Monthly Archives: August 2014

Thanks, Greenies

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What if analysisBecause the media are formula-driven, last winter’s bitter cold makes “what-if-it-happens-again” stories inevitable as we move toward fall. For one thing, it’s easier when half the story is already written.

And sure enough, “what-if” stories started showing up a couple of weeks ago. We mention them only to point out what they’re practically guaranteed not to mention.

Here it is: Whatever hardship Midwesterners endured last winter with high propane prices and short supply, it’s due in substantial part to political appeasement of the environmental movement. That’s the one thing Reuters News Service missed in this story from last week, which otherwise got it pretty right.

Last fall brought heavy, late-season propane demand for grain-drying.  Supplies weren’t fully replenished in time for the brutal winter.  Then winter held on longer than usual.  All true.

But also true is that a lot of propane is delivered by rail, and railroads have seen stupendous growth in demand for their service because oil producers need rail cars to move crude out of the Northern Plains to refiners elsewhere in the country.

Much of that crude would move by pipeline, if Barack Obama and Democrats down the food chain hadn’t contrived to entangle the Keystone XL Pipeline in regulatory red tape for going on six years.

This month also brought stories about coal shortages at Minnesota and Wisconsin power plants, suggesting a coal-themed replay of last winter’s propane crisis.

Different tune, same chord changes. Coal is mostly shipped by rail and railroads are busy hauling oil that could be moved—with less risk to the environment, by the way—through the pipeline if it existed.

If your home heating costs go crazy this winter and your electric utility has to scramble to keep your lights on, remember to thank an environmentalist.

IRS: worse than you imagined

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IRSRecent revelations about the Internal Revenue Service diminish the agency’s harassment of Conservative organizations in the broad scheme of things, simultaneously exposing something even more sinister.

Let’s connect some dots.

A story last week illuminated the agency’s indifference to its responsibility for protecting taxpayers’ personal information, putting countless Americans at risk of identity theft by handing vital information to contractors without bothering to do background checks.

It’s different for people the Obama administration likes.  A few days before the contractor story, the agency issued a free pass for illegal immigrants.

Also last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that an attorney formerly employed  in Lois Lerner’s IRS office was recently assigned by the Justice Department to a lawsuit brought by a group claiming it became an  IRS target for supporting Israel—during that same lawyer’s IRS tenure.

He’s now off the case, but the Justice Department’s phony IRS investigation is still running out the clock. Nevertheless, smelly details keep coming out as private lawsuits dig for the truth.

In Ohio a federal judge—a Bill Clinton appointee—has decided that a Tea Party lawsuit against the IRS will go to trial.

And last week in Washington, another Clinton appointee, Judge Emmett Sullivan, made it clear that the agency has about run him out of patience, after conflicting testimony made it obvious that someone at the IRS has been lying in Sullivan’s one-man investigation of “lost” emails. Bad idea, lying to a federal judge.

The picture emerging is not of an agency that strayed on one occasion by going after Tea Party groups, but of a multitasking political army dispensing favors or conducting vengeance.

In other words, an agency rotten to the core.

The War on Sense

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Dictionary Series - Politics: attorney generalPolitics contains no principle so consistent or universal as the laws of physics, but one that might come close is the demonstrated tendency of electoral failure and popular rejection to make the Left insist all the more vehemently on having its way.

Understand that, and the obsessions and insanities that comprise today’s Democratic Party playbook—the “war on women,” the evil Koch brothers—begin to make sense as the only weapons the Left can safely deploy: nobody wins an election by demanding half the voters’ possessions and all of their approval. An enemy must therefore be manufactured.

It’s because Democrats across the board have embraced this approach to seeking office that their defeat is now necessary everywhere. Wherever they win, they will begin turning the system of government itself into an engine of chaos.

Little indication of this is likely to come from the Democrats’ nominee in Wisconsin’s race for Attorney General. This month’s primary eliminated the two most blatant of the Democrat contenders, leaving Republican Brad Schimel the task of defeating the one best suited to conceal any intention of toeing the line for her party’s unhinged base.

In fact, they’ve toed that line for quite a while. The last time Wisconsin elected a Democrat Attorney General, the office was used—for the most part unsuccessfully to target lawfully operated, legitimate businesses with frivolous litigation, typically on contrived environmental grounds.

If you doubt that Susan Happ would stage a repeat performance, you’re overlooking the most important aspect of her candidacy. With all due respect, It isn’t Susan Happ, it’s who wants her to hold the office.

