My parents were hippies, so protestors occupy a soft spot in my heart. There’s something uplifting about people so committed to a cause they’re will to march around holding signs, let themselves be chained to a tree, or even get locked into some kind of weird device that looks like it belongs in a horror film.
Politicians aren’t quite as dramatic which I suppose makes them more dangerous. It certainly makes them less endearing than the Birkenstock-wearing crowd while advancing legislative proposals that are more about fearmongering than facts.
Either way, tugging at heartstrings is a good way to get in the press, especially where the more than 1,000 Superfund sites across the United States are concerned. These are places where toxic materials were buried – either illegally or because no one at the time knew better – and have to be cleaned up under authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In the case of West Lake Landfill, a Superfund site just outside St. Louis, Missouri, a curious thing has occurred. The political left – which would usually move heaven and earth in favor of site clean-up issues – is actually keeping this one site from being remediated.
This is not fake news. Environmentalists are actually preventing the West Lake site from being cleaned-up because the government won’t do it their way.
Having land you own under the supervision of the EPA is usually a nightmare for business. It costs time and money and sometimes people end up going to court. In this case things haven’t been so bad. The soil in and around the landfill has been studied, the dangers from the radiological materials buried there have been evaluated, and plans have been discussed.
Admittedly the whole process has taken far too long – about 30 years — but just when it looked like the EPA was on the right track and was ready to start on a plan that would secure the site for the long-term, isolate the contaminants, and have it all paid for by the company that owns the property the environmental groups began raising objections. They’ve been putting roadblock after roadblock in front of the process. They have drafted politicians to their cause, they’ve enlisted the support of unions, they’ve even called on the United Nations to intervene — all the while using the tactics of community organizers like Saul Alinksy to spread fear, distrust, and junk science throughout the the community of people living nearby.
The latest development is a proposal that would literally offer a buyout to nearly ever homeowner living near the site.
When I first heard about this piece of legislation I hoped it was merely a messaging bill – a public relations ploy to raise awareness of the need for a clean-up. Except it passed the Missouri Senate by a vote of 30 to 3, hopefully because those voting “aye” didn’t understand what they were voting for. The science doesn’t back up their reasoning; if it did it could lead, eventually, to an argument for a bailout of tens of thousands of Missouri homeowners living near sites that one environmental group or another declares to be toxic.
That would be a pretty hefty Show Me State price tag.
Despite the fear, the science says the neighboring community is safe, According to a recent article from the local CBS affiliate:
The Environmental Protection Agency has previously said that despite radioactive waste and an underground fire at the (nearby) Bridgeton Landfill, there’s no increased risk for neighboring residents. The agency also hasn’t found evidence that radioactive material has migrated beyond the landfill.
We don’t have to take the EPA’s word for it. Science, good science, backs them up. Most of the soil sampled around the landfill is less radioactivethan anywhere in Missouri, and by a considerable factor. When I say “most,” every sample showed merely 25 percent of the contamination any Missouri resident would expect find in their front yard. There’s only one exception, and that one was just 6 percent higher. On this data alone Missouri Senators have voted to spend up to $12.5 million to buy the houses of people living in just one development near West Lake landfill. .
Last year, at the urging of the left, who insisted science is more like a data lottery, the EPA announced even more community testing. The results have not yet been announced but there is little reason to believe they will show anything different than previous federal or state studies have shown.
Why did the Senate need to rush through a vote before the data they knew was coming was in? Almost none of the politics around West Lake Landfill makes sense. The facts are easy – waste from the Manhattan Project was illegally dumped there decades ago. The waste was found, and the site was deemed a Superfund Site. Years later the EPA finally figured out a plan. But, the facts and the actions don’t match in this case. When the left didn’t like the EPA’s plan – it didn’t require the use of Union labor is one my guesses – they started doing everything that they can to delay, impede, and throw temper tantrums.
If the left just wanted to have a drum circle and sing some songs – I am game. My goodness, nowadays they protest so much I mark the days when they aren’t protesting. But, when the left wants to impede the progress of cleaning up and securing a toxic waste site as well as spending money that could be used to build infrastructure or educate children based on nothing, then count me out. It’s not groovy.
