Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Armed EPA Agents Visit Ashville Man

EPA headquarters in Washington, DC

By Alan Caruba

Sometimes a small incident says volumes about a large government agency. In this case the Environmental Protection Agency.

Around 1.45 PM on May 23, Ashville, North Carolina resident Larry Keller was in the midst of an international call which he had to cut short in order to answer his front door. He found two armed agents of the EPA who were accompanied by an Ashville Police officer.

According to a May 24 news story in the Ashville Tribune, a weekly newspaper to which I am a contributing columnist, the agents had blocked his and his neighbor’s driveways with their cars. They had driven all the way from Raleigh to confront him.

What had he done? The unannounced visit had been occasioned by news that Dr. Al Armendariz, a regional EPA administrator whose 2010 lecture had been videotaped and been released by the office of Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) on April 25th. In the lecture, Dr. Amendariz had said that the agency’s “general philosophy” was to “crucify” oil and gas producers.

He compared the agency’s “philosophy of enforcement” to the way, as a Wall Street Journal editorial reported, “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. The point is to ‘make examples’ of alleged lawbreakers.”

The case in point had been Range Resources, a driller who had been exonerated of charges of water pollution as the result of fracking. As the Wall Street Journal noted, the reference to executions “raise(d) questions not only about” not only Dr. Arnendariz’s comments “but the EPA’s larger impartiality and judgment.”

Keller, who describes himself as “a bit of a political activist” had emailed the EPA Director of External Affairs, Dr. David Gray, saying “Hello Mr. Gray. Do you have Mr. Armendariz’s contact information so we can say hello?”

That was enough to dispatch two armed agents to his front door. He was told by one agent that “…my choice of words in the email could be interpreted in many ways.” They did not identify themselves, but asked if he had ever been arrested. He responded swiftly that he had not. When he asked for a copy of his email, they refused to provide it because “the case was still under investigation.”

His wife arrived home and the agents did not want a witness so “They left in a big hurry.”

The Ashville Tribune by Catherine Hunter quoted Keller who described their attitude as "accusatory" reporting that he compared "their tactics to those of Nazi Germany SS methods.”

Keller contacted the agent’s supervisor, Michael Hill, and was told that the incident with Dr. Armendariz “had prompted so many emails and calls that authorities in Washington, DC ordered an investigation.”

Keller’s email inquiry to contact Dr. Armendariz was treated as a threat when it clearly was not. Since when is trying to contact an EPA administrator a crime?

“I want the world to know,” said Keller, “the government is reaching into the privacy of our homes and computers. I’ve never been so offended by the power of government in my life.”

Do we really want an EPA that uses such tactics against a citizen who has merely indicated an interest in contacting one of their administrators to comment on what he had said during a lecture?

Do we really want an EPA whose working “philosophy” regarding the oil and gas industry is to “crucify” it in order to regulate it and, as we know, is trying to thwart drilling, as well as to end the coal industry that provides an energy resource that produces one half of all the electricity in the nation?

It is, as noted, just one small incident, but it reflects the way the EPA functions in a presumably free society. Over the years I have read of many incidents in which the EPA has asserted powers to impede the most innocent actions of citizens and it is long past the time when this agency is reined in by Congress.

The only option at this point is to rid the nation of the Obama administration, crack down on the EPA, and rid us of the threat it poses in its efforts to deny entire industries from providing the energy the nation requires and attacks our agricultural and ranching communities for practices that reflect its normal operation.

As they used to advertise horror films, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” An EPA that operates on the basis of intimidating its chosen enemies and that seeks to intimidate citizens inquiring about it, is reason enough to be afraid.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blowing Wind Up Your Skirt

By Alan Caruba

The slang for being lied to is “Someone’s been blowing smoke up your skirt”, but when it comes to the multi-billion dollar job the wind power industry has perpetrated here and in European nations, “blowing wind” more than fits the massive deception about renewable energy.

As William Sullivan pointed out in an April commentary on, the U.S. has squandered $90 billion in subsidies to the wind and solar power industry via 2009’s American Recovery and Investment Act, otherwise known as Obama’s “stimulus” that we were promised would increase employment and jump-start the economy. It did neither. This is not particularly surprising when you consider that we have a president who actually advocated using algae (pond scum) as a form of energy.

