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Archive for March 13th, 2010

“What impact does the Islamization of News Corp. have on “fair and balanced” news Stateside? … [T]he fact remains that in classifying Wilders as a fascist (Beck), denouncing his views as “extreme, radical and wrong” (Krauthammer), and slandering him as a “demagogue” (Kristol), Fox’s opinion-leaders expressed themselves in terms that surely thrilled not just Murdoch’s Islamic prince-cronies, but also the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). This is the organization driving the advance of sharia in the world, as, for example, at the United Nations, where it leads an endless campaign to outlaw all criticism of Islam – such as Wilders’ – under the PC-sensitive rubric of banning ‘defamation of religion.'” Diana West


 

Fox’s Beck, Krauthammer & Kristol: Wrong on Wilders (Much to Talal’s Delight)

By Diana West

Murdoch and Talal, together, in Abu Dhabi this week: It’s a long way from Rudy Giuliani’s Big Dis in Manhattan

When Glenn Beck, Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol each from their respective Fox News perches branded Dutch political phenom Geert Wilders as beyond the political pale, it was shocking and outrageously so, and for several reasons.

One. I’ve grown used to Fox News and all other media ignoring not just the Wilders story but also the cultural story of the century, altogether – namely, the  Islamization of Europe, something Wilders, a great admirer of Ronald Reagan and a committed supporter Israel, is dedicated to halt and reverse. The survival instinct of the Dutch, who, earlier this month gave unprecedented electoral victories to Wilders and his party, is a strong indicator that this civilizational transformation is not irreversible. But covering the Islamization of Europe, as readers of this column know, usually makes for bad news. And worse, at least according to the powers-that-be, even half-way competent reporting on the subject puts Islam in a bad light because it reveals exactly what happens to Western-style liberty when Muslims enter a non-Muslim host country in sufficient numbers to enact and extend sharia (Islamic law) over a heretofore Judeo-Christian-humanist society.

Better safe (politically correct) than sorry (subject to potential boycott or worse), our media prefer, frittering away precious powers afforded by the First Amendment. This motto seems to go double at Fox ever since Rupert Murdoch, for reasons unknown, sold what is now a seven percent stake of Fox’s parent company News Corp. to a scion of the sharia-dictatorship of Saudi Arabia, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. For the Fox commentators, supposedly punditry’s bulwark of Western values, to bring it up just to slap it down — and without factual care (to say the least) — was disappointing but also irresponsible.

Two. Readers may recall that I’ve questioned Talal’s ownership stake before (previous column here, post here). This week, much too synergistically, after Murdoch’s and Talal’s all-stars warned Fox viewers about the Wilders threat, in effect, to Islam in Europe, Murdoch was in Abu Dhabi, along with Talal and 400 other media executives, announcing that key components of the News Corp. empire were moving into the Islamic world, into the United Arab Emirates. 

Remember the UAE, notorious for enslaving Bangledeshi boys as camel jockeys, for its support of Hamas? It was the UAE whose ministers and princes were hunting with Osama bin Laden, preventing the Clinton White House from taking a cruise missile shot at the jihad kingpin. It was the UAE that was one of three countries (Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) to recognize the Taliban. And it was the UAE’s Dubai Ports World that was thwarted in a pre-tea-party populist uproar about these connections and more (eleven of the 9/11 hijackers, including two UAE citizens, were deployed to the US from Dubai). The UAE is “not free” now, says Freedom House, and never has been. You get the picture. It is now complete with a macabre vision of a News Corp.’s Middle Eastern headquarters potentially rising into the skyline, the better to oversee, perhaps, Murdoch’s new 9.1 percent stake in Prince Talal’s Arab media company Rotana.

What impact does the Islamization of News Corp. have on “fair and balanced” news Stateside? I don’t know. But when one of the big bosses is a Saudi prince, it doesn’t exactly encourage reporters to doodle spoofs of the Danish Motoons on their notepads, let alone engage in “offensive,” PC-busting debate in the news room or on the air.

Three. Regardless of cause or effect, the fact remains that in classifying Wilders as a fascist (Beck), denouncing his views as “extreme, radical and wrong” (Krauthammer), and slandering him as a “demagogue” (Kristol), Fox’s opinion-leaders expressed themselves in terms that surely thrilled not just Murdoch’s Islamic prince-cronies, but also the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). This is the organization driving the advance of sharia in the world, as, for example, at the United Nations, where it leads an endless campaign to outlaw all criticism of Islam – such as Wilders’ – under the PC-sensitive rubric of banning “defamation of religion.”

