The Week: This Year in Jerusalem Edition

Welp, that time again, lots going on so let’s dive into the swamp.

Al Franken thinks we need to have a ‘National Conversation’ about sexual harrassment, I don’t see why, as far as I can see it only needs a short statement from such vermin’s employers. For instance, “You’re fired.” Perhaps followed with the suggestion that they don’t use us as a reference, ever. Sorry, but I’ve found that only the incompetent make excuses.

Will the second edition be titled, “Giant Jerk of the Senate”?

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The Colossus of Freedom

Real Socialism

I need one of these!

Then there is this guy

My kind of lawn mower

And, of course

As usual, most (but not all) from PowerLine and Bookworm.

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Handcarts to Hell

today horiz.2

Kurt Schlichter was on a roll this week, even for him. On the fourth, he had a few comments on the news media and its lack of anything approaching morals in anything. That’s here.

Behold another banner week for the heroes of our intrepid mainstream media, that motley collection of pompous and obnoxious incompetents, perverts and – at the risk of repeating myself – liberals. In just the last few days we’ve seen how a major media personality got his network to build him a creepy sex lair in his office and watched as a flat-out lie tanked the stock market – well, not really “tanked,” since the Trump Boom is still booming, though the media is loath to report that fact since prosperity wrecks the official Trumpocalypse narrative. And next week, if (when) the guy the liberal media tried to paint as Judge Jailbait beats the guy the liberal media tried to cover for by not reporting how he thinks abortions are cool up until a kid gets his learner’s permit, the liberal media will take yet another well-deserved failure lap.

The mainstream liberal media is primarily composed of stumblebum leftist jerks who want all the glory and respect due a caste of objective, moral truth-seekers, yet who don’t want to do the hard work of actually being objective or moral or seeking the truth. “I can’t pass, and I can’t tackle, and practice is really a hassle, but I’m wearing a sportsball jersey so I want your adulation and a Super Bowl ring!

My only real complaint with anything in that column is that the Colonel has this tendency to understate how bad the media really is. Well, who would believe the truth? Bookworm would, that’s who. You’ve heard about that roast of Matt Lauer, well Book went where most of us won’t -The Village Voice and got the filth, and told us about it. Good on her, but I’m not going to copy any of it, I don’t really do anything that obscene here, but I’ll link her post, and thank her for it. Note: Obscene material and very not suitable for work, unless you work for NBC in which case it is the workplace environment you have allowed to be your normal. The article is here: The infamous Matt Lauer roast reveals who Proggies are (NSFW).

Yuck!

But the Colonel latest is even better to my mind. Here he takes on the current (and former) leadership of the FBI and marks the desecration of an institution thereby.

Add this infamy to all the other crimes of the liberal establishment – its poisonous influence has converted the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in the eyes of the American people, from a proud institution dedicated to upholding the law into just another suppurating bureaucratic pustule. Where once we saw FBI agents as heroes – many of us ancients grew up watching Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., every Sunday night – now we see careerist hacks looking to suck-up to the Democrat elite while bending the law and subverting justice to do it. Truly, everything liberals touch dies.

[…] didn’t even fire Strozk though intermural adultery is allegedly against the rules at the FBI. Nope, nothing builds confidence in a law enforcement agency’s organizational integrity like bending the rules to protect your bigwig buddies.

Oh, wait – outright payoffs do too! Don’t even start on Andrew McCabe and his wife’s Democrat contributions – to her. Yeah, the wife of the FBI second-in-command got money from the Democrat Party and he’s still not recused from this fake investigation. Are you kidding?

By the way, have we got even a single iota of information on what the unholy hell happened since Special Agent Johnson and Special Agent Johnson took over the investigation of the Las Vegas shooting?

It’s long past time to lance this boil. It’s sad when you have to accept that you can’t talk to the FBI, that they can’t be trusted to do justice, that you must protect yourself from being railroaded like LTG Flynn was and always – always always always – demand to speak to your attorney and demand that the FBI not question you if they come sniffing around. LTG Flynn trusted them not to have an agenda. Look what happened, and learn.

It’s heartbreaking, because the FBI’s real legacy – a legacy field agents largely live today – is a legacy of heroes.

