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Victor Davis Hanson: Counterfeit Elitism

“Elite” is now an overused smear. But it is a fair pejorative when denoting a cadre that is not a natural or truly meritocratic top echelon, but is instead a group distinguished merely by schooling, associations, residence, connections and open disdain. If this is supposed to translate into some sort of received wisdom and acknowledged excellence, ordinary Americans may be pardoned for missing it.

victor-davis-hVictor Davis Hanson writes: Those damn dairy farmers. Why do they insist on trying to govern? Or, put another way:

Why are Republicans trusting Devin Nunes to be their oracle of truth!? A former dairy farmer who House intel staffers refer to as Secret Agent Man because he has no idea what’s going on.

Thus spoke MSNBC panelist, Yale graduate, former Republican “strategist,” and Bush administration speechwriter Elise Jordan.

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Elise Jordan

Jordan likely knows little about San Joaquin Valley family dairy farmers and little notion of the sort of skills, savvy, and work ethic necessary to survive in an increasingly corporate-dominated industry. Whereas dairy farmer Nunes has excelled in politics, it would be hard to imagine Jordan running a family dairy farm, at least given the evidence of her televised skill sets and sobriety.

Republicans “trust” Devin Nunes, because without his dogged efforts it is unlikely that we would know about the Fusion GPS dossier or the questionable premises on which FISA court surveillance was ordered. Neither would we have known about the machinations of an array of Obama Administration, Justice Department and FBI officials who, in addition to having possibly violated the law in monitoring a political campaign and unmasking and leaking names of Americans to the press, may have colluded with people in the Clinton campaign who funded the Steele dossier.

[Read the more here, at American Greatness]

“Elite” is now an overused smear. But it is a fair pejorative when denoting a cadre that is not a natural or truly meritocratic top echelon, but is instead a group distinguished merely by schooling, associations, residence, connections and open disdain. If this is supposed to translate into some sort of received wisdom and acknowledged excellence, ordinary Americans may be pardoned for missing it.

The frustration with chronic elite incompetence was a theme in the 2016 election. “Expert” pollsters assured us of a Clinton landslide. The media could not follow undergraduate rules of decorum and truthfulness. “Brilliant” Ivy League trained pundits preached that the Trump administration’s first year would be disastrous and without accomplishment. Televised legal eagles insisted that Robert Mueller by now would have indicted Team Trump on charges of Russian collusion.

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Half the country no longer believes these self-appointed authorities, largely because there is no visible connection between what the self-congratulatory say and do and any commensurate discernable accomplishment.

After a half-century of “whiz kids,” “the best and the brightest,” and “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” Americans finally yawned and are moving on.

Deplorables, Clingers, and Those Not Worthy of Worry

One symptom of such a played-out elite is its blanket condemnation of the supposed blinkered middle-class—usually evident in their virtue-signaling outrage and in their inclination to contrast their own supposed enlightenment to the supposed ignorance of everyone else.

You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic—Islamophobic—you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that… Now, some of those folks—they are irredeemable, but thankfully, they are not America.

So said Yale law graduate Hillary Clinton, in an incoherent, factually unsubstantiated, and politically disastrous rant that may have lost her the 2016 election.

Clinton all but wrote off 25 percent of America as “not America”—this from the 2008 primary challenger to Barack Obama who was blasted by progressives for pandering to just such a white gun-owning consistency.

[Read the full story here, at American Greatness]

Or as Barack Obama once said, Hillary Clinton is “talking like she’s Annie Oakley . . . Hillary Clinton is out there like she’s on the duck blind every Sunday. She’s packing a six-shooter. Come on, she knows better.”

Or as Clinton herself once put it, “[I’ve] found how Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me . . . There’s a pattern emerging here.”

It is hard to image the Yalie feminist Clinton having any sort of political career without attachment to president emeritus and spouse Bill Clinton, whose serial sexual harassment and assault she not only contextualized over four decades, but by serial defense fueled. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown’: Man-Made Drought: A Guide To California’s Water Wars

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Rep. Devin Nunes writes: In the summer of 2002, shortly before I was elected to Congress, I sat through an eye-opening meeting with representatives from the Natural Resources Defense Council and several local environmental activist groups. Hoping to convince me to support various water restrictions, they argued that San Joaquin Valley farmers should stop growing alfalfa and cotton in order to save water — though they allowed that the planting of high-value crops such as almonds could continue.

Then, as our discussion turned to the groups’ overall vision for the San Joaquin Valley, they told me something astonishing:

Their goal was to remove 1.3 million acres of farmland from production. They showed me maps that laid out their whole plan: From Merced all the way down to Bakersfield, and on the entire west side of the Valley as well as part of the east side, productive agriculture would end and the land would return to some ideal state of nature. I was stunned by the vicious audacity of their goal — and I quickly learned how dedicated they were to realizing it.

