American Elephants


The Feds Will Spend $10,450,000 to Help Native Americans Adapt to “Climate Change” by The Elephant's Child

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Sigh. “The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to spend up to $450,000 in taxpayer dollars to teach Native American tribes in the Great Basin region “climate adaption plans” for their hunting, fishing and gathering activities.”

Just what we need, a bunch of bureaucrats from Washington want to teach Native Americans how to adapt to global warming as it affects their hunting, fishing and “gathering activities.”

Due to climate change, the natural landscapes are becoming impacted,” and the “traditional practices for hunting, fishing, and gathering for ceremonial purposes” can potentially create further impacts,” according to BLM’s Cooperative Agreement announcement.

“It is important to educate those who are engaging in these gathering activities to reduce impacts on public lands. If tribes are able to develop adaptation plans for their gathering activities, they would have a process to follow that could reduce negative impacts on the landscape,” the Request for Applications (RFA) explains.

Todd Hopkins, GBLCC’s science coordinator, said that the climate change adaptation training is focused on Great Basin tribes because they are “Place-based and their gathering is very  much traditional in a sense that they use certain traditional foods and resources at certain times of the year, and because of climate shifts they are more impacted than other folks who may, say, go hunt in another place.

“President Obama announced the Tribal Climate Resilience Program in July. As part of this initiative, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will “dedicate $10 million in funding for tribes and tribal organizations to develop tools to enable adaptive resource management, as well as the ability to plan for climate resilience.”

“Tribes are at the forefront of many climate issues, so we are excited to work in a more cross-cutting way to help address tribal climate needs,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in the White House statement announcing the program. “We’ve heard from tribal leaders loud and clear: when the federal family combines its efforts, we get better results – and nowhere are these results needed more than in the fight against climate change.”

Did you ever hear such a foolish bunch of bureaucratese? “Gathering activities.” Is that the Shoshone-Bannock pow wow? I’m not sure when the camas is in bloom, or when  you dig for roots, but the huckleberries ripen about August 15th. I don’t know if they get to shoot bison any more, probably not.  “Climate resilience, indeed. Adaption plans. These people and their ancestors have been living on the land for ten thousand years, and don’t need bureaucrats to show them how to do it. The tribes get $90,000 for the first year, but I don’t know if it’s enough for forcing them to sit through more of this nonsense.

The photo is of the Shoshone National Forest, which is not a part of the reservation, but the land where Shoshones, Paiutes and Bannocks have made their home for a very long time.



Obama: “We’ve Managed the Economy Pretty Well!” by The Elephant's Child

On his return trip from Kansas City, President Obama granted an interview with The Economist. They said:

The Economist: We see a lot of business people and they do complain about regulation.

Mr Obama: They always complain about regulation. That’s their job. Let’s look at the track record. Let’s look at the facts. Since I have come into office, there’s almost no economic metric by which you couldn’t say that the US economy is better and that corporate bottom lines are better. None.

So if, in fact, our policies have produced a record stock market, record corporate profits, 52 months of consecutive job growth, 10m new jobs, the deficit being cut by more than half, an energy sector that’s booming, a clean-energy sector that’s booming, a reduction of carbon pollution greater than the Europeans or any other country, a housing market that has bounced back, and an unemployment rate that is now lower than it was pre-Lehman—I think you’d have to say that we’ve managed the economy pretty well and business has done okay.

There are always going to be areas where business does not want to be regulated because regulations are inconvenient.

The Economist: But don’t you wish, when you look at things like Dodd-Frank or you look at health-care reform—both of which we supported in principle—that they could have been much simpler?

Mr Obama: Of course. This goes back to the old adage of Churchill—democracy is the worst form of government except for all the alternatives. (Laughter.) It’s messy.

And so could we have designed a far more elegant health-care law? Of course. Would I have greatly preferred a blank canvas in which to design financial regulations post-2008 and consolidated agencies and simplified oversight? Absolutely. But the truth of the matter is, is that we saved the financial system. It continues to be extraordinarily profitable. And essentially, what we did was to provide an additional cushion so that if and when people make bad decisions with large sums of money—which they inevitably do—the risks to the system are reduced.

And on health care, as messy as the whole process has been, here’s what I know—that we have millions of people [insured] who didn’t have insurance before, and health-care inflation is the lowest it’s been in 50 years, for four consecutive years, corresponding to when we passed the law.