Now, one thing you don’t want to do in this life is thrill the OIC, particularly on its smooth drive to extend sharia that is only now, according to OIC plan, unexpectedly blocked by Geert Wilders. But how it hurts to see Fox pushing in the wrong direction.

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ABOVE THE LAW

“Obama’s Civil Rights Division will prosecute cases only depending on “what you look like.” If you are white and you are discriminated against in your job, at the polls, or in seeking equal access to federally funded institutions, the Division won’t lift a finger to make sure you’re “protected.”

“If you want to understand how the Civil Rights Division is being run in the Obama administration, imagine for just a moment what would happen if the most radical, ideologically left-wing advocacy organizations in Washington took control of it. Because that’s exactly what happened.

“[I]ndividuals who populate the Civil Rights Division have always felt that because they are pursuing a virtuous mission, they are infallible and somehow have license to contravene the law, skirt ethical lines, and participate in acts of deception.”—Hans A. von Spakovsky


 

Radicalizing Civil Rights

By Hans A. von Spakovsky

The people behind the Civil Rights Division’s politicization.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama mentioned the protections enshrined in the Constitution and said, “No matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law, you should be protected by it.” Obama followed this lofty rhetoric with a claim that his Justice Department “has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil-rights violations and employment discrimination.”

As anyone familiar with the Division’s workings can tell you, this assertion is patently false. Obama’s Civil Rights Division will prosecute cases only depending on “what you look like.” If you are white and you are discriminated against in your job, at the polls, or in seeking equal access to federally funded institutions, the Division won’t lift a finger to make sure you’re “protected.”

Over the last year, I have written many articles about the politicization and outright misconduct of the Civil Rights Division under the Obama administration. I have pointed out the Division’s politically motivated dismissal of a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party, its highly dubious objection to the state of Georgia’s verifying the citizenship of newly registered voters, and its almost comedic effort to prevent the small town of Kinston, N.C., from changing its partisan town-council elections to nonpartisan because it might hurt Democratic candidates.

If you want to understand how the Civil Rights Division is being run in the Obama administration, imagine for just a moment what would happen if the most radical, ideologically left-wing advocacy organizations in Washington took control of it. Because that’s exactly what happened.

So who are the players who are responsible for all of this?

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez. Perez is a longtime Democratic activist and a former staffer to the late senator Ted Kennedy. When Perez was running for a seat on the Montgomery County Council in Maryland, he was asked what was the most important thing voters should know about him. His response: “I am a progressive Democrat and always was and always will be.” Once elected, the hyper-partisan Perez made no effort to hide his contempt for Republicans. He once gave a speech claiming that conservative Republicans do not care about the poor. An article in the Washington Post (April 3, 2005) characterized Perez as “about as liberal as Democrats get.”

Perez also served as president of Casa de Maryland, an extreme advocacy organization that opposes the enforcement of our immigration laws. This group has encouraged illegal aliens not to speak with police officers or immigration agents; it has fought restrictions on illegal aliens’ receiving driver’s licenses; it has urged the Montgomery County Police Department not to enforce federal fugitive warrants; it has advocated giving illegal aliens in-state tuition; and it has actively promulgated “day labor” sites, where illegal aliens and disreputable employers openly skirt federal prohibitions on hiring undocumented individuals.

It is stunning that someone affiliated with an outfit that displays such contempt for federal law would even be nominated, let alone confirmed, as the nation’s top civil-rights law-enforcement officer. But Perez has gone farther.

As a councilman in Maryland in 2003, Perez sought to force local governments to accept matricula consular ID cards, which are issued by the Mexican and Guatemalan governments, as a valid form of identification. He insisted that individuals with such cards not have to show any U.S.-issued documents to prove their identities. This proposal was ludicrous. The matricala consular IDs are rife with fraud, a fact well known to Perez. No major bank in Mexico even accepts the cards to open an account and, by last count, 22 of Mexico’s 32 states and districts reject the cards as IDs. But Perez was happy to have an excuse to thumb his nose at federal immigration laws.

