Interesting Items 04/17

Howdy all, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –

In this issue:

  1. Action
  2. Norks
  3. Endgame
  4. Page
  5. UAL
  6. Permit

  1. Action. Congress has taken a lot of flak since the start of the Trump administration for inaction.  Incoming fire really heated up nicely following the failure to pass a repeal / replace of O’BamaCare.  While disappointing, this failure is not unexpected.  Better yet, Scott Adams put it in the perspective of Trump being a systems President rather than a results President.  In other words, Trump is looking at the long term, allowing the process to work itself out.  And if you believe some of the smoke out of the Beltway, there may have been some progress toward legislation acceptable to both conservatives and the rest of elected Republicans who promised to repeal O’BamaCare for the last seven years.  That aside, what has congress done legislatively?  Well, they have made a great deal of progress legislatively repealing a number of obnoxious, onerous last minute O’Bama rules and regulations.  The tool was given to Republicans by Newt Gingrich in 1996, and is called the Congressional Review Act.  It allows congress to overturn rules by a federal agency 60 days after the rule is reported to congress.  It is aimed squarely at rule making by lame duck presidents.  So what has been rolled back?
  • HJR 41 rolled back a SEC rule aimed at domestic energy producers
  • HJR 38 ended the Stream Protection Rule aimed at coal production
  • HJR 40 reversed a Social Security rule taking away gun rights from Americans on SSI
  • HJR 37 ended a blacklisting rule that required federal contractors to disclose violations of labor rules
  • HJR 44 ended an Interior rule that moved authority for land use from the states and local communities to BLM
  • HJR 57 and 58 reversed Dept. Education new standards for new teachers
  • HJR 42 overturned a Labor regulation that restricted the ability to drug test people receiving unemployment compensation
  • HJR 69 reversed an Interior rule banning non-subsistence hunting of predators for population control on federal land in Alaska
  • HJR 83 nullified a Labor rule requiring more documentation on worker’s injuries
  • SJR 34 repealed the FCC Internet Privacy rule which picked winners and losers among broadband service providers
  • HJR 67 reversed a Labor rule allowing states to force workers to save
  • HJR 43 repealed a mandate that required states to fund Planned Parenthood

Not a bad list.  Even got one of these originating in the senate.  Every single one was passed by both houses of Congress.  And President Trump signed them all.  So much for governing with a pen and a phone.  Has congress done everything we wanted them to do?  Hardly.  Good start?  Most certainly and they’re not finished yet.

