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Archive for June, 2009

June 25th 2009

Crazifornia: Imperial Imperviousness


esidents of other states may think they know how crazy things are in California, but I don’t think the power of human imagination is anywhere great enough to really capture just how insane this state is.  I mean, it’s like that book on the right is a best-seller here.

So I’m starting this periodic feature, Crazifornia, to help out-of-staters get a better understanding … and in-staters to realize that it’s way past time to throw all the #@$%!s out.

Today’s subject: Rainfall.

You’ve heard about our drought, so you’d think we’d love rain but in San Diego a few years back, the Regional Water Quality Control Board – let’s just call it “the San Diego Board” instead of the alternative SDRWQCB – tried to declare rain to be a toxic substance as soon as it hit the ground.  Why? Why because then they could regulate it even more, of course!  They figured it would pick up all sorts of human-caused nastiness as soon as it touched down, and that would allow the Board to force citizens and businesses to treat it before it left their property – or face nasty fines if they failed to.

That bizarre campaign ulitmately failed, but the spirit lived on.

The Ventura Board – following some very secretive deliberations – just passed a new set of regulations for runoff that requires that all new development (they never hit existing development – voters live in existing development!) to meet strict limits for “effective impervious area,” or EIA.  That would be the portion of the parcel that becomes impervious as roads, roofs, sidewalks and driveways are built over it.

Ventura’s Board figured it would limit EIA to 30 percent for urban infill properties and … gasp … five percent for “greenfield” developments.  You can make more than five percent of a greenfield site impervious, but if you do, you have to capture every single drop that falls on that remainder of the impervious area and either infiltrate it into the ground, use it on the site, or hold it on the site until every last molecule of it evaporates.

As you can imagine, that will drive up the cost of new construction dramatically … and why?  In any good storm, water will run naturally off of more than five percent of any greenfield site.  And if runoff is such a big problem, why not treat it like sewage, let it flow  to a regional treatment, clean it and release it?

We tried to get that cost effective and reasonable idea approved by any number of regional boards, but they said they wanted the conveyance systems – be it a creek or a concrete-lined channel – to be “fishable” and “swimable.”  We had some fun with that, creating this image of what every Southern Californian would rather do than go to a nearby beach.

Up and down the state, Regional Boards are foisting this kind of insanity, pretending its normal human behavior.  And they’re getting away with it.

Now you may have heard that California is in just a bit of a financial squeeze, facing a $24 billion budget deficit and suffering an unemployment rate that’s a couple points higher than the depressing-enough national rate. Encouraging new construction would help get us out of this mess, since each new home generates three new jobs, $300,000 in economic output, $16,000 in state tax revenues and $3,000 in local tax revenues, according to the Building Industry Association of Southern California.

But instead of encouraging the end of the recession, California keeps doing things like these new stormwater regs, which make new homes, factories, schools and hospitals more expensive to build, more difficult to finance, and ultimately less likely to ever happen.  And why?  Even environmental groups report that beach water quality is way up – yet no one sees the need to stop ratcheting up the regulations.

Welcome to Crazifornia.



June 25th 2009

Obama Frantically Hustling Energy Votes


aced with stiff opposition to the first major platform of his campaign to come before a vote in Congress – the Waxman Markey screw the economy/appease the radical greens bill – President Obama has been forced to drop everything and dial for votes.

Robert “I’ve Just Got to Get a Message to You” Gibbs confirmed the prez is calling congressmen to hustle votes and told the huddled press today, “We know where we are, and I’d bet on the president.”  That means the vote is a lot closer than they’d like.

Obama also hustled up a quick bully pulpit event in the Rose Garden to deliver this, the best the golden-tongued one can come up with in support of his massive energy tax:

I know this is going to be a close vote [expectation management], in part because of the misinformation that is out there that suggests there is somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and our economic growth. ["Mis"-information that shall go unrebutted.]

But my call to those members of Congress who are still on the fence as well as to the American people is this [Who aren't on the fence - even Obama's core voting block opposes it!]: we cannot be afraid of the future, we can’t be prisoners of the past. [And we certainly can't ask questions about cost or effectiveness.]

We have been talking about this issue for decades, now is the time to finally act.

That last line deserves more than a mere bracket.  “We’ve been talking about carbon taxes for decades?!”  Where does he get this stuff? How dumb does he think we are?  If you stretch the timeline rather aggressively, pressure to tax carbon began within the last ten years, and even then it was promoted only by a small group of whackos.

Besides, even if the discussion had been going on that long, the only thing one could conclude from it is that the Dems have not been able to get their way thus far, due to overwhelming opposition to the proposition of adding massive society-wide cost increases in the name of unilateral tilting at the global warming windmill.

