Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sales, Travel & Oral Hygiene Gone Wrong

Under the flickering ballast of the fluorescent light my teeth look absolutely yellow. Maybe its just the light. More likely its several decades of French Market chicory and Camel wides that have left their terrible stains on all but the most expensive porcelain dental work in my maw. Somewhat of a checkerboard effect. The last real recollection of yesterdays appointments was hitting the high curb (that bitch must be 18 inches high) at the San Antonio International Airport exit off 410. As I recall it had become very difficult to navigate the teal Grand Am while watching the two strippers snort crank and make-out next to me in the cramped front seats. After ingesting $350 worth of Kentucky Walker bourbon and Guinness stout at the $5 weeknight table dance special on the corporate credit card I was feeling very important. Here I was national aerospace and defense market sales award recipient two years in a row and now I was going to stand atop the mountain of suburban white man sexual fantasy and have an all night long crankster-enhanced sport fucking menage a trois. With strippers no less. One very dirty blonde super skinny skank with tribal tattoos and size D fugazis. The only thing I remember about the brunette was the prominent C-section scar. They were your average mid-market titty bar specials. Every major metropolitan area has a bunch of them if you just find the airport and begin driving around. They always want to shut down the strip joints. Why? Close the fucking airports. Its the cattle herd of humanity streaming in and out that is the source of infection. Its the trickle down economic system at its best. The federal government spending money on fighter aircraft supporting me sticking singles in the g-string of a high school dropout dancer with a meth problem and a kid floundering in daycare. Anyway the whores panicked when I clipped the big curb. The car did not move right away so I absentmindedly stopped to get a look at the front end. The chicks ran off in the other direction as soon as the car stopped. They didn't want any part in jail or hospital. The captain at the helm of a sinking ship of gold. I remember getting back in the car scared to death I would be caught wasted and swaying under the giant orange lights next to the interstate. I drove the quarter mile back to the hotel on what felt like a rim. Here I was on the dreaded red, green and beige floral comforter with the beige fleece thing under it tucked between my legs. Every time I touch one of these it reminds me of the stories of the cavalry giving Indians blankets infected with smallpox. It was very dark, cold and smelled overwhelmingly like industrial disinfectant. The smell was making my head spin like a carousel to the point of nausea. And then there was that taste in my mouth. Boxes of smokes, well brand bourbon, some smoked meat in a bag and a vast quantity of stout were all redolent on my swollen tongue. Dear Jesus I must sanitize my mouth. Fuck the teeth. Disinfect the entire mouth orifice. There was a combination of filth, remorse and nauseating hangover stench that was compelling me to flush the whole inner and outer mouth with a powerful astringent, possibly a solvent. But it was dark. Not just dark because the light bolted to the laminate faux wood nightstand was almost completly out. But dark like the sun had died off. I had somehow fucked-up the sun. It was in fact night time. At some point the alarm clock I had set went off and needed to be shut down so I had ripped it from the wall by its umbilical cord. Where is my watch. The pile of my belongings near the door was where I found the watch, along with the pile of white and yellow crumpled reciepts that traced my movements around the Alamo city. There were also a six-pack of Dos Equis and several partially smoked packs of cigarrettes. One bottle of beer had been opened and was sitting on the nightstand next to the butt-overwhelmed gold glass ashtray. God could it really be 6:30 PM? What the hell is that smell? Moving back towards the bed I noticed a pile of what appear to be Kleenex. They are too big and thick to be Kleenex and are fact Clorox disinfectant wipes I had in the trunk of my car. There is a pile a foot tall of used drying antibacterial wipes. I must check the cell phone, hotel phone, and email immediately. The hotel phone light is flashing so I will avoid it first. Fuck email. The cell phone has a few missed calls and a few messages which I check but nothing too serious Just the usual whining customers. I head back to the flickering light of the head and grab the travelers size scope bottle next to the hand lotion and hair net. Sucking the entire contents out of the scope bottle I have temporarily ended whatever was going on in my mouth. While swishing I notice the red cobwebs in my eyes that are bulbously protruding from their sockets. My brain feels dangerously swollen. I do not feel well at all. It also appears under these lighting conditions that my hairline has receded a full inch or two. The consumption of stout and bourbon is utterly disastrous for my whole being. The hangover after consuming fermented spit from a gourd in Amazonia while tripping on psychedelic frog sweat could not be any worse. Now the brushing. A firm apple green Oral B square large head brush with an once or two of Pepsodent paste is not sufficient. I suck what feels like a cup of paste from the tube. This makes me giggle for some reason. This creates an enormous throbbing in my eyes and brain that causes me to nearly fall down. The toothbrush is banging around in my mouth slamming into gums, dragging itself over the shellaqued tongue and crusty molars. The bowl of the sink is filling with what appears to be a pint of my blood and the half pound of Pepsodent. Now I am beginning to get my sea legs. Getting Visine into my eyes is particularly difficult this morning and half the little bottle seems to be running into my right ear. It stings horribly going in but cools down quickly. The shaking of my hands is noticeable. I require heavy, greasy bar food, black coffee and nicotine in order to right the ship properly. The standard business class hotel coffee may as well be yesterdays grinds percoltaed through a Puerto Rican's sock but it will have to do. Leaving the room at this point would be catastrophic. There is the remainder of the Applebee's baby back ribs sitting next to the entertainment center I had half-eaten while watching the news yesterday. Suddenly I think that a taco bowl filled with whipping cream and double-stuff oreos would be really tatsy, but again this will require a trip to the outside world which I am not prepared for. I light up a smoke and hear the crackling sound of the Mr. Coffee going to work. Putting CNN on seems to quiet my mind at times like this. Like the art show guy with the afro or the lady from the Great Chef's series. Almost better than sleep just spacing out and listening to the voice take me away. I bust open the thin foil to reveal the orange and white gelatinous fat covering my remaining ribs. The ribs taste like nothing. My taste buds have been burned or scrubbed away or somehow I have damaged the line of communication between the tongue and brain. The warm Dos Equis washes down the pork nicely. Usually you can smell bad coffee brewing but the odor of the Clorox wipes and hotel cleaning products have combined to create a hellish gumbo of chemical stench. The rally has suddenly ended and I make it to the cold dark confines of the commode room. I deposit the offal from my body in rapid convulsive motions. Death now rides a pale porcelain horse called American Standard. The room is dark and the air is down to sixty. All the phones are now off and I head back to bed. Sleep cures all.


