American Elephants

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


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.


The Department of Agriculture Wants To Buy Submachine Guns! by The Elephant's Child

Republicans talk a lot about the horrors of Big Government, but I’m not sure that most people know what we are talking about. Why is big bad? What part is too big? Why the fuss? And what difference does it make? The impetus today was notice of a solicitation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Department has a requirement for the commercial acquisition of submachine guns, .40 Cal. S&W, ambidextrous safety, semi-automatic or 2 shot bursts trigger group, Tritium night sights for front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore grip) and scope (top rear), stock-collapsible or folding, —30 round capacity magazine.

They want the submachine guns to have a sling, be lightweight and have an oversized trigger guard for gloved operation. Note the plural ‘guns,’ but there is no mention of the numbers of submachine guns that are required, or just who the Department is planning to attack, for these are surely assault weapons.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture!

The question everyone would ask is— what the hell does the Department of Agriculture need with submachine guns? And why does the Department of Education need a SWAT Team? Why did the BLM descend on the Bundy ranch with some 200 armed troops? They could have easily called on the local sheriff’s department to arrest Mr. Bundy and bring him in for failing to pay his grazing fees.

We are seeing way too many incidents of U.S. government SWAT teams descending on ordinary businesses, guns drawn, with trumped-up charges. Gibson Guitars comes to mind, and the Sacketts case in Northern Idaho that went all the way to  the Supreme Court when the EPA falsely claimed their property was a wetland. There are dozens of such cases, if not hundreds.

The government has reached a pinnacle of overreach. They are doing way too many things that they should not be doing at all. The government should not be doing those things which private enterprise can do better and less expensively. Everyone would probably have their own list of what should be eliminated, but the Department of Education, the Energy Department, the EPA would be high on my list. The First Lady should not be planning school lunches, and the curriculum should be the task of local school boards.

Instead, the administration is downsizing the military— the Army is going to reduce their active duty force by another 30,000 in the next 17 months to drawdown forces to 450,000 by 2017. This is ostensibly because of budget pressures. Yet the number one task of the Executive Branch is national security in a time of rising danger in the world to which the administration seems oblivious.

Misguided priorities, ideologically dispensed funding, taxpayer money diverted  to cronies, and government money directed to political purposes. The promised transparency never appeared and waste and fraud are covered up. The bloated nature of the nation’s capitol just keeps expanding, and with each expansion, oversight diminishes. At a certain point no one any longer knows where the money is going, what the departments are really doing, or how to shrink the government enough so we can actually understand what they are doing. Big Government does not do anything well, and some things they do so badly, they should be forced to turn it over to private enterprise at once.

ADDENDUM: The USDA has also solicited “The commercial acquisition of ballistic vests, compliant with NIJ 0101.06 for Level IIIA Ballistic Resistance body armor.”

They ask for body armor that is gender specific, lightweight, with trauma plate/pad (hard or soft), and concealable carrier. The order includes tactical vest, undergarment (white) identification patches, accessories (6 pouches), body armor carry bag, and professional measurements.

Huh. SWAT Team!

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