And why, pray tell, is now the time to act?  Just ask yourself this simple question: Which is melting faster, the economy or the planet? That one is so easy, even a Democrat can get it.

It’s not too late – sign the petition!


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June 25th 2009

Unsold On Obamacare

One nice thing you can say about Mark “The Bastard” Sanford – his breaking scandal probably took some viewers away from the All Barack Channel’s special on Obamacare.  And that might have been a relief for our president, who apparently needed a prescription for his massive headache after comprehensively failing to sell comprehensive health care reform.

(Disclaimer:  I was watching Jack Bauer try to figure out who assassinated David  Palmer in season 5 of “24,” so I somehow managed to miss the ABC sell-a-thon.)

Reports this morning show it was pretty rough going for the Prez, who portrays himself as a man of the people, but only so far …

President Obama struggled to explain today whether his health care reform proposals would force normal Americans to make sacrifices that wealthier, more powerful people — like the president himself — wouldn’t face.

…Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist and researcher at the New York University Langone Medical Center, said that elites often propose health care solutions that limit options for the general public, secure in the knowledge that if they or their loves ones get sick they will be able to afford the best care available, even if it’s not provided by insurance.

Devinsky asked the president pointedly if he would be willing to promise that he wouldn’t seek such extraordinary help for his wife or daughters if they became sick and the public plan he’s proposing limited the tests or treatment they can get.

The president refused to make such a pledge, though he allowed that if “it’s my family member, if it’s my wife, if it’s my children, if it’s my grandmother I always want them to get the very best care.” (source)

And they’ll get that care through a government-run system like Canada’s?  Obama also struggled to explain how a government-supported system wouldn’t cut the legs out from under the private delivery of medical services.  Faced with GOP criticism on the matter, he said:

“They’re wrong,” the president said, arguing that in a Health Insurance Exchange, the public plan would be “one option among multiple options.”

The concern, Gibson articulated, is that such a plan wouldn’t be offered on a level playing field.

The president rebuffed that, arguing that “we can set up a public option where they’re collecting premiums just like any private insurer and doctors can collect rates,” but because the public plan will have lower administrative costs “we can keep them [private insurance companies] honest.”

Obama said he didn’t understand those advocates of the free market who constantly say the private sector can do things better and are yet worried about this plan.

I can’t understand why a man who is as smart as the president can look at the Post Office and Amtrak and still want to shove government’s nose into the health delivery and insurance system.  At least let’s give him a few years to show us what he can do with GM and Chrysler before we turn our bodies over to him.

Brave Michelle Malkin actually watched Obama Night on ABC and summed it up well:

Things the Obamercial taught me…

*More government = less paperwork and less bureaucracy!

*Dear Leader proclaims: “The stars have aligned.” (This from the oaf who wrongly mocked Nancy Reagan for holding seances in the White House. Reminder: It was Hillary who did that.)

*”We can’t afford not to act.” Like we haven’t heard such empty apocalyse-now haranguing a gazillion times over the last year.


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June 24th 2009

A Couple Treehuggers Who Get It Right


ichael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus met while trying to save redwoods. Their Breakthrough Institute is funded by the leftist Nathan Cummings Foundation – but they understand who wrong Waxman-Markey is, and they’ve got a pretty good idea about how to encourage new energy technologies without destroying the good old economy.

In an NPR interview, they lay it out:

“When was the last time human beings modernized our energy sources by making older power sources more expensive?” [Shellenberger] asks …. “And, of course, by now you probably know that the answer is never.”

Personal computers didn’t take off because there was a tax on typewriters, he says. And the Internet didn’t sprout up because the government made telegraphs more expensive.

“So is there a better way to do this? Well, we think that there is. It’s very simple: It’s that we need to make clean energy cheap worldwide.”

Shellenberger and Nordhaus support government investments in alternative energy – a new Manhattan or moon project, which is hardly a new idea, but they articulate their well-researched points well.

Shellenberger tells the [Institute's] interns that environmental groups — like the ones he used to work for — are going about it all wrong. By urging Congress to cast carbon dioxide as a pollutant that needs to be controlled, he says, they will constantly swim against the tide of public opinion.

“We’re stuck in this kind of poor paradigm for dealing with climate change, this pollution paradigm,” he says, “not because environmentalists are failures, but actually because they were so successful. The Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the cap and trade on acid rain — these things worked really well.”

