I know it was you, Fredo

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Fredo Corleone: I’m your older brother, Mike, and I was stepped over!
Michael Corleone: That’s the way Pop wanted it.
Fredo Corleone: It ain’t the way I wanted it! I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says… like dumb… I’m smart and I want respect!

—The Godfather: Part II

I’m sure John Brunner never saw himself as Fredo Corleone.

A Burning Question

Did you ever ask yourself why John Brunner would release a surreptitious recording of a phone call with an opponent? Especially one that lacks a smoking gun that would seriously wound the opponent?

Think about it: by releasing that tape to the media, John Brunner told the world, “I cannot be trusted.” He showed himself as the sort of cowardly, weak politician who tries to bait his opponents into secret traps. And he comes off as foolish enough, inept enough, to think people will forget that he uses Nixonian tactics.

“Is this being recorded?” will cross the minds of every person who talks to John Brunner for the rest of his life.

It Doesn’t Add Up

I ask again, why would Brunner willingly destroy his own reputation? It doesn’t make sense.

Mr. Brunner successfully operated his company’s business for years. He should know that executives—or executive candidates—don’t secretly record private conversations to gain a tactical advantage. Legal or not, releasing a secretly recorded phone conversation without the other party’s consent is sleazy, and no one seriously disputes that.

According to mafia legend, if you kill a don, you can’t become a don. Brunner’s complicity in the secret recording and leak means his political career peaked the day he announced his candidacy for governor. The man who tried to lecture a decorated Navy SEAL on manhood did so while violating the first rule of manliness.

As Jane Dueker said on the Reardon Round Table November 27:

That was weaselly. Your taping conversations—and I don’t believe the story that he felt threatened . . . no, no, no, no, I don’t like that. And just man-up. You did a weaselly thing, you need to own up to it.

With all that downside and no upside, why would Brunner release the recording?

Who Released the Tape?

We learned from his 2012 race for US Senate that Brunner is easily manipulated by Republican consultants. Those of us who wanted to support Brunner in 2012 for his ideological consistency had to walk away because of his weakness in debates and his failure to be his own man. Brunner ran as a caricature painted by John Hancock.

So someone must have convinced Brunner to record his calls with Eric Greitens. Or someone released the recording behind Bruner’s back.

I know, I know, “But, Bill, if John Brunner knew it was wrong, he shouldn’t have done it.” I get it, and I agree. But Brunner, as I say, is easily manipulated. And ambitious. He wants to win an election, and he trusts the people he’s hired to make that happen.

And trusting Republican players is the dumbest thing a person can do. It’s like when Fredo trusted Hyman Roth in The Godfather: Part II.

So I realize that Brunner knowingly and with malice recorded a private conversation with Eric Greitens. I am less sure that Brunner was involved in the recording’s release.

Brunner had everything to lose by that recording going public. He lost his reputation, his credibility, and trustworthiness. Why would Brunner out himself as a rat?

I’m not going to  speculate here about who did it, but I will explore why.

Eric Greitens Is a Threat to the Establishment

Republican insiders agree that Eric Greitens is the biggest threat to Chris Koster in the GOP field.

The same Republican insiders agree that Eric Greitens is the biggest threat to the Republican establishment. And we know from our Center for Self-Governance training that the purpose of political parties is to maintain their power. Everything else is ancillary.

Party insiders will go to extraordinary lengths when their power comes under attack. As Richard Nixon demonstrated, no law or ethic will stand in the way of a political animal who feels threatened or cornered.

And Eric Greitens presents both parties with a huge threat to their power.

Some will say, “but Bill, John Brunner is an outsider, too.” True. He is. But Brunner has shown himself to turn to putty in the hands of establishment seducers. Plus, the insiders believe Koster would wipe the floor with Brunner in the general election.

Because he’s easily manipulated and because he’s a poor candidate, Republican insiders do not see Brunner as a serious threat. By the same token, because he’s not easily manipulated and because he could beat Chris Koster, Eric Greitens is a huge threat the GOP establishment.

The GOP’s Hyman Roth

When Hyman Roth wanted to consolidate his power by taking down the Corleone family, he manipulated Michael Corleone’s brother Fredo. Fredo set up Michael.

When the Missouri GOP establishment wanted to eliminate a potential threat to its power, one of its agents manipulated John Brunner to set up Eric Greitens. At least that’s what I’m thinking.

It’s a plot so diabolical and underhanded that the schemers deserve a certain amount of respect. Until you see the plot play out.