By Joseph Bast • The Federalist
Top officials in the Trump administration apparently are debating whether to withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty, an agreement negotiated in the waning years of the Obama administration that would commit the United States to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent relative to 2005 levels by the year 2025.
The Heartland Institute has been studying climate change for nearly two decades. Our advice to the Trump administration is simple: Run, don’t walk, away from the Paris Climate Treaty! Here are our reasons for this recommendation. Sources for our statements are readily found here and here.
There Is No Scientific Basis for the Paris Climate Treaty Continue reading
By Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
One in five small businesses, or 22 percent, pay at least $10,000 on the administration of federal taxes each year, according to the National Small Business Association’s 2017 taxation survey. This does not include the money that a business owes the IRS in taxes.
Five percent of small businesses pay more than $40,000 a year on the administration of federal taxes, seven percent pay between $20,001 and $40,000, and ten percent pay between $10,001 to $20,000. The majority of businesses, 67 percent, pay more than $1,000.
Small businesses and their staff also spend significant amounts of time dealing with taxes, whether it be by filing reports, working with accountants, or calculating payroll. Twenty percent of businesses spend more than 120 hours annually. Continue reading
Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
This year, taxpayers will spend 113 days working to pay for the nation’s tax burden, according to a report from the Tax Foundation.
Tax Freedom Day is April 23, 113 days into the year, and falls 5 days after taxes are collected on April 18. Tax Freedom Day would fall roughly two weeks later on May 7 if federal borrowing or future taxes were included.
“Tax Freedom Day takes all federal, state, and local taxes—individual as well as payroll, sales and excise, corporate and property taxes—and divides them by the nation’s income,” the report says.
Americans will spend upward of $5.1 trillion on taxes, which includes $3.5 trillion in federal taxes and $1.6 trillion in state and local taxes, according to the report. Continue reading
By Elizabeth Harrington • Washington Free Beacon
The Environmental Protection Agency has been riddled with employee misconduct, including workers who drink, smoke marijuana, and watch porn on the job.
Inspector general reports over the past few years detailing employee misbehavior could serve as ammunition for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who is seeking to eliminate 25 percent of the 15,000 employees at the agency.
Only 6.5 percent of EPA employees are “essential,” according to the government’s own calculations when it faced a shutdown in 2013. At the time, just 1,069 employees were deemed necessary to continue working during the 16 days the government closed. Continue reading
By Jay Sekulow • FoxNews.com
The Trump administration is prompting a lot of change in Washington. Now, there’s a new call to get to the bottom of the corruption inside the Internal Revenue Service’s well- coordinated scheme to target conservative organizations.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady and Tax Policy Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam have sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking the Department of Justice to re-open a probe of the conduct of former top IRS official Lois Lerner, who was at the center of a targeting scandal that discriminated against conservative organizations which had applied for tax-exempt status.
In fact, in this new plea for the Justice Department to get involved, the lawmakers contend there is clear evidence Lerner willfully took part in criminal activity during her tenure as the Exempt Organizations Division director.
In the letter, Representatives Brady and Roskam wrote:
“On April 9, 2014, the House Committee on Ways and Means voted to send a letter to the Department of Justice referring former IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois G. Lerner for criminal prosecution. As indicated in the attached letter, the Committee’s nearly three-year investigation uncovered evidence of willful misconduct on the part of Ms. Lerner. Despite this fact, and for what many believe were purely partisan reasons, the prior Administration refused to review Ms. Lerner’s misconduct.”
The lawmakers urge the Department of Justice to “take a fresh look at the evidence” concerning Lerner’s actions in this matter.
We completely agree. Lois Lerner got off easy. She never faced charges for her role in this scandal. She was never prosecuted. She was permitted to retire – with a tax-payer funded pension.
The Obama administration looked the other way. The Obama Justice Department ignored key evidence that lawmakers point out in their letter to the Attorney General:
“In particular, the Committee found that Ms. Lerner used her position to improperly influence IRS action against conservative organizations, denying these groups due process and protection rights under the law. The Committee also found she impeded official investigations by providing misleading statements in response to questions from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Finally, Lerner risked exposing, and may have actually disclosed, confidential taxpayer information, in apparent violation of Internal Revenue Code section 6103 by using her personal email to conduct official business.”
