As Congress considers the so-called "Clean Future Act," which would unfairly allow utilities to pass…
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Image of the Day: Electric Vehicle Irrationality

As Congress considers the so-called "Clean Future Act," which would unfairly allow utilities to pass the cost of electric vehicle charging stations that overwhelmingly benefit the rich to all utility customers, it's worth highlighting how even the New York Times acknowledges how impossible "Green New Deal" dreams for EVs really are:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="501"] Impossible Electric Vehicle Dreams[/caption]

 …[more]

May 05, 2021 • 08:49 PM

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Donor Privacy Goes Before the Supreme Court, Just in Time Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, January 21 2021
The aim of this legislation is obvious. It seeks to identify and expose private citizens to public and governmental harassment on the basis of causes they happen to support.

Remember Lois Lerner and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeting of conservative organizations during the Obama years?  

That tawdry episode almost seems quaint in retrospect.  

At least back then, Obama and leftists feigned remorse and attempted to deny material wrongdoing.  

Today, in contrast, the left openly advocates targeting and persecuting conservatives and conservative organizations.  Many people – including very powerful people and government officials – hope to destroy lives and livelihoods for no other reason than their distaste toward those people’s political, religious or social beliefs.  They’d love nothing more than to harass people, frighten them, silence them, make them unemployable, socially shame them and even destroy their lives.  They want to silence unfashionable organizations and the citizens who support them.  

And the first step in pursuing that anti-First Amendment agenda is to pass mandatory “donor disclosure” laws.  Once they can identify you, they can out you and persecute you.  

The bad news is that both the United States Senate and House of Representatives have introduced as their first new order of business legislation – S. 1 and H.R. 1, duplicitously entitled the “For the People Act” – to do just that.  

The better news is that the United States Supreme Court granted review of two First Amendment donor privacy cases out of California, and could finally rule such laws unconstitutional.  

To place the issue in proper context, the First Amendment freedoms of speech, association and petitioning government protect nonprofit organizations that allow private citizens to work together to achieve change and have their voices heard.  That, in turn, requires a degree of privacy, lest government officials or private actors attempt to chill First Amendment activity by identifying and harassing supporters of those organizations.  

The Supreme Court squarely affirmed that logic in its seminal 1958 NAACP v. Alabama decision.  In that case, Alabama officials sought to compel disclosure of the organization's membership information in order to harass them, but the Court unanimously held that compulsory disclosure would stifle free speech and subject supporters to retaliation:  

"This Court has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one's associations.  Compelled disclosure of membership in an organization engaged in advocacy of particular beliefs is of the same order.  Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs."  

Two centuries before that decision, our Founding Fathers advocated independence through use of anonymous pen names to protect their livelihoods and very lives.  Whether in the age of pamphlets or the internet, the right to privacy has remained crucial to freely exercising our First Amendment rights.  

The Senate and House bills S.1 and H.R.1, however, target those constitutional protections and contravene NAACP v. Alabama by forcing organizations to publicize donors’ identities and other private information.  

Specifically, those bills would make nonprofit organizations post donors’ personal information on searchable government databases.  They would also expand the definition of “electioneering communications” beyond their historical limitation to mass media campaigns involving candidates for office, to include online advertisements discussing issues of public concern and having nothing to do with any election or candidate.  

The proposed legislation would further regulate groups that refrain from political activity and only occasionally speak out about judicial nominations, requiring those organizations to identify their donors even if those donors had no involvement in those particular activities.  It would also impose mandatory identification of groups’ supporters on the faces of advertisements, which would obviously chill contributions to nonprofit groups.  It would also expand regulation of online speech beyond paid advertising to now include communications on groups’ or individuals’ own websites and emails, and it would deter private citizens from government service and political appointments by forcing them to disclose donations they’ve made to organizations and causes in the past.  

The aim of this legislation is obvious.  It seeks to identify and expose private citizens to public and governmental harassment on the basis of causes they happen to support.  That will do nothing to improve society or political culture, but instead chip away at already-eroding First Amendment rights.  

As we speak, mainstream media figures and prominent figures openly advocate “deprogramming” of conservatives, which sounds ominously similar to the Communist Chinese policy of “re-educating” millions of its own citizens in internment camps.  That is simply intolerable in a nation founded upon the principles of freedom of speech and private association.  

Fortunately, as noted above, the Supreme Court will review this matter in its current term.  Hopefully, the justices’ wisdom proves far superior to proponents of Senate and House bills S.1 and H.R.1, and they rule such donor disclosure mandates unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment once and for all.  

Quiz Question   
Based on the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, which state lost the largest percentage of population in the last decade?
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Notable Quote   
 
"Economic research -- since forever, it seems -- has consistently verified the old truism that the more government taxes something, the less of it the economy gets. Biden proposes to tax production, growth and investment -- and, by implication, job creation. He will get less of it.His programs consequently will miss the extensions and enlargements that a motivated business community would otherwise…[more]
 
 
—Milton Ezrati, Economist, Investment Manager, Author and The National Interest Contributing Editor
— Milton Ezrati, Economist, Investment Manager, Author and The National Interest Contributing Editor
 
Liberty Poll   

Did President Biden's address to Congress encourage you or discourage you regarding the overall direction of the country?