So my belief is that if, in fact, we can see a reduction in some of the political temperature around Obamacare or around Dodd-Frank, then it’s an iterative process. We can go back at it and further refine it, learn lessons from things that aren’t working as well, make it simpler, make it better. That does require, though, an attitude on the part of Congress, as well as on the part of the business community, that says you don’t just get 100% of what you want.

Do read the whole thing. Does Obama believe what he says? Is this just something he says for public consumption? Obama, according to The Economist “was buoyed by the recent economic numbers and looking towards his legacy…” Funny, everybody else considered the numbers as a disappointing  failure to meet expectations. And Obama’s track record as disastrous.  So he heralds his role in saving the U.S. economy.

A new study by the Russel Sage Foundation finds that middle-class Americans are poorer today than they were in 1984.  92,001,000 people are no longer in the workforce, an increase of 11,472,000 since he took office.

The Obama administration has added $7 trillion to the National Debt, well, actually — $7,060,259,674,497.51 to be precise— but when the number gets that big I have trouble with all the commas.

In 2012, Obama was heavily criticized for delaying (and hiding) major regulation until after the presidential election. Now it seems he may again be delaying another $34 billion of new regulations until after the election. There are mostly regulatory costs imposed by the EPA. Why am I not surprised?

The most extensive is the EPA’s ground-level ozone standard. That one does not currently have a price tag, but when the rule was vetoed by the White House in 2011, it’s cost was put at $90 billion. Then you have the Department of Energy’s new conservation standards for incandescent lamps, projected to cost$863 million per  year and raise consumer prices by 40 to 70 percent. Most of these regulations are also major job killers, but the EPA says they don’t have to pay any attention to that.  That does not include the Clean Energy Plan regulations which is expected to cost thousands of jobs and raise the cost of electricity sharply.

Gosh. Back in 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama called President George W. Bush “unpatriotic” and his policies “irresponsible” for adding $4 trillion to the national debt with the costs of 9/11 and two wars. But that was then and this is now.



Recovery? What Recovery is That? by The Elephant's Child

In January, 2009, when Barack Obama took office, the number of Americans of working age who were not in the labor force was 80.529.000. Since that time, that number has increased by 11,472,000 to 92,001,000 as of July 2014.

The participation rate measures the percentage of the civilian non-institutional  population that participates in the work force by either having a job, or actively seeking one. It’s just a snapshot, and subject to revision, but at this state in a supposed “recovery” it should be far better.

President Obama tries to put a good face on it and speak as if the recovery is chugging along just fine, but it really isn’t. Microsoft announced the layoff of 14,000 workers in July. The Army is shedding another 1,500 captains and majors.

A lot of coal-fired power plant workers are going to lose their jobs because of ridiculous regulations that will accomplish nothing at all, and a lot of coal miners as well, as this president tries to shut down the industry that produces nearly half of America’s electricity cheaply and dependably under the illusion that solar and wind can produce a significant amount of expensive energy, if some unexpected miracle just makes the sun stop being diffuse and the wind stop being intermittent.

And just to help out the faltering job market, Obama has issued an executive order allowing the spouses of workers here on H-1B visas to go to work. The next executive order is expected to allow the “children,” who are mostly young men of working age, arriving at our southern border to receive work permits. Doesn’t anyone notice that all these things are connected?

We’ve had lots of recessions in the past. There is a business cycle. As things get better and unemployment eases, the economy starts to grow and offers more opportunity — the better things get, the more risks businesses take. Overworked people get assistants, a new wing is added to the building, new machines are purchased, and so it goes.  (I should add here, that also in the news today was the nugget that many of our civil servants are so bored in their jobs that they are spending their days watching porn.)

Most people are probably unaware that we had another Great Depression in 1920-1921. It was just about as deep as Roosevelt’s depression, but Warren Harding treated it a little differently. World War I had left the nation with runaway inflation and a soaring debt. The national debt had increased from $1 billion in 1914 to $24 billion by 1920. (Yes, it was a long time ago)

So what did Harding do?  A “stimulus”?  A jobs program?  “Targeted” tax cuts?  Government bailouts for ailing companies?  Nope—he cut government spending sharply and rapidly (by almost 50 percent), began cutting tax rates across the board, and allowed asset values and wages to adjust freely as fast as possible.  Harding’s administration, Paul Johnson observed, “was the last time a major industrial power treated a recession by classic laissez-faire methods, allowing wages to fall to their natural level ….  By July 1921 it was all over and the economy was booming again.”