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How To Steal Water And Get Away With It

For decades, extreme environmentalists have pursued this goal in California with relentless determination. The method they have used to depopulate the targeted land — water deprivation — has been ruthless and effective.

Much of the media and many politicians blame the San Joaquin Valley’s water shortage on drought, but that is merely an aggravating factor. From my experience representing California’s agricultural heartland, I know that our water crisis is not an unfortunate natural occurrence; it is the intended result of a long-term campaign waged by radical environmentalists who resorted to political pressure as well as profuse lawsuits.

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Working in cooperation with sympathetic judges and friendly federal and state officials, environmental groups have gone to extreme lengths to deprive the San Joaquin Valley, the heart of much of the U.S. agricultural production, of much-needed water. Consider the following actions they took:

The Central Valley Project Improvement Act: Backed by the NRDC, Sierra Club and other extreme environmental groups, large Democratic majorities in Congress passed the CVPIA in 1992 after attaching it to a must-pass public lands bill. The act stipulated that 800,000 acre-feet of water — or 260 billion gallons — on the Valley’s west side had to be diverted annually to environmental causes, with an additional 400,000 acre-feet later being diverted annually to wildlife refuges.

Smelt and salmon biological opinions: Lawsuits filed by the NRDC and similar organizations forced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to issue, respectively, biological opinions on smelt (in 2008) and on salmon (in 2009). These opinions virtually ended operation of the Jones and Banks pumping plants — the two major pumping stations that move San Joaquin River Delta water — and resulted in massive diversions of water for environmental purposes.

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The San Joaquin River Settlement: After nearly two decades of litigation related to a lawsuit filed in 1988 by the National Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and other environmental groups, San Joaquin Valley agriculture organizations agreed to a settlement in 2006, later approved by a Democratic Congress and signed into law by President Obama. The settlement created the San Joaquin River Restoration Program. The program, which aims to create salmon runs along the San Joaquin River, required major new water diversions from Valley communities. Despite warnings from me and other California Republicans, agriculture groups naively approved the settlement based on false promises by the settlement’s supporters that Valley water supplies would eventually be restored at some future, unspecified date.

Groundwater regulation: In September 2014, California Gov. Jerry Brown approved regulations requiring that water basins implement plans to achieve “groundwater sustainability” — essentially limiting how much water locals can use from underground storage supplies. But these pumping restrictions, slated to take effect over the next decade, will reduce access to what has become the final water source for many Valley communities, which have increasingly turned to groundwater pumping as their surface water supplies were drastically cut.

A Litany Of Hypocrisy

As radical groups have pursued this campaign to dry up the San Joaquin Valley, it’s worth noting some of their stunning contradictions, hypocrisies, fallacies and failures:

“There’s not enough water in California”: Environmentalists often claim that the California water crisis stems from the state not having enough water to satisfy its rapidly growing population, especially during a drought.

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However, the state in fact has abundant water flowing into the Delta, which is the heart of California’s irrigation structure. Water that originates in the snowpack of the Sierra Nevada Mountains runs off into the Delta, which has two pumping stations that help distribute the water throughout the state.

But on average, due to environmental regulations as well as a lack of water storage capacity (attributable, in large part, to activist groups’ opposition to new storage projects), 70% of the water that enters the Delta is simply flushed into the ocean. California’s water infrastructure was designed to withstand five years of drought, so the current crisis, which began about three years ago, should not be a crisis at all. During those three years, the state has flushed more than 2 million acre-feet of water — or 652 billion gallons — into the ocean due to the aforementioned biological opinions, which have prevented the irrigation infrastructure from operating at full capacity.

“Farmers use 80% of California’s water”: Having deliberately reduced the California water supply through decades of litigation, the radicals now need a scapegoat for the resulting crisis. So they blame farmers (“big agriculture,” as they call them) for using 80% of the state’s water.

This statistic, widely parroted by the media and some politicians, is a gross distortion. Of the water that is captured for use, farmers get 40%, cities get 10% and a full 50% goes to environmental purposes — that is, it gets flushed into the ocean. By arbitrarily excluding the huge environmental water diversion from their calculations — as if it is somehow irrelevant to the water crisis — environmentalists deceptively double the farmers’ usage from 40% to 80%.

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If at first you don’t succeed, do the exact same thing: Many of the Delta water cuts stem from the radicals’ litigation meant to protect salmon and smelt. Yet after decades of water reductions, the salmon population fluctuates wildly, while the smelt population has fallen to historic lows. The radicals’ solution, however, is always to dump even more water from the Delta into the ocean, even though this approach has failed time and again. Read the rest of this entry »