Category: Etcetera

EPA Knew, Part II

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the crisis in Flint, Michigan, where a criminally inept government contaminated the drinking water with lead and spent months pretending the problem didn’t exist. Now, the other shoe has dropped:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s top Midwest official said her department knew as early as April about the lack of corrosion controls in Flint’s water supply — a situation that likely put residents at risk for lead contamination — but said her hands were tied in bringing the information to the public.

Starting with inquiries made in February, the federal agency battled Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality behind the scenes for at least six months over whether Flint needed to use chemical treatments to keep lead lines and plumbing connections from leaching into drinking water. The EPA did not publicize its concern that Flint residents’ health was jeopardized by the state’s insistence that such controls were not required by law.

Instead of moving quickly to verify the concerns or take preventative measures, federal officials opted to prod the DEQ to act, EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman told The Detroit News this week. Hedman said she sought a legal opinion on whether the EPA could force action, but it wasn’t completed until November.

The EPA’s point is that actual decision-making is made by the DEQ, a state-level agency. They mainly monitor and advise. But that doesn’t explain why they spent six months in bureaucratic tickle fight instead of, you know, telling a city of tens of thousands people that there water was poisonous.

This is the second time the EPA has stayed quiet on a massive ecological disaster as you may remember from last year’s mine blowout. Amazing, the EPA is standing by that decision.

The Democrats are in a huff to blame Snyder for this. And, to be fair, Snyder does deserve some blame. The decision to switch to river water was signed off on by the emergency manager and Snyder picked the emergency manager. Responsibility rolls upward.

But this is not exclusively or even mainly the fault of the governor or austerity or “free markets”. Snyder has released a trove of e-mails show that the DEQ concealed what was going on, from him and from the citizens of Flint. Dalmia walks us through how this was a failure at every level of government, not because of an emergency manager or austerity but because of incompetence, cover-up and malfeasance:

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the state agency that is responsible for implementing federal EPA environmental standards and ensure water standards, ignored citizen concerns that there was something wrong with the water they were getting from the new Flint River water system.

The EPA required the DEQ to perform a faulty test to measure water quality that totally failed to catch the problem. That’s not all that the EPA did wrong, however. Even after it realized that the DEQ wasn’t taking a simple step necessary to prevent lead poisoning – namely adding phosphorous – it did absolutely nothing. It didn’t go public with this information; it didn’t warn residents that they should take steps to prevent themselves. It basically fiddled as Flint residents were getting poisoned. What’s even more infuriating? It would have cost less than $50,000 annually to add the phosphorous.

The local mayor was even worse than the EPA. If the EPA passively allowed residents to poison themselves, the mayor actively encouraged them to do so. He told them that there was nothing wrong with the water and they’d be wasting their “precious” money by buying bottled water. This, incidentally, was after GM stopped using this water because it was corroding auto parts.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services dismissed tests showing a spike in lead levels in blood tests of local residents after the switch to Flint River as a “seasonal anomaly.”

(The Mayor of Flint actually drank some of the water on TV to prove it was safe. Greg Branch has written another good explainer that breaks down what happened.)

You get it now, liberals? I know you hate Snyder. I know you hate Republicans. I know you hate the whole emergency manager thing. But this went a lot deeper than Snyder. He wasn’t the one who signed off on the switch and then spent months ignoring or deliberately covering up the problem. Quit using this an excuse to go after a governor you don’t like. Yes, he bears some responsibility. There may two people in this whole mess who don’t. But there are a lot of people who a lot more responsibility than Snyder. And most of them are Democrats.

Destroyer In Chief

Yes, he is happy, to the detriment of the entire world; OK, the terrorist countries thinks he is dope.

Genghis Khan could not have done a better job, or the climate frauds, a one man wrecking crew.

H/T: Moonbattery

Turkeys and Drumsticks 2015

For eight years running, I have taken advantage of the Thanksgiving Holiday to give out my awards for Turkey of the Year and Golden Drumsticks. The latter are for those who exemplify the best traits in our public sphere. The former are for those who exemplify silliness and stupidity. I rarely give them out to someone who is evil; they are reserved for those who regularly make me shake my head and wonder what they’re thinking. It’s a sort of “thank you” for making blogging easier.

