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July 22, 2008

BHO - The Nullification of Jesse Jackson

Shelby Steele on why Jesse Jackson hates Obama:

Mr. Jackson was always a challenger. He confronted American institutions (especially wealthy corporations) with the shame of America's racist past and demanded redress. He could have taken up the mantle of the early Martin Luther King (he famously smeared himself with the great man's blood after King was shot), and argued for equality out of a faith in the imagination and drive of his own people. Instead -- and tragically -- he and the entire civil rights establishment pursued equality through the manipulation of white guilt.

Their faith was in the easy moral leverage over white America that the civil rights victories of the 1960s had suddenly bestowed on them. So Mr. Jackson and his generation of black leaders made keeping whites "on the hook" the most sacred article of the post-'60s black identity.

They ushered in an extortionist era of civil rights, in which they said to American institutions: Your shame must now become our advantage. To argue differently -- that black development, for example, might be a more enduring road to black equality -- took whites "off the hook" and was therefore an unpardonable heresy. For this generation, an Uncle Tom was not a black who betrayed his race; it was a black who betrayed the group's bounty of moral leverage over whites. And now comes Mr. Obama, who became the first viable black presidential candidate precisely by giving up his moral leverage over whites.

Much more....must read.

July 21, 2008

Who Pays Taxes

In the Wall Street Journal today, an op-ed with economic data of which most conservatives are aware, but that still needs to be shouted from the rooftops as the election nears. Read it all and pass it on.

Washington is teeing up "the rich" for a big tax hike next year, as a way to make them "pay their fair share." Well, the latest IRS data have arrived on who paid what share of income taxes in 2006, and it's going to be hard for the rich to pay any more than they already do. The data show that the 2003 Bush tax cuts caused what may be the biggest increase in tax payments by the rich in American history.

The nearby chart shows that the top 1% of taxpayers, those who earn above $388,806, paid 40% of all income taxes in 2006, the highest share in at least 40 years. The top 10% in income, those earning more than $108,904, paid 71%. Barack Obama says he's going to cut taxes for those at the bottom, but that's also going to be a challenge because Americans with an income below the median paid a record low 2.9% of all income taxes, while the top 50% paid 97.1%. Perhaps he thinks half the country should pay all the taxes to support the other half.

Aha, we are told: The rich paid more taxes because they made a greater share of the money. That is true. The top 1% earned 22% of all reported income. But they also paid a share of taxes not far from double their share of income. In other words, the tax code is already steeply progressive.

We also know from income mobility data that a very large percentage in the top 1% are "new rich," not inheritors of fortunes. There is rapid turnover in the ranks of the highest income earners, so much so that people who started in the top 1% of income in the 1980s and 1990s suffered the largest declines in earnings of any income group over the subsequent decade, according to Treasury Department studies of actual tax returns. It's hard to stay king of the hill in America for long.

The most amazing part of this story is the leap in the number of Americans who declared adjusted gross income of more than $1 million from 2003 to 2006. The ranks of U.S. millionaires nearly doubled to 354,000 from 181,000 in a mere three years after the tax cuts.

This is precisely what supply-siders predicted would happen with lower tax rates on capital gains, dividends and income. The economy and earnings would grow faster, which they did; investors would declare more capital gains and companies would pay out more dividends, which they did; the rich would invest less in tax shelters at lower tax rates, so their tax payments would rise, which did happen.

The idea that this has been a giveaway to the rich is a figment of the left's imagination. Taxes paid by millionaire households more than doubled to $274 billion in 2006 from $136 billion in 2003. No President has ever plied more money from the rich than George W. Bush did with his 2003 tax cuts. These tax payments from the rich explain the very rapid reduction in the budget deficit to 1.9% of GDP in 2006 from 3.5% in 2003.

This year, thanks to the credit mess and slower growth, taxes paid by the rich may fall and the deficit will rise. (The nonstimulating tax rebates will also hurt the deficit.) Mr. Obama proposes to close this deficit by raising tax rates on the rich to their highest levels since the late 1970s. The very groups like the Congressional Budget Office and Tax Policy Center that wrongly predicted that the 2003 investment tax cuts would cost about $1 trillion in lost revenue are now saying that repealing those tax cuts would gain similar amounts. We'll wager it'd gain a lot less.

