April 27, 2012

Obama ‘Protecting’ EPA’s Antagonistic Al ‘Crucify Them’ Armendariz

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:52 am

Concerning the EPA’s Al Armendariz, I wrote yesterday that:

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”).

Well it looks like we know.

From an Investor’s Business Daily editorial last night (bolds are mine):

An EPA official who apparently made good on a threat to “crucify” an oil company to make the entire energy industry “easy to manage” should resign or be fired. So why is the White House protecting him?

EPA regional administrator for Dallas Al Armendariz told a city council meeting in a taped speech two years ago that his “philosophy” of enforcement was to single out an oil company, punish it “as hard as you can,” and make an example of it to scare others into submission.

Besides the Range Resources saga described at yesterday’s post, IBD had this to add:

… “Totalitarian” may seem extreme, but Armendariz said in the same speech his proudest moment in his first year at EPA was to have its enforcers watch “Gasland,” an anti-fracking propaganda documentary financed by the government of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, who also opposes all U.S. drilling. Armendariz collaborated with its makers, and got his name in the credits.

But incredibly, the White House, already mired in scandals involving other abuses of power in other agencies, has said Armendariz would stay. “I think he’s apologized, and what he’s said is clearly not representative of either the president’s belief” or EPA practices, said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

In light of the evidence telling another story, the only conclusion is that Armendariz is doing exactly what the White House wants. He just made the error of saying it.

The White House has blocked drilling in U.S. waters, halted the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and sent regulators out like flying monkeys to harass the oil and gas industry. Why it’s protecting this lawless regulator with a grotesque “philosophy” bears investigating, too.

This guy isn’t an “administrator.” He’s an globaloney-obsessed anticapitalist zealot.

The administration’s defense of Armendariz demonstrates that anyone fully aware of this situation who still votes to reelect Barack Obama is a willing co-conspirator in regulatory tyranny (“arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority”), and a co-protector of the surely hundreds if not thousands of others with the mindset of Al Armendariz sprinkled across dozens of federal agencies.

Positivity: In 2003, Mitt Romney Rescued Capsized Boaters — And Their Dog — With Sons’ Help

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 9:57 am

Yes, this story crosses into the political realm because of who it’s about. Readers surely know I am deeply concerned about his politics and public record and what I still believe is his objective unfitness for public office (but of course nowhere hear as unfit as his general election opponent), but heroism is heroism.

It also shreds an establishment media and Democratic Party (but I repeat myself) obsession.

That doesn’t change the fact that it qualifies as a Positivity story. Here it is — From Waltham, Massachusetts, eight year ago (HT Hot Air):

Romney rescues capsized boaters

Posted Jul 06, 2003 @ 08:00 PM
Last update Jul 19, 2007 @ 05:36 PM

Gov. Mitt Romney rode to the rescue over the weekend during a vacation trip — using his Jet Ski to help pluck a New Jersey family and their dog out of Lake Winnipesaukee after their boat sank.

The drama began at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, as Romney and his family were relaxing at their lakeside summer home in Wolfeboro, N.H.

Gubernatorial son Josh Romney told the Herald yesterday that he and brother Craig were cleaning the beach while their father puttered in the garage when the quiet night air was pierced with screams.

“We heard a whole bunch of screaming,” said Josh Romney, who immediately hopped onto his Jet Ski. “We tore out of there and my dad hopped on the other Jet Ski and came out right after us.”

Roughly 300 yards out onto the lake, six adult family members and their dog were floundering in the water, after their boat suddenly sprung a huge leak — sinking in less than 90 seconds, Josh said.

While water temperatures were a balmy 75 degrees, the deepening darkness obscured other boaters’ vision — prompting the victims’ terrified howls as they were buzzed by other vessels cruising in the entrance to Wolfeboro Bay.

Chasing fleeting glimpses of “bobbling heads” in the water, the Romney trio arrived on their two Jet Skis to find three women and three men wearing lifejackets they hadn’t even had time to buckle.

