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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Another Misleading Think Progress Attack On Koch and Walker, and Prosser Too

The conspiracy theories run deep at Think Progress when it comes to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Koch Industries.

The latest post by Lee Fang, the designated Koch investigator at Think Progress, attempts to bring David Prosser into the conspiracy as well, by claiming that recent environmental regulations and court rulings are payback to Koch for supporting Walker's fight with the unions and Prosser's campaign. 

The problem is, as with so much of what Fang writes, the conclusions are not supported by the evidence Fang cites or other publicly available information.

Fang's post is titled Walker And Prosser Crushed Regulations On Koch Industry’s Phosphorus Pollution In Wisconsin (italics mine):
Shortly after helping to elect Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Koch Industries opened a new lobbying office in Madison near the state capitol. However, little has been disclosed about the Koch lobbying agenda in Madison. The New York Times reported that Koch political operatives privately pressured Walker to crush public employee unions. But Walker’s major payback to Koch relates to environmental deregulation.

ThinkProgress has learned that the Walker administration, along with state Supreme Court judge David Prosser, has quietly worked to allow Koch’s many Georgia Pacific paper plants to pollute Wisconsin by pouring thousands of pounds of phosphorus into the water.
Fang goes on to cite three examples, which I will address one at a time.

First, Fang writes (bold in original, italics mine):
Rewriting Environmental Regulations For Koch: Last year, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board called for strict numeric limits on phosphorus pollution. The regulations, which were supposed to be implemented in January, were delayed by Walker’s administration. Hidden inside his infamous budget bill passed in March, Walker then inserted a provision to revise and reduce the phosphorus limits proposed by the Natural Resources Board. Walker’s budget bill was rushed through the legislative process without public hearings.
The link in Fang's paragraph goes to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article which notes that the regulations were proposed last summer, and that Walker campaigned on the issue last fall, "[d]uring the gubernatorial campaign, he cited phosphorus regulations as a prime example of overreach by the DNR."  Whatever one thinks about the regulations (and if you read the Journal Sentinel article you will see that Walker merely wanted to keep regulations consistent with surrounding states), there was nothing "quiet" about Walker's position and the voters knew of that position at the time of the election.  Moreover, there certainly was no connection to recent events, as Walker laid out his position prior to the election.

Next, Fang tries to tie Prosser to the conspiracy by claiming that Prosser was influenced in a recent Supreme Court ruling which went against environmental groups (bold in original, italics mine):
Ruling In Favor Of Koch And Other Polluters: In March, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, with Justice David Prosser voting with the majority, overturned the lower court decision allowing a public challenge to the permit giving Koch’s Georgia Pacific plants more leeway in dumping phosphorus into waterways.
Fang does not properly describe the case.  The link in Fang's paragraph makes clear that the ruling was not as to substantive pollution standards, but what type of procedures had to be followed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.  The only defendant in the case was the DNR; Georgia-Pacific merely filed an amicus brief in support of DNR.  Moreover, the case is available at the Supreme Court website, and in fact the court was not split on liberal/conservative lines.  Five of the seven justices voted the way Prosser voted, and guess who was the lawyer arguing for the state against the environmental groups; none other than JoAnne Kloppenburg.  Hey, maybe she's in on the conspiracy too.

Last, Fang asserts that Walker is delaying new regulations to help Georgia-Pacific (bold in original, italics mine):
Delaying Environmental Regulations For Koch: Earlier this month, the Walker administration announced a two year delay of all phosphorus regulations passed last year. Not only has Walker’s administration called for reduced phosphorus dumping rules, they now have made it clear that no rules will be implemented until 2013.
Once again, Fang has misrepresented what is happening.  As the link in the paragraph makes clear, the delay in implementation took place only because Walker "has abandoned plans to scale back Wisconsin's new phosphorus pollution limits, opting instead to delay putting them in effect for two years." So Walker recently agreed to implement the rules against which he campaigned, addressed in the first paragraph above and which Fang supports, but merely delayed the new regulations. This change by Walker actually works against Georgia-Pacific because while Walker campaigned against the new regulations completely, he now is willling to implement them.  Thus, the conclusion that Walker was influenced by Koch's support is contrary to what actually happened.

