Government, Fast and Slow

Here is what government does when it comes to holding itself accountable:

The Environmental Protection Agency never submitted a report due to Congress in 2014 that might have shed light on the environmental problems with mandating the use of ethanol in gasoline.

When the EPA’s Inspector General pointed out this week that the study was nearly two years overdue, the EPA said they’ll get around to finishing it—by 2024.

Congress created the ethanol mandate in 2005, requiring the blending of corn-based biofuels into gasoline and diesel. A 2007 law expanding the scope of the mandate required the EPA to submit reports to Congress every three years detailing the consequences of that policy on air and water quality. After completing one such report in 2011, the EPA says it ran out of money and didn’t have enough time to keep doing them.

There isn’t a lot of doubt that the ethanol mandate is bad policy. It doesn’t cut greenhouse gas emissions at all. It encourages mono-cropping and putting food into cars instead of starving people’s bellies, driving up the price of cereal crops. It increases smog. It damages the ozone layer. A strange coalition of radical greens, conservatives and libertarians have come to the realization that this is a disastrous policy.

But it’s popular with farmers and popular with ethanol makers and popular with both of our Presidential, ugh, candidates. So the EPA is going to sit on one of the most important environmental analyses they are doing.

By contrast, when it comes to restricting our freedom, the government can move with amazing haste:

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has filed a notice of intent (PDF) to place the southeast Asian plant called kratom to the most restrictive classification of the Controlled Substances Act. The plant, Mitragyna speciosa, and its two primary constituents, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, will be temporarily placed onto Schedule I on September 30, according to a filing by the DEA at 8:45 am Eastern time today. The full announcement is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, August 31.

Various forms of kratom and teas made from the plant’s leaves are sold in cafes and on the internet. Their primary effect is to provide a short-lived peaceful and calm feeling that is described as pleasant. Consistent with this effect being opioid-like, anecdotal reports indicate that some users have used kratom to successfully recover from physical and psychological dependence on prescription opioids and heroin. Comments on my last report on kratom have also indicated the successful use of teas made from the plant in managing chronic pain without the side effects and addictive potential of prescription opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine.

Makes people feel good? Competes with multi-billion dollar drug revenue streams? BATTLE STATIONS!

The justification for banning this is that poison control centers reported about 600 cases of abuse of the drug … over five years. 600 overdoses is probably a good week with alcohol. The risk is so minimal that the North Carolina legislature recently rejected efforts to outlaw it. Making it Schedule I will not only make kratom illegal but hinder any research into it.

These two stories really illustrate how our government works. They move instantly to destroy our freedom based one a rumor. But they can’t be bothered to check their own behavior despite overwhelming scientific evidence.

The Cover-Up

Holy cow:

On Friday afternoon, the FBI released its 47-page report on the investigation into the private email server Hillary Clinton used while serving as secretary of state. (The FBI also released an 11-page document detailing its interview with Clinton in early July.)

Among the things revealed?

  • Clinton had 13 different mobile devices during her tenure as SoS. Most are not accounted for. Some were smashed.
  • Clinton never sought approval for using a private server and ignored warning from her own office about using unsecured devices.
  • Astoundingly, Clinton’s people began wiping her servers three weeks after the story broke in the NYT. This was a deliberate and calculated attempt to hide her e-mails.
  • Clinton didn’t realize that C markings atop e-mails indicated they were confidential.

Clinton also blamed her concussion for her inability to remember some things. This is after weeks of HOW DARE YOU! responses to questions about her health.

You can read the whole thing. Best take on it I’ve seen is from Ken White, who said the kindest interpretation is incompetence and arrogance. The least kind: obstruction of justice and lying to federal agents, which are criminal acts.

The thing that strikes me over and over again is that this was completely unnecessary. If Clinton had simply told the truth right off the bat, this scandal would have died a quiet death. There’s unlikely to be anything truly damning in those e-mails. But the Clintons lie — fluently, repeatedly and instinctively. And, somehow she got away with it. I can appreciate the dilemma that Comey found himself in: an indictment of Clinton would have been the political storm of the century, directly affecting the election. But … at some point … doesn’t the rule of law have to apply to Presidential candidates?

Bye Bye Corey

Good riddance to bad rubbish:

Angela Corey, a state attorney in northeast Florida who investigated the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and prosecuted Marissa Alexander for firing a warning shot during a domestic dispute, lost the Republican primary on Tuesday for 4th circuit judicial state attorney.

Melissa Nelson, a corporate lawyer and former prosecutor, claimed 64% of the vote over Corey’s 26% in the fourth circuit, which oversees Jacksonville, Fla. Nelson will face Kenny Leigh, a write-in candidate who runs a men’s only law firm, in the general election.

