prior error in her appointment (thank goodness it wasn’t a lifetime appointment – see Sotomayor or soon Kagan).

Our Congressman Parker Griffith (who is originally from Louisiana) sent the following email:

This morning, Elizabeth Birnbaum, the director of the Minerals Management Service agency that oversees drilling operations, was fired. She was supposed to testify as a witness this afternoon in a Energy and Commerce Committee hearing about “Combating the BP Oil Spill”. Parker will be questioning witnesses at this hearing and will propose the question to the witnesses that if the Administration has done everything correctly – as it says it has – then why are heads rolling on their end?

To watch the full committee hearing, please visit this link – http://energycommerce.house.gov/ (click the box on the right side of the page titled “Live Webcasts”)

Note – I bolded the good part.

***

BP is investigating the cause of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion:

In a statement, BP said: “The investigation team’s work thus far shows that this accident was brought about by the failure of a number of processes, systems and equipment.

“There were multiple control mechanisms – procedures and equipment – in place that should have prevented this accident or reduced the impact of the spill.”

The company also said there is much the inquiry still needs to do – as well as carrying out further interviews, full forensic examinations of the blowout preventer (BOP), wellhead, and the rig itself – all of which are still currently on the sea bed – need to be done.

BP said: “The investigation is focused on the following seven mechanisms.

1. The cement that seals the reservoir from the well;
2. The casing system, which seals the well bore;
3. The pressure tests to confirm the well is sealed;
4. The execution of procedures to detect and control hydrocarbons in the well, including the use of the BOP;
5. The BOP emergency disconnect system, which can be activated by pushing a button at multiple locations on the rig;
6. The automatic closure of the BOP after its connection is lost with the rig; and
7. Features in the BOP to allow remotely operated vehicles to close the BOP and thereby seal the well at the seabed after a blow out.”

Chief executive Tony Hayward said: “I understand people want a simple answer about why this happened and who is to blame.

“The honest truth is that this is a complex accident, caused by an unprecedented combination of failures.

So much in life is “unprecented” nowadays…  Or could it be that the term is overused?

***

Here’s a good editorial from Upstream Online Editor Erik Means:

Could there be any worse remedy to the precarious situation at Macondo than having it taken over by government?

Truth be told, Salazar and his boss President Barack Obama are under no illusion that their administration holds expansive knowledge of oilfield operations and reservoir management. But they are struggling to appear in public to be doing something assertive about a horrible spill that in reality is entirely out of their control.

On a scale of one to 10, the Macondo debacle is a 12 for BP. The stained shoreline in Gulf states is an equally huge stain on the reputation of the UK supermajor. The 11 lost lives will haunt the company for years to come.

If anyone seriously thinks that BP is not doing everything in its power to cap that rogue well and clean up the spill, then their vision has been clouded by tears of rage.

This is not to say that BP did not mess up badly in the events that led to the blow-out and blast that triggered the catastrophe. Evidence suggests increasingly that it did.

But in the given circumstances, I would have a hard time pointing to a company other than BP that I would rather have in charge of regaining control of the well. ExxonMobil, perhaps, but one would hope that those two supermajors – now respectively responsible for the two worst spills in US history – have had an open line of communication on how to deal with the out-of-control well.

***

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) is out in front on the oil spill (in what is an unfortunate but instructive test of his leadership).  From the DHIJIC:

The National Incident Commander for the BP oil spill, Admiral Thad Allen, today approved the implementation of a section of Louisiana’s barrier island project proposal that could help stop oil from coming ashore and where work could be completed the fastest—as an integrated part of the federal response to the BP oil spill.

This step will save Louisiana the cost of construction for this section by integrating it with the federal government’s ongoing oil spill response—thus paving the road for payment by BP, as a responsible party, or the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

There’s an old adage that it’s easier to get forgiveness than approval.  Governor Jindal was moving ahead with the constructi0n of ‘barrier islands’ without Army Corps of Engineers approval, so they went ahead and gave their ‘approval’:

The Army Corps of Engineers has granted partial approval for Louisiana’s barrier island project proposal, covering approximately half of the state’s original request and including six sections.