If you remember your history, it was called “the roaring twenties.”



Pay No Attention to World Crisis, Let’s Attack American Business by The Elephant's Child

Well, the world is aflame, nothing is going well, and President Obama in his weekly address takes on American international corporations who have moved their headquarters overseas. And he proves once again that he does not understand business or the free market at all.

Hi, everybody. Our businesses have now added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September 2008 – the fastest one-year drop in nearly 30 years.  401(k)s are growing, fewer homes are underwater, and for the first time in more than a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that the world’s number one place to invest isn’t China; it’s the United States of America – and our lead is growing.

None of this is an accident.  It’s thanks to the resilience and resolve of the American people that our country has recovered faster and come farther than almost any other advanced nation on Earth.

But all those jobs that ave been added— are mostly part-time jobs, because the incentives in ObamaCare made it advisable for businesses to cut their low wage workers back to less than 30 hours a week. They now need to fill the other half of those jobs with more part-time workers. Nobody profits from that. We still have something like 92 million working-age people who have given up looking for work. Obama, in attempting to demonize American international corporations as “un-American” and “not patriotic,” and as “renouncing their citizenship”, demonstrates nothing so much as that he has no understanding of business and how businesses operate nor of the free market.

The slowest recovery from any downturn in history is not due to the resilience and resolve of the American people. Our country has not recovered. Business does not exist to be patriotic, or because everyone loves going to work, but it exists to make a profit. Profit is not a bad word as some lefties think, but a return on investment. If a business cannot turn a profit, they won’t be in business for long. President Obama has been warned over and over that we have the highest corporate taxes in the world, and he needs to lower them to avoid what is happening right now. Obama loves to talk about “fair share,” but no one is obligated to pay more taxes than they have to. I can promise you that Mr. Obama’s accountant takes every possible deduction to which the president is entitled, as do the crony capitalists he hits up for campaign donations.  You have noticed that when he takes a trip to the West Coast for a round of fundraisers and golf, he usually sticks in a speech at some college so the trip is not a campaign expense— but an expense for the taxpayers.

“But when some companies cherrypick their taxes, it damages the country’s finances. It adds to the deficit. It makes it harder to invest in the things that will keep America strong, and it sticks you with the tab for what they stash offshore. Right now, a loophole in our tax laws makes this totally legal —and I think that’s totally wrong. You don’t get to pick which rules you play be, or which tax rate you pay, and neither should these companies.” Oh please.  Mr. I can’t possibly cut anything out of the budget, nor cut back on my vastly overblown expenses. We have to pretend that if a company legally lowers the taxes they have to pay, since it is legal, it is unpatriotic?  That kind of pandering should be beneath you.

I am really sick of this “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” rhetoric. Is there some way we could make it a requirement that anyone running for the office of president has to have taken at least 3 courses in economics?”

If you want an economy that functions and grows, you have to make it reasonably easy for business to grow and hire and create opportunity. Growth and opportunity are not created by government, but by the free market.



American Industry Speaks Out: The Clean Power Plan Is Not Workable! by The Elephant's Child

American industry has a message for the Environmental Protection Agency: your new plan for climate regulation is “not workable.”

The Partnership for a Better Energy Future, which represents 140 organizations, sent a letter to EPA chief Gina McCarthy Monday night calling on her to extend the public comment period for the new rules, make drastic changes to the proposal and hold more public hearings across the U.S.

“We are all going to tell the EPA that this regulation is simply not workable,” Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), said on a call with reporters Tuesday to promote the industry push against the rules.

The EPA said it will hold four public hearings across the country on its proposal which mandates that by 2030 states cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels.

Not enough! according to Timmons, the CEOs of the Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute, the National Mining Association, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and more groups as well.

“There is obviously going to be legal action in the future,” Timmons said. “We would like to see the rule altered and see the agency stop and listen to constituents and consumers that will be most impacted.”

“But assuming all things stay as they are, then we’ll see some action in the courts,” he added.