How refreshing to hear an environmentalist actually acknowledge that things are getting better, not worse – that existing levels of regulation have accomplished their goals.  I’m a free market guy, but even so, I have to acknowledge that government investment in technology works – it’s government control of the market and stomping on competition that I don’t like.  They explain the benefits of public investment:

“There’s this idea that the government shouldn’t be involved in technology, the government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers,” Shellenberger says. “Which is sort of a funny thing to say. It’s kind of like, well, why not? And when hasn’t the United States government been involved in picking technology winners and losers?”

He points to the computer industry as just one example of something that came into being because of deliberate federal investments.

And railroads. And rockets.

Of course, the hotheads are screaming that there’s not enough time, we have to act now, the world is melting and carbon dioxide is a terrible poison. These are largely the same people who condemned Bush’s “rush to war.”  Unfortunately, Waxman and Markey are staunchly set in the camp of the hysterics.  Shellenberger and Nordhaus have been in DC this week, trying to get more reasonable electeds to behave more reasonably.

I hope they succeed.  You can help.  Sign the petition.


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June 24th 2009

Baharestan Square = Tianenman Square


ired finally of all this talk of freedom and unswayed by Obama’s warning that the world is watching (like they ever cared!) the Tehranical Mullahs showed their true selves today as they unleashed their fury on protesters gathered at Bahrestan Square in Tehran.

Listen to this chilling account from a woman calling in to CNN … terrifying:

“They beat people so bad … it’s so devastating I don’t know how to describe it,” she says, barely holding onto her emotions.  How badly did the regime’s Islamist henchmen behave?  How about throwing people to their deaths off pedestrian bridges bad? Or how about swinging into protesters with axes bad?  I was going to post a picture of what it looks like to be hit by an axe by a Bassij militia member, but can’t bring myself to post it on C-SM. You can see it at Threats Watch if you have the stomach.

This is the regime Obama wants to sit down with to discuss honorable things.  Is he still so naive as to believe these Islamist murderers can be trusted? After six plus years of European failure to deal with them? After the blood in Baharestan Square?

Does he really think he’s got the magic words and the electric charm to blind that hateful darkness?


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June 24th 2009

Wishful Thinking At Fox


eah, yeah, we get the whole “Fair and Balanced” thing and all … but check out the party affiliation in the banner below Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford.  No such luck – although another Southern politician with a similar fondness for Argentine women, Wilbur Mills, did have a legit “D” after his name.


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June 24th 2009

The Rush Towards Energy Dependence


n much of the US, this has been the coldest June in a couple decades, yet the Dem/Eco cabal is trying to slam a massive, punative energy tax through Congress in the name of saving the planet from global warming. The Waxman-Markey carbon tax bill sped through the House without the intense committee review such a far-reaching and costly piece of legislation would normally review and now the 1,200-page bill is slated for floor debate and vote by the end of this week.

Here’s the Heritage Foundation analysis. Read it and ask yourself, “Why are the Dems slamming this through with minimal debate?”

The current version does not weaken the stringent targets and timetables for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels. They must decline by 3 percent in 2012, 17 percent by 2020, and 83 percent by 2050. Since fossil fuels comprise 85 percent of the nation’s energy and there is no way to cheaply substitute for them, the targets amount to energy rationing. Prices for gasoline, electricity, and natural gas have to rise high enough so that individuals and businesses are forced to use less of them. Economic pain is how these ever-tightening targets are met.

The Heritage Foundation estimates electricity costs rising by 90 percent by 2035, gasoline by 58 percent, and natural gas by 55 percent. A household of four can expect to pay $1,241 more for energy annually by that year. And since higher energy costs raise the price of everything else, the total impact of this energy tax would reach nearly $3,000 per household per year from 2012-2035. Total gross domestic product losses average $383 billion annually from 2012-2035 and would total $9.4 trillion dollars.

Oh, but that’s not what Obama is focused on, no sir.  He knows the new and improved talking points, as Matt Dempsey from Sen. Inhoff’s staff points out:

Don’t say “climate change” or “global warming,” or even worse, “cap-and-trade,” anymore; use “clean energy economy.” As the New York Times and LA Times have recently reported, the White House, concerned by the lack of support for their “cap-and-trade” initiatives, is using poll-tested talking points to help push one of the President’s biggest priorities:

“The problem with global warming, some environmentalists believe, is ‘global warming.’ The term turns people off, fostering images of shaggy-haired liberals, economic sacrifice and complex scientific disputes, according to extensive polling and focus group sessions conducted by ecoAmerica, a nonprofit environmental marketing and messaging firm in Washington.”  – New York Times, May 2, 2009

“Scratch ‘cap and trade’ and ‘global warming,’ Democratic pollsters tell Obama. They’re ineffective…Control the language, politicians know, and you stand a better chance of controlling the debate. So the Obama administration, in its push to enact sweeping energy and healthcare policies, has begun refining the phrases it uses in an effort to shape public opinion. Words that have been vetted in focus groups and polls are seeping into the White House lexicon, while others considered too scary or confounding are falling away.” – LA Times, May 11, 2009

In reviewing the transcript from President Obama’s press conference [yesterday], it looks like the President has nailed his new talking points:

“Now the second issue I want to address is our ongoing effort to build a clean energy economy. This week, the House of Representatives is moving ahead on historic legislation that will transform the way we produce and use energy in America. This legislation will spark a clean energy transformation that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and confront the carbon pollution that threatens our planet. …

These incentives will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy.