Corey, you may remember, initially did not prosecute George Zimmerman after he invoked Florida’s “stand your ground” law. She then changed her mind in the wake of political pressure but failed to get a conviction. She also came under fire for the Marissa Alexander case, where she refused to accept a “stand your ground” defense from a woman defending herself from an abusive boyfriend and got a judge to hand down a 20-year prison sentence (it was later reduced to three years).

That’s just the beginning. Corey has been one of the most aggressive prosecutors in the nation when it comes to charging juveniles as adults and seeking the death penalty in questionable cases. When criticized for her handling of cases, she’s had a tendency to lash out, famously threatening Alan Dershowitz when he criticized her charging of George Zimmerman.

Corey is just the latest prosecutor to go down in flames. Earlier this year, Chicago voters ousted Anita Alvarez for sitting on the Laquan McDonald case and Cleveland voters ditched Tim McGinity for his handling of the Tamir Rice case. This is unusual to say the least. Prosecutors rarely get unelected. But they’re now becoming the targets of unelection campaigns. Whatever one may think of these three prosecutors, I’m glad to see people paying more attention. It’s about time that “lock ‘em up, let God sort em out” stopped being an automatic ticket to power.

The establishment has decided to make sure they win the election

I was wondering why the democrats had suffered so many hacking attacks recently by people that actually should be their fellow travelers, and after this announcement, the picture is now clear. Maybe I am a conspiracy cook, but the way things are playing out right now is too much coincidence even for me to dismiss tampering. after all, we are dealing with the most corrupt and self serving bunch of people in my lifetime, and expecting them not to do what comes natural to them, is far more of a stretch to me than the other way around.

This administration has lied, cheated, abused their power, and in general ripped off the productive to enrich the few connected and cement their power, and they now are rigging the game to make sure one of them wins so they can keep at it. As Stalin pointed out: cast votes are not as important as whomever gets to count them. And what better way to make sure the credentialed elite establishment types can make sure to get the results they want without risking too much of a chance that the plebes find out they are being played. The law is for the little people after all, as both the Obama administration and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s constant criminal activities getting a pass, has made clear.

Thanks for the banana republic Obama and the democratic party in general!

And Now Gene Wilder

Oh, come on, 2016. Gene Wilder too?

I couldn’t find any great clips from the 1968 version of The Producers, which is one of the most brilliant comedies ever made. But here’s a great clip from Blazing Saddles

The thing I loved about Wilder was how well he played off of other actors. Great comedies are collaborative and Wilder was one of the best comedy collaborators ever, working with geniuses like Zero Mostel, Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor to create truly great comedy. His work with Mostel is what makes the first Producers so brilliant. The way he played off Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles or Mary Feldman in Young Frankenstein or Richard Pryor was dazzling to behold.

Wilder mostly retired after Gilda Radner died but did occasionally pop up in such things as guest spots in Will and Grace. He will be missed.

Out Of The Mouth Of…………Dopes

This is how bad it has gotten;

Yep, a douchewagon like Kaepernick even gets it. We talk a lot about the low information voter, but we have a new bar, whinny crybabies who are too stupid to live. I get it, freedom of speech and all that, which is why I can call a turd, a turd. As if the presidential election was not depressing enough, now I get to root for my local football team to lose every game because their millionaire QB is ashamed of his country and can’t manage to stand for the national anthem. Whats next? The dog getting skunked (again) or the wife wanting more sex? I think I will just hole up in my den with a “do not disturb” sign on the door.

The Lost Opportunity

I was asked the other day what the worst aspect of the Trump candidacy is. And after thinking about it, I decided that the worst part may be the lost opportunity.

Republicans went into 2016 with a majority in both houses, a majority of state houses, a majority of governorships and a golden opportunity to defeat a weak, compromised Democratic presidential candidate. Had they nominated someone like Rubio (maybe not him specifically, but someone of that ilk), they wouldn’t be fearing an electoral disaster but wondering just how big his landslide would be.

But its worse than that.

Over the last few months, Speaker Ryan has been rolling out his agenda called “A Better Way”. It has detailed Republican plans for addressing national security, poverty, the economy, Constitutional law, health care and taxes. While I disagree with some of its points, it’s a massively superior agenda to the Far Left nonsense that Clinton has been rolling out.

This is precisely what I’ve wanted the GOP to do for years: not to just oppose Democrats, but to propose a positive alternative agenda; to give people something to vote for. A decent candidate using this agenda would be absolutely crushing Clinton and building toward a 1994 style revolution. And let’s remember, that revolution resulted in a balanced budget, a booming economy and a huge decline in poverty.

