Active Measures

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

sovietOur headline hearkens back to the KGB terminology for tactics employed—at levels of aggression ranging from distribution of false information all the way up to assassination—to discredit and disable forces incompatible with Soviet domination.

The difference between the KGB specialties and current practices in the U.S. mainstream media is mainly a difference not of quality but of degree. Another difference is that today you’re no more likely to find mainstream media parroting disinformation from a manipulative outside source than to find mainstream media concocting the manipulative disinformation themselves.

Of course the beneficiary has changed, from the Soviet Union to the Democratic Party (and its media retainers).It would be hard to find a better example of disinformation than this, from the Madison newspaper that dare not speak its name.

A training course in psy-ops could do worse than invest an hour in the story linked above, so richly illustrative is it of the Leninist dictum to “always accuse your adversary of that which you plan to do next.”

Thus the replacement of Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board (GAB) with an evenly-balanced panel of explicitly partisan appointees is painted as a disingenuous maneuver to insert partisanship into the enforcement of campaign and election law—the precise reason why the GAB, a nest of partisan operatives masquerading as impartial referees—had to be dissolved.

We’ve remarked before on the irony that the new arrangement of appointees with partisan affiliations out in the open replicates what Liberal reformers thought was a good idea in creating the original Elections Board in the 1970s. Later on, the pretense of non-partisanship proved more effective in advancing partisan agendas through illegal, secret investigations and predawn police raids.

Anyway, savor this classic example of active measures tarring Republicans for abuses committed by Democrats yearning to repeat them.

Government of the people?

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

alcatrazzIf it’s true the American people get the government we deserve, then the vileness of the two front-running candidates for president is telling us something and it’s not just about them.

Consider that, unless things change promptly in the nominating contests, whichever party wins in November we will have elected a leader who amply meets the eligibility criteria for a stretch in a federal pen.

Alongside the apparent fraud that was Trump University, there’s the matter of the tycoon’s sealed settlement a few years back in the rampant breakage of federal immigration law—yes, Trumpkins, immigration law—through mass-hiring of illegal immigrants for the construction of Trump Tower.

Moreover, it’s hardly necessary, nor are there sufficient hours in a day, to recite the Democratic front-runner’s decades-long history of apparently uninterrupted criminal conduct.

It would be foolhardy to presume this has never happened before. At the levels of power enjoyed by front-running presidential candidates even before they’re elected, opportunities for abuse abound and availing oneself of such opportunity is a failing of human nature.  But what certainly is unprecedented is the two current front runners’ unconcealed expectation that no matter how bad their behavior, they will not and should not pay any part of the price that would be exacted upon others.

The overwhelming impression is of over-privileged adolescents who normal people couldn’t stand when they were 13, still deploying the tactics of their teen years to shield their delicate egos.

The haunting question is why we allow them to advance. One suspects it’s a transactional thing: someday we may want to get away with something disreputable and our chances improve if personal accountability is made a thing of the past.

But…if you dislike being governed by rotters, Step One is don’t be rotten.

Wrong, Evil, or Both?

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

seenoevilThe other day a favorite talk radio host mentioned that American political discourse  entered its current, take-no-prisoners phase (erupting with the first Reagan administration as we recall,) when Liberals decided that to openly disagree with them was not just wrong, but evil.

But the well-taken point is that what passed for civility through most of the 20th century has no prayer of returning if we persist in thinking of each other as bad people.

And then along comes Hillary Clinton.

Last week the formerly Inevitable One, in that voice that makes the word “harridan” seem so pitifully inadequate, assigned “racial” and “bigoted” motives to Republicans hoping to prevent the late Justice Antonin Scalia being succeeded by an Obama appointee.  Clinton dubiously claimed some Republicans “even said [Obama] has no right” to submit a nominee before advertising her superior virtue by stating that none of those vicious things has a place in American politics.

That it’s true none of those vicious things has a place in American politics would make Hillary one-for-four on truthiness, had she herself not been the one who insinuated them into the argument. Knowing deception about the motives of others in order to gain personal advantage:  If that isn’t evil, what is?

Call us optimists but we don’t think it’s impossible to achieve a better political culture. The hard part is that the possibility depends on the total and utter defeat of those whose sole instinct is to destroy all competing ideas.  It’s going to be a long century.

Nice little retirement account ya got there…

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

Money AcrobatsThat working Americans in general don’t save or invest enough money to ensure a comfortable retirement is cause for concern. But the good news is that enough do save and invest to have accumulated trillions of dollars to sustain themselves.  Of course “trillions of dollars” is a phrase one dare not speak in front of a politician without risk that he will devise some mechanism to punish past savings and discourage such good behavior in the future.

For instance, Barack Obama turned up last week with the not-at-all-new idea of placing limits on the retirement savings individuals are allowed to accumulate in tax-deferred accounts.

