- - Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Everyone loves a winner, especially the winner himself. Reaching the top of the heap is a full-time job and once there, the successful feel entitled to stay there. That’s why political inquisitions are in full bloom across Barack Obama’s Washington. Fearing challenge over from climate change to religious advocacy, defenders of government authority are giving the third degree to groups that question the political orthodoxy. That’s not the American way, and fortunately an engaged citizenry is pushing back.

Environmentalism has evolved into a form of nature worship, and protecting “Spaceship Earth,” the ‘60s-era notion of eco-friendly globalism, has become a favorite cause of the governing class. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s admission of government interest in prosecuting global warming skeptics emerged last week when Claude Walker, the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, subpoenaed records of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) that concern the free-market think tank’s talent for pointing out the contradictions in the “science” about the nature of forces controlling the planet’s temperatures.

As The Washington Times’ Valerie Richardson reports, Mr. Walker is one of 17 attorneys general who have joined forces to investigate Exxon Mobil for “fraud” by “undermining” research into whether there’s a relationship between the use of fossil fuel and increases in atmospheric temperature. The Competitive Enterprise Institute has embarrassed certain scientists by pointing out the collaboration between government and the green lobby to orchestrate support for their climate change agenda. “Influencing public opinion is fine for me, but not for thee.”

Science is seldom “settled,” as environmentalists insist is true of “global warming,” or “climate change.” As new evidence emerges, indicating that the complexity of the globe’s ever-changing climate confounds computer models, the political left that has had it in for conventional energy redoubles its efforts to drown inconvenient facts with each new contradiction. Torquemada, call your office.

Tax time reminds Americans of the awesome power that Leviathan wields, and the Obama Internal Revenue Service gained much-deserved notoriety for punishing tea party organizations by withholding the tax-exempt status they were entitled to have. But the tables are turned for the moment, with federal agents hemming and hawing over their schemes to punish churches brave enough to assert their First Amendment rights to free speech. The IRS is itself the target of a lawsuit for refusing to disclose its rules for deciding when to investigate churches accused of running afoul of federal laws prohibiting endorsement of candidates for political office.

The watchdog organizations Alliance Defending Freedom and Judicial Watch asked a federal court last week to compel the tax agency to reveal how it decides when a church has crossed the line to violate the Johnson Act, endangering its tax-exempt status. Traditionally, pastors in the pulpit have been given the benefit of the doubt when the spirit moves them to narrow the line between preaching and politics. Liberal pastors have rarely been bothered.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation, an atheist advocacy group, opened Pandora’s box in 2014 when it announced that the IRS had “resolved the signature authority issue necessary to initiate church examinations.” That led the watchdogs to press for answers about the nature of a “signature authority” that threatens to undo the plain meaning of the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion. As Chief Justice John Marshall famously observed, “the power to tax is the power to destroy.” The pendulum approaches the completion of its Obama-era swing, and the powers that be in Washington yield their advantage grudgingly, determined to inflict as much damage as they can before the sun goes down.

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