We’ll start with the Turkeys of the Year. For reference, the past winners are:

2007: Alberto Gonzalez, Nancy Pelosi, Hugo Chavez

2008: Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin’s critics, Hillary Clinton, Congress, Joe Biden

2009: Mike Steele, Glen Beck, the State Department, Sarah Palin, Andrew Sullivan.

2010: Janet Napolitano and TSA, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, MSNBC, Lower Merion Schools, California Voters.

2011: Nancy Pelosi, Republican Presidential Field, Occupy Wall Street, Anthony Weiner, the Eurozone.

2012: The Culture Warriors, Unions, The Poll Unskewers, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, MSNBC

2013:, the Platinum Coin, the Shutdown Caucus, the National Park Service, Fiscal Cliff Panic Mongers.

2014: Jonathan Gruber, Lamenting Democrats, Barack Obama, Jim Ardis, Paul Krugman

For This Year:

The Presidential Field: Here are your candidates for 2016:

On the Democratic side, a 68-year old political insider with a 30-year track record of deception, vindictiveness and blame evasion, running on her record of having unleashed chaos in Iraq, Syria and Libya. Then there’s the 74-year-old socialist, rejected because his views on gun control are insufficiently pure. Then there’s the “young” guy running on his horrible track record as mayor of a failed city and governor of a failed state. And, because things weren’t surreal enough, there was the former senator who looked like he’d gotten baked on his yacht and accidentally wandered into a Presidential debate.

On the Republican side, you have the reality TV show star with narcissistic personality disorder who has an iffy relationship with the truth and seems determined to insult every demographic he can. You have the brilliant brain surgeon who is clueless on policy and has crackpot ideas about history. You have the asshole Texas senator. You have the President of a nearly collapsed company running on her record as a businesswoman. You have the worst Bush yet, somehow managing to piss away the complete support of the establishment. And then you have a bunch of little guys vying to get 3% support so they can stay in the big debate.

Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Coolidge, Reagan, Bush I … and one of these guys. Ay, caramba.

So far, the only ones who impressed me are Webb and Rubio (see below). One is out and the other is still in fourth place.

College Students: Have you guys seen Life of Brian? In that movie, the anti-Roman guerrillas spend way more time fighting each other than fighting the Romans. This was modeled on 1970’s left-wing radical who hated the government but hated each other more for “splitting” the movement and being insufficiently ideologically pure. This process is happening with political correctness as they slowly turn on each other.

Think of what we’ve been seeing. Who are college students forcing out of positions of power? Who are they screaming at in public squares? Who are they banning from bringing cameras into their “safe spaces”? This ire is directed against people who agree with them on 95% of the issues. Occasionally, there are real issues. But all too much of the anger is because lectures on European history are too European, because there aren’t enough tenured professors of women’s studies, because someone suggested, maybe, that it wasn’t the university’s job to tell grown men and women what Halloween costumes to wear.

Previous generations of college students protested against wars, against vicious racism and against in loco parentis. This generation is protesting against offenses so trivial they are literally called “microgggressions”.

The Election Media: It’s a little under a year until the election and I’m already exhausted. They’ve pronounced Trump dead at least eight times. They’re bending over backward to not criticize Clinton. And they’re doing nothing to illuminate the issues with their focus on the horse race.

Rolling Stone: Last year, they published a horrifying tale of a campus rape that turned out to be a fiction. The blame laid squarely on them. They didn’t bother to call the fraternity in question. They didn’t bother to talk to the supposed victim’s friends. They didn’t bother to read the rather famous (in Charlottesville) book about a rape that the victim took her story from. That’s horrible. What moves them into mockery land is their refusal to take responsibility. No one was fired. They blamed it on the victim for being a good liar. And now they’re being sued for millions.

(And it would seem the lesson has not been learned. The Hunting Ground, a new and much-praised, documentary about campus rape, has an equally problematic relationship with the truth.)

