Programming note: While I appreciate suggestions for the weekly cheesecake posts, I do not use “selfies” and almost never post photos of Hollywood celebrities (at least not anyone I recognize as a Hollywood celebrity). The former are almost always lousy photography, and the latter get more than enough coverage anyway. Continue reading Saturday Gingermageddon
It’s no surprise to anyone that has been paying attention that Democrat Presidential candidate Spreading Bull Warren is proposing a wealth tax to pay for her massive spending proposals, not least of which is “Medicare for All.” While her proposals suck for a number of reasons, this one is perhaps one of the worst. Let’s look at the reasons why.
Let’s forget legal aspects for a moment and look at the practical aspects of this proposal to confiscate the wealth of successful Americans by force.
By her own words, she claims that her proposal would only affect either “billionaires” or “the top 1%,” depending on which day you listen to her. But these people are the same people who are best equipped, best prepared and most able to evade just such a tax; the inevitable result of this plan would yield only a massive capital flight from our shores, and a resulting catastrophic crash of our financial markets. Less wealthy Americans, less able to flee the new taxation scheme, would see their retirement accounts evaporate. Businesses would suffer; layoffs and business closings would follow.
And bear in mind that her proposal isn’t a one time thing. It would tax the assets of every American that meets the criteria, every year. And her claim of 2%? Well, that’s how the income tax started, too. How long do you suppose the wealth tax would stay at 2%?
At best, we could expect a prolonged recession that would make the 2008-2009 “Great Recession” look like a blip. At worst, we could see a prolonged Depression, quite possibly worse than the 1928-1938 Depression, very likely the worst downturn in our nation’s history.
But there are stronger arguments against Princess Spreading Bull’s plan, and those are found in the Constitution.
Article One, Section Nine of the U.S. Constitution, Limits on Congress, contains the following unambiguous statement:
No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
What does this mean? Simply this: Congress can levy no direct tax unless that tax is levied in proportion to the population of the several States. In other words, if California contains 12% of the nation’s population, then California must supply 12% of any direct tax. If Alaska contains 2%, then the residents of Alaska are only responsible for 2% of the total. Now it’s pretty apparent to anyone who’s been paying attention that a few states, like New York and California, contain a proportion of wealth far higher than their percentage of the nation’s total population; other states, like Alaska and Arkansas, rather less so.
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
Note that final clause; a specific exemption was stated to allow the current income tax to be collected without regard to “…any census or enumeration.”
Liawatha Warren’s wealth tax, in which she proposes to confiscate the wealth of many successful Americans, a tax which would wreck our economy and lay a heavy levy on wealth generated with post tax dollars – thus representing double taxation – would require a Constitutional amendment, one which has rather less chances of ratification than would an amendment denying the vote to all persons with red hair and blue eyes.
Liawatha Warren is perhaps one of the most dangerous politicians to ever seek the office of the President. Her proposals would destroy the Constitution, would result in economic ruin, and would drive wealth out of the country. Fortunately, while she seems to be in a good position to gain the Democratic nomination, her odds thereafter are not good; if for no other reason, her Medicare-for-All plan would strip the generous, union-negotiated health care plans of millions of blue-collar and middle-class Americans. If the Democrats lose the labor unions, they lose the election, and this plan guarantees that loss. Add to that the fact that her proposals would prove wildly unpopular to all Americans other than the far left, and her nomination is little more than a gift to the Trump re-election campaign.
But still, it’s important to examine her policy plans, and spread the word on why and how they would result in disaster. Let’s hope most Americans are paying attention.
National treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson has put together a piece on the upcoming 2020 election. Go read it all. Excerpt:
When Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and a number of Democratic presidential candidates sympathize with the New York subway jumpers who openly threaten the police, then what or who exactly is the alternative to such chaos?
When the media proves 90 percent partisan according to its own liberal watchdog institutions, or reports things as true that cannot be true but “should” be true, what are the forces behind that?