How bad was the “stimulus”? Sullivan noted that, “in the first year of this green stimulus, an estimated 79% went to foreign nations” including an Australian firm, Babcock & Brown, “that went bankrupt just two months after the passage of the stimulus bill.” Add to the list of bankruptcies, the solar power companies, Solyndra and Beacon Power Corp here in the U.S.

The whole alternative power industry scam, like the proposed Cap-and-Trade program to require the sale and trade of “carbon credits” has been based on the environmental movement’s global warming hoax in combination with its constant efforts to destroy traditional providers of electricity generation such as coal. Along with oil and natural gas, groups like Friends of the Earth (FOE) oppose anything that might contribute to keeping the lights on and your gas tank filled.

On May 5, FOE was telling its members to support Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Socialist, and Congressman Keith Ellison’s End Polluter Welfare Act, “sweeping legislation that would go further than any bill we have ever seen to eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.” Not only do oil companies employ more people and pay higher taxes than wind and solar companies, but their profit margins are well below other industries such as pharmaceutical manufacturers.

According to a Reuters news article, the wind industry actually shed 10,000 jobs since 2009 at the same time the energy capacity of wind farms had doubled. Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry had added 75,000 jobs. How many more jobs would have been added if the Obama administration had not imposed a drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico—twice declared illegal by the courts—and rescinded proposals to open up the fast offshore drilling potential on America’s coastlines.

England and several European nations bet heavily on wind power and as recently as mid-May, the Telegraph, a UK daily, reported that household bills in England will rise by 25% to pay for wind farms and other forms of renewable energy.

The John Muir Trust funded research by Stuart Young Consulting that analyzed electricity generated by UK wind farms between November 2008 to December 2010.

The study found that wind generation was below 20% of the capacity (the ability to generate electricity) more than half the time and below 10% of capacity over one third of the time. It concluded that “the probability of very low wind output coinciding with peak electricity demand is slight.” This applies to all wind farms no matter where they are.

Here in the U.S. we continue to be betrayed by members of Congress in the pocket of the wind power industry. Two of them, Steve King and Dave Reichert, both Republicans, recently held a press conference to urge the extension of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for renewable energy which is scheduled to end in January. Created in 1992, PTC is worth $1.2 billion for wind production that actually increases the electricity bill of consumers in states that mandate renewable energy. By contrast, oil and gas companies pay some $26 billion a year in federal and state corporate income taxes.

If PTC is extended, it will be proof enough that Republican members of Congress are as corrupt as Democrat colleagues.

Keep in mind, the primary pitch for wind and solar power is that it helps prevent global warming, but there is no global warming. The Earth has been in a cooling cycle since 1998. To add injury to insult, traditional energy suppliers using coal and natural gas must be maintained fulltime to provide electricity whenever wind and solar power falls below its promise to generate electricity, something they do all the time.

In England, Spain, Germany and other nations, wind power subsidies have only served to drive up the price of electricity for everyone from families to factories, hospitals and schools, offices and shops.

Here in the U.S. when not slaughtering half a million birds of every description, as well as bats, both wind and solar require huge amounts of land and miles of transmission lines because both are sited far from cities.

There is literally no rational or economic reason for renewable energy. It, like global warming, is a huge scam that benefits a handful of people whose crony capitalism has enriched them while leaving consumers with rising costs for electricity. And all this is going on while the Environmental Protection Agency is generating regulations designed to destroy the coal industry that provides half of all the electricity generated in the U.S.

It is time to end the subsidies and loan guarantees based on borrowed money and the taxes paid by Americans who have been betrayed and continue to be deceived by wealthy environmental organizations and by politicians who need to be turned out of office.

Ultimately, they are the perpetrators of policies that are impoverishing Americans and putting the security of the nation at risk.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Climate Nazis


By Alan Caruba

What is it with the “warmists”, Al Gore and his clones who keep insisting the Earth is warming, that too much carbon dioxide (CO2) will be the death of us, and that we have to immediately stop burning “fossil fuels” if we are to save the planet? They are the most relentless liars on the face of the planet.

They want us to cover the surface of the U.S. with solar panels and the mountains with wind turbines to generate the energy needed for everything we do. These Green energy alternatives are so wonderful they are producing a mere three percent of our current needs, require government subsidies and loan guarantees to exist, and tend not to be all that great when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.

So why are we still hearing from this discredited and disgraced bunch of charlatans and buffoons? In early May, The New York Times published “Game Over for the Climate” by a major offender of the truth, Dr. James Hansen, who for some reason is still the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), despite having pocketed big bucks beyond his humble government salary. In 2007 he split a million dollar Dan Davis Prize with someone else and in 2001, received a $250,000 Heinz Award. Former GISS employees want him fired.

