Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Mouse, Roaring

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

vermontLast year Forbes magazine rated Vermont the 42nd “best” state as a place to do business, probably to be expected where voters elect leftists like Governor Peter Shumlin and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Vermonters are free to choose the economic stagnation that follows their liberal policies. Trouble is, the state with the second smallest population is practicing another bad habit common to jurisdictions of leftist inclination, exporting its bad ideas so the whole country is compelled to abide by them.

Moreover, there’s a regrettable hesitation to decline Vermont’s blessings. Last week the U.S. Senate came up short on a bill prohibiting unique state labeling requirements for the dreaded food products made with genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). Vermont was the first state to require such labeling.

Vermont’s ideological warning against harmless products will have two predictable consequences: Consumers in all 50 states will see food prices inch upward; and Vermont’s consumers will have fewer choices when smaller producers can’t afford to do business there.

Exaggerated? Nope.

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

unacceptableAttitudes in the Donald Trump campaign sometimes seem reminiscent of fascism—i.e., the tendency toward approval of physical assault against anti-Trump protesters. Conservative commentators we respect have called references to Fascism out of line, noting that many protesters are professional leftists angling to draw a punch and create video images embarrassing to the likely Republican nominee.

Unlike the likely Republican nominee, we try to think about what we say, so we wondered: Did we go over the top in detecting an anti-democratic (note lower-case “d,”) streak in both the candidate and many of his supporters?

We didn’t have to wait long for an answer, which came straight from Mr. Trump, who said on national television, “I think you’d have riots” if he turns up at the GOP convention lacking a majority of delegates and isn’t awarded the nomination anyway, whether he wins it or not.

So no, we haven’t gone over the top. Many Trump supporters seem to begin and end their thinking with the desire for a strongman wielding unbridled power to give them what they want, right away. Ironically, they remain free to make such childish demands, while at the same time our constitutional system is structured, brilliantly, a to make it nearly impossible to meet them.

Something for Trumpniks to ponder: If our governmental architecture allowed for the possibility of them seizing what they want, the Left would have foreclosed the possibility decades ago simply by seizing what it wants.

Thankless task, redux

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

For the benefit of self-described Conservatives who say they mistrust House Speaker Paul Ryan and describe other leaders of the Republican congressional majorities as “traitors,” the traitors, as usual, are putting themselves on the line to try to bail out your sorry…um, yes.

Last Thursday House and Senate Republicans introduced bills forbidding the Department of Labor to finalize its “Overtime Rule” reclassifying salaried employees. The rule more than doubles the threshold for exemption from overtime pay requirements—which must sound nifty to lower-paid salaried workers until they realize it will cost them chances for promotion, scheduling flexibility, and maybe their job.

Of course the bills (S. 2707 and H.R. 4773) will pass both houses, probably even with votes from some Democrats, and of course they’ll be vetoed, just like so many bills repealing Obamacare and blocking other legally dubious expansions of the administrative state by, for instance, the Environmental Protection Agency.

The point is, Congress will have exercised its constitutional powers. When that’s not enough, as it often isn’t under a lawless administration, the remedy is to win the presidency, not to blow the next election. Have you noticed that all the odious enactments of the Obama administration since the 2010 elections have been done thorough unilateral executive fiat? The “traitors” turned off the legislative spigot.

The solution for the remaining problem is to restore constitutional governance, not to run roughshod, Obama-style, over the Constitution as if Conservatives have decided now it’s our turn.

As we often say, if you dislike having to successfully complete multiple steps in order to enact Conservative policy ideas, try imagining how much bigger the Left would have made the mess we’re in now if those steps weren’t there.

Burning Ambitions

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

burning_coalLast week stirred memories of a long-ago exchange with a co-worker who regarded himself as an environmentally sensitive sort but couldn’t process the idea that a major goal of federal regulation is to eliminate all forms of energy production involving combustion.

But with the U.S. shifting toward natural gas-fueled electric generation—coerced by Environmental Protection Agency rules rendering coal economically non-viable—the EPA now moves to sabotage the economic advantages of gas.

The agency has been weaving its twisted path to a natural gas crackdown for years, suggesting a need for new regulation of hydraulic fracturing, dismissing the need, then reversing itself right after last summer’s roll-out of the Clean Power Plan that’s designed to finally kill off coal.