When the violence of Antifa is quietly—or sometimes loudly—condoned, who are those who empower it and excuse it?
If a late-term abortion results in a live baby exiting the birth canal only to be liquidated, who exactly would say that is amoral?
If the leading Democratic presidential candidates openly embrace the Green New Deal, reparations, abolishing the Electoral College, welfare for illegal aliens, open borders, amnesties, wealth taxes, a 70-90 percent income tax code, Medicare for all, and legal infanticide—what is the alternative vision and who stands between all that and a targeted traditional America?
In California, the nation’s largest utility preemptively shuts off power to multibillion-dollar industries and two-million customers, given its ossified grid and over-regulated operations, and the deliberate policy of the state not to clean up drought-stricken dead forests and underbrush that are ignited by wind and antiquated transmission cables. So, who or what then in 2020 would oppose all that?
Well, for 2020, I think we already know the answer. My official prediction is that President Trump will easily survive the attempt to remove him from office, and barring any major economic or political calamity, he’ll be re-elected next year. And no, nothing the Dems have come up with yet comprises a major political calamity.
But for 2024 and after?
I know I harp on this theme a lot, but the big-government ratchet only turns one way. We can’t regain freedoms lost or liberties infringed, except – maybe – by violence. And violence, nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of a thousand, won’t result in a glorious restoration of the Republic. It will just result in the end of our Republic.
Dr. Hanson concludes: One side advocates a complete transformation not just of the American present but of the past as well. The Left is quite eager to change our very vocabulary and monitor our private behavior to ensure we are not just guilty of incorrect behavior but thought as well.
The other side believes America is far better than the alternative, that it never had to be perfect to be good, and that, all and all, its flawed past is a story of a moral nation’s constant struggle for moral improvement.
One side will say, “Just give us more power and we will create heaven on earth.” The other says “Why would anyone wish to take their road to an Orwellian nightmare?” The 2020 election is that simple.
And so will the 2024 election be that simple. And the 2028 election.
Now, on to the links!
Monday, of course, was Veteran’s Day. Have a listen to a great piece commemorating that day from one of my follow Glibertarians.
Want to know how to spot a psychopath? Well, you could look at Congress.
The next big tech thing may be smart glasses. I figure I’ll just keep my old dumb glasses.
Yesterday, we talked about the Imperial judiciary, but it seems at least Justice Gorsuch is framing well at the task. So far.
homeless man bum in Los Angeles dumped a bucket of “hot diarrhea” over a woman’s head. That’s as opposed to the hot diarrhea coming out of Congress.
Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I, Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, is concerned about something she doesn’t understand. Again.
And on that note, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.
I’ve had my issues from time to time with Mitch McConnell, but man is he ramming new judge appointments through the Senate. Excerpt:
McConnell and Trump have already overseen the confirmation of more than 150 judges — a whopping 40 more than former President Barack Obama had confirmed at a similar point in his tenure.
McConnell got a standing ovation Wednesday at a White House celebration Trump held to mark the achievement, and they’re celebrating on the campaign trail, too. “So President Obama left Mitch and me and Rand [Paul] and all of us, he left 142 openings for judges,” Trump said to cheers at a Monday rally in McConnell’s home state, Kentucky. “You are not supposed to allow any. You don’t do that.”
Rest assured McConnell and Trump have no plans to do that. So while Democrats are obsessing over impeachment, and government funding remains at an impasse over funding for Trump’s border wall, McConnell is going to stick to his knitting and steamroll Democrats with another wave of judicial confirmations.
“The Senate will continue its work in the personnel business and confirm more of the president’s outstanding nominees to the federal judiciary,” McConnell said on the Senate floor this week. “Since our Democratic colleagues chose last week to filibuster defense funding and block the Senate from even considering legislation to fund our armed forces, we’ll turn our focus to confirmations while we wait for progress from them on appropriations.”