If Mr. Obama does succeed in raising tax rates on the rich, we'd also wager that the rich share of tax payments would fall. The last time tax rates were as high as the Senator wants them -- the Carter years -- the rich paid only 19% of all income taxes, half of the 40% share they pay today. Why? Because they either worked less, earned less, or they found ways to shelter income from taxes so it was never reported to the IRS as income.

The way to soak the rich is with low tax rates, and last week's IRS data provide more powerful validation of that proposition.

July 18, 2008

Big Ten Preview

The first half of my Big Ten Preview is up at The Cleveland Fan. The Little Ten, that is. I'm not the only one who thinks it's OSU...and then everybody else.

UPDATE 7/19: Part II of the Big Ten Preview

Also at TCF are Gary Benz' thoughtful piece on the Brett Favre matter, and Paul Cousineau's latest on the unraveling of the Indians.

ESPN.com has a nice article on Josh Cribbs, including video of his 100-yard TD return in Pittsburgh.

July 16, 2008

How Dare They?

European friends of the FARC are angry. How dare Colombia join the ranks of Britain, Israel, and the United States by refusing to negotiate with terrorists? How dare Colombia disprove the European mantra that all conflicts be resolved through diplomacy? How dare Colombia upstage post-heroic Europeans who, having lost the will to fight, believe anything can be bought for money?

Read Soeren Kern at PJM, on the way the European media has promoted conspiracy theories that the Colombian rescue of hostages from FARC terrorists was in fact the result of negotiated ransom payments to the terrorists. As far as I can tell from Kern's article, they are clinging to these theories in the absence of any actual evidence or named sources.

I guess it allows them to avoid admitting that the FARC thugs whose cause they champion were shown to be laughably gullible and stupid. What is especially rich is that they presume to include the practice of making large cash payments to kidnappers and murderers under the respectable rubric of "diplomacy".

July 15, 2008

Who's Listening Anyway?

Obama's op-ed and his speech seem to reflect the campaign's hope that enough people are not familiar with his past pronouncements on Iraq to recognize the dishonesty and cynicism in these latest public statements. Add to them those who know and don't care, plus those who don't have any idea what shapes Obama's views, but are just aglow in hopiness and changitude, and it could be a winning formula.

To me the most disingenuous and arrogant campaign promise is that he "will end this war." The formulation is insulting. As if his order to remove U.S. troops will end the war that we have been fighting for five years...the one between the forces of freedom and self-government in Iraq, and those of autocratic or theocratic tyranny. That kite-flying peace will reign in our absence, and he can make it happen...by leaving. The man will end war by commanding that it be so. A different kind of politician indeed.

John Hinderaker critiques the op-ed here. Read it all, of course. Excerpt...

In short, Obama bet the farm on his prediction that General Petraeus and the American military would fail. He was as spectacularly wrong as John McCain was spectacularly right. But his op-ed somehow twists this history into vindication on the theory that Afghanistan has deteriorated, the Iraq war has been expensive, and Iraq's political leaders "have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge."

Let's start with the last point. Obama completely fails to acknowledge the remarkable political progress that has resulted from the surge, as manifested by the fact that the country's largest Sunni bloc has rejoined the government, and the U.S. Embassy reports that 15 of the 18 benchmarks of political progress that were set by Congress are now being met. Those benchmarks were set precisely for the purpose of measuring the "political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge," yet Obama fails even to mention them.

Still more dishonest is Obama's failure to acknowledge what would have happened if his policy prescription, precipitate withdrawal regardless of military conditions, had been followed: chaos, sectarian violence, possibly genocide, a resurgent al Qaeda in control of part of Iraq, with Iran possibly in control of other areas of the country. This would have been a foreign policy disaster, yet Obama, with vague references to cost and Afghanistan, claims vindication!

As to al Qaeda--the elephant in the room--Obama simply dissimulates:

Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been.