Blanco's Threat To Block Offshore Federal Lease Sales: Credible or Blowing Smoke?

On January 30, 2006, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco sent a letter to the Minerals Management Service (MMS) threatening to object to future oil and gas lease sales off of the Louisiana coast, specifically Lease Sale 198 set to occur in August of this year. In her letter, Governor Blanco put the MMS on notice that “there is growing tension between uncompensated support for OCS activities and the state’s coastal zone management program” and that the state is “currently unable to determine the consistency of Lease Sale 198.” Her stated purpose for doing so is to pressure the federal government in to giving Louisiana a fair share of the oil and gas revenues from these leases to help preserve the fragile Louisiana coast, made all the more necessary by the destruction caused by the recent hurricanes.

Since her statement there has been much confusion concerning whether or not her threat is a credible one. What are the meanings of these cryptic terms, i.e., “coastal zone management program” and “consistency?” Can a state governor really affect the sale of offshore federal leases and, if so, where does that authority come from? The unsatisfying answer to the former part of this question is “probably.” However, even if a governor cannot affect a lease sale, she can affect the post-lease sale awarding of permits and licenses needed for exploration, development and production, thus, de facto, serving the same purpose of denying offshore oil and gas development.

A brief history is in order. Louisiana passed the State and Local Coastal Resources Management Act (SLCRMA)[1] in 1978, and its subsequent approval by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce allowed Louisiana to create a state administrative agency for state coastal zone management under the authority of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA)[2]. This agency, the Coastal Management Division (CMD) of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), is responsible for state compliance with and the exercise of authority granted by the CZMA.[3] As part of the authority granted, the CMD is responsible for making consistency determinations for activities conducted in the coastal zone by federal agencies or federal permittees.[4] A "consistency determination" means that anyone undertaking a regulated activity in the coastal zone must certify to the state that the activity he proposes to conduct in the coastal zone will be consistent with the approved state Coastal Management Program (CMP). Only if the state concurs (with limited exceptions) with the certification will the activity be consistent for CZMA purposes. It is these provisions which allow a state to exert a great deal of control over activities in or affecting the coastal zone by essentially giving states a veto power over any federal activity or any activity requiring a federal permit or license.

The Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 was passed by Congress in order to "preserve, protect, develop, and where possible, to restore or enhance, the resources of the Nation's coastal zone" and to "encourage and assist the states to exercise effectively their responsibilities in the coastal zone through the development and implementation of management programs to achieve wise use of the land and water resources of the coastal zone."[5] In the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990, Congress went even further in its encouragement to the states, stating that "it is the purpose of Congress in this subtitle to enhance the effectiveness of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 by increasing our understanding of the coastal environment and expanding the ability of State coastal zone management programs to address coastal environmental problems."[6] At the heart of the CZMA, Congress enacted a system by which a state is able, through its consistency determination authority, to exert control over activities in its coastal zone.