Now, at the end of February, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy turned up at an industry conference in Houston to say—who could have seen this coming?—methane emissions from oil and gas production are even worse than we thought!

Invariably when the EPA makes noises about some new problem, it’s wise to compare past performance with present reality. “If anyone thinks we’re done on climate, think again, guys,” McCarthy told her Houston audience. But a week before that performance, former EPA Assistant Administrator Winston Porter wrote in The Wall Street Journal that amid the tsunami of rising oil and gas production since 2005, methane emissions have fallen 79 percent.

Porter also noted a 94 percent reduction in the number of gas pipeline leaks over the past 30 years. So the EPA now grasps for a pretext to make natural gas, like coal, too expensive to use.

Negative talk about biomass generation has also begun; for now, it’s too small a target to warrant a full regulatory assault, but watch. The ideological goal is to make Americans depend on prehistoric energy sources like wind and sunshine.

Bait-and-Switch Rulemaking

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

dangle_carrotThe idea of “notice and comment” rule-making by administrative agencies is to publish proposed regulations and invite public comment and suggested modifications.

Agencies often take comments and proceed to do whatever they intended all along; still, that’s closer to honesty than the increasingly common practice of bait-and-switch rule-making by federal agencies soliciting public comment on proposed regulations, then finalizing rules that do something else.

Last Thursday’s Wall Street Journal noted a report from Senator Ron Johnson’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee ripping FCC regulation of the Internet under a 1934 law aimed at phone companies—a result of changes demanded by the White House after public comment ended, ignoring FCC staff warnings that the heavily altered rule would be illegal without fresh notice and comment.

Last month, a majority of states and dozens more petitioners told a federal appellate court the EPA’s Clean Power Plan includes across-the-board restrictions on power plant carbon dioxide emissions the agency specifically disavowed during the rule-making’s comment phase.

Two weeks ago, another federal appellate court agreed to hear arguments on last fall’s “Waters of the United States” regulation asserting EPA jurisdiction over “water bodies” including millions of acres of dry land that gets wet maybe once in a hundred years. The Army Corps of Engineers, which co-proposed the regulation, warned to no avail that the EPA had so altered the rule’s content that it needed a new notice and comment period under federal law.

It’s good news that this Obama-era innovation is attracting adverse judicial attention. But it also emphasizes the absolute necessity of maintaining the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy until 2017, hoping in the meantime to elect a president who can be trusted to appoint judges who won’t rewrite laws and the Constitution.

Voter ID: The Left Digs in

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

digginginA reasonable person might think that when a law has passed multiple court tests in addition to being supported by 70 percent of the electorate, its political opponents would quit whining and look for a fight on more promising ground.  That this hasn’t happened with Wisconsin’s Voter ID law serves to emphasize that the Left sees ballot security as toxic to its electoral prospects.

The Wisconsin State Journal  suggested the only reason there was a not a widespread denial of voting rights in the February primary was because “hardly anyone voted.”

The reality that February primaries are always low-turnout affairs actually highlights the deception of the “hardly anyone voted” statement. Even in the context of a low-turnout election—this time featuring but a single statewide contest—more people turned out to vote than expected.

As multiple states have tried to strengthen ballot integrity during recent years, the Left has consistently misrepresented photo ID laws as attempts to suppress voter participation, and yet, last month’s Wisconsin primary is far from the first time turnout has exceeded expectation following enactment of voter ID.

So now we get to watch a textbook example of the Left doing what it always does when it’s gaining no traction on an issue: Pronounce the present reality a crisis and announce that it’s taking steps to address the imaginary emergency.

Even if they were trying, Liberals couldn’t make it more obvious that undermining ballot security is among their top priorities.

Courts in the balance

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

scalesThe U.S. Supreme Court isn’t the only one traversing hazardous ground.  Wisconsin’s highest court could see its nominally Conservative majority diminished this April.

There’s no mystery about which direction the character of the Wisconsin Court would move if Joanne Kloppenburg unseats Justice Bradley—the constitutionalist Rebecca Bradley, not the Liberal Ann Walsh Bradley—April 5.

