April 26, 2012

EPA Regional Administrator’s Real Philosophy: ‘Crucify’ First, Intimidate Challengers Later

Yesterday, as apparently first reported at the Daily Caller, Oklahoma Republican Senator James Imhofe revealed that Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 administrator Al Armendariz had explained his enforcement philosophy towards companies within his jurisdiction as “[C]rucify them … 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.” Remember that Antagonistic Al was referring to those who are “not compliant.” A YouTube video of Armendariz’s remarks in fuller context is here.

The Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, in what I would hope is only its first version of coverage (but don’t count on any follow-up), did its level best to minimize the significance of Armendariz’s remarks, with a headline designed to make people think he only said one bad word, and content which tried to emphasize that the administrator reserves his harsh treatment only for actual lawbreakers. At Forbes, Christopher Helman has made mincemeat of that pretense in one very prominent case. First, here’s the complete but brief AP report from Ramit Plushnick-Masti (posted in full for fair use and discussion purposes):

APonEPAcrucifyGuy042612at415pm

Note how Plushmick-Masti described Armendariz’s targets: “bad players in the oil and gas industry” who are “not complying with the law.”

Also note the AP writer’s claim that Armendariz’s Roman example related to “a troublesome town.” No it didn’t. Armendariz didn’t say or even imply that being “troublesome” was a factor as he drew the ancient portion of his analogy. He actually said the following:

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.

Antagonistic Al was referring to towns which had already been conquered, and were therefore not presumptively “troublesome.” It’s clear that in finding “the first five guys they saw,” the Romans didn’t care whether the victims were criminals or completely innocent residents.

He may not have intended it, but as Helman at Forbes notes, that narrative — crucify first, dare anyone to challenge them later — pretty much describes how despicably Armendariz dealt with Range Resources (bolds are mine):

… not only has Armendariz talked about crucifying oil companies, he’s tried to do it. In 2010 his office targeted Range Resources, a Fort Worth-based driller that was among the first to discover the potential of the Marcellus Shale gas field of Pennsylvania — the biggest gas field in America and one of the biggest in the world. Armendariz’s office declared in an emergency order that Range’s drilling activity had contaminated groundwater in Parker County, Texas. Armendariz’s office insisted that Range’s hydraulic fracking activity had caused the pollution and ordered Range to remediate the water. The EPA’s case against Range was catnip for the environmental fracktivists who insist with religious zealotry that fracking is evil. Range insisted from the beginning that there was no substance to the allegations.

The Armendriz video was shot around the same time he was preparing the action against Range.

Never mind that he couldn’t prove jack against Range. For a year and a half EPA bickered over the issue, both with Range and with the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas drilling and did its own scientific study of Range’s wells and found no evidence that they polluted anything. In recent months a federal judge slapped the EPA, decreeing that the agency was required to actually do some scientific investigation of wells before penalizing the companies that drilled them.

There was no evidence that Range was breaking any law or even from all appearances violating any standard environmentally safe practices — yet Armendariz brought out the wood and the nails and began hammering away.

So much for Antagonistic Al’s video claim that he only goes after those who are “not compliant” — and so much for AP’s assertion that the “crucify” comment only refers to “bad players” who “are not complying with the law.” It doesn’t. Effective with Helman’s post, Ramit Plushnick-Masti and the Associated Press are actively promoting a blatant falsehood, and owe their news consumers and subscribing media outlets a retraction followed by an accurate and thorough update.

How many thousand other Antagonistic Als are in federal, state, and local environmental, occupational safety, and other potentially employer-harassing enforcement? Well, if you need a clue, consider that no one in Armendariz’s audience seemed to have had an audible problem with what he said (there is inaudible humor at the end of the video, but from what I can tell it does not refer to Armendariz’s remarks).

Where does Range go to get reimbursed for the legal and other fees spent and the executive time lost over what was such an obvious frivolous presumptive strike at an industry with the potential to turn the country’s energy situation completely around?

If this guy holds onto his job — forget the “apology,” which can’t possibly undo Armendariz’s outlook as practiced — we will know all we need to know about the Obama administration’s regulatory mindset. You’ll find it under “T” for “tyranny” –”arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Kasich: Going Back to Free-Spending Ways Is ‘Just Not Acceptable’ — For at Least 1,854 Reasons

John Kasich, asked by a reporter about when “we can start spending additional revenue,” laughed hard, and responded thusly:

Excerpt:

Listen, we just came out of an eight billion dollar hole. We were dying economically. And now that we begin to see some sunlight, people start thinking, “Well how can we go back to spending again? That’s just not acceptable.

… Any effort at runaway spending is unacceptable and will be dealt with.

Memo to the people who think there’s nothing which (or no one who) could possibly be cut: Visit this very large PDF file compiled by the Ohio Liberty Council based on data from the Buckeye Institute.

It’s a very large PDF file because it contains 1,854 names. The names are those of employees of the State of Ohio who were paid over $100,000 in 2011. I understand Kasich’s laughter at the silliness of the question. But I’m not laughing along with him, because the bloat isn’t funny, and he really needs to start going after it.