And that will lead to the development of new technologies that lead to new industries that could create millions of new jobs in America — jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.

At a time of great fiscal challenges, this legislation is paid for by the polluters who currently emit the dangerous carbon emissions that contaminate the water we drink and pollute the air that we breathe. It also provides assistance to businesses and communities as they make the gradual transition to clean-energy technologies. …

We all know why this is so important. The nation that leads in the creation of a clean-energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century’s global economy. That’s what this legislation seeks to achieve. It’s a bill that will open the door to a better future for this nation, and that’s why I urge members of Congress to come together and pass it.”

There he goes again, looking for the magic words that that will make us fawn over the brilliance of what he’s doing.  But we know better. We see Waxman-Markey for what it is - global warming cap-and-trade legislation, a monstrous new energy tax on American businesses and families, a job-destoyer and a competitiveness-killer.

On the last point, competitiveness, the Institute for 21st Century Energy and U.S. Chamber make a compelling argument in their white paper, Taxing Our Way to Energy Insecurity Again.  It points out that the Congressional Research Service found that a similar energy tax, the Windfall Profits Tax, led to as much as an 8% decline in domestic energy production and as much as a 13% increase in imports, because it raised the cost of domestic energy.  Waxman-Markey will do exactly the same thing – despite all the president’s fine talk about greater energy independence:

Now, two decades after the demise of the WPT, the new administration has included proposals of a similar nature in its FY 2010 budget proposed to Congress last month. To finance record high spending for administration priorities, the budget aims to impose new taxes that again will raise the costs of producing domestic oil and natural gas and place U.S. businesses at a disadvantage with foreign government-owned oil and gas companies. This budget proposal would creates new taxes and fees, while repealing several long-standing tax rules for companies that incur significant economic risk in exploring for oil and natural gas without any guarantee of profitable recovery.

The elimination of these tax rules is not about “closing loopholes” as some have suggested. These provisions were specifically crafted by Congress to create and preserve American jobs and to increase the country’s energy security by supporting greater domestic production. Similar tax rules, not proposed for elimination, apply to other industries. Thus, these new tax changes disproportionately target one industry simply to finance increased federal spending.

For all the negative impacts of the WPT, the promised revenues were only 20 percent of what Congress promised when enacting the legislation.  Isn’t that always the case – they promise less impact and more revenues, but get exactly the opposite.

Waxman-Markey’s taxes on domestic production to fund Obama’s welfare agenda will force up oil imports:

To remain competitive, domestic producers will be forced to bear the additional costs of production caused by new taxes and fees, thereby creating an inherent disincentive for them to increase production of domestic oil and gas resources, and in some cases even creating a disincentive for them to maintain existing production levels. Absent a significant drop in demand, the only way to meet the resulting supply gap this will create is to import more oil. Today we import about 60% of the oil consumed in the United States, and history has proven increased taxes will only serve to increase that percentage.

The disincentivizing of exploration is exactly what Waxman-Markey sets out to do; it just doesn’t acknowledge that America still needs oil and gas, so if can’t produce it competitively here, we will get it competitively elsewhere.  But, of course, knocking down US production will only drive up foreign prices and the net effect will more than wipe out any “middle class tax cut” promised by the president. Says the American Petroleum Institute’s Jack Gerard:

This [legislation] places a disproportionate burden on all consumers of gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, jet fuel, propane and other petroleum products. If you drive, fly, take the bus or the train, your costs are going up.”

That would be all of us … who work.  Add to that if you buy food, products or services, your costs are going up, then you begin to see the all-sector impact this legislation, so bereft of probing public review, will have.

In a letter to Congress, Gerard notes that the oil and gas industry currently funds 44 percent of the national investment in alternative energy – investments that would be limited by the impact of higher energy taxes on profitability.  Profits, not sales, fund R&D.  He concludes by begging Congress to be rational and mindful:

At a time when we can least afford it, these provisions and others have the effect of driving up energy costs, creating a competitive disadvantage for American business, and imperiling thousands, if not millions, of jobs.  These jobs and their economic productivity should not be jeopardized.