In other words, Senator McConnell knows how this game is played, and he’s damn well playing it.
Of course, President Trump’s judicial nominees are an order of magnitude less horrible than Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I’s picks would have been. And given the fact that here in America these days the process seems to be to legislate through the courts, getting a bunch of Federal judges who are at least on nodding terms with the Constitution would be a good thing.
Government, as George Washington pointed out, is like fire, a fearful servant and a dreadful master. Having power over others is addictive. Judges are prone to that no less than any other official. So, I guess, maybe “less horrible” is the best we can hope for.
Let’s see what less horrible gets us.
Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links! Thanks also to 357 Magnum and Moonbattery for the linkbacks. Also, our good friend in Rule Five links over at The Other McCain, Wombat-Socho, is having somme health issues. If you can, give him a hand.
And to all my brothers and sisters who have served, have a safe and restful Veteran’s Day.
Today, let’s have a look at one of the worst cars ever made, and a typical fruit of Communism: The Trabant. Excerpt:
The smoke-belching Trabant, affectionately known as the “Trabi” to people who never had to drive one, debuted in East Germany in November 1957. Initially, the car was not a disaster, at least not entirely. In fact, it had some enviable attributes for its era. Its much-mocked duroplast body was an innovation at the time of its introduction. The vehicle’s front-wheel-drive transmission system and independent suspension were also modern advancements, one Trabant driver notes.
That, however, is where the vehicle’s virtues stop and its problems begin.
It wasn’t that the Trabant had a weak two-stroke engine, though it did. It wasn’t just that the Trabant was made with recycled waste (usually from wool or cotton), though it was. It wasn’t that Trabants topped out at 60 mph and “smoked like an Iraqi oil fire,” as one writer put it.
No, the Trabant’s biggest problem was that it never really improved. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the 1957 Trabant had no tachometer, no turn signal, no seat belts or fuel gauge, no trunk liner, and used an oil/gas mix. The fact that these basic amenities were still missing when Taylor Swift was born is a bit more surprising. Indeed, when the last Trabant was produced in 1989 it still topped out at about 60 mph, which it took 21 seconds to reach from a stop. The Aston Martin Virage, which debuted the same year, took 6.5 seconds.
In other words, a piece of shit. Typical of consumer products from Communist countries.
When I was temporarily stationed in Germany during the 1996-97 Balkans dust-up, an Army buddy of mine had bought a Trabant, just for a lark. He actually drove it around, and spent a fair amount of time lamenting how hard it was to find parts. I rode in it once. The body felt like pressed cardboard – with good reason, since that’s essentially what it was. The engine could have easily been replaced by a couple of monkeys on a treadmill. The interior was cramped, the seats were horribly uncomfortable, the entire thing was just hideous.
My buddy was fond of showing it off with the line: “See what Commies can build?”
He wasn’t wrong. And it’s important to note that the Trabant was built by Germans, a people with a long tradition of building fine machinery. Think on that.
The American Conservative’s Michael Vlahos, earlier this week, had some interesting thoughts on the possibility of a second Civil War. Excerpts, with my comments, follow.
A Georgetown Institute poll finds that two-thirds of us believe we are edging closer “to the brink of a civil war.” Yet Americans cannot properly analyze this “gathering storm.” We lack a framework, a lexicon, and the historical data (from other civil wars) to see clearly what is happening to us.
Here is a quick template for how we might more usefully decipher how this nation gets to another civil war. It is arranged as a short series of questions: 1) What is civil war? 2) Why do political-constitutional orders sometimes breakdown, rather than simply transform in response to change? 3) How is violence essential to constitutional and political resolution? 4) How close is the U.S. to such a break down, and its consequences?
My thoughts: 1) A civil war is two factions fighting for control of one nation; and yes, I’m aware that what we call the Civil War, wasn’t. 2) I think it’s likely inevitable, when you have two factions (we call them parties) competing for control, that eventually friction will build to the point of open hostility. 3) I don’t know that it’s essential, but Thomas Jefferson thought so. 4) I suspect something bad will happen in the next 50 years.
