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April 13, 2012

Around the News

I've got too little time and there's too much going on for a separate post on everything that's going on, so here are a few things that caught my eye and my thoughts on each.

Buffett Rule Baloney

The Buffett Rule: Free-Lunch Egalitarianism
Obama's disguised tax hike on capital gains
National Review
April 12, 2012 8:00 P.M.
By Charles Krauthammer

...Let's do the math. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates this new tax would yield between $4 billion and $5 billion a year. If we collect the Buffett tax for the next 250 years -- a span longer than the life of this republic -- it would not cover the Obama deficit for 2011 alone.

As an approach to our mountain of debt, the Buffett Rule is a farce. And yet Obama repeated the ridiculous claim again this week. "It will help us close our deficit." Does he really think we're that stupid?

Yes and no.

Yes in that those who want to believe it will. No in that the purpose of the tax is not about raising revenue. One, he is sending a not-so-subtle message to the wealthy: Support me or I will punish you. Two, it satisfies his base who simply want to see the wealthy punished.

The editors of the Wall Street Journal call it right:

The Obama Rule
He says taxation is about fairness, not growth or revenue
The Wall Street Journal
April 11, 2012, 7:04 p.m. ET

Forget Warren Buffett, or whatever other political prop the White House wants to use for its tax agenda. This week the Administration officially endorsed what in essence is the Obama Rule: Taxes must be high simply to spread the wealth, never mind the impact on the economy or government revenue. It's all about "fairness," baby.
...
The Buffett rule is really nothing more than a sneaky way for Mr. Obama to justify doubling the capital gains and dividend tax rate to 30% from 15% today. That's the real spread-the-wealth target. The problem is that this is a tax on capital that is needed for firms to grow and hire more workers. Mr. Obama says he wants an investment-led recovery, not one led by consumption, but how will investment be spurred by doubling the tax on it?

The only investment and hiring the Buffett rule is likely to spur will be outside the United States--in China, Germany, India, and other competitors with much more investment-friendly tax regimes.

Exploiting Trayvon Martin

I made most of my thoughts on the Trayvon Martin - George Zimmerman affair clear in a long comment on this post, but a few more comments are in order:

The New Black Panthers' Unpunished Threats
The Department of Justice appears uninterested in pursuing the group.
National Review
April 13, 2012 4:00 A.M.
By John Fund

...Wednesday, (Attorney General Eric Holder) appeared before the Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network to praise Sharpton "for your partnership, your friendship, and your tireless efforts to speak out for the voiceless, to stand up for the powerless, and to shine a light on the problems we must solve, and the promises we must fulfill."

This is the same Al Sharpton who has led several rallies against Zimmerman, in which he called for civil disobedience and an "occupation" of Sanford, Fla., where the shootingThis is the same Al Sharpton who has never apologized to Steven Pagones, the assistant district attorney he falsely accused of raping Tawana Brawley, a black teenager. The "dastardly deed" Sharpton accused Pagones of was found to be a complete fabrication. In 1998, Sharpton was found liable for seven defamatory statements he'd made against Pagones and ordered to pay $65,000.

Earlier in the 1990s, Sharpton had become famous exacerbating racial tensions in New York's Crown Heights neighborhood, tensions that led to the killing of Anthony Graziosi. In 1995, Sharpton denounced the owners of Freddy's Fashion Mart in Harlem as "bloodsuckers" and "white interlopers" over a rent dispute the business had with tenants. A short time later, a man entered Freddy's and told all the black people present, patrons and employees alike, to leave. Once they did, the man firebombed the building, killing seven people -- including a black security guard. Sharpton insisted he bore no responsibility for the incident, saying it was only a tenant/landlord dispute that had escalated out of control. occurred, if an arrest wasn't made.

So AG Eric Holder congratulates Al Sharpton. That Obama would appoint someone who praises Sharpton speaks volumes about our president. But given that he went to a racist church for 20 years, listened to a kook hatemonger preacher and wrote nice things about him in his autobiography, we should not be surprised.

More, if Mr. Holder is so concerned with civil rights, why doesn't he investigate the New Black Panther party? When confronted with this, liberals typically respond that the NBP is small and insignificant. Maybe and maybe not, but what difference does that make? I didn't know that the criminality of death threats depended on the number of people making them.

Conservative opinion on the charges filed against Zimmerman is split. David French says that there's enough evidence to warrant Zimmerman's arrest, but John Lott sees Prosecutorial misconduct. Some conservatives have come out strong for Zimmerman, which is a mistake. Most professional conservative writers and pundits, though seem to be taking a "wait and see" attitude towards guilt or innocence while condemning the circus the left has created.

I've never taken sides in that I don't pretend to know whether Mr. Zimmerman is guilty of anything or not. My problem has been with the disgraceful behavior of Al Sharpton, Eric Holder, Barack Obama, the liberal media, and liberal activists in general. These people, and yes I include our president and his attorney general, have done little but fan the flames of racial division since this thing began.

Does Hillary Hate Israel?

The Secretary of State Hillary, that is.

The Other Hillary Still Just As Appalling
NRO The Corner
By Andrew C. McCarthy
April 12, 2012 3:55 P.M.

As a fitting follow-up to Nina's post on the U.S. government's shocking indifference to the persecution of Christians by Muslims, let's shift to something the Obama administration cares passionately about: the good will of Muslims who wear on their sleeves their hatred for Israel.

In a story that's gotten very little attention, involving a town hall meeting in Tunisia last weekend, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was asked how the U.S. could expect people in Muslim countries like Tunisia and Egypt to trust American politicians given that, during the U.S. election season, those politicians cozy up to their "enemy" (in context, an obvious reference to Israel) and "run towards the Zionist lobbies").

Mrs. Clinton responded that she thought this was "a fair question." Really? And the answer to this fair question? Madame Secretary explained that these Muslims who regard Israel as their enemy should understand that "a lot of things are said in political campaigns that should not bear a lot of attention." She also thought they'd find it comforting that President Obama "will be reelected president" and that if people in Tunisia and Egypt just "watch what President Obama says and does" they'll realize they don't need to worry.

Appalling but, by now, not surprising. See CNS News, here, for video & transcript.

Either the secretary hates Israel, she's saying that Obama does but will lie about his true fealings for political expediency, or she's just and idiot.

If At First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try, Again

North Korea admits missile failure
Financial Times
By Christian Oliver in Seoul, Geoff Dyer in Washington and Mure Dickie in Tokyo
Last updated: April 13, 2012 11:27 pm

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights.

North Korea made rare admission of failure on Friday, confirming one of its rockets had failed in its mission to put a satellite into orbit, but the abortive launch was enough to prompt the US to quickly cancel a food-aid programme.

The launch, which many outsiders saw as a cover for a ballistic missile test, went badly for the hermit state, with the missile breaking up after only 90 seconds, although that was long enough to cause fatal damage to an agreement with the US made in February.

The failure will pile pressure on Kim Jong-eun, the new leader of North Korea, whom analysts believe may seek to restore his credentials by conducting a nuclear test.

In recent days, South Korean media have reported that North Korea was already planning another nuclear test. It followed a long-range missile launch in 2009 with an atomic test.

South Korea and the US said the Eunha-3 (Galaxy) rocket blasted off at 7.39am local time, but broke apart after about 90 seconds, sending the shattered fuselage into the Yellow Sea.

In an unusual move for a country that almost never admits internal problems, a newscaster on state television said the rocket had not put a satellite into space.

Do I have to say it? They're just going to keep trying and sooner or later they'll get it right. If this regime survives sooner or later not only will they figure out how to make their missiles work, they'll figure out how to make nuclear warheads for them.

That's the easy part. The hard part is that the DPRK is an impossibly hard not to crack and there really are no good options for us. Certainly engaging in endless talks whereby they promise us this and that and they reneg on every agreement is foolish, but there's not much more we can do to pressure them by way of sanctions. They're already quite isolated, and it affects their behavior not a bit.

What the missile launch does tell us though is that our policy of "engagement" has not tempered them at all. They're just as militant, and whatever our policy is, theirs is to intimidate us.

Another policy (or part of the same one) is that their new leader feels he has to show his generals how "tough" he is. This may mean that he's just as bad as his father... or he has to stage a few displays of strength so he will have credibility to negotiate with a softer line... who knows. They don't call it the "hermit kingdom" for nothing.

It is interesting, though, that they admitted to the failure. This might signal a change, perhaps even a Gorbachev-style glasnost, or it might mean nothing. If the former, then one wonders if Kim Jong-eun understands the forces he is unleashing. Gorbachev didn't but at least when the Soviet Empire collapsed it came in for a soft landing. We should hope the same happens to North Korea.

Posted by Tom at April 13, 2012 9:15 PM

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