Kloppenburg has never let reluctance to prejudge cases impede her pursuit of a seat on the state Supreme Court.  The intent to overturn Conservative reforms like the Act 10 government union smackdown was openly understood to be the whole reason for her initial candidacy in 2011.

A scarcely noticed development Monday confirmed what’s on offer with the 2016 Kloppenburg candidacy. It goes far beyond any ambition to reverse precedent and undo Act 10. It’s the opening salvo in a longer-term effort to roll the clock back to 2004 when Wisconsin’s Court was one of the nation’s craziest. On Monday, the Kloppenburg campaign received the endorsement of former state Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler.

Butler’s career is a story of taking the legal system where voters don’t want it to go. He lost badly to a Conservative opponent in a 2000 Supreme Court candidacy but was appointed to the Court in 2004 by Liberal Governor Jim Doyle. He was then defeated in 2008 by another Conservative opponent. As an Obama nominee for a federal judgeship, Butler was thrice denied confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Why all these rejections?

His Supreme Court tenure was crucial to goofball leftist rulings like holding manufacturers liable for consumer injuries even without evidence they made the offending product, and tilting search-and-seizure rules to favor criminal defendants. That was the Wisconsin Court before voters said enough is enough.

His endorsement of Kloppenburg says it all.

Active Measures

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

sovietOur headline hearkens back to the KGB terminology for tactics employed—at levels of aggression ranging from distribution of false information all the way up to assassination—to discredit and disable forces incompatible with Soviet domination.

The difference between the KGB specialties and current practices in the U.S. mainstream media is mainly a difference not of quality but of degree. Another difference is that today you’re no more likely to find mainstream media parroting disinformation from a manipulative outside source than to find mainstream media concocting the manipulative disinformation themselves.

Of course the beneficiary has changed, from the Soviet Union to the Democratic Party (and its media retainers).It would be hard to find a better example of disinformation than this, from the Madison newspaper that dare not speak its name.

A training course in psy-ops could do worse than invest an hour in the story linked above, so richly illustrative is it of the Leninist dictum to “always accuse your adversary of that which you plan to do next.”

Thus the replacement of Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board (GAB) with an evenly-balanced panel of explicitly partisan appointees is painted as a disingenuous maneuver to insert partisanship into the enforcement of campaign and election law—the precise reason why the GAB, a nest of partisan operatives masquerading as impartial referees—had to be dissolved.

We’ve remarked before on the irony that the new arrangement of appointees with partisan affiliations out in the open replicates what Liberal reformers thought was a good idea in creating the original Elections Board in the 1970s. Later on, the pretense of non-partisanship proved more effective in advancing partisan agendas through illegal, secret investigations and predawn police raids.

Anyway, savor this classic example of active measures tarring Republicans for abuses committed by Democrats yearning to repeat them.

Government of the people?

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

alcatrazzIf it’s true the American people get the government we deserve, then the vileness of the two front-running candidates for president is telling us something and it’s not just about them.

Consider that, unless things change promptly in the nominating contests, whichever party wins in November we will have elected a leader who amply meets the eligibility criteria for a stretch in a federal pen.

Alongside the apparent fraud that was Trump University, there’s the matter of the tycoon’s sealed settlement a few years back in the rampant breakage of federal immigration law—yes, Trumpkins, immigration law—through mass-hiring of illegal immigrants for the construction of Trump Tower.

Moreover, it’s hardly necessary, nor are there sufficient hours in a day, to recite the Democratic front-runner’s decades-long history of apparently uninterrupted criminal conduct.

It would be foolhardy to presume this has never happened before. At the levels of power enjoyed by front-running presidential candidates even before they’re elected, opportunities for abuse abound and availing oneself of such opportunity is a failing of human nature.  But what certainly is unprecedented is the two current front runners’ unconcealed expectation that no matter how bad their behavior, they will not and should not pay any part of the price that would be exacted upon others.

The overwhelming impression is of over-privileged adolescents who normal people couldn’t stand when they were 13, still deploying the tactics of their teen years to shield their delicate egos.

The haunting question is why we allow them to advance. One suspects it’s a transactional thing: someday we may want to get away with something disreputable and our chances improve if personal accountability is made a thing of the past.

But…if you dislike being governed by rotters, Step One is don’t be rotten.