For years, we’ve been demanding that Lois Lerner and others be held accountable for their roles in this scandal.
We have repeatedly called for the removal of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and now believe this latest request to get to the bottom of Lois Lerner’s actions is clearly warranted – a request that Attorney General Sessions should not ignore.
We continue to move forward in holding the IRS accountable in federal court. We represent 37 organizations in our ongoing lawsuit. After more than seven long years, one of our clients – the Tri-Cities Tea Party based in Washington State – finally received its tax-exempt status. Another client – the Albuquerque Tea Party – has been waiting for more than seven years, too, but has yet to receive a determination from the IRS.
At the same time, we’re encouraged by a new court order just issued in the case – an order that clears the way for us to discover the IRS’s “past acts of alleged discrimination stemming from the alleged illegal targeting scheme,” as well as “the current status of the [IRS’s] tax-exemption application process,” in order to determine not only the entire scope of the IRS’s discriminatory treatment of these organizations but, more importantly whether discrimination is continuing today.
That means we will be able to obtain critical documents from the IRS – documents that will be instrumental in determining how this scandal unfolded and who was involved.
We continue to do all that we can to root out the culture of corruption inside the IRS. But, as I have said many times, the IRS is incapable of self-correction. That’s why lawsuits like ours and Congressional efforts to request a new probe of Lois Lerner’s actions are so important.
Let’s not forget the words of President Obama in February 2014 – as the Justice Department investigation of the IRS targeting scheme was still underway – who proclaimed there was “not a smidgeon of corruption” at the IRS.
Such an assertion was never based on facts. That’s why it is vitally important for the Trump Justice Department to re-open the Lois Lerner probe, as Representatives Brady and Roskam put it, “to assure the American people that DOJ’s prior investigation was handled fairly and to restore taxpayers’ trust in the IRS.”
By Julie Kelly • National Review
In his testimony to the House Science Committee on Wednesday, Michael Mann, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, told the story of Trofim Lysenko, a plant scientist who worked for Stalinist Russia:
Lysenko was a Russian agronomist and it became Leninist doctrine to impose his views about heredity, which were crackpot theories, completely at odds with the world’s scientists. Under Stalin, scientists were being jailed if they disagreed with his theories about agriculture. And Russian agriculture actually suffered, scientists were jailed, many died in their jail cells and potentially millions of people suffered from the disastrous agriculture policies that followed from that.
The gist of Mann’s anecdote was that scientists who challenge the ruling government’s diktat on any given scientific issue are demonized and punished while innocent bystanders suffer. In the here and now, this would seemingly apply to the minority of scientists brave enough to question the reigning dogma of climate science. After all, these are the folks who have been threatened by top law-enforcement officials, personally and professionally attacked by their peers, and even driven out of their academic positions due to the harassment. Continue reading
By Brent Scher • Washington Free Beacon
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) failed to acknowledge Equal Pay Day for the first time in her Senate career after it was reported on Tuesday that women working in her Senate office earned just 71 percent of what was earned by men.
Warren has used Equal Pay Day, which fell on April 4 this year, in years past as an opportunity to speak out on the gender pay gap. Last year she took to the Senate floor to call Equal Pay Day a “national day of embarrassment” and pledged to continue her “fight” until the pay gap was erased. She gave similar statements on Equal Pay Day in 2015, 2014, and 2013, her first year in the Senate.
This year, Warren was the only female Democratic senator who ignored Equal Pay Day entirely, and it was not due to a lack of opportunity.
She delivered a nearly 10 minute speech Tuesday afternoon and made no mention of equal pay. The topic of speeches during the session was the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, but that didn’t stop fellow Democratic Senators Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), or Kamala Harris (Calif.) from acknowledging Equal Pay Day.
Warren didn’t even bother to send out a tweet recognizing Equal Pay Day—setting her apart from the other 15 Democratic women in the Senate.