It should come as no surprise that Perez was once a career lawyer in the Division, which is known for attracting the most hyper-partisan career staffers in the entire Justice Department. Now he has announced that he will ramp up enforcement of “disparate impact” lawsuits — playing the race card in employment cases and launching an effort to block banks from foreclosing on individuals who took out loans they knew they couldn’t afford. This is fitting: Perez was a political appointee in the Division during the Clinton administration, when it was hit with over $4.1 million in sanctions for filing frivolous and unwarranted discrimination claims — including “disparate impact” lawsuits.

By the way, on the “nonpoliticized hiring” issue — Perez issued a memorandum on Dec. 3, 2009, making it clear that he would make the final decision on all proposed career hires. And he has surrounded himself with equally radical subordinates to run the ever-growing Division.

Mark Kappelhoff. Kappelhoff was Perez’s principal deputy for most of the past year. Although the Department’s press flacks loved to describe Kappelhoff as a longtime apolitical career attorney, the reality is that he is extremely liberal and intensely political. Before coming to the Department of Justice in 1997, Kappelhoff worked for two years as legislative counsel for the ACLU. Prior to that, he served as a public defender in Montgomery County, Md., and spent several years as a legislative assistant to a Democratic congressman from Minnesota. Is it any wonder that this career attorney was initially tapped to take the No. 2 position in the Division — a job designed as a political position and always filled by a political appointee?

Of course, the line between career attorney and political appointee in the Holder Civil Rights Division is virtually nonexistent. It is no coincidence that Kappelhoff gave almost $3,000 to Obama in the 2008 election cycle and has made nearly $5,000 in contributions to Democratic politicians over the last six years. In fact, it is rather stunning to review the Federal Election Commission website and note the tens of thousands of dollars contributed to Democratic candidates and the DNC by the supposedly apolitical career lawyers in the Civil Rights Division.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Samuel Bagenstos. Replacing Kappelhoff is Samuel Bagenstos, a typical out-of-touch liberal from the academy, specifically Washington University in St. Louis. He clerked for Ninth Circuit judge Stephen Reinhardt after law school, and then did a one-year clerkship with Justice Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

Bagenstos has spent most of his career advocating far-left-wing causes from his comfortable ivory-tower perch. And he is not above making reckless attacks in pursuit of his political agenda. In 2004, representing the Democratic party in a lawsuit in Ohio filed under the relatively new Help America Vote Act, he savagely attacked the Bush Civil Rights Division (in which I worked) for arguing that there was no private right of action under that federal statute, calling it “shameful” and even deriding part of the Division’s brief as an “Alice in Wonderland” argument. When the Supreme Court agreed with the Division in 2008, he was strangely silent.

Bagenstos recently appeared in federal court in New York, arguing against a motion to dismiss one of the Division’s lawsuits. The Division’s complaint was so badly written under Bagenstos’s supervision that the judge at one point compared the government’s pleading to that of a pro se litigant, which is as close as a federal judge can come to calling you incompetent.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Loretta King. King is, as I have stated before, one of the biggest political hacks in the Division (and that’s saying something). Anyone with even a fleeting familiarity with the New Black Panther Party fiasco from earlier this year knows that King was in the middle of one of the most egregious acts of crass partisanship and racial politics in the Division’s history. There is little doubt that King is guided almost exclusively by partisan politics. During my time working alongside her, she talked openly about resigning to run as a Democratic candidate in Maryland.

I also have previously written about how a King-led team of attorneys was slapped with $587,000 in attorney-fee sanctions in Johnson v. Miller, a Clinton-era redistricting case in which the Division commanded the State of Georgia — in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court — to engage in “presumptively unconstitutional race-based districting.” Not only did King lose that case, but both the federal district court and the Supreme Court excoriated the Division’s handling of it. The federal district court characterized the Division’s conduct as “disturbing” and “an embarrassment,” and pointed out that the Department’s attorneys seemed to be taking their orders directly from the ACLU. The court expressed its surprise and profound disappointment “that the Department of Justice was so blind to this impropriety, especially in a role as sensitive as that of preserving the fundamental right to vote.”

