American Elephants


The EPA’s Enormous Land Grab by The Elephant's Child

unofficial-stream-small-custom-e1339556645568The EPA  has just finalized one of the biggest land grabs in American history.

Just reprimanded by the Supreme Court, the EPA is anxious to try their luck again. Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA was  granted the authority to regulate the navigable waters of the United States to see that they remained clean.

Under the Clean Water Rule, all  “tributaries” will be regulated by the federal government. Broadly defined, which they intend, this means  anything moist that eventually flows into something that can be defined as a “navigable river,” including the roadside ditch above, and even smaller trickles.

Under the same rule, the word “adjacent” is stretched from the Supreme Court’s definition of actually “abutting” what most Americans regard as a real water of the United States to anything “neighboring,” “contiguous,” or “bordering” a real water, terms which are again stretched to include whole floodplains and riparian areas. Floodplains are typically based on a 100-year flood, but a separate regulation would stretch that to a 500-year flood.

And, finally, under the rule, the EPA cynically throws in a catch-all “significant nexus” test meant as a shout out to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in Rapanos v. United States when, in fact, the EPA’s rule makes a mockery of Kennedy’s opinion and of no fewer than three Supreme Court rulings.

Under the three approaches, no land or “water” is beyond the reach of the federal government, never mind the traditional understanding of private property or state and local control of land use.

Farmers, ranchers, dairymen and everyone in rural America are in panic mode. Not only does this rule allow the EPA onto their land, but it throws wide open to environmental group-led citizen lawsuits that promise to go far beyond what the EPA envisioned. Citizen lawsuits are controlled only by the rule. The rule carries with it fines to the tune of $37,500 a day. The EPA has a habit of imposing fines big enough to scare the accused  of whatever violation into immediate compliance.

I grew up very rural, and I’m sure city people cannot imagine the havoc this rule could cause. Although here in the Seattle area, a good portion of our lawns could be considered wetlands for a portion of the year. It rains a lot, and there is runoff. Farmers and ranchers spend a significant amount of time ditching, or controlling the flow of water where it is not wanted.

The goal of the Environmental Protection Agency has little to do with the environment, but only to do with how environmental regulation can be used to further their political goals of control, ending private property, and bringing on the utopia where everyone is, at last, truly equal. Well, except for those in charge, of course.



We Don’t Have To Observe Any Supreme Court Ruling! by The Elephant's Child

The White House said today that the Supreme Court’s decision today on the EPA overreach claiming that the costs of their regulation don’t matter — wouldn’t impact the huge pending EPA rule imposing regulations of existing power plants. I assume this is Josh Earnest posing as “the White House.” Odd.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed with the outcome,” he said. “I will say, based on what we have read so far, there is no reason that this court ruling should have an impact on the ability of the administration to develop and implement the clean power plant [ruling].”

If the administration is prepared to ignore the Supreme Court ruling, then I assume the rest of us are free to ignore the other decisions that we aren’t that convinced were rightly decided.



Obama’s Latest Job for Our Military is Measuring the Ice in the Arctic. by The Elephant's Child

You may remember the president’s commencement speech at the Coast Guard Academy. He told the graduates “I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act — and we need to act now.” A lot of people giggled at that one.

The Defense Department, obedient to their commander in chief, calls global warming a true national security threat and has begun instituting a host of environmental measures which range from building clean energy projects at military installations to the use of expensive green fuels in military planes. Military officers who question the president’s strategies seem to face early retirement.

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office, according to the Washington Times, notes another example— the commitment of U.S. Military forces to monitor sea ice levels in the Arctic. The administration argues that decreasing ice could force the Pentagon to “institute a military and homeland security presence in the region.”

Critics charge the president is directing the military from its real mission of protecting America, but that is not high on the president’s list. Last Monday, the White House tried once again to justify its climate change agenda with a new report claiming tens of thousands of lives will be saved through restrictions on carbon.

