The Bookworm Beat 6-24-15 — “watching the passing scene” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265I’ve been playing catch-up today, with some success. I managed to get about 50% of my to-do list completed, which is pretty good. And now I get to share with you the fascinating stuff that crossed my computer screen today:

Anyone for a flat tax?

I’m not feeling it for Rand Paul, who doesn’t strike me as being stable enough to be president. However, I do like his idea that we get rid of the entire IRS and go to a straight flat tax of 14.5% (if the pay wall blocks you, try finding the article at this link):

My tax plan would blow up the tax code and start over. In consultation with some of the top tax experts in the country, including the Heritage Foundation’s Stephen Moore, former presidential candidate Steve Forbes and Reagan economist Arthur Laffer, I devised a 21st-century tax code that would establish a 14.5% flat-rate tax applied equally to all personal income, including wages, salaries, dividends, capital gains, rents and interest. All deductions except for a mortgage and charities would be eliminated. The first $50,000 of income for a family of four would not be taxed. For low-income working families, the plan would retain the earned-income tax credit.

I would also apply this uniform 14.5% business-activity tax on all companies—down from as high as nearly 40% for small businesses and 35% for corporations. This tax would be levied on revenues minus allowable expenses, such as the purchase of parts, computers and office equipment. All capital purchases would be immediately expensed, ending complicated depreciation schedules.

The immediate question everyone asks is: Won’t this 14.5% tax plan blow a massive hole in the budget deficit? As a senator, I have proposed balanced budgets and I pledge to balance the budget as president.

Here’s why this plan would balance the budget: We asked the experts at the nonpartisan Tax Foundation to estimate what this plan would mean for jobs, and whether we are raising enough money to fund the government. The analysis is positive news: The plan is an economic steroid injection. Because the Fair and Flat Tax rewards work, saving, investment and small business creation, the Tax Foundation estimates that in 10 years it will increase gross domestic product by about 10%, and create at least 1.4 million new jobs.

Art Laffer, who helped come up with the plan, likes the idea too (caution: autoplay video at the link).

Reason for optimism as the Left goes mad

I’m wondering if Kevin Williamson maybe cut a little deal with the devil because his writing seems to get more brilliant every day. Or maybe it’s just that he’s a super smart guy who’s in his prime as a writer and observer. Anyway, he sees reason for optimism in the convulsions on the Left, convulsions that are hitting very hard at America’s political and social fabric:

We have seen an extraordinary outburst of genuine extremism — and genuine authoritarianism — in the past several months, and it will no doubt grow more intense as we approach the constitutional dethroning of the mock messiah to whom our progressive friends literally sang hymns of praise and swore oaths of allegiance. (“I pledge to be a servant to our president” — recall all that sieg heil creepiness.) There is an unmistakable stink of desperation about this, as though the Left intuits what the Right dares not hope: that the coming few months may in fact see progressivism’s cultural high-water mark for this generation.

If there is desperation, it probably is because the Left is starting to suspect that the permanent Democratic majority it keeps promising itself may yet fail to materialize. The Democrats won two resounding White House victories but can hardly win a majority in a state legislature (seven out of ten today are Republican-controlled) or a governorship (the Democrats are down to 18) to save their lives, while Republicans are holding their strongest position in Congress since the days of Herbert Hoover. The Democrats have calculated that their best bet in 2016 is Hillary Rodham Clinton, that tragic bag of appetites who couldn’t close the deal in the primary last time around. “Vote for me, I’m a lady” isn’t what they thought it was: Wendy Davis, running for governor of Texas, made all the proper ceremonial incantations and appeared in heroic postures on all the right magazine covers, but finished in the 30s on Election Day. With young people trending pro-life, that old black magic ain’t what it used to be.

For the Left, it feels like time is running out. So it isn’t sufficient that same-sex marriages be legalized; bakers and florists must be locked in prison if they decline to participate in a gay couple’s ceremony. It isn’t sufficient that those wishing to undergo sex-change surgery be permitted to go their own way; the public must pay for it, and if Bruce Jenner is still “Bruce” to you, you must be driven from polite society. It isn’t enough that the Left dominate the media and pop culture; any attempt to compete with it must be criminalized in the name of “getting big money out of politics.” Not the New York Times’s money, or Hollywood’s money, or the CEO of Goldman Sachs’s money — just the wrong sort of people’s money. Every major Democratic presidential candidate and every Democratic senator is on record supporting the repeal of the First Amendment’s free-speech protections — i.e., carving the heart out of the Bill of Rights — to clear the way for putting all public debate under political discipline.