Given the scope and breadth of the Waxman-Markey bill, the House should take the time necessary to get this legislation right. It is too important to be pushed by an arbitrary deadline. Jobs and the health of the American economy depend on a more balanced approach.

Unfortunately, getting legislation right and taking time to seek balance is nowhere on the agenda of Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress.  They have shown almost daily since January 20 that they intend to scream “FIRE!” and rush legislation pell-mell towards the exits. They seem to know that in 2010 they will lose their all-powerful majority, and have elected to go ahead and lose it in the name of driving to change America – an America that up until now has been the driving force of the global economy and the global beacon of liberty.

If the Dems succeed in pushing through this legislation without major modification, it won’t be the same America.


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June 23rd 2009

A Little MasterCharge Humor


ost of a bowl of soup at homeless shelter: $0.00 dollars.

Having Michelle Obama serve you your soup: $0.00 dollars.

Snapping a picture of a homeless person who is receiving a government-funded meal while taking a picture of the First Lady using a Blackberry cell phone:  Priceless.


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June 23rd 2009

Union Strong-Arming On Alternative Energy


ust in case you are casting about today for more evidence of the self-serving immorality and unethical behavior of the labor union movement, look no further than the usually union-loving NY Times, which reports from the middle of nowhere:

When a company called Ausra filed plans for a big solar power plant in California, it was deluged with demands from a union group that it study the effect on creatures like the short-nosed kangaroo rat and the ferruginous hawk.

By contrast, when a competitor, BrightSource Energy, filed plans for an even bigger solar plant that would affect the imperiled desert tortoise, the same union group, California Unions for Reliable Energy, raised no complaint. Instead, it urged regulators to approve the project as quickly as possible.

One big difference between the projects? Ausra had rejected demands that it use only union workers to build its solar farm, while BrightSource pledged to hire labor-friendly contractors.

As California moves to license dozens of huge solar power plants to meet the state’s renewable energy goals, some developers contend they are being pressured to sign agreements pledging to use union labor. If they refuse, they say, they can count on the union group to demand costly environmental studies and deliver hostile testimony at public hearings.

If they commit at the outset to use union labor, they say, the environmental objections never materialize.

Come to think of it, this is also a wonderful example of how environmental laws are exploited by special interest groups – unions, NIMBYs, environmentalists – for reasons that have nothing to do with the environment.

Always ready to tell real thigh-slappers for his client’s benefit, Marc Joseph, a lawyer for California Unions for Reliable Energy, told the NYT:

“We’ve been tarred and feathered more than once on this issue.  We don’t walk away from environmental issues.”

Uh huh.  The chairman of the union group was more frank:

“You only have so much land that can accept solar power plants.  So the question is, should that land be used for low-paid jobs or should that land be used for high-paid jobs?”

How about using it for jobs that will allow the project to be profitable, and that are gained fairly, not through regulatory extortion?  How about not burdening potential future employers with 144 data requests,  as the union group did recently with one company that refused to sign a union labor agreement. The requests asked questions like how many man-hours would be dedicated to tracking desert tortoise, and which role each individual on the tracking team played – all matters of great interest to any union.

For every charge of “astroturf” community relations campaigns by corporations, there are a dozen “greenmailing” schemes like these – but greenies, NIMBYs and union thugs usually get away with them. Kudos to the NYT for covering the story.



June 23rd 2009

Another Homeland Security Breach In Obamaland


resh from cancelling funding for anti-missile systems as North Korea threatens to launch a missile towards Hawaii, the Obama administration has found something else to cut … so it can keep valuable programs like research into why guys don’t like wearing condoms. Newest to go: a satellite upgrade that could help FEMA with, oh, the next Katrina.

The WSJ reports today that Obama is putting hte axe to “a controversial” Bush administration spy satellite program at Homeland Security that would have provided federal, state and local officials with access to spy-satellite imagery to assist with emergency response and domestic-security needs. What kind of domestic security needs? Oh,just stuff like being able to scout out suspicious terrorist-like activities at ports or border crossings.  Nothing that important.

I put the “a controversial” in quotes because what that Bush did wasn’t controversial.  Dems cooked up criticism of the satellite program because they were convinced the Bush-Cheney-Rove cabal was going to use the satellites for domestic spying.  But now that the Annointed One is in office, that should no longer be a  problem, right? And national security should come first, right.

No, sillies.  Campaign contributions from the ACLU come first. Always.

WSJ reports that CA Dem Rep Jane Harmon and Janet “Human-Caused Tragedites” Napolitano were behind the axing of the program.  As Jack Bauer would say, “Dammit!”



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