What’s most brilliant about the plot is that Brunner is spending his own money to try to whack Greitens politically, not realizing that the GOP’s Hyman Roth is using Brunner’s money to pay the contract on Brunner. As the establishment sees it, with Greitens and Brunner out of the way, either Kinder or Hanaway is a shoe-in for the nomination. And if one of those two loses to Koster? Well, as one Republican insider told me a couple years ago, “we can work with Koster.”

Politics Is More Corrupt Than It Knows

No one involved in this scheme would consider himself corrupt. The political elites want us to believe that bribery is the only form of political corruption. Anything short of bribery, to the political animal, is just hardball politics.

To you and me, corruption is broader. What’s more corrupt than manipulating a man like John Brunner?

Corrupting the morals of a man like Brunner—or turning Fredo Corleone against his brother—is corruption. And it’s a more serious corruption than mere bribery. The establishment has corrupted John Brunner’s soul and wrecked his good name. And ended his political career.

And the establishment is proud of its wicked work. Or it would be if the scheme had worked.

No Smoking Gun

For the GOP scheme to succeed, it needed a knock-out blow. But Eric Greitens gave them nothing. As I said on KMOX, Brunner’s secret recording was not Greitens’s fines moment, but for a man whose life is a long string of fine moments, this was nothing.

The bold scheme to take out Brunner and Greitens took out only Brunner, the dupe. Greitens was wounded but only slightly. When you take a shot at a Navy SEAL, you better kill him. The GOP’s bullet missed its mark.

Now, the GOP finds itself in an uncomfortable place. Its stooge has lost all credibility. Eric Greitens learned a hard lesson that will make him only tougher and more determined to pitch corrupt lobbyists and politicians down the steps of the capitol.

Greitens Is the Only Innocent

The GOP’s Hyman Roth wanted to help one of two established politicians in the race. Unless one of those candidates admits complicity, it will be hard to trust them. Though I don’t believe Brunner would voluntarily act as a foil to Greitens, by agreeing to secretly record a call, Brunner’s credibility is shot.

For voters who want an outsider with integrity, one who played no role in this episode of ugly election manipulation, Greitens is the only trustworthy Republican still standing.

So, nice try, establishment.

The Burning Question

Now that we have a plausible explanation for why John Brunner was manipulated to secretly record a private call with his opponent, one open question is: who dunnit?

Who told Brunner to make the recording? And who released it to the press?

When we know the answer to that question, we’ll know which remaining Republican gubernatorial candidate absolutely cannot be trusted. For the record, I think the story that Brunner felt threatened by Greitens is pure BS. And if Brunner is that easily intimidated, he shouldn’t be running for office.

The one man who can answer is the candidate whose reputation just got flushed down the toilet. Ironic, isn’t? Whoever turned Brunner into a rat put themselves in Brunner’s crosshairs. And John Brunner has nothing to lose by outing his corrupter.

Fredo tried to regain Michael’s favor by outing Hyman Roth. It didn’t work for Fredo, of course, but Fredo had to try.

At some point, Brunner will realize his best hope for redemption begins with exposing the person or persons who corrupted him.

So the burning question is: will John Brunner sing?

The Real Story of Thanksgiving

Reading Time: 1

Thanksgiving celebrates the Pilgrims’ break from socialism.

Schools and textbooks avoid the topic, but it’s worth remembering. The Plymouth and Jamestown plantations were dying under “common store” approach. Only by establishing a free market did the settlers thrive.

Here’s the beginning of Kent Dillon’s excellent story of Thanksgiving, which you can continue reading in its entirety at The Mises Institute:

By Kent Dillon

The celebration of Thanksgiving is a celebration of plenty and appreciation of the abundance that has characterized the free enterprise, individualistic, capitalistic systems of the US. This why America grew into the most productive, highest standard of living area in the world. The Pilgrims had arrived in what is now Provincetown, Mass., on November 11, 1620, but it was late in December before they finally settled in Plymouth. In the words of Gov. Bradford,

that which was most sad and lamentable was, that in 2 or 3 months time half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases, so as there died sometimes 2 or 3 of a day, in the aforesaid time; that of 100 and odd persons, scarce 50 remained.

They spent their first winter building houses so that they could move off the Mayflower and by March all settlers had left the ship.