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes. When it comes to sheer single-minded partisanship, however, no one is even in the same league as Julie Fernandes. Straight out of law school, Julie worked for the ACLU on race and poverty issues, and her liberal activism has grown stronger ever since. In the Clinton administration, she served as a political appointee in the Civil Rights Division, where she focused on legal and policy issues relating to voting rights, police misconduct, and racial profiling (and engaged in outrageous harassment of police officers and legally baseless attacks on law enforcement in general). After leaving the Civil Rights Division, she went to work for Clinton at the White House Domestic Policy Council, where she wreaked havoc on our nation’s immigration, race-relations, and civil-rights policies. When the Clinton administration mercifully came to an end, Fernandez joined the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights as a senior policy analyst and special counsel.

Now she has returned to the Justice Department. She sees her mission as protecting Democrats and their constituents. Just days after she gave a speech at the American Constitution Society stressing the importance of not treating the Civil Rights Division “like a buffet line at the cafeteria, cherry-picking which laws to enforce,” Fernandes convened the entire Voting Section career staff and explicitly told them that this administration would not be enforcing Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act under her watch. (This is the provision that directs states and municipalities to regularly purge their voting rolls of individuals who are deceased or no longer living in a jurisdiction, a policy the Left has always despised.) The hypocrisy is palpable, but it’s hardly surprising coming from a demagogue such as Fernandes, who has spent so much time seeking to undermine anti-fraud measures in state and federal elections.

It’s supremely ironic that Fernandes testified to the House Judiciary Committee several years ago about the alleged politicization of the Bush Civil Rights Division. She has brazenly politicized the Division to a far greater degree, in just the first year of the Obama administration, than the Bush administration was even accused of doing. It was Fernandes who stripped the former chief of the Voting Section, Christopher Coates, the career lawyer who recommended the lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party, of all almost all of his managerial responsibilities. From the moment she arrived, she zealously micromanaged every detail of the Voting Section and sought to undermine Coates at every turn. Her agenda was to push Coates out and replace him with an ideologically reliable apparatchik, and she finally succeeded when Coates was reassigned 450 miles away, to South Carolina.

You can also be sure that Fernandes will be working closely with her friends at militant civil-rights organizations to pack the Division more than ever with liberal ideologues in the career ranks. Sources say that during the Bush administration, Fernandes’s husband, Avner Shapiro, who was a line attorney in the Voting Section, kept her well informed on who was being hired and on the status of open investigations — despite the confidential and privileged nature of such information, particularly case files. Sources say that during the Bush administration they saw her walking out of Shapiro’s office with Division files.

Senior Counsel Les Jin. Jin’s primary claim to shame is his four-year tenure as staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), where he helped the lawless chairwoman, Mary Frances Berry, carry out her radical, racially militant agenda. (He also was the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, which opposed Justice Alito’s confirmation because NAPABA supports race-based affirmative action.) Jin’s service was marked not only by constant political shenanigans, but also by financial irregularities. John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru wrote an NRO column back in 2001, urging President Bush to fire Jin. They noted:

The case for replacing Jin goes beyond his being a holdover. He’s a shameless hack for Berry. He is afraid to challenge her, even when she behaves lawlessly, as in the current dispute over the commission’s makeup. He also refuses to work with the commission’s GOP-appointed members. He doesn’t let them participate in selecting witnesses to appear at commission hearings, he won’t take their names off press releases when they disagree with their content, and he was instrumental in the suppression of the dissent written by commissioners Abigail Thernstrom and Russell Redenbaugh in response to the commission’s scandalously bad report on the presidential election in Florida. There are also questions about his handling of the commission’s budget.

In fact, during Jin’s reign of terror at the USCCR, the Commission neglected to pay its $75,000 rent, refused to provide several employees a substantial part of the judgment ($188,000) that they had won against the agency in a federal discrimination claim, underfunded its employee benefit packages, and caused the agency’s financial ledger to disappear. As Gerald Reynolds, the subsequent chairman of the USCCR, later explained to a congressional subcommittee, “if a private company didn’t have a ledger, then somebody goes to jail.” Jin has already developed a special “outreach” list of civil-rights organizations that he is sending career job openings to — no doubt to ensure that only those with the “proper” civil-rights views apply for work. Jin’s very presence in the Civil Rights Division front office emphatically demonstrates that this administration has politicized civil rights to an unprecedented degree and is committed to a reckless path of law enforcement.