The renewable scam, again

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sacramentoWe’re guessing regular readers don’t need much convincing that in a perfect world, “renewable” or “green” energy would remain a largely harmless if expensive hobby of the well-to-do.  But this isn’t a perfect world and renewable energy has seductive appeal as an easy way to exhibit planet-saving valor through environmentalist bullying.

So for the benefit of those who may be ready to climb on the bandwagon, and those who might dissuade them, we keep serving up evidence of the unpleasant truth.

A couple of weeks ago, we noted a Wisconsin Public Service Commission report saying this state’s consumers coughed up  $340 million more than they needed to pay for electricity from 2011 through 2012, because of the state-mandated use of renewable energy.

Since then, we’ve run across a Pepperdine University study finding that California’s environmental policies make it more costly for businesses to operate in the beleaguered Golden State.

Nowadays, “environmental policies” is almost always a euphemism for “disallowing economically rational energy choices,” and the story in the Los Angeles Daily News goes on to relate that California’s energy costs—already the nation’s highest—are expected to climb further in response to global warming legislation enacted in 2006 and remorselessly pushing the state toward heavier use of renewables.

We also found a study from Boston’s Beacon Hill Institute, saying efforts to close “loopholes in Illinois’ mandated use of renewable energy program, in an effort to expand ‘green’ industries” will have a negative effect on the state’s overall economy.

There’s always talk of job creation through renewable energy mandates, almost invariably from people who expect to profit by government forcing everyone to buy what they sell. Wisconsin, California and Illinois are proving that when those people win, everybody else loses.

Dragging the tax anchor

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spittleWith the primaries behind us, the 2014 campaigns move into the twelve-week slugfest that will determine for a long time what kind of place Wisconsin will be for people who work, create jobs, and pay taxes.

In no race is that more true than in the contest for governor.  A new report just out from the invaluable MacIver Institute shows why.

We know Governor Walker and the Republican legislative majorities have reduced taxes repeatedly since 2011. But despite those successes, the MacIver report finds Wisconsin still at a disadvantage compared with every neighboring state—except Illinois—in terms of the tax burden shouldered by its citizens.  

Read the details at the MacIver link, but here’s the key message:  Wisconsin has made good progress recovering from the big-government job destruction of the Jim Doyle-Mary Burke years, but if Burke should manage to pull off an upset, progress ends.

Burke’s chances for an upset depend largely on Wisconsin’s positive trend being not quite positive enough, ironically, in large part because of the deep tax hole she helped dig as Doyle’s Commerce Secretary.  Her ability to raise taxes with Republicans most likely still in control of at least the Assembly would be nil. But so would be the chances for the additional tax reform the MacIver report shows is so obviously necessary.

Scott Walker is a national target for destruction by the Left his example so deeply shames. This week, the Democratic Governor’s Association was sending spam email pleading for campaign contributions to take him down. The spittle practically flew off the page.

Once again, we’re living on Ground Zero. Any Conservative who presumes Governor Walker will have an easy time this fall is gambling with a return to the kind of self-righteous mediocrity only the Left can deliver.

You didn’t buy that…

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signatureDuring the presidential campaign two years ago, we learned about Barack Obama’s attitude toward people who work hard to build successful businesses: “You didn’t build that.” As in, you owe your success to government.

A couple of weeks ago, we learned that the same attitude applies to franchisees who purchase the right to operate under national branding. In this case it works out to something like “You didn’t buy that,” implying that the franchisee’s right of ownership, like that of the sole proprietor, is dubious and subject to plunder by government on behalf of favored constituencies.

So hats off to McDonald’s Corp., for vowing to fight the decree by National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Richard Griffin, claiming the people working at your local McDonald’s are direct employees of the corporation, not of the franchisee.  This, of course, is a setup for Mr. Obama’s favored Service Employees International Union to bust the door down and unionize McDonald’s—a tall order if it has to be done one franchise at a time.

Mr. Griffin is exactly what you’d expect from this administration, with a union resume including nearly three decades with the International Union of Operating Engineers and a stint on the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee—a nice, impartial arbiter, in other words.

And the assault against private business continues.  With the world’s attention fixed on Islamist butchers establishing another terrorist quasi-state in the Mideast, last week was the perfect time to issue another executive order rigging the game against government contractors who don’t cave to union pressure. 

The good news is, the next executive to hold the office can undo any executive order. The bad news is, undoing the willful damage of the next two and a half years will be a lot harder.