A brace of choirboys: God and Water in California


The situation is desperate. By formally requesting the Obama administration to convene the God Squad, the governor would be following through on his promise to fight on behalf of California farmers, farmworkers, businesses and all water consumers.…”Arnold should call in the God Squad,” By Brandon M. Middleton and Damien M. Schiff, Vacaville Reporter-7/12/09

No sooner had Badlands Editorial board members clarified for a grateful readership that the phenomena known to all Californians as the “water wars” was in fact a theological schism, than the next day God is invoked as the only solution in the by two young Christian mouthpieces for Pacific Legal Foundation. The article advises the Hun, our governor, to focus his rusted star power on the Obama administration to convene a “God Squad” to exempt the Delta environmental crisis from the Endangered Species Act.
The restrictions on the Delta pumps, according to last year’s federal court decision on the Delta Smelt, were removed on July 1. But this was only a secular decision. Equally secular is contemporary natural history of California: We have a drought.
We are delighted to find fine young Christians at the Pacific Legal Foundation, which some consider a profane lion’s den of private-property-rights materialism. Middleton and Schiff elevate the tone of PLF propaganda. The article itself is well-written, verbs agree in number and tense, the nouns are nicely done, adjectives and adverbs are limited, no errant ravings about “death taxes,” etc.
Schiff defines himself as a discipulus legum, Latin for a disciple of the law. In many years of consorting with attorneys at law, we’ve never met one so self-described. At first we thought the “legum” might have been “legume,” and we briefly imagined a latter-day penitent lashing himself with pea vines or something.
Who are these discipuli legum Fundamentis legitimis pacificis? Why have they issued this decurio deo appellationem proconsulo austrino?
Damien M. Schiff
Discipulus legum 
Brandon M. Middleton
Fellow, College of Public Interest Law, National Litigation Center
bmm@pacificlegal.org (916) 419-7111
Schiff attended Georgetown University, which describes itself as the oldest Jesuit university in America, and counts as his undergraduate intellectual mentor Reverend James V. Schall, S.J., of Georgetown, a prolific writer on Christian political theory.  Schiff describes his fully-armored Crusader orthodoxy as: “Thomist, in philosophy a Neo-Scholastic, in law a formalist/textualist/originalist, and in politics a republican with due respect for executive power.”
Middleton, less forthcoming about his received orthodoxy, got his undergraduate degree at University of St. Louis, Jesuit citadel of one of America’s most Catholic cities.
Both these out-of-state choir boys are youngsters to the water wars of California, probably still in high school when the state Department of Water Resources began publishing the daily Water News. Therefore, they were unable to avail themselves of that vital source of information which, over a decade or so, has provided some of us with enlightenment on the inner nature of the human heart, at least in California. Nope. They came West to seek the gold in these here hills and found it composing beautiful little sophistries for Pacific Legal Foundation, published in a Media News Group outlet. Media News Group denied two weeks ago that it was on the brink of bankruptcy.
It is wonderful to see such fine parochial scholars join in the grand debate over California water, freely invoking Deity, and from the depths of their rock-solid Christian political orthodoxy, telling no less a figure than the Hun Himself, to do the same. These young Christian sophists have not built their houses upon the sands of the empty San Joaquin River or on the Public Trust. No. They’ve constructed their private homes (no doubt worth something less than when they bought them) on the holy sanctity of private property rights, as taught by the learned friars and abbesses at Pacific Legal Foundation. Clearly men of faith, they no doubt await the miracle of the multiplication of fish in the Delta and off the Pacific Coast so that those who still fish for fish on the coast can make a living again.
The Badlands Journal editorial board welcomes Schiff and Middleton to the water wars and asks them to join us in this simple invocation: “God help endangered species in California!”

On, ye Christian lawyers
To the Western water wars
With the Golden Calfie
Going on before.
Hydraulic Brotherhood leads against the foe
Forward into battle, where legal fees will flow.

The Vacaville Reporter
Arnold should call in the God Squad...Brandon M. Middleton and Damien M. Schiff. The authors are attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation in Sacramento, a legal watchdog for property rights and a balanced approach to environmental regulations. Visit www.pacificlegal.org.
Thousands of Californians are suffering from a severe water shortage, and the Obama administration has added insult to injury.
In June, the National Marine Fisheries Service issued an Endangered Species Act "biological opinion" on the effects that state and federal water projects have on Chinook salmon, steelhead, green sturgeon and killer whales.
The service's action puts these species well above humans on the totem pole and threatens to impose new and drastic cuts in water deliveries to municipalities and farmers in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.
The administration's decision could not come at a worse time. A number of San Joaquin Valley communities are already experiencing staggering unemployment rates -- as high as 40 percent in some cases.
Some farmers have been forced to idle farmland as a result of receiving only 10 percent of their historic contracted water supplies. Water deliveries will be cut back even further under the new biological opinion -- the fisheries service projects a total water loss of 330,000 acre-feet per year (enough to meet the annual water needs of nearly 1 million people), but other agencies, such as the California Department of Water Resources, consider that a low estimate.
The latest federal biological opinion comes on top of a December 2008 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that resulted in cutting water deliveries to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, as part of regulatory efforts to help a small fish, the delta smelt. In other words, federal environmental restrictions and regulations are jeopardizing the livelihoods of thousands throughout California, and food for millions of American consumers.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger clearly understands the absurd nature of the Endangered Species Act water cutbacks. "This federal biological opinion puts fish above the needs of millions of Californians and the health and security of the world's eighth largest economy," he said, noting further that the federal government's fish-before-people policy is "killing our economy and undermining the integrity of the Endangered Species Act."
In April, the governor took time to join farmworkers, farmers and community leaders in a march for water, and he was quick to point out at the march that Washington needs to listen more carefully to the concerns of California. Indeed, he concluded by stating, "I will not quit until we get water, because we need water."
The governor can and should put powerful action behind those words, by appealing to the Obama Administration for immediate relief. The longer this latest biological opinion is allowed to stand, the more likely some of the world's most productive farmland will become a government-created wasteland.
Fortunately, the Endangered Species Act allows for such an appeal. State governors have authority to ask the Secretary of the Interior to convene a special committee. This Endangered Species Committee, also known as the "God Squad," can determine whether to exempt a project from the burdens of the Endangered Species Act. The God Squad would be able to exempt California's water projects from newly proposed restrictions.
The situation is desperate. By formally requesting the Obama administration to convene the God Squad, the governor would be following through on his promise to fight on behalf of California farmers, farmworkers, businesses and all water consumers.
MediaNews Group: We're Not On Brink of Bankruptcy …Mark Fitzgerald
CHICAGO MediaNews Group late Wednesday denied a report in an investors newsletter that it is arranging a pre-packaged bankruptcy -- or readying any change in ownership of the Denver-based publisher controlled by William Dean Singleton and Richard B. Scudder.