Matt Nosanchuck. Another counsel serving Perez is Matt Nosanchuck, a gay activist who helped spearhead President Obama’s outreach to the homosexual and transgender community and a veteran of an organization called the “Third Way,” which advocates support for various gay and lesbian causes. He was co-counsel in the NAACP’s lawsuit against gun manufacturers and has said that there is no constitutional right to own a gun. He is joined by Jocelyn Samuels, a former Ted Kennedy staffer who came to the Division after serving as a vice president at the National Women’s Law Center, a “progressive” advocacy group that espouses one of the most radical feminist agendas and seems to be at the forefront of every liberal cause.

Karen Stevens. A fourth counsel, Karen Stevens, is technically a “career” lawyer on detail to the front office. She was cited in the inspector general’s report complaining about supposedly improper “politicization” during the Bush administration. Of course, the IG report not only failed to identify her by name, it also neglected to mention that she had been a political appointee in the Civil Rights Division during the Clinton administration; she burrowed into the career ranks just before the Clintonistas left office. She is, as you can imagine, one of the most partisan “career” lawyers in the Division.

I literally laughed out loud when it was announced internally at the Division in September that Stevens would be one of two lawyers co-chairing a new hiring committee to ensure that only “merit” was considered in the career hiring process. She is so trusted by the Democratic leadership in this administration that she was moved to the front office of the Division on the first day Obama came into office — to occupy what is normally a political slot. The Democratic National Committee must be almost giddy when it looks over the Civil Rights Division masthead.

Chief of Staff Leon Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a former county attorney for Montgomery County, Md., and a crony of Perez from the latter’s stint on the county council. Rodriguez has been a significant contributor to both Barack Obama and John Kerry in their respective presidential runs, and has been described as solidly and reliably liberal. Rodriguez recently found himself in a big spat with a councilwoman in Montgomery County after he undertook a purportedly illegal search of the computer of one of the councilwoman’s staff members.

Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli. Normally, one would expect the leadership higher up in Justice Department to act as a check on any shortcomings in the leadership of the Civil Rights Division. But Perrelli, to whom Perez reports, was deeply involved in the dismissal of the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case and may have been taking his orders from the White House. One of his deputies is Sam Hirsch, one of the Democratic party’s main redistricting lawyers and litigators. From this perch, Hirsch can make sure that all political redistricting after the 2010 Census goes the way the party wants it to go.

Another deputy in the associate attorney general’s office shows just how far the Democratic party will go to reward ideologically correct (but legally incorrect) lawyering. Marisa Chun is a political appointee who started off as a career lawyer in the Civil Rights Division before leaving for private law practice in San Francisco. She was the lead career lawyer during the Clinton administration who filed a lawsuit against the City of Torrance, Calif., claiming that the police-officer and firefighter examinations were discriminatory because they had a “disparate impact” (sound familiar?). The case was thrown out after a federal court determined that the Division “had an insufficient factual basis” for the lawsuit and “continued to pursue the claim . . . long after it became apparent that the case lacked merit.” American taxpayers had to pay the city $1.7 million. Now Ms. Chun finds herself in an office that supervises her former colleagues and the disparate-impact crusade that Perez is launching. It is almost surreal.

Don’t get me wrong: The new administration is free to select whomever it wants for political posts at the Justice Department — even lawyers who were involved in lawsuits that resulted in sanctions against the Department. But we all remember the Left’s relentless attacks upon the Bush Civil Rights Division for installing conservatives in leadership positions. We were subjected to endless blather about the Bush team’s arrogance for refusing to approve a handful of cases recommended by career staff, its chutzpah in allowing political appointees to manage certain litigation, and its sheer temerity for stripping some career section chiefs of their authority to exercise unfettered discretion in establishing the enforcement and policy agendas of the Division. The soaring rhetoric turned out to be just that, rhetoric.

The overwhelming majority of the individuals who populate the Civil Rights Division have always felt that because they are pursuing a virtuous mission, they are infallible and somehow have license to contravene the law, skirt ethical lines, and participate in acts of deception. Until recently, these leftists were able to act with impunity, and even today, the mainstream media continues to turn a blind eye until the Division’s misconduct becomes so glaring (think New Black Panther Party) that it simply can no longer be realistically ignored. Hopefully, however, those days are beginning to end. Abuses need to be exposed and individuals need to be called to account. And we will all be the better for it.

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission and a former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department.