Liz Purchia, EPA spokeswoman, said the agency “is pleased by the tremendous public interest in the proposed Clean Power Plan” and it plans to respond to the letter from the Partnership for a Better Energy Future.  I suspect that the response cannot be characterized as “tremendous public interest,” but a bit more negatively.

“Already, we have received nearly 300,000 comments on the proposal. In the first 25 business days following the proposal, we have met with 60 groups and we are continuing our outreach through the 120-day comment period,” Purchia said.

Administrator Gina McCarthy expressed confidence that the rules are legally sound. Maybe so, but the science they are depending on is completely phony. CO² is not a pollutant, is not the cause of global warming, there has been no warming for over 17 years, and if they want to eliminate CO² they will eliminate life itself. Carbon is one of the building blocks of life. Next they will want to regulate the CO² we exhale with each breath. Come to think of it, there’s a Henry Payne cartoon on just that:

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How to Talk About The Border Crisis — Even to a Liberal. by The Elephant's Child

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Everyone talks about “comprehensive immigration reform” but fails to explain just what they mean by the term. And to no one’s surprise, they don’t mean the same thing at all. Mark Krikorian, who heads the Center for Immigration Studies wrote today:

The president’s framing of the unprecedented surge of illegal aliens turning themselves into border officials in the expectation of being allowed to stay in the United States, as an “urgent humanitarian situation”, is only partially correct. The phase is designed to misdirect public attention away from the more damming truths of the surge; it is equally, if not more so, a crisis of enforcement, governing, and the president’s responsibility to carry out his oath of office. It is an ethical issue for the public as well as the president.

None of these considerations are captured or even suggested by the administration’s preferred phasing. Nor are they meant to do so.

At City Journal, Myron Magnet points out that there are really two immigration debates. Three billionaires writing in the New York Times want more immigrants with  advanced degrees and investment capital. Silicon Valley magnates want more H1-B visas for tech PhDs, though Magnet has noticed that some of these very magnates have conspired to fix the wages of their highly qualified engineers by forming illegal non-competitive hiring pacts, so who knows what the real demand for high tech skills is? According to other sources we have more STEM graduates than there are STEM jobs. Magnet says:

But this argument has nothing whatever to do with the massed children at our southern border, admitted through a foolish loophole unintentionally created by the Bush administration and exploited by the Obama regime as a way of changing the character of the American people, both by enlarging the underclass whom Democrats can claim it is their mission to rescue with ever more generous welfare programs, and by creating yet more Democratic voters, if these kids ever become citizens—or if they become anchor babies who can then legally bring in their parents and siblings under our existing, and harmful, family-unification immigration policy.

Victor Davis Hanson says that “The last thing a liberal proponent of immigration reform wants is liberal immigration reform. Remember that paradox, and the insanity at the border makes some sense.

In truth, no one in the open-borders coalition wants anything approaching comprehensive immigration reform. Advocates are embarrassed about the present mess at the border not because thousands of foreign nationals, many of them unescorted children and teens, from Latin America, without skills or education, are flocking illegally across the border after largely taking the amnesty cue from Barack Obama, but because they are doing so in such dramatic fashion that the influx has aroused the ire and worry of the American people and exposed illegal immigration to be a callous and illiberal enterprise, promoted by a coalition of self-interested political operatives, commercial concerns, and ethnic chauvinists. …

Such legislation would first have to make border security the top priority. And that would entail three unpalatable requisites.

The first step would be the completion of the fence. Fences do work. That is why, for example, former mayor of Los Angeles and open-borders advocate Antonio Villaraigosa (“We don’t need to build walls, we need to build bridges”) became the first mayor in Los Angeles history to insist on a six-foot-high security fence around his official mayoral residence in Windsor Square, or why the White House, the homes of Silicon Valley billionaires, and the vacation homes of the elite on Martha’s Vineyard all have security fences. How odd that we are lectured about the Neanderthal nature of secure borders by elites who are about the only ones in America who demand them around their own estates.

Then turn back all who crossed illegally, and let that be known. Until deterrence is established, more guards on the border. Then meritocratic legal immigration, ethnically blind and predicated on merit rather than on proximity to the southern border. If just 10 percent of the existing resident-alien pool had criminal records or no record of gainful employment that would mean 1 or 2 million would have to be deported.