Once a state Coastal Management Program (CMP) has been approved by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the CZMA requires that federal activities and projects affecting the coastal zone, as well as activities and projects conducted by private parties which require a federal permit or license, be consistent with the approved state CMP.[7] Distinct sets of consistency standards and procedures apply to (1) federal agency activities and (2) other activities that require a federal permit or license.[8] In the first instance, federal agency activities "within or outside the coastal zone that affects any land or water use or natural resource of the coastal zone shall be carried out in a manner which is consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable policies of approved State management programs."[9] The federal agency which conducts or supports the activity makes the consistency determination, and the state may concur or object. If the state objects, it may pursue mediation by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce or seek judicial intervention to enjoin the activity.[10]

In the second case, federally permitted activities, including, possibly, OCS lease sales, and definitely, exploration, and development and production, must be conducted in a manner consistent with the state CMP.[11] Applicants for a federal permit must "certify" to the state agency that the proposed activity complies with the state's approved program.[12] If the state agency objects, the federal agency may not issue the necessary permits unless, on appeal or his own initiative, the Secretary of Commerce overrides the state objection.[13] The Secretary may override a state objection upon a finding that the activity is either consistent with the objectives of the CZMA or is necessary in the interest of national security.[14]

In Louisiana, the Louisiana State and Local Coastal Resources Management Act (SLCRMA) functions as the state coastal management program for CZMA purposes.[15] The SLCRMA established the state coastal zone boundary, implemented a coastal use permitting system to regulate activities occurring in the coastal zone, and provided for the development of state "coastal use guidelines" to serve as the criteria for granting, conditioning, denying, revoking, or modifying coastal use permits.[16] The Coastal Use Guidelines are quite extensive and allow the state to review virtually all significant activities occurring in the coastal zone area.

So, is an offshore federal lease sale one of the activities that is susceptible to a state’s consistency determination? In the United States Supreme Court case of Secretary of the Interior v. California[17], the Court held that the sale of oil and gas leases on the OCS was not an activity directly affecting the coastal zone so as to require a consistency determination under the CZMA.[18] The Court illustrated that there were four statutory stages under OCSLA to developing an offshore oil well: 1) preparation of a leasing program; 2) lease sales; 3) exploration by the lessee; and 4) development and production.[19] Prior to the 1990 Reauthorization Amendments, the CZMA read: “[e]ach federal agency conducting or supporting activities directly affecting the coastal zone shall conduct or support those activities in a manner which is . . . consistent with approved state management programs.”[20] The Court paid particular attention to the words “directly affecting” in reaching its decision that the first two stages above were not subject to consistency review, but the last two stages were.[21] The Court’s reasoning was that the purchase of an OCS lease, standing alone, entails no right to explore, develop or produce oil and gas, but merely gives a lessee a priority in submitting plans to conduct these activities. Thus, according to the Court, lease sales cannot be characterized as “directly affecting” the coastal zone, though stages three and four above, which require separate federal and state approval, do.[22]

However, in an apparent reaction to the case, the 1990 Reauthorization Amendments to the CZMA, changed the language of 1456(c)(1)(A) to read, “[e]ach federal agency activity within or outside the coastal zone that affects any land or water use or natural resource of the coastal zone shall be carried out in a manner which is consistent . . . with the enforceable policies of approved State management programs.”[23] The words “directly affecting” have been omitted and the scope of the activity, through the language “within or outside the coastal zone,” has been enlarged. Thus, at the very least, the argument can be made that offshore federal lease sales are now covered by the consistency determination requirements in the CZMA, though this has yet to be litigated. Therefore, under the authority of the CZMA and its 1990 Amendments, a State probably can affect the sale of offshore federal leases.[24]

Alternatively, even if OCS lease sales are not covered, the CZMA is quite clear in placing the permits and licenses that are required for exploration and development after a lease has been acquired firmly under the veto power of a state’s consistency determination. Section 1456(3)(B) of the CZMA states:

[A]ny person who submits to the Secretary of the Interior [a] plan for the exploration or development of, or production from, any area which has been leased under OCSLA . . . affecting any land or water use or natural resource of the coastal zone of such state [shall] attach to such plan a certification that each activity . . . in such plan complies with the enforceable policies of such state’s approved management program and will be carried out in a manner consistent with such program. No federal official or agency shall grant such a person any license or permit for any activity described in such plan until such state or its designated agency receives a copy of such certification and plan, and until such state or its designated agency . . . concurs with such person’s certification and notifies the Secretary [of Commerce] and the Secretary of the Interior of such concurrence.[25]