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“[A]ngling advocates have come to suspect that public input into the process was a charade from the beginning. … unless anglers speak up and convince their Congressional representatives to stop this bureaucratic freight train, it appears that the task force will issue a final report for “marine spatial planning” by late March, with President Barack Obama then issuing an Executive Order to implement its recommendations — whatever they may be.”—Robert Montgomery 

Brother O plans to set up nine regional planning bodies (bureaucracies) that would shut down oil exploration and allow enviroweenies to set policy for the fishing and boating industry affecting millions of jobs and billions of dollars in revenues.

Read reports from the Ocean Policy Task Force here, and read the “Interim Framework for Effective Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning” pdf here.

“[I]f the public are bound to yield obedience to laws to which they cannot give their approbation, they are slaves to those who make such laws and enforce them.” –Candidus in the Boston Gazette, 1772

I.M. Kane


 

Culled out

By Robert Montgomery

The Obama administration will accept no more public input for a federal strategy that could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation’s oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters.  

This announcement comes at the time when the situation supposedly still is “fluid” and the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force still hasn’t issued its final report on zoning uses of these waters.

That’s a disappointment, but not really a surprise for fishing industry insiders who have negotiated for months with officials at the Council on Environmental Quality and bureaucrats on the task force. These angling advocates have come to suspect that public input into the process was a charade from the beginning.

“When the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) completed their successful campaign to convince the Ontario government to end one of the best scientifically managed big game hunts in North America (spring bear), the results of their agenda had severe economic impacts on small family businesses and the tourism economy of communities across northern and central Ontario,” said Phil Morlock, director of environmental affairs for Shimano.

“Now we see NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the administration planning the future of recreational fishing access in America based on a similar agenda of these same groups and other Big Green anti-use organizations, through an Executive Order by the President. The current U.S. direction with fishing is a direct parallel to what happened in Canada with hunting: The negative economic impacts on hard working American families and small businesses are being ignored.

“In spite of what we hear daily in the press about the President’s concern for jobs and the economy and contrary to what he stated in the June order creating this process, we have seen no evidence from NOAA or the task force that recreational fishing and related jobs are receiving any priority.”

Consequently, unless anglers speak up and convince their Congressional representatives to stop this bureaucratic freight train, it appears that the task force will issue a final report for “marine spatial planning” by late March, with President Barack Obama then issuing an Executive Order to implement its recommendations — whatever they may be.

Led by NOAA’s Jane Lubchenco, the task force has shown no overt dislike of recreational angling, but its indifference to the economic, social and biological value of the sport has been deafening.

Additionally, Lubchenco and others in the administration have close ties to environmental groups who would like nothing better than to ban recreational angling. And evidence suggests that these organizations have been the engine behind the task force since before Obama issued a memo creating it last June.

As ESPN previously reported, WWF, Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, Pew Environment Group and others produced a document entitled “Transition Green” shortly after Obama was elected in 2008. What has happened since suggests that the task force has been in lockstep with that position paper.

Then in late summer, just after he created the task force, these groups produced “Recommendations for the Adoption and Implementation of an Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes National Policy.” This document makes repeated references to “overfishing,” but doesn’t once reference recreational angling, its importance, and its benefits, both to participants and the resource.

Additionally, some of these same organizations have revealed their anti-fishing bias by playing fast and loose with “facts,” in attempts to ban tackle containing lead in the United States and Canada.

That same tunnel vision, in which recreational angling and commercial fishing are indiscriminately lumped together as harmful to the resource, has persisted with the task force, despite protests by the angling industry.

As more evidence of collusion, the green groups began clamoring for an Executive Order to implement the task force’s recommendations even before the public comment period ended in February. Fishing advocates had no idea that this was coming.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, the New York Times reported on Feb. 12 that “President Obama and his team are preparing an array of actions using his executive power to advance energy, environmental, fiscal and other domestic policy priorities.”  

Morlock fears that “what we’re seeing coming at us is an attempted dismantling of the science-based fish and wildlife model that has served us so well. There’s no basis in science for the agendas of these groups who are trying to push the public out of being able to fish and recreate.

“Conflicts (user) are overstated and problems are manufactured. It’s all just an excuse to put us off the water.”

In the wake of the task force’s framework document, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and its partners in the U.S. Recreational Fishing & Boating Coalition against voiced their concerns to the administration.