Flashback to Miami, April 11, 1986. Eight agents make a felony stop on a car with two suspected bank robbers, igniting a firefight that demonstrated the bravery and devotion that shouldbe what first comes to mind when any American thinks of the FBI.

William Russell Matix and Michael Lee Platt were ex-military and had killed before – and they packed an arsenal that ensured they were not going quietly. The FBI agents, lightly armed with under-powered handguns and a couple 12 gauges – came under intense rifle fire that the light vests some wore could not stop. In the end, seven of the eight agents were hit – and Special Agent Benjamin Grogan and Special Agent Jerry Dove died fighting.

Yes, while we ‘Normals’ don’t necessarily expect that level of heroism from every agent, although we’ve seen enough of it over our lifetimes to know it is not uncommon, we do expect common decency, honesty, and dare I say it, a sense of honor, from our law enforcement people, Federal, state, and local. Well, it used to be that way, anyway. In our Brave New World, not so much.

The System IS the Scam

I grew up watching Chicago television, and the obvious and ongoing corruption was not so much normal as a cost of doing business, like the flames shooting out of the blast furnaces at US Steel. It just was, always had been, and likely always would. As somebody at Second City Cop said recently, the last time Chicago Aldercreatures were honest was sometime before early 1837. But it was honest corruption, in a sense. You could get things done, it just cost a ridiculous amount, and often wasn’t done all that well. But not too many people died, and the pols got rich, so…

But, this, even by that standard is ridiculous. From The American Spectator.

The best rackets are legitimate.

A century ago, the people accepted flagrant public corruption. Dim cynicism the popular spirit, it’s likely they’d still be so disposed today. But the politicians and their swarms of supplicants have acquired subtlety and subterfuge. Why press their luck?

We still have the graft and boodle that Lincoln Steffens chronicled in The Shame of the Cities, but now it’s all above-board. The best schemes are almost indistinguishable from the regular function of government. Almost. In the back rooms, somebody puts in a word for somebody, somebody threatens somebody, but that’s the part we don’t hear about.

It’s the bad luck of Terry McAuliffe, the Clinton barnacle-turned-Democratic governor of Virginia and a rumored presidential candidate in 2020, that his wheedling and arm-twisting inside the federal bureaucracy is now a matter of public record. He got sued last week, along with Hillary Clinton’s brother Anthony Rodham, accused of running “a $120 million scam” to defraud Chinese immigrants.

Did McAuliffe break the law? That’s almost beside the point. The essence of modern graft is crony capitalism — you don’t break the law, you make the law work for you.

The game: set up an obstacle, then offer a way past it for a price. We usually think of crony capitalism as tilting the field in favor of one company or one industry through preferential regulation, but McAuliffe’s arrangement was an even purer form. After all, what is the nature of government? It is to forbid, to restrict, to alter affairs from their natural course. Government creates problems and then pretends to offer a solution.

The EB-5 investor visa program is one long chain of government-created problems and solutions.

Foreign direct investment is of course an unalloyed good for the U.S. economy, but immigration law stands in the way of many potential investors. The laissez-faire thing to do would be to make visas freely available and get out of the way, but that would be too simple.

Much better to complicate it with all sorts of rules and red tape, that can’t all be complied with so the only solution is to buy yourself some interest (otherwise known as pull).

McAuliffe was one of the guys who ran GreenTech, a company whose business model was designed to fit even more government regulations and incentives: GreenTech made electric cars, little Neighborhood Electric Vehicles that go 25 mph, and cost $16,000. You’ll notice I said “made,” and not “sold,” as there has been zero consumer interest in a pricey golf cart that can’t even hold golf clubs. […]

That had a lot to do with why the state of Virginia had refused to get involved with the project, despite McAuliffe’s pull there. In 2009, the state’s veteran economic development director told colleagues, “(I) still can’t get my head around this being anything other than a visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications.”

When an economic development official, whose business is crony capitalism, finds your model suspect, I think you’re due some congratulations. That’s like making Louis C.K. blush.

Eventually, McAuliffe set up shop in Mississippi, thanks to $8 million in land, grants, and other incentives. The state is now in litigation to claw back $6.4 million from the company.

It’s true when the influence peddlers think your scheme is too blatant a fraud, well maybe your scheme is, uh fraudulent.