As debased as The Times is, in 2006 the American Association for the Advancement of Science selected Hansen to receive their Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility. I cite this as a warning that even a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper and formerly respected science organization have long since gone over to the dark side when it comes to global warming. Nothing they have to say on the subject should be regarded as more than pure propaganda.

Suffice to say that Dr. Hansen’s opinion article cited every global warming lie we have been hearing since 1988 when he first gained famed testifying before a congressional committee that we were doomed. In his Times article, he predicted that the “semi-permanent drought” would turn the Midwest into “a dust bowl.” Like every other global warming prediction (that hasn’t come true) this will happen “over the next several decades.” Time enough for Dr. Hansen to pick up a few more awards and fatten his bank account.

The face of the global warming hoax, Al Gore, will not shut up. He made news in August 2011 when he totally lost it while speaking at the Aspen Institute. Anyone, noted climatologists, meteorologists, and mere science writers like myself were the target of his rant for actually citing things such as the fact that the Earth has been in a natural COOLING cycle since 1998 and other inconvenient facts about the climate.

“And some of the exact same people” said Gore, frothing at the mouth, “I can go down a list of their names—are involved in this. And so what do they do? They pay pseudo-scientists to pretend to be scientists to put out the message. ‘This climate thing, it’s nonsense. Man-made CO2 doesn’t trap heat. It may be volcanoes’ Bullshit! ‘It may be sun spots.’ Bullshit! ‘It’s not getting warmer.’ Bullshit!”

The climate is not cooperating. The Church of Global Warming is crumbling around them. People are making fun of them. Parents are objecting to their scaring children with their lies. People actually want to warm their homes in winter and cool them in the summer. Meanwhile, using the global warming lies, the Environmental Protection Agency is trying to shut down the entire U.S. coal mining industry and attacking “fracking” to access natural gas. The Department of the Interior has virtually shut down all oil drilling on federal land and offshore. How crazed is all this?

One of their number, Dr. Peter Gleick, formerly of the American Geophysical Union’s Task Force on Scientific Ethics—the irony is too delicious—perpetrated a fraud against The Heartland Institute earlier this year, pretending to be a member of its board in order to secure a list of its donors and allegedly authoring a memo about a scheme to invade the nation’s schoolrooms with a program to dispute global warming. After confessing to the former, he resigned from the task force. An FBI probe is underway to determine if he broke any laws. Heartland has dubbed it “Fakegate.”

The Institute, by the way, is sponsoring its 7th annual conference on climate change, May 21-23, in Chicago, immediately following the NATO conference that will be held in the windy city where it is headquartered. Its theme this year is “Real Science, Real Choices.” Among the speakers will be Czech President Vaclav Klaus, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, vice chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, and two former NASA astronauts.

The lesson we can draw from the last few decades is that the entire environmental movement, of which the global warming hoax is one part, is an extension of what Dr. Robert Zubin, a Senior Fellow with the Center for Security Policy, addressed in his new book, “Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalism, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism.”

Antihumanism has been around a long time. As Dr. Zubin points out, it has taken the form of “Darwinism, eugenics, German militarism, Nazism, xenophobia, the population control movement, environmentalism, technophobia, and most recently, the incredibly demented climatophobic movement, which seeks to justify mass human sacrifice for the purpose of weather control.”

Al Gore, James Hansen, and even President Obama’s science advisor, John Holden, are card-carrying members of this cult. In 1971 Holden co-authored “Global Ecology” with Paul Ehrlich, famed for his 1968 book, “The Population Bomb.” They wrote “when a population of organisms grows in a finite environment, sooner or later, it will encounter a resource limit. This phenomenon, described by ecologists as reaching the ‘carrying capacity’ of the environment, applies to bacteria on a culture dish, to fruit flies in a jar of agar, and to buffalo on a prairie. It must also apply to man on this finite planet.”

So you need to understand that you are no better than a fruit fly and you need to die in order to avoid depleting the planet’s supply of food and its energy resources.

God knows I would like to ignore or—better still—never have to hear from these climate Nazis, but that is not going to happen so long as The New York Times, the United Nations, and a host of others keep repeating their lethal lies.