As John Hinderaker has found when examining the details of Fang's conspiracy theories, the theories do not hold up to scrutiny, but they do make good headlines; misleading accusations contradicted by the evidence relied upon in the body of the article, which then become anti-Koch talking points at other left-wing blogs.

Here, Fang disingenuously has created another unsubstantiated talking point purporting to show Koch influence over Walker, and now Prosser too.  Not only were the allegations wrong, the notion of some sort of "quiet" conspiracy is debunked by the fact that everything took place in public, and was reported on by the press and in published cases.

The false allegations are so easy to make, but debunking them takes time. That's the way it works.

[Note to Eric Boehlert - if you are proofreading this post, please go easy on my speling, it's been a long day.]

Related Posts:
Koch Derangement Syndrome Jumped The Shark Rather Quickly
Koch Derangement Syndrome Hits Case Western Reserve Law School
Gov. Walker's Association with the Koch Brothers

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  1. I'm sorry, but it's difficult for me to take anyone named Fang seriously after the Monty Python's "The Spanish Inquisition" skit. One of the three cardinals is named Cardinal Fang. He and his real-life namesake seem equally worthy of being taken seriously.

  2. The phosphorous issue is a joke. First off, the Feds are still working out how they want to handle it through the EPA. I can't find that link right now. There could be a conflict between state and Fed regulations. So, why advance a program here, now, and waste the money?

    Next, it was something the Doyle administration started without even having funded it or considered how it would impact busniess or farming in WI. Or maybe they knew exactly how it would impact them? How does one explain such a move?


    "Also clouding the long-term outcome of the regulations is the fate of a cost-sharing program for farmers, which state officials acknowledged isn't yet funded."

    "A business-sponsored analysis says the price tag of the regulations could top $4 billion over 20 years. The DNR's own estimate says the cost to municipalities, industry, farmers and developers could reach $1.13 billion."

    Never met a Govt program that came in under projection. And before we get all worked up about phosphorous, maybe we could/should do something about all the raw sewage the plants dump in to lake Michigan first.

    Thinkprogress is just dumping raw sewage on the internet. It's what they do.

  3. WOW, Prosser ruled the way Kloppenburg argued that he should, with most of the Court, Koch is not a litigant, and Fang twists that into a conspiracy?

    You gotta wonder sometimes. Maybe Klopp is in it too. A patsy for Koch, pretending to be a lefty shill. Maybe the unions found out in time, and that's why they only cheated on 10,000 ballots instead of 20,000.

    Oliver Stone: call your office.

  4. *shrug*

    What do you expect from fascists?

  5. Fang, isn't that what Phyllis Diller used to call her husband when she was joking about how stupid he was?

    And why would anyone take Fang seriously when he is hacking against the Koch Brothers when he is doing it at Think Progress that is funded by George Soros?

    Hypocracy at its pinnacle.

  6. Professor, if you assume that everything Copperheads say is a lie, and deal with them on that basis, it becomes easy. The only problem is trying to live in the same society with a group of people whom you know in advance cannot be trusted to deal honestly. Hint: you can't. The only solution is to refuse to deal with them, by force when necessary.

  7. I saw a small video snippet of Elijah Cummings chastising Governor Walker at the hearing today. Cummings exhibited the mindset of the Democrats, who have their campaign coffers filled by unions, that is going to be the ruination of this country.

    Cummings told Walker that it was the public sector workers that were fueling this economy. So Cummings thinks that the salary that public sector workers draw, which is paid by private sector taxpayers, is what makes the economy go 'round?

    What an idiot. I cannot believe that he doesn't understand that it takes a strong private sector, creating jobs, to pay those public sector workers. What does he think would happen if Wisconsin raised taxes to continue allowing the public sector unionists to suck at the taxpayer teat if those companies, which create jobs, would move out of Wisconsin and to a more tax friendly state or to a RTW state? Who does he think would pay his beloved union goons then?

    I found a quote by Tip O'Neill that explains what Democrats are all about perfectly:

    "The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the sucess of a society.
    The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself."

    Guess that sums up the social engineering philosophy of the liberal left wing.