That's not what Osama bin Laden (Iraq is where the "Third World War is raging”) or Ayman al-Zawahiri (Iraq is "the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era”) say. Al Qaeda summoned jihadists from around the Muslim world to go to Iraq to fight American troops, declaring that this effort is the central front in their war against civilization. Those jihadists have been devastated by American armed forces, who have thereby scored what may, with hindsight, turn out to have been the decisive victory in the war against Muslim extremism. Obama denies all of this in a single sentence, without citing any evidence whatsoever

It will help him if the media allow him to get away with just ignoring inconvenient facts. Rich Lowry says ignoring facts is a necessary element of the strategy...

Obama treats as a vindication a recent statement by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki calling for a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. forces. But Maliki, playing to his domestic politic audience, can't be taken at face value. Neither Maliki nor anyone around him talks of an unconditional 16-month timeline for withdrawal as being remotely plausible. His defense minister says Iraqis will be ready to handle internal security on their own in 2012 and external security by 2020.

The Iraqis most enthusiastic about Obama's plan surely are al-Qaeda members, Sadrists, Iranian agents and sectarian killers of every stripe. The prospect of an American president suddenly letting up on them has to be the best cause for hope they've had in months. Obama's withdrawal would immediately embolden every malign actor in Iraq, and increase their sway in Iraqi politics.

In his oped, Obama sticks to the badly dated contention that Iraqis "have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge." In fact, roughly 15 of 18 political benchmarks have been met by the Iraqis -- progress Obama threatens to reverse.

Even 15 months ago, when Krauthammer wrote this column it was obvious that the Democrats' argument that we were fighting "the wrong war" was unserious:

Thought experiment: Bring in a completely neutral observer -- a Martian -- and point out to him that the United States is involved in two hot wars against radical Islamic insurgents. One is in Afghanistan, a geographically marginal backwater with no resources and no industrial or technological infrastructure. The other is in Iraq, one of the three principal Arab states, with untold oil wealth, an educated population, an advanced military and technological infrastructure that, though suffering decay in the later years of Saddam Hussein's rule, could easily be revived if it falls into the right (i.e., wrong) hands. Add to that the fact that its strategic location would give its rulers inordinate influence over the entire Persian Gulf region, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf states. Then ask your Martian: Which is the more important battle? He would not even understand why you are asking the question.

Al-Qaeda has provided the answer many times. Osama bin Laden, the one whose presence in Afghanistan (or some cave on the border) presumably makes it the central front in the war on terror, has been explicit that "the most . . . serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War that is raging in Iraq." Al-Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman Zawahiri, has declared that Iraq "is now the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era."

And it's not just what al-Qaeda says, it's what al-Qaeda does. Where are they funneling the worldwide recruits for jihad? Where do all the deranged suicidists who want to die for Allah gravitate? It's no longer Afghanistan but Iraq. That's because they recognize the greater prize.

(via Dennis Prager)

UPDATE 7/18: Peter Wehner on Obama and the surge.

July 10, 2008

Recommended 7/10

Taranto wades into the Jesse Jackson affair, and the media try to figure out how to report what Jackson said.

Richard Fernandez on Russia and deterrence and the unilateral surrender of deterrence.

VDH on Barack W. Bush

Mary Anastasia O'Grady at the WSJ on why the FARC terrorists had no problem buying the idea that an NGO was willing to help them out. More at Power Line, Campaign Spot and Hot Air on the rescue and the aftermath.

And a great John Hinderaker post on Obama's critique of Americans' foreign language skills.

Disclosure that there have been hundreds of tons of "yellowcake" uranium in Iraq, secured by the U.S. and the U.N. for five years, should be a huge story...you'd think. Nah.

From the "It Can't Happen Here" Department... Honor Killing in Georgia, by Robert Spencer.

Late Patriotism

Doesn't anybody just fisk anymore? Actually....yes. Seems the America-haters come out on the Fourth of July too.
(Belatedly caught it at Dr. Sanity)

July 9, 2008

Wikipedia And Warming

Lawrence Solomon with a caution against taking Wikipedia seriously on certain politically sensitive topics.

Who will watch the watchers?

July 7, 2008

C.C. Ya

The Indians pull the trigger on the rumored C.C. Sabathia deal with Milwaukee, and the key player they get in return is Matt LaPorta, an outfielder who may end up as a 1B-DH, a commodity not exactly in short supply on this team already. Dennis Nosco has a thorough evaluation of who got what over at TCF, and Paul Cousineau profiles LaPorta.

