This disturbing article from David French demonstrates factual reporting as it was once practiced:
“They came with a battering ram.”
Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking.
She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram.
She wasn’t dressed, but she started to run toward the door, her body in full view of the police. Some yelled at her to grab some clothes, others yelled for her to open the door.
“I was so afraid,” she says. “I did not know what to do.” She grabbed some clothes, opened the door, and dressed right in front of the police. The dogs were still frantic.
“I begged and begged, ‘Please don’t shoot my dogs, please don’t shoot my dogs, just don’t shoot my dogs.’ I couldn’t get them to stop barking, and I couldn’t get them outside quick enough. I saw a gun and barking dogs. I was scared and knew this was a bad mix.”
She got the dogs safely out of the house, just as multiple armed agents rushed inside. Some even barged into the bathroom, where her partner was in the shower. The officer or agent in charge demanded that Cindy sit on the couch, but she wanted to get up and get a cup of coffee.
“I told him this was my house and I could do what I wanted.” Wrong thing to say. “This made the agent in charge furious. He towered over me with his finger in my face and yelled like a drill sergeant that I either do it his way or he would handcuff me.”
They wouldn’t let her speak to a lawyer. She looked outside and saw a person who appeared to be a reporter. Someone had tipped him off.
The neighbors started to come outside, curious at the commotion, and all the while the police searched her house, making a mess, and — according to Cindy — leaving her “dead mother’s belongings strewn across the basement floor in a most disrespectful way.”
Then they left, carrying with them only a cellphone and a laptop.
Disturbing? Indeed, terrifying. But why?
Wisconsin, the cradle of the progressive movement and home of the “Wisconsin idea” — the marriage of state governments and state universities to govern through technocratic reform — was giving birth to a new progressive idea, the use of law enforcement as a political instrument, as a weapon to attempt to undo election results, shame opponents, and ruin lives.
To the best of my knowledge, the Gestapo-like raids above, all of which targeted conservative activists in Wisconsin, have not been reported by any major media organ. There’s been no mention of them in the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Philadelphia Enquirer. Why?
I’m afraid you already know why.
The raids above were conceived by Milwaukee district attorney John Chisholm, a highly partisan Democrat whose wife is a shop steward in a Wisconsin teachers’ union. They were judicially approved by Judge Barbara Kluka, another Democrat. And of course, they were carried out by unionized Wisconsin police.
The motivation could not be clearer. Democrats only believe in free speech for Democrats. They’re particularly disturbed by the ascendancy of conservative Republican governor Scott Walker. That Walker has rationalized the state’s budget, turning a habitual deficit into an annual surplus, and his actions to reduce the bargaining privileges of Wisconsin’s municipal and state unions, have enraged Wisconsin Democrats beyond all description.
God help the conservative who dares to challenge the power of Wisconsin unions.
Will district attorney Chisholm face any legal penalties for his utterly unfounded “John Doe” investigations and the terrorization of Wisconsin conservatives by use of police power? Will Judge Kluka face any penalties for facilitating those SWAT-style raids? What about the happily cooperative Wisconsin police? For that matter, now that National Review has publicized the affair, will the Main Stream Media take an interest in this blatant use of political power to suppress the free speech and organizing rights of Americans?
Don’t bet the rent money on it.
I’ve written before about the evils attendant to prosecutorial discretion and sovereign immunity.
The combination of grand jury biddability and prosecutorial discretion has given rise to an assembly-line character in the criminal justice system. Prosecutors tend to be as ambitious for advancement as anyone else in "public service," and in their case the road to higher positions is paved with copious convictions, whether or not those convicted deserve their fates. Inasmuch as the luxuriance of criminal law has created a state of affairs in which every one of us, whether wittingly or not, is "guilty" of something, an aggressive prosecutor can "rack 'em up" by pursuing a simple strategy:
- Look around for "suspicious" behavior -- i.e., behavior on the part of a private citizen that can be made to appear suspicious;
- Ruthlessly probe every element of the "suspect's" life, using the effectively infinite resources of the State, until enough "suspicious" behavior has been amassed;
- Assemble a huge list of charges to place before a grand jury;
- Present the case in such a fashion as to promote the more plausible accusations and obscure the less plausible ones, thus securing a grab-bag indictment;
- Offer the indicted person a plea bargain that will spare him centuries in prison and complete pauperization at the bargain price of a few years and/or a few thousand dollars.
There is no brake to this strategy. Excessive law plus complete prosecutorial discretion plus a competent prosecutor's ability to lead a grand jury by the nose combine to put even a simon-pure citizen at the mercy of the criminal justice system. And what a system it is! Had it been consciously designed to put the maximum number of persons in prison regardless of guilt or innocence, it could not have been done better.
Those evils are on vivid display in David French’s article. Yet it would be foolish to expect any correction to them. The State never willingly surrenders power. It only takes; it does not give. And when persons whose ideology tells them that:
- Their politics makes them morally superior to those who disagree; and:
- The ends justify the means; and:
- They will face no penalties for whatever they do;
...have the opportunity to wield State power for their political benefit, no Earthly force is sufficient to restrain them.
I’ve ranted about this more than once:
Prosecutorial discretion, when coupled to sovereign immunity -- doctrines absolutely anathema to the Anglo-American legal tradition -- make it possible for statists to conceal evil motives behind a cloak of righteousness. No one can come out against "law enforcement" without exposing himself to pillory as an "anarchist." Worse, when the evil motives are revealed and the pressure is removed from the statists' targets, no remedy is applied and no restitution is offered to the victims.
A long time ago, in commenting on a similar case that occurred in Florida, the legendary Russell Baker wrote that "When the government says it is going to get you, it is going to get you." It appears that nothing has changed since then, except for the identities and political orientations of the prosecutors and their targets.
Need I say more?
A number of the bloggers who entered the fray around the time I did have gone silent or near to it. Consider Mike Hendrix and Emperor Misha, two old favorites of the DextroSphere. Several others have gotten by mostly on reposts.
I miss their regular emissions, but I can understand the trend. We’re tired. We’re getting old. And we’ve been repeating ourselves rather a lot.
That’s what happens when outrage follows outrage with neither redress nor remorse. We’re still angry, but we’re beginning to feel that there’s little point to continuing on. And we dislike to think we’re huddled in an otherwise empty room, with no one listening to us but one another.
The American people appear to have been enervated to the point of surrender. The Howard Beale character in Paddy Chayevsky’s screenplay for Network captured my sense of it perfectly:
I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be.
We know things are bad — worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.'
Is it really this way? Are we unwilling to rear up on our hind legs and roar defiance into our oppressors’ faces?
Do you want your freedom back? Do you want to feel reasonably safe from “your” government? Voting every two or four years ain’t gonna do it, people. It will take actual resistance to the tyrants by persons brave enough to do so – and staunch support of those brave ones, political, legal, financial, and moral, by the rest of us.
I know, I know: Who bells the cat? It’s the old question, the one we use to paralyze ourselves. It’s more effective than ever. The State in our time can target individuals with frightening accuracy, and can bring overwhelming power to bear against them, as David French has told us. The Redcoats didn’t even have rifled barrels on their muskets.
Is there a Patrick Henry in the house?
Never mind. Forget I said anything. I’m just an old man who claims to remember what it was like to be free. We didn’t even have color TVs back then, so how good could it have been, really?
All rise for Flag salute. Here are your internal passport, your work permit, and your ration card. Now sit down and pay attention to the political officer. He’s here to serve!