Now, the article on these four points; I’ll just give you a few words and let you read the rest:
What is civil war?
Civil war is, at root, a contest over legitimacy. Legitimacy—literally the right to make law — is shorthand for the consent of the citizens and political parties to abide by the authority of a constitutional order. Civil war begins when this larger political compact breaks down.
Why do some constitutional orders breakdown rather than transform?
Our political stability has depended on the tenure of periodic “party systems.” Legitimacy flows from the give and take of a two-party relationship. American party systems have had dominant parties or states.
Violence is the magical substance of civil war. If, by definition, political groups in opposition have also abandoned the legitimacy of the old order, then a successor constitutional order with working politics cannot be birthed without violence. Hence violence is the only force that can bring about a new order. This is why all memorable civil wars, and all parties, enthusiastically embrace violence.
How close is the U.S. to such a breakdown—and its consequences?
American constitutional order has not broken down, yet. Constitutional legitimacy still rules. Recent tests of legitimacy confirm this. A presidential impeachment in the 1990s did not lead to conviction in a trial, nor did anyone expect it to. The Supreme Court decided a contested presidential election in 2000, and the decision was everywhere accepted. 2016, in contrast, was bitterly accepted. Yet even the relentless force to depose the president that followed, through a special prosecutor, was spent by the spring of 2019.
Yet if these are tests of robust legitimacy they are hardly reassuring. A daily torrent of unfiltered evidence suggests that our constitutional order is fissuring before our eyes. That we have skirted constitutional crisis for the past quarter century is no reassurance, but rather an alarm of continuing erosion. Each new test is yet more bitterly contested, and still less resolved.
So, not too different than my preliminary thoughts. But here’s the part that I find worrisome:
The issue here is not “What if?” but rather, “What then?” It is not about the authenticity of conflict scenarios, but rather about how contingencies we cannot now predict might bring us to a breaking point, and the breakdown of legitimacy.
Already, warring sides have hardened their hearts so that they will do almost anything in order to prevail. The great irony is that their mutual drive to win—either to preserve their way of life, or make their way of life the law of the land—means that the battle has already become a perverse alliance. Today they refuse to work together in the rusting carapace of old constitutional order. Yet nonetheless they work shoulder-to-shoulder, together, to overthrow it. For both sides, the old order is the major obstacle to victory. Hence victory is through overthrow. Only when constitutional obstacles are toppled can the battle for light and truth begin.
Here’s where I part ways with Mr. Vlahos. I don’t see any “battle for light and truth” resulting from such a conflict. I can see only the end of my country, the end of a nation that has been a beacon of freedom. Some kind of tyranny or dictatorship will be the likely result; either that, or utter anarchy. The best we can hope for is a balkanization, with several smaller countries arising where a superpower once stood. This will result in a global power vacuum – and who will step into the void? Russia? Not likely; they are a dying giant. China, perhaps?
Any civil war will be fought among us, in the fields, the streets, on the highways and in the neighborhoods of our country. It will be brutal and deadly, and it will be the end of the United States. Some folks on the right and on the left seem to think it would be a rebirth; it won’t. It will be a death. The death of our nation, and the death of a world of peace and order.
Housing prices in California have been the worst in the nation for some time, and there’s no relief on the horizon. Bloomberg tells us why. Excerpts, with my comments:
California, the land of golden dreams, has become America’s worst housing nightmare.
Recent wildfires have only heightened the stakes for a state that can’t seem to build enough new homes.
The median price for a house now tops $600,000, more than twice the national level. The state has four of the country’s five most expensive residential markets—Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Orange County and San Diego. (Los Angeles is seventh.) The poverty rate, when adjusted for the cost of living, is the worst in the nation. California accounts for 12% of the U.S. population, but a quarter of its homeless population.