Difficulty in developing accurate sea ice models, variability in the Arctic’s climate, and the uncertain rate of activity in the region create challenges for DOD to balance the risk of having inadequate capabilities or insufficient capacity when required to operate in the region with the cost of making premature or unnecessary investments. DOD plans to mitigate this risk by monitoring the changing Arctic conditions to determine the appropriate timing for capability investments.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are taking aim at the EPA’s budget and restricting the president’s ill-advised global warming agenda through funding cuts. The Supreme Court decision coming Monday will have a bearing on all this.

On would think with the rise in ISIS terrorist attacks across the world, measuring the ice in the Arctic, since surveys show it to be unusually extensive, could be put off for another day. There has been no warming at all for over 18 years, and things are getting colder — not warmer.



When the Crazies are Demanding Censorship, Jonathan Rauch Speaks Out for Free Speech by The Elephant's Child

Most of the idiocy about anything Confederate, anything critical of gay marriage, unisex bathrooms, comes from the Universities. When the Humanities have turned to Women’s Studies, Black Studies, Diversity and microaggressions and triggering, and for the most part dumped Shakespeare as another dead white male, it’s getting really weird out there. Apple has dumped all their military games that include the Civil War, Amazon. Walmart, eBay and Sears have all dropped any reproduction of the battle flag like a hot potato. University buildings must be renamed, statues and memorials are being defaced.

Book-burning comes next. They have already announced that Gone With the Wind must go, but that’s probably the only Civil War book they know, clearly they haven’t read any history. When the current hysteria dies down, we need to speak out, as Jonathan Rauch has long done, and is doing now in recognition of its importance.

The gift shop at the Gettysburg memorial has just eliminated the Confederate Battle Flag from their merchandise. Apparently we were fooled all along, it was just a maneuver where the Yankees fought Yankees, for what reason I don’t know.



Call it ScotusCare! The Supreme Court Does Legislating From the Bench. by The Elephant's Child

The Supreme Court announced their decision in King v, Burwell. Conservatives are dismayed at the Court’s complicity in rewriting the Affordable Care Act. President Obama has been threatening the court for days attempting to cow the Supremes. What influence his threats had is not known, but hopefully is is none. Nevertheless, Chief Justice Roberts bypassed the separation of powers, and decided to help the Democrats out by assuming that the law didn’t mean what it said, and he would fix it by rewriting it. Essentially what he did the last time around. Rewriting the words of Congress to mean what they would have to say to make the law work — is making law.  The Supreme Court is supposed to decide whether the words as written are Constitutional, that’s the judicial function. Justice Antonin Scalia, dissenting, called it “somersaults of statutory interpretation” but it is legislating, not judging.

Holman Jenkins got it right:

By one standard no government program can fail, and that’s the standard being applied to ObamaCare by its supporters: If a program exists and delivers benefits, the program is working.

The polls do show that 74% of ObamaCare’s eight million enrollees are satisfied with their plans, because 87% of them are getting taxpayer subsidies that amount to an annual $3,312 per recipient, which is a pretty good deal for the recipients, not so much for the taxpayers. Oddly enough, those who are basically in good health, but just need flu shots or treatment for some minor deal, a broken arm, a sore throat are pretty pleased with their health care.Taxpayers who find that their premiums are going up 20% – 30%. or who find out their deductible has gone up to $6,000 aren’t so happy, because they are paying their premiums and their full medical bills besides. Jenkins again:

The right question about any program is whether the benefits justify the expenditure of taxpayer money. ObamaCare’s cheerleaders provide not cost-benefit analysis but benefit analysis—as if money grows on trees or is donated by Martians or can be printed in limitless quantities by the Fed. …

In the meantime, however, no worthwhile thoughts about ObamaCare, pro or con, are to be heard from people who count a program as a success just because Americans enjoy receiving benefits at the expense of other Americans.



When Will They Ever Learn? When Will They learn? by The Elephant's Child
June 24, 2015, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Taxes | Tags: , ,

Basic Economics. Connecticut is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to business taxes. The state is now looking at another round of business tax hikes. With their latest budget, the Connecticut legislature has now increased business taxes five times since 2011, forcing companies located in the state to pay the fifth highest tax rate in the nation.

