Monthly Archives: July 2015

Your Green Future—if any

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vermontWe’re occasionally apologetic for obsessing over energy policy, especially as driven by global warming hucksterism. So it’s a welcome development when an adversary openly explains what the green movement has in store for you.

When it comes to spelling out the need for maximum resistance against environmentalist totalitarian wannabes, we could never do the job quite so persuasively as an environmental profiteer in a moment of probably unintentional candor.

The link is to a story about David Blittersdorf, president of All Earth Renewables, who envisions mandating drastic lifestyle changes on Vermont residents that may not save the planet but are sure to make a great deal of money for Herr Blittersdorf.

For two reasons, we found this quote to be particularly telling:

“Vermont is in an ideal place: we’re a small state, we have low population density, and we have resources. We have the wind, sun and hydro. We can be the example for the rest of the United States and a large part of the world,” [Blittersdorf] said. “If we can’t make renewables work here, I don’t think anybody can. We have to be the leader.”

The key words, of course, are “low population density,” an imperative when relying on “resources” with low energy density—resources that require mile upon square mile of land area to—sometimes—deliver the energy available 24-7 from a fossil-fueled facility requiring perhaps half a city block. Why is it that environmentalist poseurs invariably insist upon the massacre of the landscape?

“Low population density” is freighted with meaning also in that it identifies what the environmental Left regards as the key problem, namely you, i.e., people. In a world where the rules are made by the likes of David Blittersdorf, anything can happen.

The Great Undoing(s)

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train-derailLast Friday brought confirmation that Barack Obama has decided to undo Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy.

Nothing else can plausibly explain Friday’s New York Times report that “senior government officials” had tipped the Times to a pair of inspectors general asking the Justice Department to investigate potentially criminal mishandling of classified information on Clinton’s hack-prone private email server.

In newspaperese, “senior government officials” are people who leak what the president wants leaked.

As usual when the Clintons are involved, things don’t add up. A Reuters story that also appeared in the Times on Friday preemptively answered the key question of any investigation: At least four messages containing information classified “secret” were already found among those Clinton hadn’t destroyed.

Saturday brought additional failures to add up, with Hillary contradicting herself in an Associated Press report.

In paragraph 1 she claimed she “did not know what messages were being cited by intelligence investigators as examples of emails containing classified information.”
But in paragraph 7, asked whether the Justice Department should investigate, she said, “That’s up to them. I can tell you what the facts are.”

But how, if she doesn’t know which emails are in question?

Nobody has even attempted to make this look like an accident, suggesting not one but two undoings in play: Hillary’s and Obama’s.  It’s a given that Obama would prefer a more committed Leftist nominee, but beyond that lies the fear of Hillary’s baggage-laden candidacy delivering a Republican White House. Her undoing is necessary to reduce the risk of a Republican president undoing vast swathes of Obama’s socialist agenda. Eliminate Hillary, and some other Democrat may yet be able to slam the cell door shut behind the American people.

Hillary need fear no Republican more than Barack Obama.

Political Revenue Service

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IRSLast Friday, California Congressman Darrell Issa told a broadcast interviewer that the Internal Revenue Service is still targeting conservative groups for unlawful harassment more than two years after the Obama administration said that sort of thing never happened and anyway, was being stopped.

Also last Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that ongoing IRS mistreatment of conservative groups includes—according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report—improperly targeting such organizations for audits.

The Journal says the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit applies protocols allowing groups to be treated adversely based on their “religious, educational, political, or other views.”

Are we naïve in objecting to the IRS engaging in the kind of behavior that in the past prompted mass migrations—Think Pilgrims and the Mayflower—centuries before the eminently applicable term “un-American” was invented?

According to the Journal, the GAO found that among audits resulting from outside referrals, the IRS had no documentation for about 25 percent of the original complaints. Ponder this:

  1. “No documentation” can have awfully unpleasant consequences when the scrutiny is directed by the IRS at some hapless taxpayer; and,
  2. Why would anyone with their wits about them assume innocent intentions on the part of this agency when it can’t or won’t say why it chooses to go after organizations that disagree with the current administration’s policy agenda?  “No documentation” looks more like a convenience than an embarrassment.

Since the Reagan administration, the Left has pursued a deliberate strategy of attempting to criminalize policy disagreements, opening doors for treatment of adversaries never dreamed of in the American political system.

But if there’s criminality to be proven, the chances of proving it appear increasingly fertile in investigating the Left, not the Right that so regularly stands accused.

Reasonable, Redefined

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moneylaunderingFirst you laugh, but then…

Our first reaction to the story about a woman who had allegedly been making counterfeit money by photocopying the real thing was to mark it down as yet another example of the phenomenal gullibility that surrounds us today: “They can’t put anything on the Internet if it isn’t true.”  Right?

But if we owe the defendant the presumption of innocence unless she can be proven guilty, that means we also owe her the assumption that she might be telling the truth when she claims to have understood that President Obama had directed Americans to begin printing their own money.

