Saturday, July 11, 2015

Should the IRS come to be seen as just a bunch of enforcers for whoever is in political power, the result would be an enormous loss of legitimacy for the tax system

Barack Obama Jokes about using the IRS to audit those he does not like

From Tax Audits Are No Laughing Matter by Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds in the Wall Street Journal (May 2009):
"I really thought this was much ado about nothing, but I do think we all learned an important lesson. I learned never again to pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA brackets. . . . President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS."
Just a joke about the power of the presidency. Made by Jay Leno it might have been funny. But as told by Mr. Obama, the actual president of the United States, it's hard to see the humor.

 … Should the IRS come to be seen as just a bunch of enforcers for whoever is in political power, the result would be an enormous loss of legitimacy for the tax system.

 … Paul Caron, a professor at the University of Cincinnati who writes the TaxProf blog, noted in response to Mr. Obama's remarks that the law calls for the termination of IRS employees who make audit threats for illegitimate reasons. He suggested that Mr. Obama's "joke" might be grounds for firing if he were an IRS employee.

 … The notion that people who are audited are probably just "enemies of the regime," coupled with the idea that big shots get a pass -- that, as Leona Helmsley is reputed to have said, "taxes are for the little people" -- is a recipe for widespread tax evasion. That's how things work in Italy, and in many other countries around the world. But do we want things to work that way here?

Friday, July 10, 2015

If racism is the irrational fear of another race then rational fear cannot be racism

“I would never trade the [Confederate] flag for a single job,”
Benny Huang quotes Andrew Young as saying, as the nation’s first black ambassador to the United Nations "urged his fellow blacks to get some perspective on the symbol and to turn their attention to more pressing matters."
“The problems we face don’t have anything to do with the flag. The fact is that 93% of black people killed are killed by other black people. So black lives matter. Let us start believing that we matter.”

It’s become something of a cliché on the Right, in the wake of the many black deaths involving police, to point out that far more black people are killed each year by other black people than by cops of any color or by racist terrorists like Dylann Roof. It’s a valid point, and one that I think most blacks understand, even if they’d prefer not to hear it from conservative white people. That’s unfortunate because the arcane rules of who’s allowed to say what are truly counterproductive, not to mention racist. Truth is truth, regardless of the speaker.

The facts are shocking and undeniable. FBI crime statistics reveal that 2,491 black people were murdered in this country in 2013, the latest year for which statistics are available. A full 90% (2,245) were murdered by other black people. That statistic is not an anomaly. A study of murder statistics in the thirty years between 1976 and 2005 found that 90% of black murder victims were killed by other blacks. Furthermore, blacks are eight times more likely to be murdered than whites. Black people murdered by other black people represented about 39% of all murders in the United States in 2013, despite the fact that blacks represent only about 13% of the population.

And black people know this. Even the pompous “Reverend” Jesse Jackson has admitted his fear of blacks. Said Jackson in 1993: “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery—then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”

 … But don’t make the mistake of assuming that anyone can discuss black-on-black violence just because blacks themselves do. It’ still racist when you do it. It’s important to punish any white (or non-black) person who speaks out of turn. Otherwise, people might start to get the idea that associating black people with violence is rational.

If racism is the irrational fear of another race then rational fear cannot be racism. This is important to keep in mind when discussing, for example, the “white flight” phenomenon of the 1960’s and 1970’s. According to popular mythology, white people couldn’t tolerate living in “diverse” neighborhoods because of an irrational fear of The Other so they fled to the suburbs. That’s a deliberate distortion of what really happened. Yes, middle class white families sold their homes in droves, to the detriment of the cities they left behind, but those people wanted to stay in their neighborhoods. They were driven out. Urban America’s white refugees just didn’t want to spend their lives in an endlessly looping scene from “Boyz N the Hood.” Who can blame them?

Plenty of people, actually. Some of them are even white liberals who themselves live in the poshest of suburbs, but many are black. If you don’t want to be a white minority in a violent black neighborhood, you are an insufferable bigot, or so they say.

Black-on-black violence is no secret among blacks. It’s white people who feel the most uncomfortable discussing it, always looking over their shoulders to see who’s listening. There is a stiff social penalty to pay for white people (or non-black people) who engage in candid discussions about race and violence. Afraid of being called a racist, people pretend that violence is a commodity evenly distributed among the population. It’s a coercive mass delusion that demands all non-black people join in.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Disappointing as it may be to Anglo-Saxons, the French do not sit around shooting the breeze about Derrida, Barthes, and Foucault in the Café de Flore

France is arguably the world’s most self-consciously intellectual country. Public thinkers are cherished like national treasures, given airtime on television and column inches in Le Monde. Their counsel is even heeded. Bernard-Henri Lévy, a contemporary philosopher with an outsized reputation, is credited with a role in persuading Nicolas Sarkozy, a former French president, to intervene in Libya in 2011. As a younger French generation discovered to their defiant delight at a mass march in Paris after the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo in January, French thought is not only about dry stuff to be found in philosophy textbooks; it is a central part of their national identity.

 … Mr Hazareesingh’s main purpose is to examine how, rather than what, the French think: the framework, codes and reasoning that have marked the country’s intellectual expression over the past four centuries.