© Alan Caruba. 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Playing God with "Endangered Species"

By Alan Caruba

According to Wikipedia, “A typical species becomes extinct within 10 million years of its first appearance although some species, called living fossils survive virtually unchanged for hundreds of millions of years. Most extinctions have occurred naturally, prior to Homo sapiens walking on Earth: it is estimated that 99.9% of all species that have ever existed are now extinct.”

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed in 1973 at the height of the period in which Congress became enthralled with any legislation purported to save the planet and to regulate anything and everything that had to do with the environment. It is a complete failure.

In 1999, Jamie Rappaport Clark, then the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FDS), told a congressional committee that “…in 25 years of implementing the ESA, we have found that designation of ‘official’ critical habitat provides little additional protection to most listed species, while it consumes significant amounts of scare conservation resources.”

Former congressman, Richard W. Pombo, then the chairman of the House Resources Committee and a member of the Agriculture Committee, said, “For a federal agency to admit its program provides little benefit while consuming huge resources translates in normal English to a program that is useless at best.” He was right then. He is right now.

Why then did the Associated Press report in September 2011 that “The Obama administration is taking steps to extend new federal protections to a list of imperiled animals and plants that reads like a manifest for Noah’s Ark—from the melodic golden-winged warbler and slow-moving gopher tortoise, to the slimy American eel and tiny Texas kangaroo rat.”

The Obama FDS “already had issued decisions advancing more than 500 species toward potential new protections under the Endangered Species Act.” Among the species selected for protection were 35 snails from Nevada’s Great Basin, 82 crawfish from the Southeast, 99 Hawaiian plants and “a motley cast of butterflies, birds, fish, beetles, frogs, lizards, mussels and more from every corner of the country.”

The answer is that the ESA was never about endangered species. It is a blunt instrument of environmental groups and those within the federal government to delay development anywhere in the nation. Almost 1,400 species on the government’s list are listed as “threatened” and none of them can be expected to avoid extinction, a natural process that cannot be impeded by human intervention.

The absurdity of the ESA can be seen in a recent request by Oregon officials for who received permission to kill sea lions that feed on “protected” salmon trying to swim upriver to spawn and now want permission to kill a sea bird, cormorants that dine on baby salmon trying to reach the ocean. The life and death cycle of salmon is as old as this species and those that prey on it for food to sustain their own lives. The Oregonians want to reduce the cormorant nesting colonies by ten percent.

Recall the outcry two decades ago that spotted owls were on the brink of extinction. The resulting action to protect them shut down a great swath of the timber industry in the northwest. It turned out that barred owls were preying on their cousins, again a natural competition between species. The Obama administration wants to set aside millions of acres to protect the spotted own and to authorize the killing of barred owls!

While the plan would allow some logging, it has nothing to do with spotted or barred owls and everything to do with attacking the timber industry in the same fashion it is attacking the coal and oil industry. It is an attack on the nation’s economic maintenance and growth.

Little known is the fact that the government compensates the legal fees of environmental groups that bring action to get a particular species designated as “threatened” or “endangered.” It is a scheme to enrich those groups that has nothing to do with the question of extinction and everything to do with setting aside vast parts of the nation from any development or use.

In 2006, California had the second-highest number of endangered species—from the California condor to the Delhi Sands Fly. It led the lower 48 states in acres of officially designated critical habitat with nearly twenty percent of approximately 100 million acres in the regulatory clutches of the FWS. It will cost California millions in lost revenue, particularly from its agriculture sector which feeds much of the rest of the nation.

In 2006, a federal judge halted a $320 million irrigation project in Arkansas for fear it might disturb the habitat of the ivory-billed woodpecker that many believed had already gone extinct. The National Wildlife Federation and the Arkansas Wildlife Federation had jointed sued the Army Corps of Engineers, to stop a project to build a pumping station that would draw water from the White River. Among their claims was that the noise from the station would cause the woodpeckers stress!

The only species that is endangered is the human species as environmental organizations continue to deny access and use of American land needed for growing crops, raising livestock, mining and drilling for energy resources, and building any new improvements including hospitals and other properties that would contribute to the welfare of the human inhabitants of planet Earth.

Not only is the ESA a huge bureaucratic failure, it is testimony to the arrogance and evil intent of the environmental movement to harm any form of economic activity and growth in America.

It is their way of playing God despite millions of years in which the extinction of species has been part of life on the planet. If dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, the ESA would declare them threatened and endangered.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Is Fast and Furiious the Next Watergate?