This is the worst part of Trump. Trump himself has no policies. He seems to just parrot whatever has been whispered in his ear most recently. Maybe if he were elected, he’d enact parts of the Better Way, but I doubt it. As it is, however, his personality and lack of managerial skill is dooming the GOP, possibly to minority status.

I really hope the GOP can regroup in 2020. Because if it’s a choice between the GOP’s “Better Way” and the Democrats Marxism Light, I know which bodes for a better future.

The Clinton Foundation

This week, AP ran a story alleging that about half of the people outside government who met with Clinton when she was Secretary of State had donated to the Clinton Foundation. This is on top of reports that donors to the Clinton Foundation mysteriously mysteriously earned lucrative contracts from the State Department under Clinton’s tenure. There is no smoking gun at this point; no proof of an explicit quid pro quo. But there is an awful lot of smoke.

The response of the Left Wing has been … astonishing. They have basically been writing pieces all week that are little more than wrappers for the Clinton campaign’s press release. Their claims are basically:

  • The AP deceptively focused on only 154 of Clinton’s thousands of meetings during her tenure. This talking point is garbage. AP deliberately excluded people with whom Clinton would have met anyway as Secretary of State (some of whom, incidentally, were also big Foundation donors). Moreover, the State Department has refused to release large parts of Clinton’s schedule. The AP worked with what they had.
  • There is no explicit proof of a quid-pro-quo.. True enough. But the Left Wing knows perfectly God-damned well that this is not how corruption works. Government corruption does not work like it does in movies with smoke-filled rooms, cackling fat men and suitcases full of cash. What the Foundation donors are alleged to have been buying is access. And a group of people who have spent the last six years screaming and wringing their hands over Citizens United should understand that.
  • The Clinton Foundation is an A-rated charity and puts 88% of its money into good causes. I’m a bit dubious of the charity rater they are citing, who seems a bit too enthusiastic. But even assuming this, that’s kind of beside the point. I’m sure the Clinton Foundation does do a lot of good — $2 billion will do that. That does not mean that donating to it isn’t the best way to get the Clintons’ time and attention. It does not mean that its money can’t be directed toward certain organizations and causes. That the Foundation does good and the Clintons are corrupt are not mutually exclusive possibilities.
  • Republicans don’t face this level of scrutiny.. As the Intercept points out, this is bullshit. Non-profits associated with John McCain, Newt Gingrich and George W. Bush have come under fire for similar incidents. Just because you haven’t been paying attention doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Honestly, it’s pathetic. So pathetic that Vox had to run an article where four experts carefully explained to them why these allegations are so troubling.

Clinton Derangement Syndrome is a thing. There are certainly people who are driven to madness by the Clintons and see everything they do in the worst possible light. But Clinton Defense Derangement Syndrome is also a thing. There are people who continually insist that all the allegations about the Clintons are baseless right-wing smears. Hell, there are people who still insist that Whitewater — which resulted in forty felony convictions — was a whole lot of nothing. To these people, the Clintons are wonderful do-gooders who have endured 25 years of baseless persecution.

(Left unanswered by the Clinton defenders is this: if the Clinton scandals are all Republican dementia and invented nonsense, why have we seen nothing like this with Obama? The Republican hatred of Obama is arguably deeper than their hatred of Clinton. And they’ve tried to pin some stuff on him sure. But they’ve never gotten anywhere with it. The IRS scandal fizzled and ended up focusing on Lois Lerner. The gunwalking scandal fizzled. Benghazi ended up focusing on Clinton (and fizzled). Even the VA scandal fizzled. The most they could come up with from his pre-Presidency days was Jeremiah Wright/Bill Ayers which no one outside of Fox News cared about. They’ve made a lot of noise and tried to get something going, but we’ve not seen them gain the kind of traction they did with Whitewater or Lewinski. And while the media arguably runs interference for Obama, it’s peanuts compared to the interference they run for Clinton. Obama’s been in office for eight years without any felony convictions, impeachment proceedings or perjury. The vast majority of criticism is focused on his policies, not his ethics. Doesn’t this suggest that there may be at least something to the idea that the Clintons are a bit slimy?)

Now I wouldn’t go as far as some pundits have in describing the Clinton Foundation as a criminal organization. The money it dispenses actually goes to good causes, such as providing anti-malarial drugs in Africa and disaster relief in Haiti and Indonesia. It’s also burned money on a lot of dubious liberal initiatives like “sustainability” and patting do-gooders on the back. Overall, I suspect it’s fine … on its terms.

But I also think it’s highly likely that it’s become a nexus of Clinton influence, with donations to the Foundation catching the attention of the Clintons and occasionally largesse from the government. It’s not nothing. And I wish the media would quit pretending that it is.