“Some of the potential policy implications of this interim framework have the potential to be a real threat to recreational anglers who not only contribute billions of dollars to the economy and millions of dollars in tax revenues to support fisheries conservation, but who are also the backbone of the American fish and wildlife conservation ethic,” said CSF President Jeff Crane.

Morlock, a member of the CSF board, added, “There are over one million jobs in America supported coast to coast by recreational fishing. The task force has not included any accountability requirements in their reports for evaluating or mitigating how the new policies they are drafting will impact the fishing industry or related economies.

“Given that the scope of this process appears to include a new set of policies for all coastal and inland waters of the United States, the omission of economic considerations is inexcusable.”

This is not the only access issue threatening the public’s right to fish, but it definitely is the most serious, according to Chris Horton, national conservation director for BASS.

“With what’s being created, the same principles could apply inland as apply to the oceans,” he said. “Under the guise of ‘marine spatial planning’ entire watersheds could be shut down, even 2,000 miles up a river drainage from the ocean.

“Every angler needs to be aware because if it’s not happening in your backyard today or tomorrow, it will be eventually.

“We have one of the largest voting blocks in the country and we need to use it. We must not sit idly by.”

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HUMBLE PIE

Earlier I had posted what I thought were the latest winners of the Stella Awards. Being unfamiliar with the awards, I did a cursory check on Google to determine if such awards existed and discovered they do. I assumed the list I received by e-mail was the latest installment, so I posted it at The Millstone Diaries.

Stella Awards creator Randy Cassingham was gracious enough to comment at The Millstone Diaries pointing out that I had posted bogus information that had been debunked years ago. And what’s worse, I added his name to it.  

I regret my lack of professionalism and diligence in posting the bogus information, and I offer my sincere apologies to Mr. Cassingham and to my readers for my mistake. Although one wouldn’t know it from this incident, I do have higher standards.

Forgive me!

I.M. Kane


 

It’s pointless to lock the gate after the horse is gone. If my creditability suffers for circulating the debunked award list, so be it. I am at fault and willingly accept the consequences for my actions. Having said my piece, I now offer Mr. Cassingham’s True Stella Awards

The 2007 True Stella Awards Winners
by Randy Cassingham
Issued February 2008

#3: Sentry Insurance Company. The company provided worker’s compensation insurance for a Wisconsin “Meals on Wheels” program. Delivering a meal, a MoW volunteer (who was allegedly not even wearing boots) slipped and fell on a participant’s driveway that had been cleared of snow, and Sentry had to pay to care for her resulting injuries. Sentry wanted its money back, so it sued the 81-year-old homeowner getting the Meals on Wheels service. It could have simply filed for “subrogation” from her homeowner’s insurance company, but by naming her in the action, it dragged an old lady into court, reinforcing the image of insurance companies as concerned only about the bottom line, not “protecting” policyholders from loss.

#2: The family of Robert Hornbeck. Hornbeck volunteered for the Army and served a stint in Iraq. After getting home, he got drunk, wandered into a hotel’s service area (passing “DANGER” warning signs), crawled into an air conditioning unit, and was severely cut when the machinery activated. Unable to care for himself due to his drunkenness, he bled to death. A tragedy, to be sure, but one solely caused by a supposedly responsible adult with military training. Despite his irresponsible behavior — and his perhaps criminal trespassing — Hornbeck’s family sued the hotel for $10 million, as if it’s reasonably foreseeable that some drunk fool would ignore warning signs and climb into its heavy duty machinery to sleep off his bender.

But those pale compared to…

The winner of the 2007 True Stella Award: Roy L. Pearson Jr. The 57-year-old Administrative Law Judge from Washington DC claims that a dry cleaner lost a pair of his pants, so he sued the mom-and-pop business for $65,462,500. That’s right: more than $65 million for one pair of pants. Representing himself, Judge Pearson cried in court over the loss of his pants, whining that there certainly isn’t a more compelling case in the District archives. But the Superior Court judge wasn’t moved: he called the case “vexatious litigation”, scolded Judge Pearson for his “bad faith”, and awarded damages to the dry cleaners. But Pearson didn’t take no for an answer: he’s appealing the decision. And he has plenty of time on his hands, since he was dismissed from his job. Last we heard, Pearson’s appeal is still pending.


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