By Alan Caruba

When suspects in a crime are interrogated, they often develop memory loss. When the crime is running guns to drug cartels on both sides of the border, the crime involves the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol officer, Brian Terry, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, Jaime Zapata, and countless Mexican citizens.

Katie Pavlich has written an extraordinary expose, “Fast and Furious: Barack Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and its Shameless Cover-Up” (Regnery Publishing). Pavlich, a reporter with extensive contacts within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) she has meticulously documented a story  that should result in contempt of Congress action against Attorney General Eric Holder and possibly Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano as well.

It is an appalling story of arrogance, stupidity, and the intimidation of ATF agents who dared to question and expose the operation. It is a story of deception at the highest levels of our government. Both Holder and Napolitano exhibited memory lapses before a congressional committee. Both knew about a federal government authorized gun-running operation to Mexico called “Fast and Furious.”

Pavlich reports that “Fast and Furious was closely followed by Department of Justice officials. On multiple occasions, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke met with Phoenix ATF Director Bill Newell to discuss the progress of the Fast and Furious operation. ‘There were DOJ attorneys and prosecutors who were involved in this since the beginning, giving advice,” testified ATF Special Agent Peter Forcelli.

As Pavlich details it, “Operation Fast and Furious wasn’t a ‘botched’ program. It was a calculated and lethal decision to purposely place thousands of guns in the hands of ruthless criminals.”

The operation was designed to attack the Second Amendment right of Americans to purchase and bear arms, a right considered so essential to the nation that it followed directly after the First Amendment rights of free speech, freedom of the press, the prohibition of the establishment of a nationally sanctioned religion, and the right of Americans to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

We are in the grip of an administration that would restrain and erase those rights, and which engaged in a reckless and ruthless operation to achieve that goal. It is an administration that is moving toward the confirmation of a United Nations treaty that would override and eliminate the right to own and bear arms.

The facts regarding Holder’s and Napolitano’s testimony are clear:

“Eric Holder was sent five memos, personally addressed to him, in the summer of 2010 that detailed Operation Fast and Furious.” Holder claimed he first knew about the program in February 2011.

“Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has feigned ignorance when questioned about Fast and Furious. She claims she only found out about the program after Brian Terry was murdered.”

“She visited the White House with Eric Holder to visit President Obama just a day before Holder testified on Capitol Hill about Fast and Furious, leaving the reason for her visit blank.”

Pavlich writes, “These are the facts: There are still 1,400 Fast and Furious guns missing and ATF agents are not actively trying to track them down. Ten thousand round of ammunition were sold to cartel-linked straw buyers under the watch of the ATF. Eight hundred of the original 2,500 weapons sold through Fast and Furious have already been linked to criminal activity.”

The program, observers believer, was the deliberate effort to blame the violence in Mexico and in some cases in America on the gun shops, but those shops were intimidated into participating in Fast and Furious out of fear that ATF would take away their licenses.

After questioning ATF and Justice Department witnesses, Sen. Charles Grassley (Iowa, R), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote a January 31 letter to ATF officials saying, “As you may be aware, obstructing a Congressional investigation is a crime. Additionally, denying or interfering with employee’s rights to furnish information to Congress is also against the law.”

On May 3rd Rep. Darrell Issa, (CA) Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent every member of his committee a 64-page draft contempt order against AG Holder, along with a 17-page memo outlining the history of the scandal. Only one attorney general has been found in contempt, Janet Reno in 1975.

Fast and Furious is redolent with memories of the Watergate coverup.

On March 23, 2011, in a Univison interview, Obama said, “First of all, I did not authorize it” and when further pressed said, “Eric Holder did not authorize it. He’s been very clear that our policy is to catch gunrunners and put them in jail.” The facts strongly suggest otherwise insofar as Fast and Furious literally authorized a gunrunning program under the aegis of ATF.

As Pavlich noted, “Many people in ATF saw what was happening and tried to warn the bureau, but the new corrupt and arrogant culture of management had become too powerful and intimidating. Field agents who spoke up were punished for having an opinion and daring to voice it. Whistleblowers had their reputation, careers, and finances shattered.”

This culture of corruption is endemic to the Obama administration and as more and more examples become known it has been in full panic mode to suppress the truth. No matter what the outcome of the testimony of two of its top appointees, the only way to save America is to vote out President Obama in November and ensure that Mitt Romney has a Republican Congress.

© Alan Caruba, 2012