Barack Obama: He pronounced ISIS contained days before they attacked Paris. His Obamacare is seeing double-digit rate increases and companies leaving because they’re hemorrhaging money. His Iran deal is … dubious. The Democratic nominees are trying to pretend that Republicans have secretly been President for the last eight years. His attempts to gin up support for Syrian refugees infuriated half the country.

Maybe he needs to appear between two ferns again.

Dishonorable Mention: Kim Davis, Jeremy Corbyn, Vox, Everytown USA, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Vox, Bill deBlasio, the NFL, the anti-vaxxers, Sepp Blatter, Greece, Volkswagen, Putin.

Now the Golden Drumsticks, awarded to those who best exemplified what is right with the world. Here are the past awards, the first round from West Virginia Rebel.

2007: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ron Paul, Barack Obama, David Petraeus, Juan Carlos, Burma’s monks

2008: US Military, Jeff Flake, Ron Paul, Republican Governors, Barack Obama

2009: The American Fighting Man, Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd, George W. Bush

2010: The Tea Party, Chris Christie, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the Next Wave of Republicans, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, The American Soldiers

2011: Seal Team Six, Mark Kelly, The Arab Spring, the Technicians at Fukushima

2012: Down Ballots, The Sandy Responders, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, Mathew Inman

2013: Francis I, Edward Snowden, Rand Paul, The American Military, The Institute for Justice

2014: Ebola Responders, Francis I, Rand Paul, David Brat, The Supreme Court

For 2015:

New Horizons and Dawn: It was another banner year for science, headlined by New Horizons stunning visit to Pluto and Dawn‘s visit to Ceres. The Philae lander also revived and began providing more data from a sublimating comet. In other science news, rubella has been rendered extinct in North America and polio is on the run.

Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler: These are the three men who stopped a would-be terrorist on a French train. Stone came home … where he got stabbed protecting a friend. As Charles Cooke said, we’re a few news cycles away from finding out this guy is Batman.

Amnesty International: In the face of withering criticism and a rising intense moral panic about sex trafficking, they did the right thing: called for the complete decriminalization of sex work for both providers and clients.

Video and Body Cameras: There are legitimate civil liberties concerns when it comes to cops always carrying cameras on them, especially with our culture’s tendency to exploit and shame people doing things on tape. But they are making a huge difference. They not only show when cops do bad things (such as recent horrific shootings in Chicago and Marksville), they exonerate cops who’ve been falsely accused of brutality or sexual harassment. For cities that have implemented them, complaints about police brutality and abuse are way down, both because cops are acting better and because people find it harder to make false claims. There are still issue to work out about when and how footage becomes public. But I think this is a big help on the way to criminal justice reform.

The Non-Crazy Presidential Candidates: Marco Rubio may not get the nomination and Rand Paul definitely won’t. But they’ve injected some much-needed sanity and real debate into the Republican primary. Jim Webb gets a shout-out here too for trying (and failing) to find a moderate stream of Democrat.

Honorable Mention: USA women’s soccer team, the American military, France, Francis I.

Put your nominees in the comments. And have a great Thanksgiving.

If you are wondering how bad our country has become

Then you are not alone. Personally, as someone that has lived in many different countries and cultures, what I am seeing is America adapting the very things that I saw were so fucked up in these other countries and cultures that held them back. This country once was the place where success, hard work, character, and especially a dream that everyone, if they applied these things to themselves had a chance, defined us as a people. People in charge, even the people in politics, which tended to never really be the cream of the crop, accomplished things. Progress was not just a word, but the way of things.

Now the country is run by an unholy alliance of a bunch of credentialed scumbags – our new American aristocracy, with all the trappings and frailties of that very system our forefathers, now abhorred because they were white men, tried to hard to make sure could never come about here and fuck things up like they had in Europe – that feel we serfs don’t deserve them because we dare to resist their massive stupidity and idiotic ideas, and the select few ultra-rich people or giant corporate entities that these credentialed scumbags have decided to favor with monopolistic powers over others. That’s how we get them pissing away tax payer dollars enriching the special interests that push ludicrous and counter productive agendas like “green whateverthecuck” or trying to sell us serves on giving up our freedoms to save Gaia from a wholly manufactured global crisis. These select ultra-rich people and corporate entities have become richer than ever, while the rest of us are barely hanging on or even heading in the other direction. And that’s by design. These people want a 2 class society with them on top and the rest of us controlled by them, like the people they admired did back in the good ole USSR, China, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, and other such hotbeds of collectivist delusion.