That last bit isn’t solely due to housing prices. While the salubrious climate plays a part – and I’ll admit, I’ve worked for extended periods in both the northern LA ‘burbs and in Silicon Valley, and the weather is to be envied – its more the Free Shit and the permissiveness that allows street bums to shoot up and crap on the sidewalks without consequence that is responsible for the homeless figure.
How did we get here? Simply put, bad government—from outdated zoning laws to a 40-year-old tax provision that benefits long-time homeowners at the expense of everyone else—has created a severe shortage of houses. While decades in the making, California’s slow-moving disaster has reached a critical point for state officials, businesses and the millions who are straining to live there.
And it’s not going to change any time soon? Why? Well, this isn’t going to help:
This fall, as President Donald Trump blamed Democrats for the situation on his swing through the state to raise money for his reelection, lawmakers in Sacramento passed some of the most sweeping legislation in years to address housing affordability. Google, Facebook Inc. and Apple Inc. are throwing billions of dollars at the issue. But nobody’s kidding themselves that it’s enough.
“Broadly speaking, there is no solution to the California housing crisis without the construction of millions of new houses,” said David Garcia, policy director for the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley.
But you can’t build millions of new houses in California. Google can’t, Facebook can’t, and Apple can’t, for all their billions. Why? See the comments on bad government above. Sacramento simply won’t allow it.
McKinsey & Co. estimated in 2016 that California needed some 3.5 million more homes by the middle of next decade—a figure that Governor Gavin Newsom made a central part of his administration’s goals. A more recent analysis suggests it may take the state until 2050 to meet the target.
Gavin Newsom is a horse’s ass, and will vigorously oppose any relaxing of zoning and regulation that might actually make housing more affordable – primarily by building more houses. And better than houses, something that Bloomberg doesn’t mention – apartment buildings! Some time ago, while on a visit to Japan, I wrote a piece on how Tokyo handles housing by vertical storage. California could learn a thing or two from Japan.
As severe as this sounds, the rest of the country is becoming more—not less—like California. During the longest economic expansion on record, the U.S. has been building far fewer houses than it usually does, pushing prices further out of reach for a vast portion of the population that has barely seen incomes rise.
Government, True Believers, is the problem, not the solution. As long as California remains a single-party state, allowing the elite Left Coast progressives to run the state unchecked, the housing situation is only going to get worse, no matter how many Silicon Valley tech companies try to make things better.
On to the links!
Want to know the best place in the Middle East to be an Arab Muslim? Israel.
Do you live in Chicago? Get the hell out. Now!
The Washington Examiner examines (hah) the freak show that is the Democrat’s Presidential field.
Meanwhile, President Trump’s Electoral College margin may be increasing.
I love a happy ending. This one rates an excerpt:
Another gun control talking point has been debunked after a pregnant woman, who remains unnamed, used an AR-15 to defend herself and her family from a violent home invasion.
Masked individuals broke into her Florida home and severely beat her husband, who suffered serious injuries. He thought he was going to die.
“I’ve got a fractured eye socket, a fractured sinus cavity, a concussion, 20 stitches and three staples in my head. I took a severe beating,” Jeremy King told Spectrum News Bay Area 9.
“They came in heavily hooded and masked. As soon as they had got the back door opened, they had a pistol on me and was grabbing my 11-year-old daughter,” he continued, saying the masked men were asking for money. “It became real violent, real fast.”
King said the two suspects grabbed his 11-year old daughter and his wife grabbed their AR-15. She shot one of them, who then ran out of the house and died in a ditch nearby. The other suspect is still on the run.
Neanderthals made necklaces. We’re increasingly finding out these people were more sophisticated that we thought, and that’s fascinating.
Daylight Savings Time sucks. Thanks, Captain Obvious.
Colorado may be turning blue, but it turns out that concealed-carry permits are at an all-time high. Coincidence?
On that well-armed note, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.