And finally, a piece I have mentioned before” “How to Think About Immigration” by Kevin D. Williamson.

The influx of children across our southern border is troubling. First, because they are not all children—not by a sight—but images of children are useful for stirring emotions to muddy the policy waters. Second, because it is not all that unusual; As the Wall street Journal reports, between 23,000 and 47,000 minors illegally entered the United States and were apprehended in each of the past five years; in 2013, we ordered only 3s,525 deportations, suggesting that something on the order of nine in ten, or more, of minor illegal aliens—again, of the number apprehended—are allowed to stay. The number not apprehended is very large, the number of non-minors is very large, and that is how we find ourselves with not millions but tens of millions of illegal aliens resident in these United States.

None of these pieces are long. Read all four and you are well-equipped for an argument with anyone — even a liberal.



An EPA Power Grab for Your Property Rights! by The Elephant's Child

The headline read “EPA pulls back from plan to garnish paychecks.” That particular plan was announced quietly an a Friday right before the 4th of July, the way agencies do when they want no one to notice. But I spotted it and wrote about it on the 8th. This administration has so many agencies and departments overstepping the bounds that it’s hard to pick a worst, but the EPA is right at the top of the list, for sheer crookedness.

The Washington Times reported last Wednesday that:

The Environmental Protection Agency bowed to fierce criticism Wednesday and announced that it had hit the brakes on a fast-tracked plan to collect fines by garnishing paychecks of accused polluters.

I was so pleased that I got up and did a little dance around my computer. But then I read the following paragraph:

The agency, which has come under withering attacks from Republican lawmakers for attempting a “power grab,” said it still intended to pursue the new authority to garnish wages without a court order. But now it will follow a more typical and longer review process.           

Opponents of the wage-garnish rule applauded EPA’s decision. But the EPA vowed to press on with its plan to snatch fines directly out of Americans’ paychecks.   (emphasis added)

Senator David Vitter (R-LA) ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who had battled the proposed rule said, “It’s about time this abuse-prone agency listened to Congress and backtrack on a rule that was clearly an egregious power grab to garnish private citizen’s wages.” Doesn’t sound like they are listening.

This rule (published as close to secrecy as a federal agency can manage) was issued on July 2 in a notice in the Federal Register as a “direct final rule” that would automatically take effect on September 2 unless the EPA received adverse public comment by August 1.

The only improvement seems to be that since they received  comments, they have extended the comment period until September 2. They claim they are required to participate in Treasury’s debt-collection program — the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (one of Bill Clinton’s) to garnish wages.

What or who gives them the authority to levy fines of, in the case of Wyoming welder Andy Johnson for building a pond on his property, $75,000 a day. That’s up from the fine they imposed on the Sacketts for their supposed “wetland” on a standard residential lot overlooking Priest Lake in Idaho, which was $37,500 a day and they said the Sacketts could contest their action legally. The Supreme Court slapped down the EPA for that one, and made sure the Sacketts got their day in court.

It apparently was revealed in a remark by an EPA official back in 2012. He said:

I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff…the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean.  They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.

Ans so you make examples of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there.

And companies that are smart see that they don’t want to play that game and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up.

And, that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people. So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, you go aggressively after them. And we do have some pretty effective enforcement tools. Compliance can get very high, very, very quickly.

That’s apparently what those enormous fines are supposed to be about— making the accused so terrified that they will comply immediately and sow terror in the heart of anyone else messing with air, water, soil or plants and animals in any way, though they’ve gone after people for picking up arrowheads as well.

The public lands do not, in my opinion, belong to — the government — but to the people, and we allow the government to manage it for us. Property rights are one of the most fundamental bastions of liberty. When a federal agency tramples all over American citizens’ property rights, it’s time to sit up and take notice.



Now They Want to Make You Eat Your Vegetables if You Are On Food Stamps! by The Elephant's Child

I have often referred to Liberals as “the perpetually discontented.” They have no acceptance of the ordinary foibles of the human race, and they really, really don’t want anyone to disagree with them. Their reactions to those who do disagree, range from calling you a racist, to trying to get you fired, or arrested. I suspect the reason is that they are not sure enough of their own arguments to be confident of defeating you in a debate, thus they want to end any possible debate and just get rid of you.