Continue reading →

John “The Weasel” Brunner

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RADAR: Did you lose something, sir?
HAWKEYE: Hi, Stinky.
RADAR: Uh, sir, that’s the sort of name that kind of sticks with a fella. I’d appreciate it if you’d just call me by my given nickname.

—M*A*S*H

Some names stick with a fella.

A friend emailed the link and this note:

Brunner is indeed a weasel

John Brunner, candidate for governor, surreptitiously recorded a phone conversation with his opponent Eric Greitens. Then, after the Kansas City Star reported that a Brunner confidant had set up an anti-Greitens website, Brunner released the recording to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

You can read all about it and listen to the recording here.

There were no smoking guns on the recording. Eric Greitens sounds angry about the website and about Brunner’s refusal to either confirm or deny complicity. (A woman can be heard in the background urging Brunner to deny, deny, deny, but Brunner never does.)

For his part, John Brunner simply evades the question and plants unverified information on the tape. Ya know, like Richard Nixon.

Brunner’s surreptitious recording and leak is sleazy, of course, and it’s just the kind of childish politics we expect from Missouri Republicans. Brunner was supposed to be above this kind of chicanery.

I doubt the episode will have a long shelf-life even though it provides perverse entertainment for Missouri politics geeks.

The only lasting effect will be a sticky nickname for Brunner: The Weasel.

Slay Poverty

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Paul Berry III made me laugh out loud. “Francis Slay hung out the vacancy sign but he’s running the Bates Motel.”

We were talking about the Syrian refugees and Francis Slay’s insistence that hosting a lot of them is in the city’s vital interest.

Leaving aside the question of security and vetting for the refugees, why does Francis Slay want so desperately to host more people who have no jobs, no language, and little hope of flourishing in a city that, on most measures, is failing.

As Paul Berry says in this video:

Failing schools, failing STD rates, failing jobs, failing home ownership. And at some point we have to take a stand.

Berry rattles off facts on the many ways the city (and border cities in the county) are failing:

  • Four-year high school graduation rate is just 72 percent in the city versus 87 percent statewide. (St. Louis is hurting Missouri’s perception on education)(DESE)
  • Poverty in the city is 27.4 percent versus 15.5 percent for the state. (Again, St. Louis drags the state down.)(city-data)
  • City population fell 0.6 percent from 2010 to 2014 (US Census)
  • St. Louis leads the country in two sexually transmitted disease cases, chlamydia and gonnorhea (stltoday)
  • Unemployment, business formation, and crime in St. Louis all rank among the worst in the nation

But there’s more. Mayor Slay presides over a homeless veteran problem, and his only solution is to shut down Reverend Larry Rice’s New Life Evangelistic Center. (Rice’s building is in a prime development corridor, and the mayor’s friends would like to build something there.)

Oh, I’m sorry. Almost forgot. One-third of the Mayor’s tweets in the past few days have been dedicated to his campaign to bring a lot of Syrian refugees to the city. So immigrants to St. Louis must be doing pretty well, right?

Wrong. According to city-data.com, 28 percent of persons born outside the USA lie beneath the poverty level in St. Louis. That’s more than the poverty rate for all St. Louisans.

So why does Francis Slay make refugees his number one priority for his dying city? Because he needs the votes? Because he wants to stem the population drain?

It won’t work to bolster the city’s population in the long run. Bosnian refugees quickly migrated out of the city to Affton, Oakville, Ballwin, and other suburbs. Just like the Germans and Irish did in the 20th century. Syrians who find work will move to the burbs just as fast as their European predecesors.

Mayor Slay, according to his blog and tweets, wants to bring refugees to the city because it’s a “humanitarian principle.” But doesn’t the mayor have a humanitarian principle to lift current residents out of poverty, out of crime, out of ignorance, and out of STDs before flooding the city with refugees?

There are hundreds of other problems with the Slay-Obama refugee plan, not the least of which is security. If St. Louis were a thriving, growing city with people clamoring to move here and work here, we could discuss the vetting process.

Right now, though, St. Louis is a dysfunctional, failing city. Asking for refugees is a knife in the back of the city’s struggling poor and a disservice to the refugees.

If the mayor is looking for a humanitarian mission, slay poverty instead.

Our military leaders are no Pattons

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Yesterday, Lee Presser made a great point in this guest post, The Only Rule of Engagement Will Be Victory. As one commenter noted:

This is the best analysis of the war on terror that I have read. If we do not fight to win, we shouldn’t be in the fight. Winning the war on terror starts with 1) admitting there is a war on terror, 2) being willing to confront the enemy with force, 3) fighting to win the war rather than appease the enemy, and 4) do whatever it takes to protect Americans and their homeland.