Thus, it appears clear that Governor Blanco’s letter to the MMS was not merely blowing smoke, but a credible threat to, at the very least, disrupt future oil and gas development off of the coast of Louisiana. Even if she is unable to block lease sale 198 through the CZMA’s consistency determinations, she is fully authorized to declare a lease holder’s plan for exploration and development inconsistent with the State’s Coastal Management Plan, thus, in effect, achieving the same goal of disrupting offshore development. A person who holds a federal lease, but is unable to drill a well, for example, is unable to develop his offshore property. As of the writing of this paper the MMS has yet to respond to the Governor’s letter, but even if the MMS decides to ignore the Governor’s threat and go ahead with the lease sale, the controversy is capable of ending up in lengthy mediations or litigation, each also serving the Governor’s goal of delaying and disrupting offshore development.

[1] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 49:214.21 (West 2005).
[2] 16 U.S.C.A. § 1451-1465 (2005).
[3] Id.
[4] 16 U.S.C.A. § 1456(c)(3)(A)-(B) (2005).
[5] 16 U.S.C.A. § 1452(1) (2005).
[6] Reauthorization Amendments of 1990, § 6202(b).
[7] 16 U.S.C.A. § 1456(c)(2005).
[8] Id.
[9] Id.
[10] Id.
[11] 16 U.S.C.A. § 1456(c)(3)(A)-(B) (2005).
[12] 16 U.S.C.A. § 1456(c)(3)(A) (2005).
[13] Id.
[14] Id.
[15] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 49:214.21 (West 2005).
[16] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 49:214.27 (West 2005).
[17] Sec. of the Interior v. California, 464 U.S. 312 (1984).
[18] Id. at 343.
[19] Id. at 337-340.
[20] Id. at 321.
[21] Id. at 340.
[22] Sec. of the Interior v. California, 464 U.S. at 341.
[23] 16 U.S.C.A. § 1456(c)(1)(A) (2005).
[24] See also, J. Christopher Martin, The Use of the CZMA Consistency Provisions to Preserve and Restore the Coastal Zone in Louisiana, La. L. Rev. 1087 (1991).
[25] 16 U.S.C.A. § 1456(3)(B) [Emphasis added]. As stated above, a negative consistency determination by a State can be overridden by the Secretary of Commerce on the finding that the activity is consistent with the objectives of the CZMA or is otherwise necessary in the interest of national security. 16 U.S.C.A. § 1456(c)(3)(iii).


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Town Called Hope

10,700 FEMA trailers sit unused and slowly sinking into the Arkansas mud at a cost of over 900 million dollars.

At least FEMA has a sense of humor.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Yeah Man, I hate NPR too!

There was a time when I use to drive long distances with my former boss and our trips would go late in to the afternoon. He would force me to find random public stations for him to listen to All Things Considered on throughout rural Mississippi. I felt so highbrow and informed. It is so nice to be aware of misery, no matter how distant, small and insignificant. It seemed so much more provocative than talking or disc jockey FM. Of course now with my XMSR, the black 2 gig Nano and a 6 CD box in trunk, I roll reasonably prepared to avoid boredom or silence. Certainly prepared to avoid NPR.

Isn’t it always some accented Cuban holocaust victim gone blind whose new religion's domicile in a dirt village of Ecuador has been burned down by cocaine-growing militia? Telling time of struggling and comparing some beer can to the devastation of the forest and rapid vanishing of the remains of her Mayan culture. I guess life has drained my sensitivity. Some would say I lacked a certain base level to begin with, but so what. I just find myself wanting to absolutely scream with the symbols within symbols and the dramatic pauses mixed within the classical music or some Midi version of an African bamboo flute, which is actually some pizza-faced intern’s creation, who blew on a broken radiator and sampled it. Each story in itself must have value, but it's the incessant day after day parade of struggle that really takes away from each story. How could anything be important when there is so much of it? I mean if there are millions of struggling people with terrible predicaments that seem unsolvable and dramatic, doesn't that kind of make them.... I don't know. Ordinary and everyday. I mean maybe for an interesting newscast we could do a story about a water-skiing squirrel (Ron Burgandy where are you?) Well, before I get on a rant here, let me offer this, a non-NPR story that should have run in April 1981.

It was a rainy day in Trenchtown the first day I saw him in 1954. Him just a teen learning to survive in new surroundings. It had not been long since Nesta had left his rural birthplace in the mountains. His father was a white naval officer who never saw the boy much. His mother brought him to Trenchtown in hopes of a better life. I didn't know Nesta well, but watched him grow up and slowly day by day have a greater and greater influence on my life and all of Jamaica.