They have told us in many leftist venues that they don’t have principles like the Republicans do, but react to events on a case-by-case basis. They think that’s a good thing. While Republicans are talking about principles and how they apply to the world as it is, Liberals are nitpicking and regulating and trying to pass laws to make Republicans more tolerable.

They don’t seem to have a very good opinion of the very people they claim they are trying to help. Those who are unemployed are viewed as mostly unemployable or they wouldn’t have lost their jobs. Those who are on food stamps are fat, lazy and don’t know how to properly spend their food stamps. More vegetables, more fruit, more whole grains!!

“The USDA  (Department of Agriculture) is suggesting major changes to grocery stores to “nudge” Americans to purchase healthier foods when they shop.

The agency commissioned an “expert panel” to make recommendations on how to guide the more than 47 million Americans on food stamps into spending their benefits on fruits and vegetables.

The group released an 80-page report this month presenting their ideas, which include talking shopping carts and a marketing strategy for grocery chains that would feature better store lighting for healthier items.

“Most Americans, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants, do not purchase enough whole grains, dark green and orange vegetables, and legumes, and purchase too many items with excess calories from fats and added sugars,” the report said.

The report estimated that the new carts might cost as much as $30,000 per store. And they would like to rearrange the stores, change how stores stock and display their items. Improve the lighting, create “healthy aisles”. There is no end to the poking and prodding they would like to do in the interest of making sure that people don’t buy junk food with their food stamps.

Why is it that liberals are so intent on forcing everyone to adhere to their ideas of what is correct? It’s that little tyrant that lurks in their very souls, trying desperately to get out.

At the turn of the 21st century, there were 138,049 pages in the Code of Federal Regulations. At the end of 2013, there were 175,906. The George W. Bush administration added 2,490 pages a year. During the first five years of the Obama administration they have added 3,504 pages a year. Granted, some regulations are longer than others. But there are costs to comply with regulations — and those costs can be a real drag on the economy. When the economy shrank to a minus 2.9 percent in the first quarter, it was blamed on the weather. More likely, it was ObamaCare. Health and Human Services added 1,296 pages of new regulations just before the Fourth of July holiday.

The Federal Reserve considers that there is little inflation, but they don’t shop for groceries. People are shocked to find that their ObamaCare premiums have gone up by 40%. The White House reveled in the June jobs numbers which seemed to be really up, but the increase was all in part-time jobs, accounting for all the people who were cut back to less than thirty hours. So now they all work two jobs. That is excess regulation, liberals controlling your lives, improving you—so they will like the improved you better. You know its not going to work.



Nevermind the Fire, That Truck Might Be Emitting CO2! by The Elephant's Child

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The president has asked Congress for an additional $3.7 billion to “comprehensively address this urgent humanitarian situation” at the border. The request includes $615 million for emergency wildfire suppression activities operations starting in 2015.

Fire season is upon us, and there are fires burning in California, Oregon and Washington state, but perhaps, the Wall Street Journal says, the Obama administration could start by getting its own agencies off the firefighters’ backs. The Defense Department has had a fit of environmental consciousness which is disrupting disaster efforts in peak wildfire season.

The Pentagon decided to suspend the program that supplies federal equipment to states for fighting wildfires. DOD suspended the program because the equipment did not meet the latest federal emissions standards. Emissions? in the case of wildfires? Emitting, spewing CO² by the ton and they are worried the EPA will come after them for tailpipes that aren’t up to date? Forest fires are major air-polluting events. You can see and smell the smoke for miles and miles.

There are two programs, the Federal Excess Personal Property Program and the Firefighter Property Program that each year loan local firefighting units more than $150 million of equipment that the federal government no longer needs. Involved are trucks, pumps, generators, engine parts and are a lifeline for small all-volunteer fire departments that can’t afford $500,000 for a new tanker. The vast majority of the wildfires that local units fight are on public lands.

The DOD suspended the transfer of trucks and generators, many of which were made for the military with diesel engines that don’t meet the EPA’s latest emissions standards. The Defense Logistics Agency realized they weren’t abiding by a decades-old agreement with the EPA to abide by the standards of the Clean Air Act. So naturally they just suspended the program.