Under this permit, but without coordination with Admiral Allen and the Unified Command, Louisiana is authorized to construct the barrier islands at its own expense, so long as construction meets the terms and conditions established by the Army Corps of Engineers and any other required permits are obtained. If Louisiana moves forward, they will need to address all potential costs and environmental impacts.

Barrier islands get moved around alot and wash away (look at Dauphin Island – did you know that it used to be the biggest French colonial port in the US until a hurricane filled in the harbor).   This action is a risk for Jindal but he is well on the way to proving himself capable of handling a crisis (just in time for the 2012 Presidential election).  Compare that to Obama who uses a crisis to advance his political agenda.

Madison County GOP Committee Election

From MGOP:

On June 1, voters in Madison County will have the opportunity to vote for members of the State Republican Executive Committee and members of the Madison County Republican Executive Committee…

The three contested State Republican Executive Committee positions and the candidates are:
County-at-large: Hugh McInnish and Sandra K. Schimmelpfennig
District 4, Place 1 (Gurley, New Hope area) – Rex Wilson Moon and Marcia Parsons
District 7, Place 1 (Harvest, Monrovia area) – Barbara Sikorski and Phil Williams

The ten contested Madison County Republican Executive Committee positions and the candidates are:
County-at-large: Joel P. Jaqubino and Hugh McInnish
District 4, Place 1 (southeast Huntsville) – Budd Sallo and Glenn D. Weathers
District 4, Place 3 (southeast Huntsville) – Richard T. Gibson and Lynne Matheny
District 5, Place 1 (Blossomwood area) – Robert Davis and Dean Johnson
District 11, Place 1 (south Madison area) – David Shockey and Kathy Sullivan
District 13, Place 2 (Monrovia, Harvest area) – Sarah Barbre and Greg S. Martin
District 13, Place 3 (Monrovia, Harvest area) – Chad Capps and Linda Coats
District 14, Place 3 (Meridianville, Hazel Green area) – Fred M. Segrest and Chris Stuckey
District 16, Place 2 (Chase area) – Francis Bevill and Diane B. Maywhort
District 17, Place 1 (New Hope area) – Herb Burton and Rex Wilson Moon

Joel Jaqubino and Robert Davis are Right On Huntsville leaders and worked on the Huntsville Governors Forum.  Brian posted about Chris Stuckey here and this is his response to our questionnaire (when Stuckey ran for County Commission).

Propane Amendment 1 – raising prices means lower costs?

I should have made this a stand-alone post when I first wrote about it.  Please post comments about Propane Amendment 1 on this thread.

There is a Proposed Statewide Amendment Number One on the ballot, proposed by Act 2009-547 (HB 423 proposed by Wood, Fite, Laird, and Bridges), “relating to the promotion of propane gas… by providing for an assessment on the members of the propane gas industry for the purpose of financing promotion programs”.

The Amendment would ‘tax’ propane retailers to fund a nonprofit designated by the Legislature to administer and implement promotional programs.  However, it would also allow for the conduct of referenda among retail and wholesale propane marketers.

Get this: “The assessment authorized to be collected pursuant to this amendment is not to be considered a tax…” even though propane gas retailers are subject to “penalties for failure to make the collection and distribution of the assessment”.

The Alabama Propane Gas Association supports the Amendment.  Gee, I wonder which nonprofit will be designated by the Legislature to collect the not-a-tax.

From the Florence Times Daily “Proposed amendment gets backing”

Lisa Fountain, executive director of the Alabama Propane Gas Association in Montgomery…

“This is not a tax,” Fountain said. “It’s an amendment that has the backing of the propane gas industry in Alabama. A yes vote would be good for our industry.”

She said a yes vote will not mean the legislature will levy a new fee on the propane industry. Instead, the industry will levy the fee upon itself.

…Fountain said the fee is so miniscule, residents who use propane in their homes or businesses will not notice any increase on their fuel bills.

Propane business owners should handle this within their own industry association without the coercion of the State.  Businesses will of course pass the not-a-tax on to customers. 

Hank Hill says no to higher propane bills.

I’m going to ‘promote’ some of the comments from the other thread.

Walt Moffett commented:

Sounds similar to the various not-a-tax various ag producers and mining groups have. Wonder if anti-trust laws are a factor in needing the State’s permission to pass the hat amongst themselves?