With the latest increase, accountants will be working overtime to deal with the new budget that includes nearly $2 billion in tax increases, including a $700 million increase in business taxes.

Bright politicians know an opportunity when they see one. Governors Mike Pence of Indiana and Greg Abbott of Texas pay attention. Republicans both, the governors have written to the corporate leadership of GE, Aetna, and Travelers, inviting them to tour their states and investigate the tax advantages that Connecticut can no longer provide.

Bloomberg reported that Abbott’s letter boasted of a $3.8 billion tax-cutting package approved by the Texas legislature in May that included a 25 percent cut in the business franchise tax. That alone would save companies in Texas a total of $2,5 billion in the next ten years.

Pence wrote that “Businesses in Indiana grow with confidence, while businesses in high-tax states like Connecticut operate in fear of seeing their piggy banks raided,” wrote Pence. “On behalf of 6.7 million hardworking Hoosiers, we are constantly meeting with companies around the world that are choosing Indiana and enjoying an instant spike in earnings. With Connecticut taxes skyrocketing, it’s important to remind businesses that Indiana is here to help as a state that works.

Fifty percent of Connecticut residents in a poll over the last year said they would leave the state if they could, but they can’t sell their houses because nobody wants to move in because of taxes.

Legislative leaders Sharkey, Looney and Duff ( sorry, I couldn’t resist) Senate President is Martin M. Looney, Majority Leader Robert Duff and Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, were all pleased with their budget which contains major property tax relief and long term investments in transportation. “A brighter tomorrow will start with this budget today” said Gov. Malloy.

Texas and Indiana are standouts in the nation for their low taxes and successful economies. We’ll see how many Connecticut businesses decide to relocate..



It Sounded Like a Big Deal, But It is Only a Teeny One. by The Elephant's Child
June 24, 2015, 4:59 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, United Kingdom | Tags: , ,

In Britain, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has announced that large swathes of the British countryside are to be spared the blight of windfarms as taxpayer subsidies are ended. She said that about 2,500 proposed turbines in 250 projects are now “unlikely to be built.” Pay attention to that word “proposed.” They are not tearing down existing windfarms, at least not yet.

The owners of some windfarms have been paid more than £3 million each to shut down their turbines when the National Grid is overloaded. Most windfarms are in Scotland, and “bottlenecks” of energy can build during high winds. Offshore windfarms are not affected as yet. This is unrelated to the ending of subsidies for future farms.

Origin Energy wants to cut down a corner of Barnsdale Forest to make way for two 400ft wind turbines which would tower over the remaining trees. The forest, which was featured in Russell Crowe’s 2010 movie ‘Robin Hood,’ is established as the haunt of the Merry Men in folklore, but local historians are researching Tudor history to determine if there is truth to the story — to prevent the turbines from being built.The locals are set against the windfarm.

Ms Rudd, who has also announced plans to give local communities the final say over windfarms, said: “We are reaching the limits of what is affordable, and what the public is prepared to accept.”

But critics said taxpayers still face a soaring bill for subsidies to costly offshore windfarms .

Without taxpayer subsidies, windfarms get scrapped. They are not a successful business proposition. Britain got all excited about moving to “renewable” energy, but as they blight the landscape and nearby people suffer from the noise, and their taxes go up, enthusiasm wanes. When you get around to shutting them down, be sure to add taking them down and disposing of the dead turbines part of the deal.

I did see ‘Robin Hood’ and cherish the memory. Russell Crowe was Russell Crowe, the story improbable, but it was the ending that was wonderful. It was the Norman Invasion, 1066, and according to Hollywood, the Normans invaded England with Medieval Higgins boats apparently mostly made of driftwood. They were rowed up to the British beach and the front ramp fell, but all were defeated by the Merry Men and the Battle of Hastings never took place? Or perhaps the beach landings were the Battle of Hastings. It was hilarious!




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