The governor pulled the two younger women aboard his three-seater Jet Ski and zoomed back to shore, while his sons helped the mother of the family onto their vehicle.

In the middle of the rescue, the governor actually took a dunking himself — thrown off the Jet Ski as one anxious boater scrambled aboard and tipped the craft off-balance.

The rescuing Romneys also managed to snatch the family dog, McKenzie, from a watery grave — grabbing the Scottish terrier first because it was the only passenger without a lifejacket.

“It looked like it wasn’t going to last much longer,” said Josh, who held the waterlogged pooch on the ride back to shore.

With Josh and Craig hovering nearby, the three men treaded water until the governor returned and made two more trips to ferry them back.

The weekend incident actually marked the Romney clan’s second heroic rescue on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Several years ago, the elder Romney — who was then heading up the Olympics — and the boys had to rush out in a boat and scoop up a batch of kayakers who were being battered and run onto rocks by fierce winds.

Josh Romney shrugged off the “hero” label.

“We were just lucky to be in the right place,” he said. “We did what anyone else would have done.”

Go here for the full story.

While on the topic of positivity: One must also admire Romney and his family holding back on telling the above story while being savaged over something far less consequential which happened twenty years earlier. And yes, yours truly erred in buying into the presumptive assessment of Ana Marie Cox at Time Magazine made here (last item at link) in early 2008.

To those who cynically see it as the ultimate in effective strategy (i.e., wait until someone else eventually finds it, or tip someone to it at the opportune time) — Unless someone can prove that the incident didn’t happen as described (highly doubtful), so what? The only people hurt by the strategy are people who deserve it.

1Q12 Gross Domestic Product, First Pass: An Annualized 2.2%

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:13 am

From Uncle Sam’s Bureau of Economic Analysis:

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012 (that is, from the fourth quarter to the first quarter), according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2011, real GDP increased 3.0 percent.

The increase in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, private inventory investment, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by negative contributions from federal government spending, nonresidential fixed investment, and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The deceleration in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected a deceleration in private inventory investment and a downturn in nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by accelerations in PCE and in exports.

I think this is a bust compared to recent expectations, which were for a reading of 2.5% to 3.0%.

Yep:

  • Bloomberg — “Economy in U.S. Expands at 2.2% Annual Rate, Less Than Forecast”
  • Reuters (“Growth slows on inventories, weak business spending”) — “While that was below economists’ expectations for a 2.5 percent pace, a surge in consumer spending took some of the sting from the report. However, growth was still stronger than analysts’ predictions early in the quarter for an expansion below 1.5 percent.”
  • Associated Press, published before the release — “The consensus forecast is that gross domestic product – the output of all goods and services, from cars to electricity to manicures – grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate, according to a survey of economists by FactSet.” The headline: “Growth likely dipped in winter, but 2012 brightens.” On what planet, guys?
  • Business Insider’s email had a consensus expectation of 2.5%.

Zero Hedge reminds us that, if anything, the quarter should have been much more impressive because of the mild winter (paragraph breaks added by me):

Big GDP Miss: 2.2% Vs Expectations Of 2.5%, Composition Even Uglier

Instead of printing at the expected number of +2.5%, the first preliminary GDP data point (two more revisions pending) came out at 2.2%, a big disappointment for a quarter which had a substantial boost from the weather.

And while of the 2.2%, Personal Consumption came in strong – as expected, as it was precisely the factor most impacted by pulling in demand forward courtesy of “April in February”, 0.59% of the 2.2% was an increase in inventories, something which was not supposed to happen as it means that the quality of the economic growth in Q1 was far worse than expected.

Cementing the ugly composition of Q1 GDP was fixed investment which added just a paltry 0.18% – this is the number which is critical for ongoing cashflow generation and unfortunately, the very low print means that growth outlook for Q2 is now even worse than before and we expect economists will promptly trim their already bearish predictions for Q2 GDP.

Mediocre, non-job-generating growth (compared to what’s needed to make a significant dent), the hallmark of this, the worst recovery (and it’s barely that) since World War II, continues.

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (042712)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:15 am

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

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