On top of that, there are surely hundreds more public school administrators, veteran teachers, along with local and county policemen and firemen, and other public officials earning more than $100K per year, which is far more than the average person in the private sector will ever earn annually.

Don’t tell me or anyone else that state and local government can’t be cut, and substantially.

Initial Unemployment Claims: 388K SA; 4-Week Average Over 380K; NSA Claims Down Less than 6% Year Over Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:06 am

From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending April 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 388,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 389,000. The 4-week moving average was 381,750, an increase of 6,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 375,500.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.6 percent for the week ending April 14, unchanged from the prior week.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 366,743 in the week ending April 21, a decrease of 3,484 from the previous week. There were 387,867 initial claims in the comparable week in 2011.

Not seasonally adjusted claims during the same week last year were 387,867. This year’s 366,743 is about 5.5% lower, which I believe is the narrowest year-over-year difference in quite a while. Last year’s comparable week was the one before Easter.

The past three weeks have marched in lockstep: 388K, 389K, 388K.

The evidence that we’re facing a third “Non-Recovery Summer” in a row continues to mount.

Latest PJ Media Column (‘The Election Should Be All About Barack Obama’s Record’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:25 am

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Saturday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

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The column deals with three of Barack Obama’s records, which from an economic and fiscal perspective should be all that people should need to know about his record to send him packing:

  • Most trillion-dollar annual deficits rung up (as well as the only ones): 4.
  • Most consecutive months of seasonally adjusted unemployment above 8%: 38, and counting. The previous record in the early 1980s was 26. In the economy under Ronald Reagan unemployment fell in 14 months from a peak of 10.8% in December 1982 to below 8% in February 1984. Under Obama, peak unemployment of 10.0% occurred in October 2009.  28 months later — twice as long as it took unemployment to fall from a higher peak under Reagan — we’re still above 8%, and for the third year in a row, it’s starting to look like the rate might head back up again.
  • Number of post-recession quarters required for a post-World War II economy to return to its pre-recession size: 9. The previous record was three.

These records are mere the three most obvious. The litany of misery is a mile long, and it’s all on him and his party.

Imagine how bad it would be if we didn’t have governors like Rick Perry in Texas, John Kasich in Ohio, and Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, to name just a few GOP stalwarts, doing everything they can despite substantial federal constraints to either turn their states around or keep them going. Worse, imagine how bad it would be if we instead had fifty governors like California’s Jerry Brown (March unemployment rate: 11%; or Illinois’s (yes, that’s the possessive form) Jim Quinn (unemployment rate: 8.8%; jobs added in past 12 months: a paltry 32,000).

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (042612)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:05 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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Positivity: Chuck Colson remembered for public Christian witness

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:45 am

From New York:

Apr 23, 2012 / 05:26 pm

The death of Charles W. “Chuck” Colson drew remembrances from many national and Christian leaders who praised the former political operative’s work in prison ministry, Evangelical-Catholic dialogue and religious freedom advocacy.

“There can be little doubt that Chuck Colson was one of the most important public Christian figures in recent decades. He gave gravitas to the new emergent Christian Right,” R.R. Reno, editor of the interreligious journal “First Things,” told CNA April 23.

“Like Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Chuck recognized that our increasingly secular liberal elites posed a threat to the uniquely religious character of American culture,” Reno said.

“This did not mean he thought the differences between Protestants and Catholics are irrelevant, but he saw that the common challenge joins us together.”

Colson died at a Falls Church, Va. hospital on April 21 at the age of 80. The Naples, Fla. resident became ill March 30 while speaking at a Colson Center of Christian Worldview conference in Lansdowne, Va. He was treated for a brain hemorrhage earlier this month.

A former Marine, Colson served as a Republican political strategist and a self-described “hatchet man” who attacked the enemies of President Richard Nixon. He helped organize illegal actions to discredit Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon official suspected of leaking a classified history of the Vietnam War to the media, The Washington Post reports.

In August 1973, during intense legal scrutiny amid the Watergate scandals, Colson converted to Christianity. In 1974, he pled guilty to charges of obstruction of justice related to the Ellsberg case and served seven months of a one to three-year sentence in a federal prison in Alabama.

He left prison convinced of the need to crusade for U.S. prison reform including an end to inhumane conditions and prison rape. In 1976 he founded Prison Fellowship, which at its peak attracted 50,000 prison ministry volunteers. It currently has a presence in 100 countries around the world.

Colson then became involved in inter-Christian dialogue and was a signatory to the 1994 document Evangelicals and Catholics Together. He was a key author of the 2009 Manhattan Declaration, which called on Christians to defend human life, traditional marriage and religious freedom. The declaration attracted half a million signatories.

Reno praised Colson for keeping religious faith “at the center of the public witness of Christians who felt called to engage in politics.”

According to the editor, Colson saw that when Protestants and Catholics are joined to “make common cause for the moral truths of the Gospel” they can “rediscover what we share as a common Christian faith.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.