Daily Dispatches
Gina McCarthy, President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency
Associated Press/Photo by Alex Brandon
Gina McCarthy, President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency

Signs and Wonders: EPA takes cue from IRS in dealing with conservative groups

Newsworthy

Easier being green. The IRS is not the only federal agency making it difficult for conservative groups. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is getting in on the IRS act. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative group that follows environmental issues, among others, the EPA has a “pattern of making it far more difficult for limited-government groups—in particular those who argue for more freedom and less EPA—to access public records.” One example, it is common for government agencies to waive fees associated with Freedom of Information Act requests. CEI Senior Fellow Christopher Horner said “green groups,” such as the National Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and EarthJustice, had their fees waived in 75 out of 82 cases. Meanwhile, EPA effectively or expressly denied Horner’s request for fee waivers in 14 of 15 FOIA requests over this same time.” Moreover, every denial Horner appealed was overturned. “That these denials are ritually overturned on appeal, not after I presented any new evidence or made any new point, but simply restated what was a detailed and heavily sourced legal document to begin with, reaffirms the illegitimacy of these hurdles EPA places in the way of those who cause it problems,” Horner said. “EPA’s practice is to take care of its friends and impose ridiculous obstacles to deny problematic parties’ requests for information.”

Really? There was a time when we looked to our elders for wisdom. Today, not so much. And if you think that’s a preamble to a rant against young people and their lack of respect, you’d be wrong. Instead, it’s a set-up for this story: According to The Clarion-Ledger, authorities arrested three senior citizens on prostitution and drug charges at a senior citizen housing complex in northern New Jersey. Authorities charged 75-year-old James Parham and 66-year-old Cheryl Chaney with possessing drug paraphernalia and maintaining a drug nuisance at the Vincente Tibbs Senior Citizen Building in Englewood. Parham admitted to police he provided prostitutes to some of his younger neighbors. The Englewood Housing Authority manages the 152-unit property, which serves the disabled and low-income residents who are 62 years and older.

Billie Sol’s great ree-ward. For journalists who cover scams and scandals, flamboyant Texas huckster Billie Sol Estes was the gift who kept on giving. But no more: he died yesterday at the age of 88. Yahoo News rightly said Estes’ name “became synonymous with Texas-sized schemes, greed and corruption.” His cons were many, but his best known scam broke out during the Kennedy administration, when he conned the government out of millions by taking advantage of the gaps in oversight at the Department of Agriculture. Several agriculture officials resigned, and Estes wound up spending several years in prison. At the height of his infamy, Estes appeared on the cover of Time magazine, which called him "a welfare-state Ponzi … a bundle of contradictions and paradoxes who makes Dr. Jekyll seem almost wholesome. He considered dancing immoral, often delivered sermons as a Church of Christ lay preacher," the magazine wrote. "But he ruthlessly ruined business competitors, practiced fraud and deceit on a massive scale, and even victimized Church of Christ schools that he was supposed to be helping as a fund raiser or financial adviser." Estes robbed and hurt thousands of people over the years, and served multiple prison sentences for his crimes. But he lived his final days in relative quiet. That is, except for a 2003 book in which he linked Lyndon Johnson to John F. Kennedy's assassination, an allegation rejected by prominent historians, Johnson aides, and family members. 

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Arrested development. The federal government’s involvement in higher education via its massive student loan program has produced a number of perverse consequences. Among them: creating a young-adult population with massive debt and artificially and opaquely funding liberal college campuses to the point of bloat . A fascinating article from the American Enterprise Institute also argues that the massive student loan program has prolonged adolescence, making it easier for students to stay in school and defer loan payments than to get real jobs.  According to the article by Jackson Toby, “The portfolio of federally guaranteed student loans passed the $1 trillion mark in early 2012, and it continues to grow.” Toby says many of these borrowers are “trapped in a prolonged adolescent limbo, burdening their parents economically and delaying the responsibilities of marriage and children. Former students will eventually default on a considerable portion of these loans—a reasonable estimate is 40 percent—or die before paying them off. This means that student debt is likely to be a permanent drain on taxpayers, as defaults add to the ballooning federal debt.”

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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