Read the rest here.

By the way, if you want more insight about the Left’s illiberal totalitarianism, which is freely playing itself out before our eyes, Daniel Greenfield will fill you in.

Time to call the American Left what it is: Fascist

If it hadn’t been for Hitler’s genocidal monomania and lust for world domination, fascism would have been just another form of socialism, one that differed from communism in that the state made decisions for business, even as the business class got to hang onto a simulacrum of control and to skim any profits that resulted from a political class calling the shots. In communism, of course, the government cut out the middleman by taking industry from the business class and absorbing it into the government.

Our modern Democrats are working hard to turn America into a fascist economy, with the illusion of private ownership, but all decision-making vested in the government. Or as a Power Line reader explains:

I thought of you and your series when I read the lead editorial in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal (“ObamaCare’s Oligopoly Wave,” accessible here via Google). I suddenly understood the grand plan behind the administrative state. The Journal editorial highlights the consolidation wave about to break in the health insurance industry, but it can be applied to almost every regulated industry (which is probably now 99 percent of the economy).

The government is interested in creating monopolies and oligopolies that operate as public utilities, which are the functional equivalent of state-owned enterprises. “Such domestication is part of ObamaCare’s goal of political control, and it may well be that only fewer, larger and more centralized insurers can survive financially.”

Substitute “Obama” for “ObamaCare” and “companies” for “insurers” and the sentence will be true for all other industries. Since 2008, this has been occurring in my world as banking has come to be dominated by a few players who are closely tied to big government and the Democratic party, under the guise of reining in Wall Street (“Don’t let a good crisis go to waste”). The financial services industry has been dramatically reshaped by administrative agencies accountable to no one.

Obama, the megalomanic

Ed Lasky suggests that what drives Obama is the constant need for adulation.  He must be the first, the biggest, the most dynamic, the most transformational — and it doesn’t matter if the thing he’s first at, or whatever he does in the biggest way, or the subject of his dynamism, or his transformational policy hurts America.  It simply matters that he garners media accolades.  Lasky is on to something.  The article is so dense with information it doesn’t yield to cherry picking to give you a single “best” paragraph.  I think you just need to read the whole thing.

The Confederate flag

Perhaps because Texas is the furthest South I’ve ever lived, and Texas has it’s own flag, I haven’t been particularly distressed by the demise of the Confederate flag.  No matter how it came into being, it ended up as the symbol for a Democrat party that was willing to fight to the death to defend the institution of black slavery and that, in the 20th century, was willing to pervert law and morality to perpetuate the degradation of the American black.  After all, before the Nazis got ahold of it, the Swastika was just an Indian symbol, but they managed to mess up its associations forever.  That’s sometimes the way history plays out.

Having said that, if we’re going to get rid of flags associated with death and dictators and tyranny and slavery, I’m with those who are pointing out that the Left still profits mightily from selling flags and posters immortalizing such people as Mao (killed 50-100 million of his own people), Che (Castro’s willing executioner), Stalin (killed around 20-30 million of his own people), and Lenin (the mastermind behind mass death).

Also, some of my conservative Facebook friends have suggested that the gay mafia is rapidly turning the rainbow flag into a symbol of oppression and silence for anyone who dares to disagree with the LGBTQRSTUV’s agenda. They’ve got a point.

Sadly, while I don’t see any movement to get rid of the Communist crap (my small circle of Facebook friends will not be strong enough to get that movement going), I do believe Rush is right that the next target is the American flag.  You and I see it as a symbol of freedom; but the Left associates it with the essential evil that is America.

Pot, the big placebo

I went to the bank today, and complimented the clerk on his tie.  He told me it was a Jerry Garcia design, adding that it’s the only thing Jerry Garcia’s done that he liked.  From there, we discussed how drug use rotted Garcia’s brain and moral compass, which led naturally to today’s headline about the fact that all those magical medical properties marijuana is reputed to have probably don’t exist.  For a five minute interaction at the bank, I thought a good and information time was had by all.

If you’re looking to insult somebody…

Try a little Martin Luther.

Britain’s new dark ages

Britain is sinking into the cold and its forests are denuded to keep (trendy) people warm. Kind of like the mini Ice Age all over again, complete with the same primitive belief systems and fears.

A little music to see us out

I’m not generally a Janis Joplin fan, but there’s something about Bobby McGee that gets to me every time. It’s the pathos that her voice so perfectly conveys: