Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pick an Excuse, Any Excuse

Remember that great scene from the Oscar-robbed classic "The Blues Brothers"? Jake and Elwood (John Belushi and Dan Akroyd) are finally cornered by Jake's former fiancée (Carrie Fisher). Jake left her at the altar with 300 guests and the best Romanian caterers in the state waiting. "You betrayed me!" she exclaims. "No I didn't. Honest," Jake explains. "I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!" This is pretty much how Democrats sound these days. None of their problems are their fault.

For the first time, more than half of voters think President Obama doesn't deserve to be re-elected. Almost three out of four Americans believe that the stimulus was wasted.

Evan Bayh's retirement has triggered a bowel-stewing panic among Democrats. Bayh is from Indiana, one of the two crown jewels of Obama's "red-blue" victory (the other being Virginia). Even a month ago, the notion that Republicans could get within striking distance of taking back the Senate was considered absurd. Now, it's a live possibility.

Obama's defenders note that he is personally popular, which is at best debatable. But even if that were true, Obama's personal political capital is as non-transferable as an out-of-state check drawn in crayon. It's certainly useless in getting ObamaCare or cap-and-trade passed. And, so far, it hasn't helped Democrats in Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts.

Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader and Obama's lead legislative Sherpa, is almost surely toast in his re-election bid. Richard Blumenthal, the popular Democratic candidate running for retiring Sen. Chris Dodd's seat in Connecticut says it's an "open question" whether he will even invite Obama to campaign for him. That's a vote of confidence.

Why is this happening? If you listen to the White House and its defenders in the press, the answer is simple: It's everyone else's fault. Well, that's not entirely right. The Obama administration admits one mistake -- and one mistake only. It didn't explain itself better. In both his State of the Union address and interviews, Obama insisted he got all the policies right. It's just that the reportedly greatest orator in the history of the republic couldn't quite make himself clear enough.

The good news is that he recognizes his mistakes and is going to try again. White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer told the Washington Post this week that "In 2010, the president will constantly be doing high-profile things to be the person driving the narrative."

The multiple trips to Copenhagen, the five-Sunday-shows-in-one-day marathon, the three joint session addresses to Congress in one year, the prime-time news conferences, the state dinner, the speech in Cairo: These don't add up to "constantly" doing "high-profile things"? I can't wait to hear what "high-profile" means. Explain health-care reform while parting the waters of the Potomac?

But even this explanation amounts to dodging blame. It's still code for "You stupid Americans, why can't you understand I'm right and you're wrong?"

That's certainly how Joe Klein, Obama's de facto press flack at Time magazine, sees things. In a piece titled "Too Dumb to Thrive," Klein argues that Americans are too stupid to understand how totally awesome the stimulus was. (Time's Peter Beinart makes a similar argument in a debate with me for What's funny about this is that if nearly two-thirds of Americans are idiots, that means roughly half of Obama's voters were idiots, too. His election was once the epitome of American wisdom. Now it seems he was elected despite the stupidity of his supporters.

Of course, the Obamaphiles switched to this argument only after months of pounding their spoons on their high chairs about the unfairness of Republican "obstructionism" in the Senate. The filibuster was once a bulwark against tyranny, according to Democrats trying to block George W. Bush's agenda. Now, it's proof that the American political system "sucks," according to Obama confidante and liberal super-wonk John Podesta, and evidence that America's system is arguably "worse" than totalitarian China's, according to New York Times columnist Tom Friedman.

And they switched to that argument only after insisting that Bush was responsible for every evil under the sun. (Now, the White House brags about using Bush's anti-terror policies and insists it deserves the credit for success in Iraq.)

Coming soon: A terrible flood! Locusts! Anything and everything to avoid admitting their problems are their own fault.



Is Obama really 'brilliant'?

During his State of the Union address, with eight of the Supreme Court justices sitting right in front of him like clay pigeons, Barack Obama told the world that he would have to correct their mistake by bringing back McCain-Feingold. Well, why wouldn't he say such a stupid thing? After all, he's been wrong about everything else.

It's perfectly reasonable that Obama would oppose corporations donating money to political campaigns. Where do oil, coal and pharmaceutical companies get off thinking they should have the same right as the UAW, the SEIU, ACORN and George Soros to finance elections? For that matter, while whining about some corporations playing a role in the election process, I haven't heard Obama say boo about the role such corporations as NBC, CBS, ABC, the Washington Post or the New York Times have played in creating and burnishing his image.

But, then, who are regular, run-of-the-mill, taxpaying Americans to question Obama? He's brilliant, after all. It's not just liberals who say so, either. I keep hearing people like Bill O'Reilly saying so day after day. The problem is that I keep looking for signs of his brilliance, and looking and looking. It doesn't help that the O'Reillys of the world never point out any examples.

Still, if Obama is so brilliant, why does he parrot the words and thoughts of a bunch of schmucks like Karl Marx, Saul Alinsky, Al Gore and Michael Moore? Why does he insist that the trouble with the Constitution and the civil-rights movement is that they didn't focus on the redistribution of wealth? Why would he hand over the federal budget to a couple of morons like Pelosi and Reid? And why on earth would he put Henry Waxman in charge of his energy program? A brilliant person wouldn't trust Waxman to bring baked beans to a picnic.

When someone decides to model a health-care plan after such dismal failures as England, Canada and Cuba, while exhuming the failed economic policies of FDR, why would anyone suggest he is anything but a left-wing ignoramus?

This is an American president, for heaven's sake, who has more in common with Noam Chomsky, Hugo Chavez and some Berkeley hippie than he has with Washington, Jefferson and Adams. Except that he is now 30 years older, Obama seems to think exactly the same way he was thinking back in college, when he was a pot-smoking idiot who sought out students who were self-professed revolutionaries and professors who were communists.

If we have come to a point where the ability to read scripted lines off a teleprompter is considered a sign of brilliance, no matter how fatuous the actual words may be, we are in even worse shape than I imagined.

In a movie I loved, "The Princess Bride," the villain, Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), keeps saying "Inconceivable!" each time something happens that he failed to anticipate, mainly because, in his arrogance, he underestimated his adversary. Finally, after he has said "Inconceivable!" once too often, one of his cohorts turns to him and says, "I don't think that word means what you think it does."

But I wouldn't want to leave liberals and some goofy conservatives entirely speechless when it comes to describing the president. So to fill the void, I'm happy to supply them with some options, such as stubborn, pompous, inflexible, dishonest, officious, partisan, unpatriotic, duplicitous, socialist, untrustworthy and dictatorial. Any of those words is far more fitting than brilliant, as are self-enamored, egotistical, narcissistic, long-winded and boring.

You want to know who I think is truly brilliant? Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, that's who. His demeanor is pleasant, and his decisions are invariably sensible and well-considered. And that includes his most recent decision, which was to skip Obama's State of the Union harangue.



If Obama REALLY wanted to create jobs ....

He would cut the corporations tax (and enrage all his far-Left supporters -- but they're all now livid with him anyhow)

By Jon Hall

America has the second-highest corporate tax rate on Earth. Economists say that this puts America at a competitive disadvantage. So to spur growth and help get us out of the Great Recession, some have urged Congress to lower the corporate tax rate. But rather than cutting rates, why not suspend the Corporation Income Tax altogether? In the Age of Trillion-Dollar Deficits, what would that do to federal revenue?

The highest federal revenue from the corporate income tax for any fiscal year was $370B in 2007. By contrast, fiscal year 2009 saw total corporate income tax revenue fall to $138B, a drop of 62.7 percent. (All years cited herein are fiscal years. Data herein can be found in the OMB's latest Historical Tables, pages 31-33. Chart below.)

But 2007 was a rather good year, when total federal revenue hit the all-time record of $2.568 trillion; while 2009, an indisputably dismal year, saw total federal revenue slide to $2.104 trillion, an 18-percent decline. So the percentage decline in corporate income tax revenue was 3.48 times greater than the percentage decline in total revenue.

Looking at pages 32 and 33 (Table 2.2), we see the portion of total federal revenue taken up by the corporate income tax to be higher in years 2005 through 2007 than in any year since 1980. And from 1980 going back to 1934 (where the table starts), we see that the corporate income tax's portion of total revenue was always in the double digits and was above 20 percent from 1941 through 1967, even hitting 39.8 percent in 1943. In 1983, when America was rising out of a recession, corporate taxes accounted for 6.2 percent of total revenue, the lowest percentage on the chart. But the next-lowest (6.5 percent) was that of 2009, that indisputably dismal year.