So it took only a few seconds to realize that another factor needs to be weighted at least on a par with gullibility. That would be the redefinition of reality proceeding at flank speed every minute since the beginning of the Age of Obama.

We aren’t lawyers nor do we portray them on TV, but it seems like the “reasonable person” defense might be worth a try in this case.

After all, it’s been amply demonstrated that the nation’s chief executive expects us by now to be used to the idea that he can make laws all by himself and that he’ll retaliate against anyone who challenges him on that point—just ask the Supreme Court; they seem to believe it.

So when the time comes for Pamela Downs to go on trial or cut a plea deal, we’d suggest she stick with her story, tweaked a bit with the question that knowing what we know today, why shouldn’t a reasonable person believe Obama had suggested people set up little DIY Treasury Departments?

However misguided, it could be a sign that he’s finally realized the federal government can’t do everything.

Will Milwaukee Get Serious?

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city-hallIt will be fortunate indeed, if the statistics cited here remain current through the two days before you read this.

The City of Milwaukee recorded its 88th homicide of the year during the past weekend. The toll for all of 2014 has been equaled, with more than five months remaining this year.

Often as not, perpetrator and victim both have past, sometimes extensive, criminal histories, but far too often the victims are innocent residents of crime-ridden neighborhoods whose chances of being found by a bullet are unacceptably high in a theoretically civilized community.

A few weeks ago, some local officials appeared briefly to grasp the problem, but their sensible impulse quickly degenerated into a throw-away call for a legislative study.

Hot tip for Alderman Witkowski: You don’t need a legislative study to figure out what’s going on. Check the prior arrests of just about any perpetrator and then ask a judge—not a legislator—why the guy wasn’t in prison.

Aside from a few presumably sincere angry words, the lamentable reaction of Milwaukee officialdom has been one of complacency, as measured by resistance to dealing differently with criminal behavior.  Mayor Tom Barrett sounds genuinely baffled by violence occurring in his “safe city”—an unsurprising reaction, given that his alternative is to recognize how the un-serious Liberal attitude toward street crime promotes more street crime.

How un-serious?  How about declining to pursue suspects even if they attack a police cruiser?

While city leaders groped for anything other than their own policies to explain the slaughter, two more kids stopped bullets during the past weekend.

Now that things have gotten so bad the Journal-Sentinel is willing to risk blowing the cover of Liberal crime policies, whether Milwaukee will “get serious” is a question suddenly worth asking,

Wait ‘til Next Year

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bluegavelThis isn’t about the Chicago Cubs, it’s about the U.S. Supreme Court.

As we’ve noted in recent weeks, precious little good news came out of the recently completed term.

This isn’t about the Chicago Cubs, it’s about the U.S. Supreme Court.

As we’ve noted in recent weeks, precious little good news came out of the recently completed term.

But you take your good news where you can find it, and in its closing days the Court agreed to hear a case with truly great potential benefit for taxpayers and personal liberty—in the next term.

The Court will hear arguments in a California case that will determine whether the Constitution permits mandatory collection of so-called “fair share” union dues from workers who decline union membership.

If you want to know how important this is, how strong the upside is for taxpayers, your best clue is the grim reaction of the left-wingers at Slate.

From where we sit, the most telling statement in the Slate item is the following:  “Stripped of the ability to collect mandatory fees, many public-sector unions will lose much of their bargaining power. Some will likely collapse.”

We couldn’t have said it better. What’s remarkable is that Slate’s legal expert manages to say in plain English that many of these organizations simply could not exist except by forced payment of tribute from unwilling workers, and he seems to see nothing amiss.

Slate is further upset that the Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission recognized that unions and corporations are equally protected by the First Amendment in their political speech—that is, political spending—but now unions expect to have less money to spend.

Well, yes, and there’s a reason: Officers of private-sector corporations that obtain money by coercion are at considerable risk of jail time, a risk to which union bosses, for now, are not proportionally exposed.  Slate and its government-union friends are of course welcome to press the matter.

Winning Ugly

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educationThe legislative gyrations accompanying development of the state budget bill leave us grateful that it only happens every two years. But if this year’s budget exercise seemed exceptionally unpleasant, it brought some welcome results.

The repeal of prevailing wage laws for local governments will save money for taxpayers. The law remains in place for state public works projects, but regrettably at that level the federal Davis-Bacon Act usually prevails, putting full repeal out of the state legislature’s reach.

It’s embarrassing that the Assembly leadership had to be dragged kicking and screaming into this pro-taxpayer reform, but the rank-and-file demonstrated that Republicans remember why they were entrusted with the majority.

For those wondering if the budget offers anything for Wisconsin schoolchildren and their parents, the best clue is that Tony Evers hates it.

Mr. Evers is the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, chosen in low-turnout spring elections, meaning chosen by teacher-union votes. Accordingly, Mr. Evers  asked the governor— hopelessly —to veto nearly two dozen budget items. A few examples:

Authorization for a takeover of failing schools in Milwaukee. Nationwide testing reveals some Milwaukee public schools have no students performing at grade level. Evers and Co. surely know this, but defend the status quo.