Things have gotten so bad since the collectivists took over the executive and legislative branches of government in the major campaign of delusion that happened in 2008, that we now have lived in a perpetual depression that the left pretends really is just about to end or ended, while those of us that work for a living see nothing of the sort. Through a long implemented indoctrination system that took over control of the education system, they have managed to brainwash way too many into tapping into envy and greed, allowing them to produce a class of people that feel empowered to suck at the government’s teat, allowing them to use the electoral process to buy votes with the very money they steal from the productive, and giving themselves a patina of legitimacy. And they despise the productive for not just going along .

Our government is now in the business of choosing winners & losers, and they make a pretty lucrative living doing that. It is time to go back to smaller, less intrusive, and definitely less of an elitist crowd that actually understands their job is to serve the people, not to fleece them like this criminal bunch does.

Add some flavor to your holidays

Hey all. So, I haven’t asked for money for the server in forever, but I could definitely use a little financial help these days. Not with a donation or anything. I’m perfectly willing to sell you something in exchange for your money. :)

My new business venture is Doctor Stark’s Elixirs. I make small batch, and as much as the word gets mocked, it applies, “artisanal” cocktail syrups in flavors that you won’t find elsewhere. You can check them out at my site: or the Etsy shop or at Square Market.

No bullshit, I’m like some sort of savant with this stuff. These things are incredible, and if you like to mix cocktails, you need them. If you want to serve the best frigging holiday cocktail ever, you definitely need the Apple Cider Pie. If you like sweet & spicy and you dig mezcal, you need Diablo. Hot Ginger is good with literally every kind of primary spirit I’ve tried. Marrakesh is amazing with gin, and also on waffles or ice cream.

Every bottle has a signature recipe on the side, and I make tons of variations. Hit me up if you need ideas. And buy a bottle or 5. They would also make pretty unique gifts for the holidays!

APPLE PIE PRODUCT SHOT Nov2015 2000 DIABLO-new-product-shot-August-2015-001 HOTGING new product shot aug 2015 2000 MARRA new product shot aug 2015 square 2000

Thursday Roundup

A few stories that have been cluttering my tabs:

One subject that came up at the debate was the support Bernie Sanders (and, in fact, most Democrats) gave to a bill that immunized gun manufacturers from lawsuits. You can check out Walter Olson and David Freddoso on why this law was absolute necessary and correct. The law does not protect them from being sued if they produce defective products or break the law. What it protects them from is the “legislation through litigation” tactics Democrats were using to bypass the political process. The idea was that, unable to get what they wanted through the legislature, they would sue and sue and sue and sue the gun makers until the gun makers capitulated to Democratic demands.

There are a lot of Democrats who think that politicians with unlimited resources suing businesses into compliance with their demands is legitimate. A friend described this as “business and government working together for the common good”. I ask them to imagine how they’d react if Republican Governor’s started suing abortion clinics.

Two investigators have determined that the shooting of Tamir Rice was justified. Leon Neyfakh walks through the logic that is being in these analyses, which basically ignore any of the circumstances and require juries to engage in what Ta-Nehisi calls “an act of telepathy” to judge the officer’s thoughts in that moment. Basically, you’re supposed to ignore the decision to roll up right next to him in a car and jump out waving a gun. You’re supposed to ignore that they left him bleeding to death for many minutes. All you’re supposed to consider is what they thought in the precise moment they pulled the trigger. Under that logic, it’s hard to think of a situation where a shooting wouldn’t be justified.

Keep in mind, ordinary citizens are not usually given this benefit of a doubt. If you wake up to find someone smashing down your door and fire a gun, you can be be prosecuted for attempted murder.