The real problem, the more general problem, is that the government is in any position to be assessing the viability of a commercial venture, one that’s bent out of shape from the start thanks to political dictates.

If we’re going to do investor visas, they ought to be straightforward, and useful for any type of legitimate investment in American business. Allowing unapproved start-ups, of course, could open the door to different sorts of scams — a fake business goes belly-up and slips the cash back to its “investors.”

But that is a different problem, one with reasonably straightforward solutions, if one wants to solve problems, rather than create new ones to solve, for a price. Usually a very high price.

A Taxing Subject

So we have a tax cut, at long last, I guess. I haven’t read into it deeply, to me, tax language is about the fifth circle of Hell, and that day is coming soon enough, so why volunteer. But from what I’ve read there is some pretty good stuff in it, and some bad, no doubt. Well, that’s how legislating goes, and frankly, what we are trying to undo would have better never been started. Bookworm at Watchers of Weasels has some thoughts about some of the good stuff in it.

I’m not an economist, but I was blessed with a fair amount of common sense. Despite Democrat hysteria, it’s obvious that “the little people” will fare better under the proposed tax bill than they do now — and for a reason the Republicans ought to be speaking about a lot but, because they’re bozos, they are not.

That last sentence may be the most self-evident piece of truth ever written. They are indeed bozos, who wouldn’t know a good policy if it bit them on the ass. But we both digress.

Currently, America ostensibly does not have a “Regressive” tax system. This is a lie. America’s tax code is highly regressive. This is because we have the highest corporate tax rate in the Western world. Yay, say Lefties. Let’s stick it to the corporations. That sentiment proves that Lefties are either stupid or uninformed.

The reality is that corporations don’t pay taxes. This is because the buck doesn’t stop with the corporation, meaning that corporate shareholders will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that their return on investment is not affected by the tax. After all, once that money goes into their pockets, it will again be subject to a tax.

To avoid double taxation on corporate dollars, corporations do two things: they place a cap on employee wages and — here comes the regressive part — they pass the costs on to the consumers. The higher the tax imposed on corporations, the higher the cost of consumer goods and services.

A widget that would sell for $10 under a lower tax code is priced at $20 to offset taxes while still showing a profit. This kind of price mark-up is bad all around. It makes the product less desirable, which can hurt corporate sales and, potentially, drive the corporation out of business. It also places on poor people a disproportionate burden connected to buying the item. For Jeff Bezos, that extra $10 is as insignificant as a microscopic speck of dust falling on a $100 bill when he opens his wallet to pay. For the guy who mows my lawn, that $10 means that he cannot buy the product, even if he needs it, or that, if he must buy the product, his available money is substantially decreased.

That is why this article is here, she just gave the best description I’ve read of why the corporate income tax is not only counterproductive but downright evil. It disproportionately hurts the poor, by raising the price of literally everything you buy, even if you buy things that allow you to make the things you need yourself. Literally, everything you use or buy from birth to death is subject to this hidden tax, and that doesn’t even mention the (perhaps many) things you simply cannot buy (indeed that you may never have dreamed could exist) because the corporations could not make enough on them to market them.

It’s pretty obvious that it also increases unemployment. Why? Because while to employ somebody, they have to make enough to cover the costs involved in employing them, and that includes the overhead of the tax one pays on their labor. Actually to be accurate the amount of tax that the customer is willing to underwrite for whatever they do, which is a different, higher number.

And yes, the corporate tax rate really should be 0.00%. It is an iniquitous fraud perpetrated by the government on those not paying enough attention to what the government is doing. Sadly, that’s us, almost all of us.

 

Saudi Reformation?

Haaretz

Have you ever wondered what it was like to live in Martin Luther’s Germany, Henry VIII’s England, or revolutionary America? I sure have. And now we can watch what it is like. That is essentially what is happening in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Myron Magnet wrote about it in City Journal yesterday.

How extraordinary to see a world-historical revolution unfolding before one’s eyes and not know how it will turn out: that’s what’s happening right now in Saudi Arabia. Mohammad bin Salman, a 32-year-old too young to be a partner in most law or finance firms, has managed, by intrigue not yet fully disclosed, to supplant his cousin Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef as heir to the throne and to carry out a purge of the royal family breathtaking in its sweep. Imagine: not only did bin Salman order the arrest of at least ten other princes and a score of former government ministers, now held in luxurious restraint in Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton; he also supposedly had Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the world’s richest men and a major shareholder of 21st Century Fox, Citigroup, Apple, Twitter, and a host of other giant Western corporations, hanged upside down and beaten in an “anti-corruption” investigation.