As we said, nothing new: Left-wing interests never take their eyes off retirement savings and pension funds, given that they’re on one hand a huge potential source of other people’s money and on the other, activist political pressure sometimes succeeds at badgering fund managers into “investments” that prop up Liberal policies like green energy and climate boondoggles.

But even if the attitude is familiar, it’s galling to read the words of the Treasury Department presuming to disparage the discipline of some savers accumulating funds “in excess of amounts needed to fund reasonable levels of consumption in retirement.” Since when is it some bureaucrat’s business to say what is a “reasonable” amount to set aside from one’s earnings?

So far, nobody has to answer that question, and the reason should be instructive for the considerable numbers of people who regard themselves as Conservatives but hold the Republican Congress in contempt.  The current administration isn’t already moving to siphon off private retirement savings for the same reason countless assaults on freedom and private property aren’t attempted. You don’t hear about those attempts because Republican congressional majorities would make them futile.

We mustn’t overlook the things we don’t see.

Sanctioning Sanctuary

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

churchA lukewarm Wisconsin Senate is currently deciding whether to take up legislation setting modest penalties (in the form of reduced state aid payments,) for local governments that prevent their law enforcement personnel from checking the immigration status of persons taken into custody for other reasons.

The so-called “sanctuary cities” legislation has already passed the Assembly, fueled by the altogether appropriate anger over an innocent woman’s random murder in San Francisco by a man whose previous bad behavior qualified him for deportation on six prior occasions.

Whatever one’s views on immigration policy, it’s useful to recognize the sanctuary cities bill (AB 450) as a small step toward something with much wider significance; that is, pushing back against the selective and politically tainted law enforcement that’s been part of the standard toolkit of leftist maladministration since the Obama mob took over.

Where sanctuary cities are concerned, our preference might be to look into whether officials refusing to enforce the law are violating an oath of office and thus fit for removal.  Of course any place inclined to accept such behavior probably uses an oath designed to excuse almost anything. Madison’s, for instance, binds officials to “support” the constitution. Lenin could swear to do that, with a halfway clear conscience.

Last week’s passage of AB 450 drew protesting crowds to the Capitol Square in numbers not approached since the Act 10 siege five years ago.

Unpredictable and politically-motivated law enforcement is just one of the reasons people seek a better life in the United States.  That problem isn’t solved by importing it here.

Operation “Overlord”

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

“It’s true! It’s true! The crown has made it clear. The climate must be perfect all the year.” – King Arthur (Richard Burton), in “Camelot”

Just for the moment, set aside the underlying nonsense of assuming Planet Earth has but one climate which is unvarying and, Camelot-like, at all times benign, like La Jolla but without the high real-estate prices and all that pesky fog in the wintertime.

Maybe, in addition to its delightful climate, La Jolla is on our minds because nearby, the Marine Corps rehearses amphibious assaults, and the Pentagon’s best minds now say everything the military does is in need of immediate rethinking because of global warming. This month, a couple of the Defense Department’s Obama appointees decreed that the U.S. military will incorporate “climate change” planning “across the full range of military operations.”

You can sleep at night knowing plans are in motion to keep the annual two-millimeter rise in worldwide average sea level from bollixing the next invasion.

Let’s connect some dots.  Two weeks ago we noted the Securities and Exchange Commission being pressured to force publicly-traded companies into increased “disclosure” of climate-related risk. The breathtakingly stupid Pentagon directive, which cynically aims to exploit one of the few institutions Americans still trust, is more of the same.

“The same” being the methodical abuse of every corner of government to pound home the message that you’d better believe in global warming and do as our overlord King Obama says.

We remember comedian Dennis Miller saying, with regard to predictions of sea level-related mass extinctions, “If I can’t get out of the way of something that’s moving at the rate of one foot per century, I deserve to be extinct.”

We suspect the Marines are resourceful enough to cope.

Breaking the Blackout

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

approvedWe try to write about things our readers won’t see in a dozen other places. But it’s important to pitch in when local and statewide media serve their own interests by pretending not to notice a major story right under their noses.

The story would reflect credit on Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, and we’ll go out on a limb and suggest that’s why it’s ignored.  Johnson’s uncovered almost a billion dollars in ObamaCare subsidies improperly paid to illegal immigrants.  (Click on 2nd Feb. 8 item, “Affordable…”)

The link is to a staff report from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, which Johnson chairs. It’s important to read the footnotes. In footnote 2 of the executive summary we first find these words:

“The term “improperly awarded” tax credits refers to tax credits that were awarded on behalf of individuals who were later unable to verify their citizenship, status as a national, or legal presence.”

That seems like a problem. Then we find this:

“Although the ACA [Affordable Care Act] permits the distribution of coverage and cost assistance before verifying an individual’s eligibility…”  Whoa!!!