The author distinguishes five elements to French thinking. The first is the way history is used to structure reasoning, through concepts such as rupture, revolution and progress. Second is the fixation with the nation and collective identity, Mr de Villepin’s rhetoric being a fine example. Third is the intensity of public debate about ideas (“We gossip, we quarrel, we expend our energy in words; we use strong language, and fly into great rages over the smallest of subjects,” wrote Jules Michelet, a French historian, in 1846). Fourth is the importance of the public intellectual as a vehicle for disseminating such ideas. Finally, there is the interplay between rational order and the creative imagination.
In response to an Economist book review about Sudhir Hazareesingh's How the French Think (An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People), Paul Tracy writes that
Your review of a book on French intellectualism asks what is it about the French that makes them speak and think like this (“They think, therefore they are”, June 13th)? The answer is that they don’t. Disappointing as it may be to Anglo-Saxons, the French do not sit around shooting the breeze about Derrida, Barthes and Foucault in the Café de Flore. Most of them have never heard of these luminaries. They do not even have any time for Thomas Piketty. Just because such names are dropped by the media-politico microcosm do not assume that anyone pays any attention. That is what is called here: prendre ses désirs pour des réalités.

It is hard to see what intellectual content there was in the Charlie Hebdo mass march in January. And if one seeks “rupture”, artistic or otherwise, what difference is there between the Nouvelle Vague and Britain’s rebellious cinema of the early 1960s or Italy’s of the 1950s? Or between François Mitterrand’s emptying of his new Socialist Party of all intellectual content in the 1980s, and Tony Blair’s similar exercise with Labour in the 1990s? I was in France in 1968: it was fun but there wasn’t much that was intellectual about it.

Anglo-Saxons might understand the French better if they accept that they get up every day to worry about jobs, money and kids, just like everyone else, not “rupture, revolution and progress”.

Monday, July 06, 2015

How the "Big Tent" Scams Work: If you open the door a crack, the RINO barges in and puts her feet up on the coffee table

Meghan McCain greeted last month’s same-sex marriage ruling with all the class we have come to expect from her
notes Benny Huang,
which is to say, none at all. “Also, Republicans. #Lovewins,” she tweeted. “This is the future and everybody better now get in line.”

Yes, “get in line.” You will recognize same-sex marriages and you will like it. This one is settled, so shut up.

Is it obvious now that “big tent” philosophy that Meghan McCain advocates for the Republican Party is a sham? What she wants is a tent that’s big enough for her but not big enough for you. She wants to talk endlessly about social issues but to shush you if you happen to disagree. “For the last four years, I’ve been calling for Republicans to stop concentrating on social issues,” she wrote after the 2012 election. And for those same four years she talked of nothing but social issues and why her party is wrong about them. She doesn’t want anyone to apply “purity tests” to candidates, while reserving the right to apply her own. The most important issue in McCain’s purity test is “marriage equality.” It’s the only thing she seems to care about. In 2012, she even threatened to leave the GOP if the party didn’t change its tune on that issue. Sounds like a purity test to me, and one based on a social issue to boot.

This is how “big tent” scams always work. First, the liberal Republican knocks at the door and asks nicely to be let in. She appeals to your better instincts—can’t you make a little room for divergent viewpoints? If you open the door a crack, she barges in and puts her feet up on the coffee table. Before you know it, you’re out in the cold begging her to let you in.

And she will deny you. Because you’re an insufferable bigot, that’s why.

In all of Meghan McCain’s years in the public spotlight, I have never once heard her say anything the least bit conservative, with the exception of a few completely disingenuous statements she regurgitated to establish her conservative credentials just before delivering a left-wing rant.

 … McCain’s going to “modernize” the rest of us, whether we like it or not, mostly by demanding that we modify our stances on social issues. It’s for our own good. 

 … Meghan McCain may be a Republican but that’s only a party affiliation and doesn’t mean much. She is not however, a conservative, and no amount of forcing a square peg into a round hole will change that. She’s a professional “seminar caller.” A seminar caller, for those not familiar with the term, is a person who calls into (usually conservative) radio talk shows claiming to share the host’s political convictions but who feels compelled to disagree on this or that point. Often, seminar callers try to appropriate their opponents’ vocabulary. A seminar caller might, for example, claim to oppose lifting a finger to enforce our immigration laws because enforcement costs too much. The seminar caller’s opposition is supposedly grounded in fiscal conservatism, which forces the host to sound like a profligate spender and a hypocrite if he objects. The key to seminar calling is always to pretend to be an ally. It helps to begin every call with “I’m a lifelong Republican but…” 
Meghan McCain makes an excellent seminar caller because she really has been a Republican her entire adult life, if only because it’s something of a job requirement. Though not really a conservative, she plays one on TV. In October of 2010, McCain appeared on Rachel Maddow’s left-wing talk show and agreed with everything the host had to say. McCain, ever the one-trick pony, launched into her well-rehearsed monologue about how the GOP needs to become the Democrats’ doppelganger. Shockingly, Maddow agreed with her. Maddow apparently shared McCain’s concern for the long-term viability of the Republican Party. She’d really miss those evil Republicans if they went the way of the dodo.

 … How big of her. Rachel Maddow wants to have dialogue. She’s willing to host conservatives as long as they aren’t really conservative just as she is willing to give a forum to an opposing voice as long as it doesn’t oppose her. It’s a win-win. Rachel Maddow gets to pretend she’s open-minded enough to have a discussion with someone who disagrees with her while Meghan McCain gets to pretend she’s a conservative. Don’t believe her? Of course she is. That’s why Rachel Maddow invited her on the show!
At some point in Meghan McCain’s life, … she … saw an opportunity to remake the Republican Party into what she wants it to be—the Democratic Party.