Also keep in mind that these were both prosecution-picked experts who have a history of deferring to law enforcement on these matters. Kimberly Crawford is a name that should ring some bells. She was the investigator who concluded that the sniper shot that killed Vicki Weaver — an unarmed woman standing in the door of her own home carrying a 10-month old baby — was justified. That conclusion was so egregious even if the FBI rejected it. You don’t ask someone like Crawford their opinion unless you already have the answer in mind.

The worst answer Hillary Clinton gave the other night was about her enemies. Among those she listed were the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. But these are actually her biggest backers.

This is why I like Sanders better than Clinton. At least he’s an honest socialist. Clinton is a lying crony capitalist.

There is a quiet budget battle going on. As far as I can tell, the fight is between Republicans who want to increase spending and Democrats who want to increase spending.

For all the grief the sequester gets, it has cut our deficit to the lowest level, as a percent of GDP, since Clinton was in office. And I have yet to see the country descend into chaos and anarchy. I see no reason to end the sequester now.

The Nerds are Coming!


A post from Xetrov?  Don’t get too excited.  It’s a short one.  Travel at my new job has reached insane levels.  I just wanted to share something.

Here’s an article I found interesting on how technology and the era of “Big Data” is changing Presidential Elections.  Particularly, how technology and tech insiders helped elect Obama, and how Clinton backers from Google are implementing plans to put her in the White House.  As the article says:

At a time when private-sector money is flowing largely unchecked into US politics, Schmidt’s funding of the Groundwork suggests that 2016’s most valuable resource may not be donors capable of making eight-figure donations to Super PACs, but rather supporters who know how to convince talented engineers to forsake (at least for awhile) the riches of Silicon Valley for the rough-and-tumble pressure cooker of a presidential campaign.

Fascinating, if not slightly worrying stuff.

Walker Out

With his poll numbers dipping near 1%, Scott Walker has apparently ended his Presidential campaign. This is kind of surprising. Walker was an early favorite (as attested by the numerous idiotic MSM hit pieces on him) and was the front-runner as recently as April. There are numerous post-mortems out there, many asking if he peaked “too soon”. I think it’s pretty straight-forward. He had a poorly run campaign, flip-flopped on the issues (especially immigration) and pandered too obviously. He was one of several candidates who suffered from trying to outcrazy Trump.

Walker won’t be the last to drop out. Graham, Santorum and Jindal can’t keep up this pretense for much longer. Christie, Kasich, Paul, Cruz and Huckabee are lingering, but I doubt their appeal will grow so I expect at least two of those guys to drop out by the end of the year.

Right now, Trump is still in the lead, although his support has tailed off a bit. Carson is also starting to tail off while Fiorina is rising rapidly. But I’ll stand by my earlier prediction: the nominee will probably be Bush or Rubio. As we get closer to the election, experience will begin to matter more and more to the voters. And they are the most experience and the most Presidential among the second-tier candidates.

Game of Thrones Season Five

Season Five just finished. Overall, it was good. It didn’t quite reach the heights of Season Four, but that was to be expected. Overall, it wandered a lot and didn’t really get very far. I’m told that this is also true of the books (although we are now well past the books). Hopefully, Season 6 will start pushing us toward a conclusion.

It just ended as I write this so if you haven’t watched it yet, spoilers ahoy!:


Baltimore Into the Abyss


May was the most lethal month in [Baltimore] in more than 40 years; in per capita terms, it may have been the bloodiest month since recordkeeping began.

There were 43 victims of homicide in the city last month, the most since August 1972, when Baltimore ’s population, now 600,000, was about 900,000. In addition, there were 108 nonfatal shootings in May, nearly triple the number recorded the same month last year. Over the three-day Memorial Day weekend alone, the city recorded 32 shootings and nine homicides.

As Baltimore’s streets succumb to the wave of carnage, the police have simply withdrawn, by many accounts. Harassed, hooted at and openly hated in the wake of the arrest of Freddie Gray, whose death in custody triggered the rioting in April, uniformed officers seem to have decided not to do their jobs.

Arrests, already down from 2014 levels before the rioting, have plummeted by more than 50 percent since then. Community leaders in Sandtown — the area where Mr. Gray was arrested — say there is a deliberate effort on the police department’s part to vacate the streets and see how the community likes it.