Money gets handed out to ineligible people because the law lets applicants collect before anybody checks whether they qualify?  Maybe we’re just paranoid but we’re still going to ask: Could the purpose be not to get more people covered by health insurance, but to get more people hooked on government giveaways of other people’s money?  If so, not checking eligibility makes perfect sense.

Conservative talk radio and national networks have aired this story but as far as we know, Wisconsin’s mainstream media are maintaining strict silent-running discipline. Consider: 1) Ron Johnson, with shaky approval ratings, is running for re-election against Russ Feingold; 2) Johnson looks mighty good in this story that lots of voters will never hear.

Media partisanship or our paranoia? Your call.

Now it’s serious

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

Supreme_Court_US_2014Confronting the grim reality that Antonin Scalia’s death is not just a bad dream, one realizes how thin is the line separating us from the deformation of America’s institutions, by a Left bent on using them perversely, to ratify lawlessness and plunder.

His loss all but erases that line. The U.S. Supreme Court, the sporadically effectual but indubitably last line of defense, will now split, on a good day, 4-4, illuminating the stark truth that too often, the fate of our liberties may depend on one person.

Last week that person was Antonin Scalia. This week it is Mitch McConnell. The effect on Republicans choosing a presidential nominee ought to be galvanizing.

The populist insurgency that has thus far dominated the Republican primary campaigns must understand it’s time to close the bar, set the furniture back upright, and accept the necessity of a grown-up candidate with identifiable beliefs warranting confidence that the eventual court nominee will be someone who, like Scalia, believes the Constitution means what it says.

In other words, the populist insurgency must know its liberties could vanish if the court nominee is chosen by a big-time Democrat donor whose understanding of constitutional governance is that eminent domain empowers him to bulldoze an elderly woman’s home so he can replace it with a parking lot for limousines.

The insurgency needs to shake off the (fundamentally leftist) notion that anyone who is less than 100 percent ideologically pure is a traitor.

Nothing is quite so sobering as death. If the death of conservatism’s pre-eminent defender in American government doesn’t sober up the GOP presidential quest, the next death will probably be that of the Conservative movement itself.

The Paris Trap

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

parisDid we just mention controlling people by controlling their energy use? Evidently some think that’s just the beginning.

Brian Potts is a partner in the Madison law offices of Foley and Lardner and a frequent contributor of orthodox opinion on the culture of entrepreneurial regulation. Last week he turned up on the Politico web site cheerleading for the Obama administration to assert authority that—unbelievable as this may seem—it hasn’t already claimed.

Mr. Potts, who actually does know a thing or two notwithstanding his mindless parroting of the party line on global warming, says an obscure provision of the Clean Air Act pretty much allows the Environmental Protection Agency to order states to do anything it wants them to do, so long as two conditions are met and guess what? The Paris climate gabfest, according to his reasoning, produced a document that despite being legally meaningless, meets them.

The provision Mr. Potts hopes to see activated involves reciprocal agreements to regulate alleged pollution back and forth between sovereign countries, and our first question is what the H— is language like that doing in the Clean Air Act, but never mind.

Our second question is, since the Paris agreement does not compel anyone to do anything in terms of actual emission reductions, why would anybody think it has any bearing on the application of a totally separate law in a single country, but never mind that either.

What matters is that 345 days from now, the Obama administration becomes nothing more than a noxious stain on America’s history, and any rule making the EPA initiates between now and then will be either incomplete or awash in litigation.

Mr. Potts ought to know this. His scary scenario is unlikely to play out as designed.

Poverty on purpose

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

alternative-energyWe don’t hear it as much on this side of the Atlantic, but for years since the climate swindle became a leading excuse for expansionist government, people in Britain have grown familiar with the phrase “fuel poverty” or the synonymous “energy poverty.”

Minimal explanation is needed. Energy poverty is what you get when self-aggrandizing governments deliberately force society to turn away from affordable, dependable energy sources and replace them with more expensive ones that don’t work nearly as efficiently when they work at all; i.e., spurning fossil fuels and adopting windmills and other medieval technologies in their place.

It’s those policies and the resulting energy poverty that have literally killed thousands of people in Britain every winter of late.

This is on our minds because British winters tend not to be nearly as severe as ours, and because Barack Obama has again made obvious his absolute intention to create energy poverty here.

In more polite terms than we would use Paul Ryan has advised the president what he can do with his oil tax—an idea so politically obtuse it was almost unnecessary to label it d.o.a.  But the mere fact that it was suggested is a crucial piece of information.

Any normal president—any Democratic president until this one—would celebrate low oil prices if only to bask in the political credit for Americans’ reduced fuel costs. This one finds low oil prices intolerable; an impermissible interference with his goal of—what, exactly?

As far as we can tell, the goal is twofold: collect more money to redistribute, and control everybody’s energy use by deliberately making it more expensive. If you control a person’s energy use, you control the person, period, explanation complete.