Well, enormous outcry, forests burning, the DOD decided the EPA grants a “national-security” exception to the standards rules for transferred military equipment. The agencies have decided the  program restart should come with —new regulations— including the requirement that local firefighters track and return every piece of equipment so the feds can destroy them.

Good grief. Don’t let a diesel truck emit any carbon while fighting a thousand-acre forest fire. Priorities. The Bureaucrat is required to follow the rules of the bureaucracy, and not ask annoying questions. When it gets this bad, you know the government is too big to function.



Another Big Power Grab From The Rogue EPA! by The Elephant's Child

Right before the July 4th weekend, when nobody was paying attention, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it has added a new regulatory weapon to its arsenal.

In a Federal Register notice on July 2, (you always check the Federal Register right before a 3-day weekend, don’t you?) the EPA stated that by the authority of the Debt Collection Improvement Act (DCIA) of 1996 it had issued a proposed rule that “will allow the EPA to garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order.” According to the Treasury Department, under DCIA, such debts include “unpaid loans, overpayments or duplicate payments made to federal salary or benefit payment recipients, misused grant funds, and fines, penalties or fees assessed by federal agencies.

The EPA explains that, “Prior to the enactment of the DCIA, Federal agencies were required to obtain a court judgment before garnishing non-Federal wages. Section 31001(o) of the DCIA preempts State laws that prohibit wage garnishment or otherwise govern wage garnishment procedures.” It’s worth repeating just part of the list of debts for which wages may be garnished under the DCIA: “fines, penalties or fees assessed by federal agencies.”The EPA rule also states that, “we view this as a noncontroversial action and anticipate no adverse comment.” Consequently, the rule continues, “This direct final rule is effective September 2, 2014 without further notice unless EPA receives adverse comments by August 1, 2014.” (emphasis added)

Andy Johnson is a local welder in Unita County, Wyoming. The EPA has issued an “administrative order” that he destroy a pond he painstakingly built on his own property or face $75,000 a day, for violating the Clean Water Act.  This is the same amount that the EPA was threatening the Sacketts with, after they declared the lot where the Sacketts were building their home between two lots that already had homes, a wetland. The EPA claimed the couple could not even challenge their ruling, they just had to pay it. That one went to the Supreme Court where the Sacketts won a unanimous decision.

Mr. Johnson’s pond is not polluted, wildlife enjoy it, it is on Mr. Johnson’s own property and he even sought regulatory approval from the state for his private effort to improve the environment. But he did not get a permit from the Corps of Engineers, and thus finds himself under the heavy thumb of the EPA. The EPA claims jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act which gives the EPA jurisdiction over the navigable waters of the United States. This is where it gets remarkably dicey. Mr. Johnson’s stock pond (there are exemptions for stock ponds) takes water from Six Mile Creek, a perennial tributary of the Blacks Fork River, which is a tributary of the Green River “which is and was at all relevant times a navigable, interstate water of the United States.” The fact that waters from Six Mile Creek might eventually flow into the Green River, does not make Six Mile Creek navigable waters. The EPA has been anxious to claim jurisdiction under that law back to every stream, rivulet, and trickle that eventually flows into their navigable waters. Your downspouts may be next, if they get away with this.

The EPA has ordered Mr. Johnson to submit within 30 days a plan prepared by a consultant that asses the impact and provides a restoration plan and a schedule that requires all restoration work to be completed within 60 days of the plan’s approval.Three Senators have fired off a letter to the EPA, and as the EPA gave Mr. Johnson only ten calendar days to respond to their compliance order, suggested that the EPA respond to them within a similar timeline.

The EPA said that if it receives no adverse comments by August 1. the direct final rule will go into effect. Which would give them free rein to go after whoever they choose and garnish their wages without a court ruling — which in a free society should be unthinkable. This rogue agency has been slapped down by the courts over and over, but keeps seeking more power. I am only partially kidding about your downspouts. I would suggest that you submit an adverse comment.  These power grabs need to be stopped in their infancy. Here’s a model from the Heritage Foundation.



The Affordable Care Act May Not Be Affordable. Who Knew? by The Elephant's Child

The Health and Human Services inspector general has been busy. Two new audits reveal failures in ObamaCare on an astounding scale. There are unresolved discrepancies, rules violations and technology problems that expose taxpayers to unknown costs.  They bit off more than they could chew.