Connie commented:

Obviously you didn’t do your homework…this amendment will set up an account solely funded by propane retailers…absolutely no taxes will be used. This fund will be used to help propane consumers lower their fuel costs. How…rebates will be available for energy efficient appliances. That will help consumers in two ways: 1) rebate funds back in your pocket and 2) energy efficient appliances using less fuel. Now, how can that be bad for consumers? What the author of this article failed to tell you is that the assessment that the dealers will pay is 1/10 of a cent…take a penny and cut it 10 times and take one small slice. On 100 gallons, a dealer will pay 10 cents. That will not to brake a dealer, but added with other 10 cents, it can provide consumers greater savings. It’s not a tax…it is an opportunity for propane consumers.

Reactionary commented:

Connie – nice spin – however I made it clear that the not-a-tax is paid by propane retailers, who will of course pass the not-a-tax cost on to their customers, thus raising propane costs to propane consumers.

“This fund will be used to help propane consumers lower their fuel costs.”

Raising propane prices lowers fuel costs?

If this is such a great idea, why don’t you implement the rebate program anyway – why do you have to FORCE those who know you best – propane retailers – to pay for it?

“It’s not a tax…it is an opportunity for propane consumers.”

That’s got to be one of the best lines I’ve heard all year.

Alabama Primary Election 2010 – Preview

On June 1, 2010 we get to vote in the Alabama primary elections.  Secretary of State Beth Chapman (whose new book “If God Makes Spiritual Fruit, Then Why Am I a Nut?”  is out now) does a good job of providing voter information at the SOS website.

Here’s the 2010 Election Information, including the Voter Guide on PDF (fun reading).

Here are 2010 Primary Election Sample Ballots for each County and each Party.

There is a Proposed Statewide Amendment Number One on the ballot, proposed by Act 2009-547 (HB 423 proposed by Wood, Fite, Laird, and Bridges), “relating to the promotion of propane gas… by providing for an assessment on the members of the propane gas industry for the purpose of financing promotion programs”.

The Amendment would ‘tax’ propane retailers to fund a nonprofit designated by the Legislature to administer and implement promotional programs.  However, it would also allow for the conduct of referenda among retail and wholesale propane marketers.

Get this: “The assessment authorized to be collected pursuant to this amendment is not to be considered a tax…” even though propane gas retailers are subject to “penalties for failure to make the collection and distribution of the assessment”.

The Alabama Propane Gas Association supports the Amendment.  Gee, I wonder which nonprofit will be designated by the Legislature to collect the not-a-tax.

From the Florence Times Daily “Proposed amendment gets backing”

Lisa Fountain, executive director of the Alabama Propane Gas Association in Montgomery…

“This is not a tax,” Fountain said. “It’s an amendment that has the backing of the propane gas industry in Alabama. A yes vote would be good for our industry.”

She said a yes vote will not mean the legislature will levy a new fee on the propane industry. Instead, the industry will levy the fee upon itself.

…Fountain said the fee is so miniscule, residents who use propane in their homes or businesses will not notice any increase on their fuel bills.

Propane business owners should handle this within their own industry association without the coercion of the State.  Businesses will of course pass the not-a-tax on to customers.  Hank Hill says no to higher propane bills.

I looked at the SOS website to see how much the Alabama Propane PAC contributed to Wood, Fite, Laird, and Bridges.  The search said no FCPA reports were found (at all).  This is odd since if you Google seach on Alabama Propane PAC you can see that they make campaign contributions. Hmm…

Vote No to Amendment One!

Get in the Game for Education – Mary Scott Hunter

I wonder if people realize that we might have a Mary Scott Hunter versus Mary Ruth Yates contest to replace Mary Jane Caylor…

From the Mary Scott Hunter for State Board of Education District 8 campaign:

Get in the Game for Education!
 