A required civics exam.  It’s just what it sounds like, an effort to verify that students have some idea how their government is supposed to work.  Are we rude to suggest Evers and his constituency realize it’s a problem for them if kids understand this stuff?

More Charter and Voucher Schools. No explanation needed: Competition. Customers choosing based on quality.  Bad, bad, bad.

The damage to public education has taken place over half a century and won’t be repaired overnight. The superintendent’s lengthy veto list backhandedly confirms that repairs are underway.

BAG the GAB

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trash-canWe bend over backward to honor due process by saying Lois Lerner might belong in jail.

The apparent project manager for Internal Revenue Service intimidation of Conservative public interest groups, Lerner turned up in last Thursday’s Wall Street Journal revelation of direct connections with Wisconsin’s execrable Government Accountability Board (GAB).

The Joint Finance Committee co-chairs promptly demanded GAB Executive Director Kevin Kennedy resign.

All well and good, but we have concerns. A Legislature fatigued by the recent budget deliberations and wary of editorial blowback against any serious treatment of the GAB may be tempted to push Kennedy out the door and declare the problem solved.

Language in the co-chairs’ joint statement hints at that easy-way-out strategy: “In order for the GAB to return to its original mission, Kevin Kennedy must go.”  Our apologies, but that doesn’t cut it.

The GAB’s misbegotten “original mission” was to placate a media howling about the caucus scandals of the 1990s, activities deemed scandalous only when Republicans became proficient at the same political work legislative Democrats had been doing for 30 years with full media knowledge.

To the immediate point, a Lerner connection, if proven, would be interesting but utterly superfluous to the needs of Wisconsin government.  The GAB has shown defiant incompetence, failing its legitimately assigned duties and conniving to obstruct reforms like Voter ID. It exemplifies the opposite of accountability.  Agenda-free accountability is enforceable through Internet disclosure of campaign finance information the GAB now collects.

Of course there will be editorial flak: Editorial boards are made up of people just like the retired judges on the GAB, professionals who lend a cloak of respectability to the enforcement of Liberal orthodoxy.  The GAB is dominated by a rogue staff putting its thumb on the political scale. It demands elimination.

Starting Small

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marchWe don’t have the time or the space to jump on every story right away, but then sometimes things start to pile up and cause us to look back at items that had seemed to be of only passing interest.

A news story the week before last jogged our memory. It was about the relentless march of ObamaCare bureaucrats to make Americans think twice before ordering food in a restaurant.

The “relentless march” more accurately describes the true socialist’s desire to make others regret engaging in anything enjoyable; in other words, they aren’t content to just mess with your food.

And of course, it’s important to reach people early in life. Think fruit juice is healthy?  Don’t try telling anyone that in a preschool where it’s banned.

More sinister implications are impossible to conceal in an initiative that appears to be nothing more nor less than using taxpayer money for bribing school districts to train students in the concept of government-as-provider, no matter how little the need.

Which brings us full circle, back to an item we first noticed several weeks ago, one that illustrates the fundamental corruption of society by the contrived growth of government.

Even were we in a position to do so, we wouldn’t dream of busting up the kids’ illicit trade in unauthorized condiments. On the other hand, no big-time crook ever started big. How ironic that the Obama administration’s idea of promoting healthy nutrition instructs kids from preschool on up that they need to break the rules to get what they want.

Taxes Matter

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minnesotaDemocrats holding office in high-tax states frequently claim their taxing and spending burdens don’t matter to people choosing a good place to live. A couple of years ago, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton famously took a pot shot at Wisconsin’s Scott Walker over Minnesota’s growing tax bite.

But two years down the road, more people are moving out of Minnesota than are leaving Wisconsin and a nationwide survey suggests taxes—Minnesota’s are more than 48 percent higher per capita than Wisconsin’s—may have something to do with it.

Both states have raw winters, retiring baby-boomers and net out-migration, at least to the extent a survey of two major moving companies can identify trends.

However, Wisconsin has a slightly larger population and is a couple of percentage points better off than its western neighbor in terms of retaining residents and the flow of relocations into and out of the state—a critical consideration in maintaining the tax base. But it’s remarkable that some insist this doesn’t matter. A quick Internet search indicated emphatically otherwise.

The Midwest’s hot spot for outmigration is Illinois, with 62 percent of the moving vans headed out of state even with per capita taxes less than a full percent higher than Wisconsin’s.  Despite Governor Bruce Rauner’s admirable fiscal reform efforts, that’s unlikely to get better or even stay the same in coming years.

Of interest in the late-June CNBC survey is that only two states with higher per-capita taxation than Wisconsin—California and Vermont—have more people moving in than out. Vermont sends a self-identified Socialist to the U.S. Senate and Californians are evidently unashamed of their recidivism in electing Jerry Brown governor, so presumably people moving to those states know what they’re in for.