The HHS inspector general found 2.9 million “inconsistencies” in applications that were submitted to the federal Health Care.gov exchange during the first five months of open enrollment. “Inconsistencies” refers to things like Social Security numbers that don’t match government data, income data, family size, and citizenship that don’t check out. Around 1.3 million of the problems dealt with citizenship. An additional million involved declared income.

The inspector general was unable to resolve these “discrepancies” because the ObamaCare “eligibility was not fully operational.” In other words, who knows if the applicants were eligible to receive ObamaCare at all? Or if they are eligible are they getting the right subsidies? Are they even citizens?

Only 6 million had filled out applications by the end of February, and only 2.6 million had enrolled. Of the 300,000 problems that HHS was capable of resolving, it had only managed to clear up for just 10,000.

Eleven states ran exchanges, and had problems with 34% of the applications they had received — a total of 422,772 problems. They didn’t say if they had resolved any. The federal exchange and two state exchanges didn’t have adequate internal controls to make sure taxpayers were protected from fraud and abuse.

To top that all off, the government hasn’t been reconciling its enrollment numbers with insurance companies to account for dropouts and cancellations. Who knows how many are actually enrolled, or how many people believe they are enrolled and are not? And how many have tried to get coverage to which they are not entitled?

In the private sector, there would be criminal charges and a lot of self-important people would be heading to jail.

The president has changed the law, changed due dates, changed requirement and delayed one thing and another. How that plays out I don’t know. It’s probably one of those —”after the election” things he is so fond of.

If I understand correctly, he has promised the insurance companies that the government would (taxpayers would) bail them out if they came up short. What that means I don’t know.



The Environmentalists Are Not On Your Side! by The Elephant's Child

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You have undoubtedly noticed rising prices at the grocery store. Bacon aficionados have certainly noticed. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday predicted that fruit and vegetable prices will rise by 5% to 6% this year due to lower production in California’s great Central Valley. California has just endured one of the driest  years on record— but much of the blame lies directly on extreme environmental policies.

More than half of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, most of the lettuce, berries and tomatoes come from the Central Valley. This year federal water regulators cut farmers’ allocations of water to zero because of a long bout of dry weather. Farmers had to pump groundwater, and many saved their groundwater supply for fruit and nut trees that take years to come to full production.

About 500,000 acres of land lay fallow this year. This didn’t have to happen. The state could have stored up more water from the wet years, but they flushed 800,000 acre feet into San Francisco Bay last winter and another 445,000 acre feet this spring to “safeguard” the “endangered” delta smelt, a tiny 3 inch bait fish endangered by pumping at the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta which under the Endangered Species Act must be protected at any cost. Last winter, when 300 smelt were snared in the pumps, regulators ordered that a deluge of melted snowpack from the Sierras be discharged to the ocean rather than delivered to farmers. That amount of water would have irrigated 600,000 acres of land and been enough for 3 million households.

The Endangered Species Act has an outstanding record of stopping projects, being used as evidence in endless lawsuits, costing billions, but accomplishing nothing whatsoever as far as actually “saving” endangered species. The slaughter of birds of prey, and songbirds chopped up in wind turbines or cooked in solar arrays, on the other hand, does not trump the small amounts of expensive “renewable” energy that environmentalists keep hoping will

The California Farm Bureau estimates conservatively that the average American family will spend about $500 more on food this year as a result of crackpot environmentalism. That’s added to the increased price of gas, higher electricity bills, and higher premiums on your health insurance.

ADDENDUM: There’s more. Henry I. Miller writes in the Wall Street Journal that Santa Cruz, Mendocino and Marin counties in California, have banned a proven, modern technology that could conserve vast amounts of water. The technology is genetic engineering at the molecular level, or gene splicing. Plant biologists have identified genes that regulate water use and transferred them into important plant crops. The new varieties grow with smaller amounts of water or lower-quality water, such as that higher in mineral salts. Irrigation accounts for roughly 70 percent of the world’s fresh water consumption.

In Egypt, Miller says, researchers have shown a decade ago that transferring a single gene from barley to wheat, the plants can tolerate less watering for a longer period of time. The new drought-resistant variety in some deserts can be grown with rainfall alone, and in a conventional field requires only one-eighth as much irrigation. For a country like Egypt that regularly has trouble feeding their own people, this is am enormous benefit.




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