Meet

Mary Scott Hunter
2010 Republican Candidate for
State Board of Education – District 8

(Limestone, Madison, Jackson, DeKalb, & Etowah Counties) 

Come on out to this “bipartisan” event

Alabama and Auburn

Former Football players:

Kyle Collins, Joe Demos,

John Hannah, Scott Hunter, Hoss Johnson

Billy, Wes & Keith Neighbors, & Others

 will be on hand supporting their candidate

 Enjoy some appetizers,

Get autographs and hear some stories

 Thursday, May 20
4:30 to 6:00pm
Wings -  4250 Balmoral Drive, Huntsville

 

HHA wrong again

Challen Stephens of  The Huntsville Times wrote “Huntsville Housing Authority kill big purchase in southwest Huntsville”:

The Huntsville Housing Authority has abandoned plans to buy and fix up a 16-unit apartment complex in a “rundown neighborhood” in southwest Huntsville…

Carlen Williams, director of development, told the authority board that the foreclosed apartments would cost just $195,000, but inspections have since revealed an additional $500,000 in structural repairs.

Executive Director Michael Lundy, who recommended against the purchase, said the repairs could actually reach $1 million…

For several months, the authority has been scouting locations across the city to spend $4 million in federal dollars to buy and fix up foreclosed properties. So far the authority has bought 21 homes under the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program…

In order to justify such expensive repairs, Lundy said, there would need to be other investors in the neighborhood.

He said the authority didn’t find any partners, and the authority itself was unable to buy the surrounding properties.

The Jamison property is located in the neighborhood behind the Humane Society on Johnson Road.  This is a known drug and prostitute area.  BTW this isn’t even the worst apartment complex in the neighborhood – there’s an abandoned complex at the corner of Knight and Cobb (the City should fine the owner of that property – but it’s probably City property – I’d like to know who owns it).

The HPD tells us that public housing is safer than housing in general, so the added police presence would be great for that neighborhood.

Buying in that neighborhood is just what HHA should be doing, this is what  the “Neighborhood Stabilization Program” is meant to address:

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) was established for the purpose of stabilizing communities that have suffered from foreclosures and abandonment. Through the purchase and redevelopment of foreclosed and abandoned homes and residential properties, the goal of the program is being realized.

For comparison, Stone Manor cost $60,000 per unit – the Jamison complex could cost from $44,000 (HHA Director of Development estimate) to $75,000 per unit (HHA Director estimate) – note that the midpoint of the HHA’s own estimates is about $60,000 – too funny.  The range of estimates within the HHA itself should have given the HHA Board pause to reflect – I’d like to see the detailed documentation supporting Lundy’s estimate – this lack of oversight by the Board smacks of incompetence or worse, pursuit of the failed policy of deconcentrating poverty.

The excuse of ‘needing other partners’ to invest is bogus.  The HHA presumably plans to receive more Federal funding next year – they could ‘stabilize’ the entire neighborhood over time.

You can count on the HHA to do the wrong thing…

Young Republicans discuss oil drilling

The Madison County Young Republicans had about 60 people attend their  meeting Tuesday night – the topic of discussion was the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the effect on future energy policy.  Several people spoke in support of  ”drill, baby, drill” and there were just a couple who had second thoughts about the technology.  Increasing U.S. nuclear energy capacity was also mentioned a lot.  The consensus seemed to support doing both (drilling and nukes) and then more (biofuels from soybeans, peanuts, and switchgrass).

Points:  land drilling is safest, coastal drilling next safe, deepwater drilling risky.  As we improve our techniques for responsibly exploiting deepwater oil we can help make the industry safer.  No non-Western country cares as much about pollution as US.  Keep in mind that there are areas of Nigeria (and Colombia and Yemen)  that are awash in spilled oil, as much from terrorist (er, militant, er, activist) man-caused disasters as from accidents.  Do you think that India or China or Indonesia have the capability or the will to clean up a spill like Deepwater Horizon?

Another (and greater) source of oil spillage is from tankers.  US coastal shipping is regulated by the Jones Act, which has been used to require double hull tankers (note that the Exxon Valdez had a ‘partial’ double hull).  There is an international plan (MARPOL – International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships) to require all oil tankers to be double-hulled by 2026.  Good luck with that…

The point is that Western countries are better stewards of the Earth and that we can only control our piece of it – we can influence the others but we can’t do it for them.  Still we try.  Did you know that the US is paying for Brazil to develop Brazilian deepwater oil fields?  The rationale is that Brazil would be a more stable and safer trading partner than Middle Eastern countries.    