  8. Hi Prof. Jacobson!!! I like your blog!!! Since you are a law professor, you might like this legal thing I wrote. It is long, so I understand if you don't print it, but you may get a laugh or two. I hope!!!

    Oh, my BFF Fabia Sheen, who is an Attorney, told me about these legal things called Requests for Admissions, where one side in a lawsuit gets to ask the other side to Admit or Deny something so that the process can move along faster. Sooo, since I write poetry and she writes all this legal stuff, we wrote the following like it was from the Obotski, who are just convinced that the ONLY reason people don’t like Obama is because he is Black and we are just a bunch of racists. OH, do we ever get them back!!! Tee Hee! Tee Hee!

    The Obotski Request Admissions Of Racism

    by Squeeky Fromm
    [Represented and Assisted by her BFF, Fabia Sheen, Esq.]

    Unemployment? Ten Percent.
    Each Day more get the Sack.
    But Please Admit that you don’t like
    Obama ‘cause he’s Black.

    Foreclosuregate? White Collar Fraud?
    The Bank now owns your Shack.
    But Please Admit that you don’t like
    Obama ‘cause he’s Black.

    Obamacare? Insurance Hikes
    Induce a Cardiac.
    But Please Admit that you don’t like
    Obama ‘cause he’s Black.

    The Deficit? Each Day it grows.
    An Exponential Track!
    But Please Admit that you don’t like
    Obama ‘cause he’s Black.

    Inflation, DUH? You can’t afford
    A Real Meal, just a snack.
    But Please Admit that you don’t like
    Obama ‘cause he’s Black.

    He stole the Nomination,
    Like a kleptomaniac.
    But Please Admit that you don’t like
    Obama ’cause he’s Black.

    Three Wars, so far. We try to guess
    The next Place He’ll attack.
    But Please Admit that you don’t like
    Obama ‘cause he’s Black.

    Illegal Folk, from Mexico
    Cross Borders in a Pack.
    But Please Admit that you don’t like
    Obama ‘cause he’s Black.

    Certificates of Birth, Long Form.
    There seems to be a lack???
    But Please Admit that you don’t like
    Obama ‘cause he’s Black.

    Gasoline? You’ll never get
    To be a Jack Kerouac.
    But Please Admit that you don’t like
    Obama ‘cause he’s Black.

    Transparency? He promised it.
    In secret, got a Plaque!
    But Please Admit that you don’t like
    Obama ‘cause he’s Black.

    MY GOD! The Whole Economy
    And Country out of Whack!!!
    But Please Admit that you don’t like
    Obama ‘cause he’s Black.

    Hope and Change and Yes We Can
    Got covered with Shellac.
    But Please Admit that you don’t like
    Obama ‘cause he’s Black.

    Now Comes, the Defendant, Who
    Admits to just one FACT.
    That She DON’T Like Obama.
    But it AIN’T because he Black.
    see: Supra.

    Respectfully Submitted,
    /Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter
    Approved as to Form:
    /Fabia Sheen, Esq.

    NOTES: Fabia Sheen says “Supra” means “Used in academic or legal texts to refer to someone or something mentioned above or earlier.” So its telling the Obotski to look above for the reasons I don’t like Obama.

    Plus, wiki says Jack Kerouac wrote a novel called “On the Road” in April 1951, and published by Viking Press in 1957. It is a largely autobiographical work that was based on the spontaneous road trips of Kerouac and his friends across mid-century America. Sooo, like with the price of gas being $4.00+, nobody is going toodling around Route 66 today.

    You can find it here:[[[http://squeekyfromm.wordpress.com/]]]

  9. TEA Party Rally April 16th ~ AFP & other WI Patriot Groups
    Saturday, April 16 · 12:00pm - 1:30pm
    State Capitol Madison, Wi

    Sarah Palin, Former Alaskan Governor, VP Candidate, pundit, author
    John Fund - Wall Street Journal

    the founders compass

    That should stir things up.

  10. The Doyle/DNR phosphorus regs were the most draconian proposed in the US (if memory serves--but perhaps California was worse.)

    The costs--besides the 'measured' projections above--would also have to include the decreased-cleaning abilities of dishwasher and laundry detergents. Granted, those are 'unfalsifiable' 'costs,' but they are there.

  11. spunky said...

    Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!