Lee is a former Navy officer, so he knows a bit about rules of engagement and warfare. Judging by news out of Washington, Lee knows far more about warfare than the people running our anti-ISIS operations at the Pentagon and White House.

You may have heard that we’ve blown up a couple hundred ISIS oil tanker-trucks recently. You probably didn’t hear that we give ISIS a 45-minute warning before we blow up the trucks. The warning is to allow the drivers to get out of the way so they don’t get hurt.

I shit you not. Straight from the colonel’s mouth:

In Al-Bukamal, we destroyed 116 tanker trucks, which we believe will reduce ISIL’s ability to transport its stolen oil products.

This is our first strike against tanker trucks, and to minimize risks to civilians, we conducted a leaflet drop prior to the strike. We did a show of force, by — we had aircraft essentially buzz the trucks at low altitude.

So, I do have copy of the leaflet, and I have got some videos, so why don’t you pull the leaflet up. Let me take a look at it so I can talk about it.

As you can see, it’s a fairly simple leaflet, it says, “Get out of your trucks now, and run away from them.” A very simple message.

And then, also, “Warning: airstrikes are coming. Oil trucks will be destroyed. Get away from your oil trucks immediately. Do not risk your life.”

And so, these are the leaflets that we dropped — about 45 minutes before the airstrikes actually began. Again, we combine these leaflet drops with very low altitude passes of some of our attack aviation, which sends a very powerful message.

Apparently we’re worried that the people driving trucks for ISIS are just local good-ol’-boys never meanin’ no harm, as opposed to card-carrying ISIS members. We wouldn’t want to accidentally kill a Teamster-in-Syria who’s simply trying to earn a living wage.

So instead of killing the enemy, we send “a very powerful message.” A stern talking-to. “Why, if ISIS doesn’t stop slaughtering civilians by the scores, I’m going to give them a piece of my mind!”

As General Patton told the men of the 3rd Army:

We’re not holding anything! Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we’re not interested in holding on to anything except the enemy. We’re going to hold on to him by the nose and we’re going to kick him in the ass; we’re going to kick the hell out of him all the time and we’re going to go through him like crap through a goose

Which brings me to my long-ago analysis of the second Iraq war. From 2004:

While we may have fought until there was no “official” Iraqi government to surrender, we did not fight until the enemy was broken. Obviously. Instead, we paused to allow him to regroup, rearm, rebuild communications infrastructure, and kill Americans by the score.

In modern warfare, we get a small window in which to destroy the enemy. Not just the enemy’s war-making capacity, but his will to fight. That window on ISIS open right now, but it won’t be open for long.

To be judged successful by future generations, the victor in war must implant a mortal fear of war in the vanquished–a fear of war that spans generations. For four generations, Japan and Germany avoided anything that looked like war. They also respected the Allies who vanquished them in World War II.

In Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Syria, the US and its allies stopped short of winning. We settled for breaking stuff and pissing people off, and that strategy is like making an appointment to fight again.

If you want to beat the fight out of an enemy, you don’t warn him 45 minutes in advance of your attack.

Our leaders are the problem.

Mizzou Protests Were About Abortion All Along

Reading Time: 1

I hate to say “I told you so.”

But the St. Louis Post Dispatch has found that I may have been right on November 8. That’s when I made the outlandish comment that the whole race issue at Mizzou is actually an abortion issue. I suspected that Planned Parenthood’s vast lobbyist network is agitating leaders of left-leaning organizations trying to create general unrest.

The manipulators would use campus racial unrest to demand restored privileges for Planned Parenthood. 

Lo and behold, from stltoday.com:

When the University of Missouri Board of Curators abruptly dismissed R. Bowen Loftin as University of Missouri-Columbia chancellor on Nov. 9, some Mizzou students and abortion-rights supporters saw an opportunity to try to reverse a controversial university decision.

They have begun a campaign seeking to pressure Mizzou Interim Chancellor Hank Foley to reconsider Loftin’s decision to eliminate a category of clinical privilege at the university’s hospital that is likely to end the ability of women to get abortions in Columbia after the end of this month.

There you have it. Concerned Student 1950 is nothing more than  Planned Parenthood’s bitch, churning up some fetuses for the abortion mill, and carrying out the eugenicists’ dream of a world free from the plague of inferior breeding.