Archive for June 9th, 2011
Andrew Sullivan has weighed in on The Quitter’s embarrassing effort to cuddle up to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Limbaugh’s lame defense of the Quitter
As usual, the tired old bigoted comedian Rush Limbaugh took offense that anyone could call Sarah Palin “nuts,” even though she is quite obviously a few sandwiches short of a picnic, and her grip on reality is, shall we say, tenuous. And as usual, Limbaugh blamed it on the left, i.e. the Guardian’s Wintour/Watt blog. What he doesn’t understand is that Palin’s nutsiness is not a partisan matter in Britain, or anywhere else in the world. It is an obvious truth marveled at by all. Palin’s emergence as a serious figure in American politics has made the country a laughing stock across the world. The idea that a stateswoman like Thatcher, in advanced dementia, would be used by such a crackpot is simply unseemly.
“Unseemly” is very kind, in the circumstances. WC would have called it obscenely opportunist. And ignorant.
The Anchorage Daily News has a short piece on U.S. Senator Mark Begich’s response to The Quitter’s suggestions. Begich said, in effect, talk to your Senator: John McCain. “Someone who quit Alaska is not someone I look for to get Alaska policy decisions on.” Okay, Begich’s grammar isn’t much but the sting is still there.
Note to folks over thirty: “Pwn5″ means “is much better than” or “humiliates”, and is most commonly used as a verb. The word stems from a typo, the “o” key is next to the “p” key on an American QUERTY keyboard. The “5″ is for “s” and supposedly means “between the eyes,” since “5″ is more or less midway between “0″ and “10″. “Pwn5″ isn’t said aloud, only typed.
WC apologizes to his friend Mr. Whitekeys for borrowing his trademark phrase, but there’s nothing else suitable for Governor Parnell’s latest follies with the Endangered Species Act. And specifically the Beluga Whale. Some background.
When a marine species is listed as endangered, as was the Beluga Whale, a Recovery Team is appointed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) to develop a Recovery Plan to get the species back to sustainable numbers and off the Endangered Species List. A Recovery Team consists of two NMFS-appointed panels: the 13 scientists, who are expected to act independently; and 19 stakeholders who are supposed to represent development interests, environmental organizations, municipalities and Natives. The 13 scientists are the Scientific Panel and write the Plan; the stakeholders are the Stakeholder Panel and advise.
The Scientific Panel is required by federal law to be independent. They can come from stakeholders but cannot be advocates from the stakeholders’ views. In the case of the Beluga Whale Scientific Panel,
The Scientific Panel is composed of beluga experts, scientists, and co-management partners, who were appointed as independent scientists/experts based upon their specific areas of expertise. They will not represent their agency or organization while serving in the capacity of a CIBRT Scientific Panel member. The primary functions of the Scientific Panel will be to advise NMFS about the key scientific data gaps and to develop the draft recovery plan.
Governor Parnell is already suing NMFS for classifying the Upper Cook Inlet Beluga Whales as endangered. WC thinks that’s the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot. But now he has gone and emptied the whole clip into the offending limb. In March 2010 the State of Alaska adopted a gag order on its employees, requiring them to adhere to official State policy in dealing with external affairs:
These standards are not meant to hinder open internal debate over the development of departmental positions and policies; there is substantial value in such deliberative discussions. However, once a department position or policy is established, employees must present or adhere to such a position or policy when representing ADF&G, whether directly or through use of its affiliation or resources.
So the State employees and their expertise were required by State policy to advocate the State’s position; they were forbidden to adhere to the neutrality that NMFS and Congress requires. And so the state employees were removed from the Scientific Panel. The State of Alaska won’t have a hand in writing the Recovery Plan. The Recovery Plan won’t have the benefit of the state employees’ expertise. Alaska loses; Beluga Whales lose. Sounds like a Parnell deal to WC.
As a result of the State’s bull-headed inflexibility, all of the State’s eggs on Beluga Whales are in the single basket of Parnell’s silly lawsuit against the feds. The lawsuit is pretty lame; the ESA is probably the most tested piece of federal legislation on the books. It’s long odds the state will lose. There’s no backstop in the form of, say, moderating voices on the Recovery Team. Just environmentalists, academics and feds. It’s obviously folly. And it’s completely unnecessary. Alaska’s Beluga Whale specialists could participate in the Scientific Panel without compromising Parnell’s idiot lawsuit. To call the gag order “short-sighted” in this situation is a grave understatement.
But Parnell has taken his marbles out of the game and gone home. Or lost his marbles. Your call.