Monthly Archives: December 2013

Justice, Poetic

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Step in a messy pile of fecesThe planet-savers in Madison do a lot of hand-wringing about agricultural runoff impairing the water quality in Dane County’s high-quality trout streams, so when we ran across a story in a Madison newspaper last week detailing deficiencies that contributed to a pair of immense manure spills, our first thought was that area farmers—and especially large livestock operations—were in for a rough time.

Our second thought, upon delving into the story, was, isn’t that just typical?

See, you need to read on until the 12th paragraph of the story before you find out that the spills in question, both in Dane County and two of the four largest in Wisconsin history, occurred at facilities owned and/or developed by entities of government.

One spill occurred at a University of Wisconsin research facility near Arlington, the other at a manure digester site near Waunakee, co-developed by private-sector investors and Dane County government using state tax dollars.

The kicker is that the story reveals both sites lacked the most rudimentary containment structures—a classic example of Liberal greenies exempting themselves from the sort of precautions they happily prescribe for everybody else.

The “nothing-can-go-wrong-because-we’re-the-good-people” attitude was fully on display in a 2009 press release with then-County Executive Kathleen Falk celebrating the Waunakee facility.

“By focusing our efforts to reduce algae-producing phosphorus and create green electricity,” Falk said, “our Cow-Power Project means clean lakes for our citizens to enjoy, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and local, good-paying green jobs”

Right, except when you don’t bother about accident prevention.

It’s all the more unfortunate because done right, digesters can actually be a good idea, solving a waste disposal problem and simultaneously producing reliable—if expensive—energy.

But in this case, apparently, it was good enough for government work.

It’s the little things that tell the story

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waterbottleThe late William F. Buckley Jr. once famously said he would rather be governed by the first hundred names in the Boston telephone directory than by the faculty of Harvard. He undoubtedly had it right back then and would undoubtedly be more so now.

As usual, the little things bring the cosmic concepts into focus. Last week student government—the only kind there would be in an ideal world—decided to prohibit the sale of bottled water on the Harvard campus, the better to save the Earth, don’t you see.

We give thanks for that decision, so many opportunities does it provide.

For instance, one student quoted in the linked story complained that “An outright ban of water bottles offers easy fodder for conservative pundits bent on opposing the cause of environmentalism, making it easy for such pundits to label proponents of this policy as radicals who are willing to overlook any and all individual freedoms in order to achieve their aims.”

Well, yes and no.

First, we’ll point out that this person’s idea of respecting individual freedom is for Harvard to levy its own tax on bottled water rather than ban it outright.

More to the point, the real folly is in making it easy for such pundits to label proponents as self-absorbed narcissists ceaselessly on the lookout for opportunities to posture themselves as striking great blows on behalf of an otherwise defenseless planet without the requirement of any serious risk or exertion.

The hunt for heroism on the cheap is a sort of prep school for tyrants. Were the authoritarian impulse confined to environmentalism and Harvard’s campus legislature, it would be a manageable nuisance. It isn’t, and we thank Harvard for the warning.

We’ve seen it all before

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obamacare ahead warning conceptual postLike a bad dream getting steadily worse and stubbornly refusing to end in time to avert disaster, the Obamacare chamber of horrors this week claimed among its likely casualties countless volunteer fire departments.

Ah, well…all in a day’s work for The Transformational Presidency.

The administration is now blackmailing insurance companies into covering people as of January 1 even if they aren’t enrolled, lending further credence to the suspicion that the goal was always to create so vast a mess that a total government takeover could be simply decreed and a panicked nation would go along.

And that was a tripwire. The notion of abject failure being redeemable by more intensive application of the same bad medicine that caused the catastrophe had an eerily familiar feel.

Consider the modern welfare state. Nobody even casually exposed to the Liberal Handbook of Facile Excuses can be unfamiliar with the claim that the only problem with income redistribution—or “progressive” education, or racial preferences, or regulatory overreach; take your pick among Liberal undertakings that have blighted society—is that we haven’t done enough of it.