  1. Norks. The rhetoric heated up nicely between the Norks and the Trump administration last week.  Normally this time of year, the regime will sabre rattle in order to shake down a bit more free money from democrat administrations.  This one isn’t democrat-led so things are going down a bit differently this time around.  The funniest part is President Trump’s new Best Friend, the President of China, formerly the Nork’s Big Brother.  Perhaps the 56 Tomahawks delivered to Syria during their supper a week or two ago had something to do with it.  Perhaps it was old home week.  Perhaps it was something else.  Whatever happened, for the first time in half a century or more, the ChiComs no longer have the Nork’s back, having warned them not to screw around with Trump.  And it couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people.  For their part, the Norks went pyrotechnic with threats and condemnations.  For his part, Trump is being very quiet, moving CVBGp’s around (Carrier Battle Group).  SECSTATE T-Rex quit commenting about anything Korea, ratcheting up the pressure nicely.  China cancelled coal buys from the Kim regime.  And over the weekend a rocket blew up shortly after leaving the pad.  Will we go to war with the Norks?  Unlikely, but they don’t know that.  And they are about to tangle with someone that may (at least in their eyes) be crazier than they are.  This has been a long time coming.  Too long.
  1. Endgame. The 90-day session of the Alaska legislature ended over the weekend and we are now into the end game, the guts ball final battle.  On one side, we have a 22-member (out of 40) majority in the House consisting of 17 democrats, three RINOs and two “independent.”  On the other is a veto-proof majority in the State Senate.  We have around a $3 billion budget shortfall this year.  The House’s response was to authorize a budget some $200 million larger than that requested by our profligate governor.  In order to pay for that budget, they appropriated the entire $4 billion of the earnings reserve of the Permanent Fund, passed a $650 million income tax, and a $350 million tax increase on the oil producers, the only tax increase passed in any oil producing province in the world.  On the other side, we get yet another cost cutting budget out of the Senate.  While not perfect, it is not that bad.  For his part, Governor Walker was laughing and eating pistachios in the gallery while the budget and taxes were passed.  The Governor, channeling his inner (Phony) Tony Knowles took an opening to threaten closing a pair of Pioneer’s Homes (state funded and run senior care facilities here in Alaska), tossing seniors on the street in response to Senate budget cuts.  The way the game is played up here, is that a budget cut is used to inflict maximum damage on the other party, particularly if the governor and the legislature are from different parties.  So what is the end game?  We are going to have an extended hostage taking, inflicting maximum damage on the Senate majority until enough of them crack so as to pass the budget.  What do I think the House wants?  They want their income tax and they want to stick it to the producers.  Those are the hill they have decided they want to die upon.
  1. Page. Finally found the vehicle that allowed the O’Bama regime to conduct surveillance on the entire Trump campaign.  The link was a FISA warrant requested by Loretta Lynch’s (In)Justice Dept to conduct surveillance on Carter Page who at the time was an advisor to the Trump campaign.  It is important to remind the reader that a FISA warrant does not require actual evidence or a legitimate “reason to believe” that there was contact between the campaign and Russian officials.  Of course, Trump had business interests that touched on Russia from time to time which would have given the regime the excuse it needed to request the warrant.  Once the surveillance began it was relatively easy for Susan Rice to order the unmasking and consolidation of all communications that touched any Trump campaign official or staff.  Essentially Rice and other high ranking intelligence officials in the O’Bama regime were using the intelligence community to conduct a fishing expedition on political opponents.
  1. UAL. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away United Air Lines was one of the good guys, one of the air travel success stories becoming one of the first majority employee owned air lines.  But that was 22 years ago and the employees perhaps forgot what they are in business to do.  Last week UAL used Chicago O’Hare cops to do their dirty work and drag a reluctant passenger off his flight.  His head and face were the worse for wear.  The festivities were videoed and posted online, immediately crashing the stock prices.  By midweek, total valuation was down by at least a billion and a half dollars.  The longer this story went on, the worse it got for everyone involved.  Didn’t take long for the media to do their background investigation into the guy who was dragged off.  Turns out that he was a doctor who had his license pulled in prior years for drug-related offense.  He was also fairly prickly and simply didn’t want to get off when told to do so.  Normally bumping passengers is done when seats are oversold.  Those bumped negotiate their price while the gate crew does everything possible to minimize the cost to the airline.  But this particular flight was not oversold, removing UAL’s ability to legally remove paying customers.  UAL wanted to free up four seats so a flight crew could deadhead from Chicago to Louisville.  In other words, this was UAL’s problem rather than the Doctor.  Reaction to UAL has been brutal, deservedly so and there is no real way for them to make amends, as now that they are in the spotlight, their customer service will have to be spotless for the next six months so people forget.  For his part, the Doctor got a lawyer who did the expected lawsuit threat.  UAL is going to write a seven or eight significant figure check for their penny wise pound foolish customer service decision.  And it couldn’t happen to a better company.  Two funny parts out of this were the proliferation of photoshop UAL images.  Personally I prefer the Fight Club seating in the back.  Delta took to trolling UAL with promises of up to $9000 to entice a passenger to give up a seat.  Truth be told, everyone has a price.  And when the airline decides not to find out what those prices are, we end up where UAL is today.
  1. Pebble. The anti-resource democrats infesting the Walker administration here in Alaska issued a permit allowing the Pebble Partnership to do summer work around the site of the proposed mine.  Like any good group of anti-development greens, union thugs and democrats (redundant?), the larded the permit with all manner of obnoxious new requirements.  Among them are requirements to post a $2 million bond to ensure disturbed land is restored.  The majority of new requirements involve filling the 1,355 exploratory wells drilled since 1988.  To date, Pebble has filled some 600 boreholes.  The new permit requires another 138 to be plugged and above ground tubing removed.  There would be 612 boreholes allowed to remain open for the next year, though Pebble is required to inspect 300 of them.  The artificial anti-Pebble jihad continued with this permit with over 2,000 public comments most of them negative, received.  At least Alaska DNR has its excuse to pile on with the anti-mining comments.  Typically these sorts of permits are approved pro-forma and it is rare to receive comments on any of them.  The new requirement for a $2 million performance bond is unprecedented at this stage of the permitting process.  It is not uncommon for a mine to have to post a reclamation bond, but that is done much farther down the approval process. Finally, the permit was approved with 177 pages of “guidance” from the State of Alaska.  Nothing like burying a future employer in the state under a dumptruck of paper to encourage them to develop the resource.

More later –

– AG

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