California has enacted the country’s most progressive fair pay law. Congress must follow our lead. #EqualPayDay
— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) April 4, 2017
While more education can help increase women’s earnings, it still doesn’t close the gender pay gap. #EqualPayDay
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) April 4, 2017
In North Dakota, women earn 71 cents for every dollar paid to men – 71 CENTS. In 2017. #EqualPayDay pic.twitter.com/QYzrr3Opds
— Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (@SenatorHeitkamp) April 4, 2017
Today is about highlighting the importance of paycheck fairness for women, for families, and for our economy. #EqualPayDay pic.twitter.com/xjAW81GWqx
— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) April 4, 2017
It’s #EqualPayDay & we’re live on the Senate floor on @GorsuchFacts’ record against women & working families https://t.co/CR7OfAVZdv
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) April 4, 2017
Every single day, women across the US contribute so much to the success of their families, their communities and their country #EqualPayDay
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) April 4, 2017
For #EqualPayDay, remember that pay gap is about income today & tomorrow. Leads to shortfall in retirement – avg of thousands less per year.
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) April 4, 2017
If the pay disparity continues on same path, the #wagegap won’t close until 2059. This is unacceptable. Women are entitled to #EqualPay. pic.twitter.com/uGKfAjFbWK
— Senator Cortez Masto (@SenCortezMasto) April 4, 2017
#EqualPayDay is a reminder to keep fighting for equality & make equal pay a reality. Pay discrimination hurts NH women & their families
— Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (@SenatorShaheen) April 4, 2017
Women have a right to earn an equal paycheck. That’s why I’m cosponsoring the Paycheck Fairness Act #EqualPayDay https://t.co/eubqC2hl2d
— Sen. Maggie Hassan (@SenatorHassan) April 4, 2017
It’s vital that hard work for a good job be rewarded regardless of what you look like, where you live, or what gender you are #EqualPayDay
— Sen. Maria Cantwell (@SenatorCantwell) April 4, 2017
Across America, hardworking women and their families deserve action on equal pay for equal work. #EqualPayDay pic.twitter.com/P8DF3uIy1q
— Sen. Tammy Baldwin (@SenatorBaldwin) April 4, 2017
On #EqualPayDay, Claire calls on @GOP (yet again) to finally pass the #PaycheckFairnessAct. Missouri women deserve a level playing field. pic.twitter.com/V0TDlx12Mu
— McCaskill Office (@McCaskillOffice) April 4, 2017
Put simply, women and men deserve equal pay for equal work. A shame that, in 2017, we’re still not there. #EqualPayDay
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) April 4, 2017
On #EqualPayDay women finally catch up to what men earned last year doing the same job. Women deserve equal pay for equal work!
— Sen. Debbie Stabenow (@SenStabenow) April 4, 2017
It wasn’t just a woman thing—Equal Pay Day was recognized by senior congressional Democrats and party leaders as well.
#EqualPayDay is a reminder that there are hugely consequential, tangible barriers that women face every single day that men do not.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) April 4, 2017
The Pay Gap is an affront to women’s contributions to our communities. #EqualPayDay
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) April 4, 2017
Women are making 81% of what men make and for women of color it’s even less. That’s nothing but sexism and discrimination. #EqualPayDay
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 4, 2017
It is unacceptable that a woman in Virginia will lose $482,000 on average over a 40-year career compared to a man #EqualPayDay
— Senator Tim Kaine (@timkaine) April 4, 2017
It’s simple. Women deserve to be paid equally for equal work. #EqualPayDay
— Sen. Al Franken (@SenFranken) April 4, 2017
Check out what @LeanInOrg is doing to celebrate #EqualPayDay.#20PercentCountshttps://t.co/Q2ovXDWNkG
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 4, 2017
On #EqualPayDay, we must remember that inequality for women means inequality for everyone. We won’t stop fighting to close the wage gap.
— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) April 4, 2017
It’s #EqualPayDay. Why are women still fighting for wage fairness? Here’s why: pic.twitter.com/P7QeE9REcw
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) April 4, 2017
Even Ivanka Trump chimed in to voice her belief that “women deserve equal pay for equal work.”
#EqualPayDay is a reminder that women deserve equal pay for equal work. We must work to close the gender pay gap! https://t.co/CcwsoBXWdF
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) April 4, 2017
Warren’s office did not respond to an inquiry into whether it planned to recognize Equal Pay Day before it was reported that the median male salary in her office was over $20,000 greater than the median female salary. The five top earners in Warren’s office were all men.
Warren has yet to comment on the pay gap in her office.