What we are now witnessing in Obamacare is an attempt—thus far successful- to replicate the creation of the welfare state in a matter of four years instead of 50, and with magical deadlines upon which everything is deemed fully functional and irreversible.

One sign that things could eventually get better—though they are absolutely  guaranteed to first get worse—came from California Congressman Darrell Issa, who gave Secretary Kathleen Sebelius a mild hint of the future prospects she and all the architects of this monstrosity might expect, and richly deserve.

Occupy Animal Farm

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farmAnother quirky story popped up this past week, and as frequently happens, we found out about strange happenings in this country from a British, not an American newspaper.

It’s only the most recent example of a so-called “animal rights” group trying to use the courts to award animals legal standing of their own.

More often lately, we’ve had occasion to ask what this has to do with a newsletter concerned primarily with economic and personal freedom. Actually, it goes to the heart of preserving the rule of law, without which economic and personal freedom are a total crapshoot.

In actions such as this one, the temptation may be to view plaintiffs as eccentric but benign individuals concerned about humane treatment of animals. The reality is one more instance of the Left doing what it always does: manipulating institutions of civil society to destroy themselves.

Giving monkeys “legal personhood” does not elevate monkeys, it diminishes humans. If we embrace the notion of humans and animals are on equal footing for legal purposes, we are saying anything that can permissibly be done to an animal can permissibly be done to…well, you.

And then good luck if you happen to get in the way of something serving the interests of wealthier, more powerful, umm, animals.

Let this work through to its logical conclusion and the bottom line becomes precisely this simple: If you’re in the club—that is, if you’re in favor with the regime—you can do whatever you want and there will be no problem about it. And if you’re not in the club, it will be equally problem-free for anybody to do whatever they want to do to you.

Puzzle Pieces

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moneypuzzleUntil recently, it was usually prudent to withhold immediate judgment when it appeared something nefarious might be going on, even in government. Let the picture clarify before jumping to conclusions.

Those were the days.

Had anyone by 2012 still felt a need to wait and see if the Internal Revenue Service really was being used as a weapon to suppress political expression by the American people, the waiting is over.  The stop-us-if-you-can administration is doing what it aims to do every day: change the rules (when not ignoring them) to make open dissent a crime.

The Obama Administrations’ appetite for breaking, changing or ignoring the rules—or at minimum pretending they apply only to everyone else—reveals itself to be insatiable.  Or to put it more plainly, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Indeed, there is yet one more puzzle piece coming into focus, best described by an old adage of the Leninists:  “Always accuse your adversary of whatever it is you are planning to do next.”

For the Left, politics is never about the free competition of ideas. It’s about suppressing competing ideas by twisting reality and abusing lawful standards to make the expression of those competing ideas appear improper and possibly criminal.

Jumping to conclusions is no longer the rash act it used to be.

An Administration of Attitudes

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obamacare ahead warning conceptual postPeggy Noonan—who once wanted badly to be an Obama fan—opined some months ago that a big problem with Obama people is that they imagine their words to be actions.

We’d elaborate and say their level of self-regard is such that it doesn’t appear to matter to them when their words turn out to have little to do with how things play out: They’ve said it, therefore it is.

How else to explain the administration’s airy dismissal of concerns over the Obamacare fiasco? Have you noticed how all the preposterous failures have begun fading into the background of humdrum routine, while the one thing forever conspicuously in sight is the attitude of palpable indifference?

This can have only one result. It will stoke resentment as no public policy failure could by itself, as Obamacare paves a path of genuine destruction.

There’s no partisan hyperbole in saying real people’s lives will be ripped apart—most immediately by identity thieves looting their bank accounts—in service of whatever you want to call this enterprise: Socialized Medicine, or to borrow the 1960s term; income redistribution.

Even the mainstream media now disclose that Obamacare’s designers never bothered about the security of personal information. Others discover that the belated effort to patch security breaches is making things even worse. And those responsible decline to explain.