On Topic Update – here’s the photo release of the Macondo scene:

100518-G-8744K-004

GULF OF MEXICO – The mobile offshore drilling unit Development Driller III (near) is prepared to drill a relief well at the Deepwater Horizon site May 18, 2010, as the MODU Q4000 holds position directly over the damaged blowout preventer. While the drillship Discover Enterprise (far) continues to capture oil from the ruptured riser, preparations for the possible utilization of  the “top kill” method are being made aboard the Q4000. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley.

Look at the ship in the top center (Enterprise), burning off excess gas in a process known as flaring.  The containment riser feeds into that ship.  The nearest (yellow) rig is the Developmental Driller III, ready to spud the second relief well.  The middle (orange) rig Q4000 is preparing for the top kill method of high speed pumping  concrete mud into the well.

***

Florida Keys tar balls not linked to Deepwater Horizon – from the Joint Information Center:

The Coast Guard Marine Safety Laboratory in New London, Conn. analyzed a sampling of tar balls discovered on Florida Keys shoreline Tuesday and determined that none of the collected samples are from the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.

A sampling of tar balls discovered on beaches at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Fla., Smathers Beach in Key West, Big Pine Key, Fla., and Loggerhead Key in the Dry Tortugas National Park, Fla. were flown by a Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon jet based in Miami, Fla., to New London, Conn. Tuesday for testing and analysis.

The results of those tests conclusively show that the tar balls collected from Florida Keys beaches do not match the type of oil from the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The source of the tar balls remains unknown at this time.

 ***

If that wasn’t enough for a Young Republican meeting, Congressional candidate Les Phillip and Ag Commission candidates John McMillan and Dorman Grace gave brief campaign speeches.

I enjoy hearing Les speak – as I’ve said before – it’s like he’s in my head and I hear my thoughts coming out of his mouth (or thoughts I wish I had).  Phillip said that the US needs nuclear power - noting that the Navy safely runs the largest number of reactors in the world – also noting that France gets 80% (IIRC) of it’s power from nukes.  Phillip said that the most important task before the next Congress was to kill Obamacare, because it is the camel’s nose under the tent to socialism.  Phillip cited the Federal takeover of the student loan industry as an example – originally the feds said that they were just providing competition to the banks – now the Feds control the entire business.   This illustrates what I like about Les, he knows not only that a policy is good or bad, he knows why because he knows the history (NOTE: Mo Brooks is much the same in that respect – I enjoy learning from both of them). 

Google Clement Attlee to see how a socialist didn’t let a crisis (WW2) go to waste and how Britain became a socialist country (hint: national health care).

Ag Commission candidate Dale Peterson might as well have been there – his video, now known nationally as “The greatest political as ever”, certainly had a presence there.  From the comments:

Dale Peterson doesn’t get out of bed in the mornings; he pushes the earth away from him a little.

Dorman Grace and John McMillan both addressed a point made in Peterson’s ad (Grace tried to play it off, saying he’s focused on issues; McMillan reiterated the Ethics claim).  Here’s some background from commenter “Nick”:

Dorman Grace, GOP candidate for the office of Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, has had at least two ethics complaints filed against him…

When contacted, Grace did not deny having received the contributions in question, but said he had just received the letter on Friday from the Ethics Commission informing him of the allegations against him. “We received the letter late Friday,” Grace said. “We’re going through it looking at the situation. I’ve never been in politics before, so we need to go through this. We
will be transparent,” Grace said. When asked if he would return the contributions if they are found to be illegal,
Grace said: “That’s possible. They (the commission) haven’t told us what to do. “Right now, it’s just an allegation. At this point I don’t have enough information. We have a week to respond, which we will do. “We’ve raised money all over the state. We’ll go back now and look at everybody,” Grace said.

More candidates:

Representative (and Marine) Howard Sanderford (incumbent candidate House 20),  Senate 8 candidate Shad McGill, Senate 2 candidate (and Marine) Bill Holtzclaw, House 20 candidate David Pinkleton, HSV City Council candidate Jon Hitt, and HSV City Council candidate James Lomax.