No matter that “wasta”—corruption, kickbacks, and cronyism—has long governed Saudi Arabian business dealings. Now, the kingdom’s economic crown jewel—Aramco, the Saudi state oil company—is headed for sale on the public stock markets, and the financial future of the kingdom and its oligarchs is on the line. Sadly for the Saudis, Aramco is no longer as valuable, economically and geopolitically, as it once was. Natural gas from fracking has displaced oil as the fuel of the Western economy, with the result that OPEC (and, less critically, Russian oil) can no longer hold anybody’s economy hostage. […]

I’m not completely certain that the Russia part of the story is less critical, but the Saudi story is certainly more gripping at the moment.

Economic modernization and diversification, the prince saw, were essential, and they required social liberalization as the first order of business, beginning with allowing women to drive cars, the royal road to women’s liberation. Already, Saudi women are casting off the hijab and seizing modern social pleasures. The important point is that half the kingdom’s potential workforce will become free to produce, with hugely positive consequences for the economy.

But that’s only part of the social revolution that the prince’s economic transformation entails. Crucially, the royal family will find it harder to fund the radical Wahhabi Islam that OPEC has let grow like mushrooms. It’s hard to imagine that this well-established, well-fed worldwide network of terrorist-supporting fanatics, in their opulent mosques and madrassas—and especially in the more Spartan ones in Pakistan—will go quietly; little wonder that the prince has surrounded himself with a repressive security apparatus reminiscent of the Shah of Iran’s. He appears to be a quiet but inexorable foe of Muslim extremism, and consequently it is uncertain that he will emerge from his heroic and visionary remaking of the Saudi order with his head intact on his shoulders. Many a social liberalization has spun out of control and produced anarchy or fascist counterrevolution. But well-wishers have long hoped that some Muslim Martin Luther would purge Islam of its quotient of bloodlust and allow the self-perfecting, ethical version of its peaceful adherents to prevail in a secular society, where separation of mosque and state makes religion a private matter. In a medieval region like Arabia, it turns out, a king might do the job equally well—if he can survive to inherit the throne and rule from it. And then the question will be whether his revolution can last, as the Pahlavis’ and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s did not.

I tend to wonder whether Henry VIII is a closer parallel than Martin Luther, a top-down imposed reformation rather than Luther’s more or less bottom-up one, but then I’m an Anglophile, and its a pretty small point, overall.

But the ramifications are breathtaking. While we American worry more about the Iranians (not to mention their manifold connections with North Korea) Britain, who have more problems with homegrown terrorists than we do, worries quite a lot more about KSA and Wahhabism. Different experiences, different outcomes.

The US, for all our conventional power, often focusses on strategic weapons (read nuclear missiles). That’s important, and I think the Brits (and others) should pay more attention, that Nork launch last week means that all of the northern hemisphere is a target, in fact, London is closer than Los Angeles.

But that doesn’t make the British focus on KSA wrong. The Saudis have financed a lot of bad actors, especially in Pakistan, where a lot of the British problem originates. Remember Pakistan was, like India, part of the Raj, the British Empire in South Asia. It complicates a lot of things for them, and this is one of them.

What will happen? I simply have no idea, I don’t know enough. But it has many good possibilities, just as that document signed on 2 July 1776 did. But like that document, it may well have to be made good in blood, and even if it is, it may be worth it. I guess we’ll see if we live long enough.

Good luck to the Crown Prince though, I think he is on the right track.

 

Welcome to December

Well, another week, for a lot of us Christians, we start a whole new year today, as we anticipate the birth of Jesus. I’m ready for one, and suspect you are too. He’s back!

Well, the President retweeted some British group (that hardly anybody had heard of, although they have now) and HMG came unglued. I wonder of it was because Britain First was correct. Less NSFW than usual, BTW.

Well, another week, another bunch of unemployed famous men who can’t seem to understand that women are not their property, or something.

More palatably

Christmas shopping?

And, of course

Mostly from PowerLine, Sleeping Beauty from Ace.

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