Following the “Rules for Radicals” playbook, the supposed “fixes” threaten to overwhelm state Medicaid programs with untold numbers of ineligible beneficiaries, lending credence to suspicions that the real objective is chaos (Google “Cloward Piven” strategy).

Floating above it all, our beloved leader congratulates himself. We’ll reiterate what we’ve said before.

They don’t give a damn what harm they do to anyone else.

Trouble at the Tailgate Party

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faultThe 2013 Atlantic hurricane season ended Saturday without a bang, or for that matter, a whimper. Despite official predictions of an unusually active hurricane season, 13 tropical storms—just one more than average—formed in the Atlantic Basin from May through November, and no hurricane made landfall in the U.S.

We bring this up in a newsletter chiefly concerned with economic and personal freedom because none of the information in the preceding paragraph will stop the Obama administration reciting its ritual lies about increasingly destructive weather events, to advance its methodical assault on economic and personal freedom.

Because these lies are deployed over and over again to justify suffocating energy regulations purported to safeguard the climate, a brief review of weather trends is in order. This year’s hurricane season wasn’t the only recent one to disappoint those hoping to implicate U.S. energy use in an increase of natural disasters.  The 2009 season fell short of forecasts as well.

The November tornado outbreak looked unusual until we checked records and found no month in which tornadoes have never occurred in the U.S., nearly 500 November tornadoes over the past half century, and an overall record low number thus far in 2013.

Keep all that in mind, along with the fact that a regime trying to solidify its grip on power will hunt for scapegoats everywhere.

The substantive difference is that the Obama Administration wants scapegoats in place of action against genuine polluters who are cozy with the government, but its tactics are exportable.  Hide your charcoal.

How Educators are Educated

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Inspire word cloudAn odd little story in a Madison newspaper caught our eye Monday: Fewer students on University of Wisconsin System campuses are pursuing School of Education teacher training programs.

A School of Education dean came up with a few weightless comments, including a suggestion that would-be teachers are uncomfortable with a politicized atmosphere surrounding public schools—which if true would be new only in the sense that it’s finally out in the open—and a possible connection to the Act 10 collective bargaining reforms.

The trouble is, the declining numbers began in 2010, presumably before that year’s elections gave a clue that changes were coming and well before the Act 10 reforms of 2011.

The decline is not large, but to the extent that it might be a hopeful sign, we eagerly take note.

A great problem with U.S. public education for decades has been large numbers of teachers whose field of study is the gauzy theory of education rather than some field of actual knowledge that could be transferred to young minds: Education majors schooled in how to teach but not what to teach.

Some of us actually knew people who had no interest whatever in teaching but entered the field anyway to obtain a sure-fire Vietnam-era draft deferment. That was a long time ago, but those people stuck around in jobs they never really wanted. Many would have been retiring around the time of Act 10 but had served in the meantime as role models for a generation’s worth of union members.

Step one in doing any job well is the desire to actually do it. The minuscule shift in the numbers from the UW System just might be the beginning of a good thing.

The Gift of Obamacare

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Civil War Cannon FireingThe headline that appears above could have been “Look out, here it comes,” and it might well have been used someday, but for the spectacular embarrassment of the Orwellian-named “Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act,” a/k/a Obamacare.

That’s because the depredations of our current masters in Washington, D.C. are limited by one thing only, and it isn’t any law or the constitution. It’s their perception of what they can get away with.

So we had ample reason—in the form of Obamacare—to give thanks when Thanksgiving Day brought a Washington Post opinion column suggesting Barack Obama should be able to seek  a third term—that is to say, there ought to be no limit to the number of terms he could serve: Why not Just make the title “President for Life?”
And no, we aren’t making this up. In the same edition of the Post, Charles Krauthammer reviewed examples of the administration’s characteristic envelope-pushing.

We’ve had nearly five years to learn how necessary it is to redefine “farfetched” for purposes of anticipating what the current administration might be willing to attempt. It’s a delicious irony that outrage over their own prized creation—Obamacare—turns out to be suddenly and seriously limiting what they can get away with from here on out.

Think of it as a warning shot they’ve fired across their own bow.