On Fox News, one officer, his face and voice obscured, explained the cops’ “reasoning.” “After the protests, it seems like the citizens would appreciate a lack of police presence, and that’s exactly what they’re getting,” he said. He went on to blame the city’s leadership for not having officers’ backs and prosecutors for indicting the six police officers in whose custody Mr. Gray was fatally injured.

This is not unprecedented. Cops in New York engaged in a slowdown after the Eric Garner non-indictment and some subsequent comments by the Mayor.

First thing first: the blame for this surge of violence obviously belongs with the communities. When two cops were assassinated in December, I wrote the following:

I am not an anarchist. We can see around the world how thin the veneer of civilization is and how easily it is destroyed. Law and order are a huge improvement over the lack thereof, no matter how poorly they are enforced. It’s one thing to criticize police and demand reform and changes. It’s one thing to defend yourself if, for example, cops smash down your door in the middle of the night and you have no idea what’s going on. People can and should oppose aggressive policing and the intrusion of government into their lives. But the deliberate and cold-blooded murder of two policemen is an attack on civilization, on the idea of law and order.

The primary problem we have with policing in the United States is not a bunch of evil cops running around. It is a political leadership that has given them a million laws to enforce, authorized an aggressive war on voluntary behavior, shoved assault weapons and tanks into their hands and chipped away at accountability. The system is failing the police as thoroughly as it is failing the rest of us.

I was mocked a bit for my line on attacking civilization, but look at what’s going on in Baltimore right now. Most people are good. Most people — even in the worst part of Baltimore — won’t run around killing and stealing. But you only need a small fraction to be bad for the system to collapse. And now that it has … I’m not sure the genie can be put back in the bottle. This may be the final nail in Baltimore’s coffin.

All that having been said, the idea that the police slowdown was justified by the actions of Baltimore’s Mayor and the prosecution of the six cops is ridiculous. It’s another sign of a police leadership and union leadership that are increasingly isolated from reality. The cops and their union reps have come to expect unwavering and absolute loyalty from political leadership and get extremely agitated when they don’t get it (the link includes an interview with FOP head Jim Pasco. Among other things, he says that people who videotape cops should get 15 years in prison).

After the Freddie Gray incident, the Baltimore cops have been saying that the prosecution is making them “hesitant” and shows that they are being “thrown under the bus” by the mayor and the prosecutor. Balko:

So because a prosecutor has charged the six cops who illegally arrested a man and gave him a “rough ride” in the back of a police van that resulted in his death, all Baltimore cops are now afraid to use force. How does this follow? It would be logical if they were now hesitant to give rough rides — and that of a course would be a good thing. But what happen to Gray shouldn’t impact conscientious Baltimore cops in the slightest. There’s no connection between employing extra-judicial punishment by roughing a suspect up after he’s been arrested and cuffed, and using force to stop a violent person from harming innocent people. To argue that accountability in the former will lead to hesitation in the latter is to argue that we can’t have any accountability for any killing by a police officer, because it may cause other officers to hesitate before shooting people.

We rely on police to keep us from the abyss. But it does not follow that they are unaccountable or that if they truss up a man, throw him in the back of the van and rough ride him around the city until his neck shatters, we should ignore that. To pull back from a city that so desperately needs law and order because of the Freddie Gray indictment or a few nasty words from a mayor is ridiculous. And it illustrates just how badly policing has gone wrong.

Not that there isn’t enough blame to throw the mayor’s way. A competent mayor would be able to condemn the cops who killed Freddie Gray, go forward with the prosecution and still keep the cops on the streets. Balancing the anger of the citizens, the need for reform and temper of the union is the mayor’s job. It’s tough but it’s what they’re elected to do. Even de Blasio’s comments only resulted in cops slowing down “broken windows” arrests. And while murders are up a bit in New York in 2015 (123 through May 28, compared to 107 last year), overall crime is actually down slightly. There has not been nearly the surge in violence we’ve seen in Baltimore. Think about that: Rawlings-Blake is making Bill Fricking de Blasio look competent.