One thing seems pretty clear. The Indians got nothing that will make them a better team in 2009. (That assumes that if LaPorta is in Cleveland, he'll be a raw rookie with no experience above AA ball.)

UPDATE 7/7: Tribe minor league guru Tony Lastoria called some of his Milwaukee counterparts, and got a scouting report on the four new Indians. Tony adds his own assessment, and by week's end will likely have seen LaPorta and Bryson play in person, and will have spoken to them both.

You may note no links to the area's two major newspaper web sites. Isn't it obvious why not?

And while I'm shilling for The Cleveland Fan, I'll link to my own latest column, on the 2008 Buckeyes quarterbacks, which went up over the weekend.

July 6, 2008

Unseriousness on Equal Pay

I thought Selwyn Duke at American Thinker had one of the better columns I've seen on the so-called "wage gap."

Although the Illinois senator has vowed to make pay equity between the sexes a priority in his administration, it has been revealed that he doesn't practice what he preaches. Writes CNSNEWS.com:

On average, women working in Obama's Senate office were paid at least $6,000 below the average man working for the Illinois senator . . . . Of the five people in Obama's Senate office who were paid $100,000 or more on an annual basis, only one - Obama's administrative manager - was a woman.


...it's entirely possible that Senator Obama is a sexist, misogynistic creep who gleefully rubs his hands together and laughs demonically while scheming to persecute his female employees. Maybe he has nothing better to do. But far more likely is that the aforementioned factors explain his office's inter-sex pay differential. Perhaps his male employees work more hours, have been more likely to accept promotions involving greater responsibility, have more experience, sacrificed "personal fulfillment" and instead chose more lucrative fields, and/or have greater seniority. Whatever the reasons, I'm quite sure of one thing: The phenomenon is attributable to natural, market-based factors and not a conscious desire to disenfranchise women.

Of course, I could nonetheless level charges of invidious discrimination in an effort to score political points -- just as the senator has done. Instead, though, I will extend him a fairness that he denies to the millions of American businessmen he demonizes through implication. That is the right thing to do, Mr. Obama.

July 3, 2008

Hitch is Waterboarded

Christopher Hitchens undergoes waterboarding, and tells the tale for Vanity Fair.

You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it “simulates” the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning—or, rather, being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (or otherwise) of those who are applying the pressure. The “board” is the instrument, not the method. You are not being boarded. You are being watered. This was very rapidly brought home to me when, on top of the hood, which still admitted a few flashes of random and worrying strobe light to my vision, three layers of enveloping towel were added. In this pregnant darkness, head downward, I waited for a while until I abruptly felt a slow cascade of water going up my nose. Determined to resist if only for the honor of my navy ancestors who had so often been in peril on the sea, I held my breath for a while and then had to exhale and—as you might expect—inhale in turn. The inhalation brought the damp cloths tight against my nostrils, as if a huge, wet paw had been suddenly and annihilatingly clamped over my face. Unable to determine whether I was breathing in or out, and flooded more with sheer panic than with mere water, I triggered the pre-arranged signal and felt the unbelievable relief of being pulled upright and having the soaking and stifling layers pulled off me. I find I don’t want to tell you how little time I lasted.

His conclusions are unambiguous. Waterboarding is torture....or there is no such thing as torture....and America is diminished for having practiced it. (via RCP)

July 1, 2008

Chris Wells Video

Let the Heisman Hype begin.

Everything you see above Wells accomplished before the end of his sophomore year!

Q: Is there any way that Chris Wells is not the first player taken in the 2009 NFL Draft?

A: Only if he decides to return for his senior year...you know, to win his second Heisman.

Honestly, the only other back I can compare him to, possessing the combination of size, speed, agility and power is Bo Jackson. (I didn't see Jim Brown play in college.) Wells is 240 pounds, and runs a 4.4. That's sick!


Buckeye fans may also want to check out Mike Furlan's series on the 10 Greatest Buckeyes of All Time, which is on its second go 'round at The Cleveland Fan. We're down to #4, with the others conveniently linked.

UPDATE 7/2: Also at TCF, the first in a series of articles on the 2008 Buckeyes by yours truly, this one on the offensive line personnel.