After the 1951 hurricane destroyed much of Kingston, Trenchtown was a housing scheme developed to replace the shanty villages. Essentially, it was a series of concrete buildings with communal cooking areas and a water pipe in the center courtyard. Poverty and crime was only out matched by stench since there was no sewerage system. But, there was another fascinating and exciting feeling in the region. The Rastafarians were encamped there, shrouded in Marijuana and the curious belief that Haile Selassie was God. Their movement coupled with the whispers that the British imperialists might soon give the island it's independence made these years exciting, even for a fatherless, musical, moody and introspective boy named Robert Marley.

By 1960, Bob was playing in his first band with Peter and Bunny, their guitars made from bamboo staff, electric cable wire and a large sardine can. And his career happened fast as it has to with tragic figures. I next ran into him after his success was in full bloom at his home at 56 Hope Road in Kingston. The regiment of his life was tremendous. In the mornings, he and his friends would run miles to wash their dreads in waterfalls and collect milk and supplies for green banana porridge. Late at night, Jah would bring peace to the afternoon football matches and Bob and his friends would play music. I became one of the regulars at 56 Hope Road, along with the beggars and local gunmen. Late one night, I woke from where we had laid down to the sound of Bob jumping around trying to contain himself with a muffled yell. He had stepped on a large Ivory Pipe lying about. He rubbed it and told me that he had been given it by a female admirer, who was the daughter of an Ethiopian diplomat, part of the visiting party during the visit of Haile Selassie in 1966. He lamented as he scraped for resin from the artifact and began his religious rite, that his pain from the stepping on the pipe was no different than any other. He saw his pain as limitless and his music just a militant statement for the dreams of the Rasta's inpatient and eager desire for the judgment day. As predicted by Marcus Garvey, a black king from the East would rise and send for them to return from the living hot hell of Jamaica. Until that day, they would wait in peace, refusing to take part in the machinery or commerce of the modern word and simply take the words of the Psalms 104:14 to heart and ingest the “wisdom weed”, the one for the service of man. Wait, alienated and idle, for the day when the last shall become first and first shall become last.

Is this parody the type of dense paraphrase we deserve about New Orleans? Is there an uprising to come from our hurricane? I’ll wait, alienated and idle, for the day when the last shall become first and first shall become last.

{Thanks to www.bobmarley.com for all the help. Happy Birthday Bob!}


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Culled Straight From al Jazeera

Iranian's who are apparantly still smarting from a sad footnote in their decade long war with Iraq in the 1980's today protested New Orleans Chef Emeril Lagasse.

Having gotten wind of Lagasse's recent remarks where he badmouthed the struggling city of New Orleans which is still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the city to which he owes his fame, many took time off from protesting some Danish cartoon and instead took to the streets demanding his tongue on a platter.

Explaining, many protestors tearfully described how it reminded them of a then young Commander's Palace Chef Emeril Lagasse, who in a fit of idealism and still having not made a name for himself, took a leave of absence from the restaurant to open up a soup kitchen in the southern Iranian town of Dezful. Here he fed wave after wave of Iranian suicide attackers made up of mainly nine year-old children armed only with red scarves around their brows.

After there for only a week, he began badmouthing these human wave attacks, reportedly stating, "There done." to a Tehrani journalist.

Upon hearing that Chef Lagasse had slipped back into kicking people who are down, these large crowds came out to support the New Orleans people chanting, "GASSY IS NASTY", "CARPETBAGGER EAT YOUR OWN DAGGER" and "SOUP ZIONIST". Many carried placards reminding the world-famous Chef that their nine year-olds actually did eventually halt the advance of Saddam's armies thereby allowing them to win their terrible struggle.

Strangely, Chef Lagasse either lost his old idealism or was to busy evacuating mounds of cash from New Orleans, but he was never moved enough to cook for the relief workers rescuing thousands of his neighbors, including in all liklihood some that worked for his three New Orleans restaurants, while many of New Orleans' top chefs did open their restaurants doors.

It has been verified that Emeril instead preferred to continue on yet another cookbook tour and promptly fired his entire New Orleans staff two days after Katrina struck.

Word on the New Orleans and Arab Street is that "He's done" in New Orleans.


- Innaugural Post -

Shocking... it has only taken about a week to get all these n'er-do-wells together logistically to create theBATTURE.com.

Expect anything. Expect nothing. Expect everything... but seriously... really just leave your expectations at the last site you visited.

What you read on these pages will be crass, elegant, candid and full-figured with a touch of odious river mud between the rolls.

Though we're all mostly based in New Orleans - this will not be a standard katrina fare site. It will attempt to envision the true guts of this city and the entire Gulf Coast.

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