By David French • National Review
When free speech threatens government power, government has a tendency to get curious about the identity and funding of dissenting speakers. This was true in the civil-rights era, when the state of Alabama tried to force the NAACP to divulge its membership lists. It was true during the Obama administration, when the IRS targeted the Tea Party for illegal scrutiny not merely by asking in some cases for donor lists but also by inquiring about the political activities of family members of tea-party leaders and the login information of tea-party websites. And it was certainly true in the state of Wisconsin, when law enforcement used terrifying dawn and pre-dawn raids to gather information about First Amendment–protected issue advocacy about labor-union reform.
But why threaten to batter down a door when you can just pass a law that batters away at the Constitution? Continue reading
By Jeremy Carl • National Review
As one would expect from a president who is a master of political theater, the backdrop for this week’s announcement of his executive order “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” was dramatic: President Trump, with twelve all-American-looking coal-miners flanking him, announced that he was undoing a number of President Obama’s climate policies, while announcing a number of pro-energy-development ones. As is typical with this president, though, the media were so wrapped up in the theater that the substance of the order was almost entirely buried in many stories.
But while the green lobby was rending its garments and proclaiming the end of the world, more astute observers noticed what Trump’s executive order didn’t do — which was arguably more important than what it did.
Notably, the president did not (1) withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement or (2) start a process to repeal the EPA’s endangerment finding on carbon emissions, which underlies the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. Continue reading
by Andrew C McCarthy • National Review
On Tuesday, in a National Review Online column, I contended that the reported involvement of former national-security adviser Susan Rice in the unmasking of Trump officials appears to be a major scandal — it suggests that the Obama White House, of which she was a high-ranking staffer, abused the power to collect intelligence on foreign targets, by using it to spy on the opposition party and its presidential candidate.
It should come as no surprise that the defense Ms. Rice and Obama apologists are mounting is heavily reliant on a fact that is not in dispute: viz., that the intelligence collection at issue was legal.
I anticipated that line of argument a week ago. The issue is not technical legality, it is monumental abuse of power. Continue reading
By Cristina Laila • The Gateway Pundit
Former National Security Advisor to Obama, Susan Rice has recently pivoted from saying she knew nothing about the unmasking of Trump and his associates to saying it’s all part of her job and normal routine.
Ex-officials who have experience in Intelligence operations at this level are saying quite the opposite. A National Security Advisor is in a managerial position and should not have time to be unmasking individuals having conversations. ‘It’s insane. It’s never done.’ Continue reading
By Andrew C McCarthy • National Review
The thing to bear in mind is that the White House does not do investigations. Not criminal investigations, not intelligence investigations.
Why is that so important in the context of explosive revelations that Susan Rice, President Obama’s national-security adviser, confidant, and chief dissembler, called for the “unmasking” of Trump campaign and transition officials whose identities and communications were captured in the collection of U.S. intelligence on foreign targets? Continue reading
By David Harsanyi • The Federalist
It looks like Senate Democrats have the 41 votes they need to block the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. This means majority leader Mitch McConnell is almost surely going to use the nuclear option to confirm him. Which is a shame.
We can only assume this is what Chuck Schumer intended. The minority leader knows full well that, one way or another, Gorsuch would be on the court. Perhaps the nuclear option was fait accompli, but with nothing to show for the 2016 election thus far, Republicans need a tangible victory.
Schumer probably also believes Republicans would nuke the judicial filibuster on the next Supreme Court pick, anyway. He’s probably right. So what downside is there for him in forcing the GOP to put the filibuster out of its misery? Continue reading
By Ben Southwood • National Review
Health care in the United States is famous for three things: It’s expensive, it’s not universal, and it has poor outcomes. The U.S. spends around $7,000 per person on health care every year, or roughly 18 percent of GDP; the next highest spender is Switzerland, which spends about $4,500. Before Obamacare, approximately 15 percent of the U.S. population were persistently uninsured (8.6 percent still are). And as this chart neatly shows, their overall outcome on the most important variable — overall life expectancy — is fairly poor.
But some of this criticism is wrongheaded and simplistic: when you slice the data up more reasonably, U.S. outcomes look impressive, but being the world’s outlier is much more expensive than following behind. What’s more, most of the solutions people offer just don’t get to the heart of the issue: If you give people freedom they’ll spend a lot on health care. Continue reading