From 1941 through 1961, the share of total revenue contributed by corporate taxes ranged between 20.3 and 39.8 percent and averaged 28.1 percent. But from 1980 to the present, it ranged between 6.2 and 14.7 percent, averaging 8.92 percent from 1981 through 1990 and 10.61 percent from 1991 through 2000.

So the trend for the last seventy years has been for corporate income taxes to take up less and less of total federal revenue. This is certainly true of the boom years in the 1980s and the '90s, which averaged a 9.76-percent share. In 2008, a fiscal year mostly in recession, the corporate tax's share of total revenue (12.1 percent) was higher than in any of the boom years under Reagan, Bush the elder, and Clinton.

Let's compare the corporate income tax with another source of federal revenue:

The Individual Income Tax has been the largest source of federal revenue since 1944, when it shot up to 45 percent of total revenue. This tax's share of total federal revenue has stayed in the forty- to fifty-percent range ever since (except for 1949 and 1950), and it reached its all-time high of 49.9 percent in 2001. In 2000, the first year total federal revenue topped $2 trillion, individual income taxes made up 49.6 percent of total revenue, while corporate income taxes made up only 10.2 percent.

If Congress were to suspend the corporate income tax to spur the economy, what would corporations do with their "windfall"? Would they just give themselves raises and bonuses? To prevent such a thing, Congress might put provisos on what companies could do with their profits, like insisting that they take on new hires. But how can a business add workers when the consumer isn't spending?

In the Age of Trillion-Dollar Deficits, the federal government can't afford to forgo any revenue. But some have proposed a "payroll tax holiday," which could deprive the feds of far more revenue than a corporation tax holiday. Revenue from the payroll tax has provided 30-40 percent of total fed revenue for decades.

So suspension of the corporate income tax seems to be a nonstarter. Besides, if a corporation doesn't have any profits, which is often the case in a recession, it won't be paying any taxes anyway. Suspension of certain targeted taxes for low-income earners might be feasible if Congress were to suspend its infernal spending.

If suspension of taxes isn't a good idea, then neither is a temporary cut in tax rates. The problem with a temporary tax rate cut is that when a recession is over and the rate is reset back to "normal," it puts a drag on the recovery. Tax rates should be set to rates that work during both recessions and booms. Temporary measures are an override of the free market. What Congress should do is set the corporate tax at competitive rates permanently. Scott A. Hodge of the Tax Foundation reports: "[O]ver the past two years, more than 50 nations -- including China, Great Britain and Germany -- have cut their corporate income taxes in order to maintain their global competitiveness. Many of these countries have pleasantly discovered that lower tax rates reduce the incentive for businesses and individuals to engage in income-shifting which means more taxable income stays in-country."

If America wants to be truly competitive, then her corporate tax rates should be no more than the average rates of other major industrial economies. If we want to be competitive with France, Germany, Canada, and the U.K., then this would mean a reduction in rates of 11.1 percentage points. Using static analysis, this would mean a loss of $15.3B for 2009, a mere rounding error for our profligate Congress.

Let's permanently lower corporate income tax rates and make America a more attractive place to do business.




Keystone Kops give up: After years hounding the unfortunate Dr. Hatfill, the FBI finally decide that a dead guy sent the anthrax letters in 2001.

Dems' Advantage Among Young People Slips: "According to Pew Research, young people's support for the Democrat Party took a beating during 2009: The Democratic advantage over the Republicans in party affiliation among young voters, including those who "lean" to a party, reached a whopping 62% to 30% margin in 2008. But by the end of 2009 this 32-point margin had shrunk to just 14 points: 54% Democrat, 40% Republican. While the Republican Party picked up support from Millennials during 2009, this age group continues to favor the Democratic Party more than do other generations. And the underlying political values of this new generation continue to be significantly more liberal than those of other generations on many measures."

Soldier's defense gets another $50,000 from Savage listeners: "Talk radio icon Michael Savage has put another $50,000 in a defense fund for a U.S. soldier who was jailed for shooting a terrorist in self-defense. According to the Radio Business Report, Savage yesterday confirmed on his radio show he sent the additional funding for the defense of Lt. Michael Behenna, the Army Ranger sentenced to jail for killing known al-Qaida operative Ali Mansur in Iraq. "I want you to understand that we do make a difference here on The Savage Nation. This is not just a show," the report said Savage announced about the money collected from listeners through the Savage Legal Defense Fund. "Even if you haven't sent him any money, even if you only e-mailed him or wrote him a letter it's giving him the hope that one day he will be freed."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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