Aug 202009

Dick Morris on Fox News:

The Democratic Party is composed of building blocks, interest groups. Republicans aren’t. They’re just a group of people who think the same on issues. But Democrats are blacks, plus Hispanics, plus women, plus young people, plus labor unions, plus the elderly. And when one of those blocks turns against what the Democrats are doing, the party gets scared to death.

Ha! Ahahaha!

Democrats = interest groups consisting of blacks, Hispanics, women, young people, old people, and labour unions.

Republicans = a group of people who think the same on issues. But who are neither black, Hispanic, women, young people, old people, or labour unionists. Which leaves middle-aged, white, white-collar men.

‘Cause that’s not a building block or interest group at all. Just a group of people who think the same on issues.

[bella goes away, shaking head in bemusement]

Minipax update

 stupid-heads, US-bashing  Comments Off on Minipax update
Jun 292009

H.R. 808 The Fluffy Bunnies, Puppy Dogs, and Hitler Youth Peace Pupils Act remains stagnated in committee.

Fingers crossed, eh?

This act, by the way, is not exactly a shining example of the bipartisan city on a hill that Obama promised to build us: all 70 of Dennis Kucinich’s co-sponsors are fellow Democrats. I guess that means Republicans* are all horrible, partisan meanies who hate peace and worship the incarnation of violent death when they take a break from genuflecting before the BigBusiPharmaCorporatocratic altar of the Almighty Dollar.

*I rather suspect the GOP are digging their heels in like spoiled 6-year-old girls: ‘You’re a poo-head and everything you say is poo!’ Feel the incisive power of the Great American Political Dialogue.

Feb 122009

Evidently, in the opinion of Harry Reid (D), Senate Majority Leader, paying taxes in the US is voluntary, whereby ‘voluntary’ means ‘your employer doesn’t withhold the full amount owed.’ Because you can cheat on your taxes, says he, the American taxation system must be described as voluntary. He contrasts this with ‘many European countries’ where the full amount owed is withheld by employers. Because in ‘many European countries’ people do not file their own income tax returns, those systems must be described as forced taxation.

The interviewer really sticks it to him at 2.20. And what, may I ask, is this word ‘phrase-ology?’


Paul Krugman: the Polly Conundrum?

 argh, US-bashing  Comments Off on Paul Krugman: the Polly Conundrum?
Feb 062009

Highlighted by, this op-ed by Paul Krugman of the New York Times makes me wonder whether he is actually an idiot, or just a disingenuous fucktard.

The lovely peeps over at Samizdata flag up his logical and mathematical nonsense much better than I could, but I do want to take issue briefly with the question of how much the jobs created by the stimulus will cost.

Krugman says:

First, there’s the bogus talking point that the Obama plan will cost $275,000 per job created…The true cost per job of the Obama plan will probably be closer to $100,000 than $275,000 — and the net cost will be as little as $60,000 once you take into account the fact that a stronger economy means higher tax receipts.

The post over at Samizdata points out:

What about Krugman’s own estimate of $100,000 per job if you look at the program in a multi-year basis? He claims this cost from the extra millions of new jobs that would be created after the first year. As the cost of the program is $820 billion, this implies that he believes that the Obama plan will actually create over 8 million new jobs. If this is true, why is the White House claiming only 3 million new jobs from the plan? Making arguments based on the official claims of its government proponents, as the critics have done, are not deceitful as implied by Krugman. Well, not quite as deceitful as calculating costs based on an extra 5 million jobs that do not appear in the program.

So yes. There’s something dodgy with Krugman’s maths.

He needn’t have bothered, though; not being an economist, I’m not entirely certain of what he means by ‘cost per job created,’ but he makes a stupid mistake by engaging with this criticism in the first place. After all, is not the point of a fiscal stimulus to spend lots and lots of money? Does it really matter what it gets spent on or how much that thing costs?

To be absurdly simplistic: if the US government really wanted to, they could divide up this proposed $1 trillion and give an equal share to everybody. According to my handy calculator, and assuming I’ve done all the zeroes correctly, that comes to about $3300 for every man, woman, and child in the US. Exclude the children, and that equal share goes up. Stimulus accomplished. (I should point out that I’m not actually advocating this plan.)

And, contrary to what Krugman apparently believes, people do apportion their own money more efficiently and usefully than the government does. So every one of those $3300 apiece would be well spent.

But my knowledge of economics is minimal, and my mathematical skillz permanently arrested at the level of a 14-year-old, so I’ll leave the rest of Krugman’s article aside for now.

Except for this, which is the part that bugs me:

As the debate over President Obama’s economic stimulus plan gets under way, one thing is certain: many of the plan’s opponents aren’t arguing in good faith. Conservatives really, really don’t want to see a second New Deal, and they certainly don’t want to see government activism vindicated. So they are reaching for any stick they can find with which to beat proposals for increased government spending.

(1) ‘Conservatives really, really don’t want to see a second New Deal.’ The way this statement is phrased makes it sound as if the New Deal saved the nation; conservatives don’t want it; ergo they don’t want the nation to be saved. Presumably, in Krugman’s mind, this is not because they have anything against the idea per se, but because they don’t want the credit for doing it to go to Obama. Is this ‘arguing in good faith’?

(2) ‘They certainly don’t want to see government activism vindicated.’ Naturally they don’t. Once the power and reach of the government grows, it’s very difficult to scale it back again; doing so takes someone like Margaret Thatcher, and observe how beloved she is by the British! Observe how long her achievements lasted! Any American conservative who truly believes in limited government (and there are few of them these days) must oppose the stimulus, whatever its plausible merits, on principle, because it extends the competency of the federal government far beyond what it ought to be.

There is a third problem with his remarks, and that is the latent advocacy of bipartisan consensus. In times of crisis, supposedly, partisan squabbling weakens a nation and saps its confidence. Whatever their opinion of the stimulus, Krugman seems to imply, its critics should suck it up and present a unified front with Obama, because to do so will improve the mental outlook of the country and bolster confidence in its public servants.

As my brother would say, fuck that shit.

I want partisanship. I distrust consensus. I want the party without power to throw every question, argument, and criticism it can come up with, no matter how sly, at the party in power. I want debate – robust, contentious debate. Why? Because without it, the electorate are deprived of choice. And times of crisis are precisely when conflict and argument are most necessary, as crises are exactly when governments are most liable to implement the most illiberal policies.

Democrats and tax

 political blunders, US-bashing  Comments Off on Democrats and tax
Feb 032009

Today comes the news that yet another Obama appointee, Nancy Killefer, finds herself in a spot of embarrassment over her taxes.

First, we had Timothy Geithner, Treasury secretary nominee, who:

didn’t pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for several years while he worked for the International Monetary Fund, and he employed an immigrant housekeeper who briefly lacked proper work papers.

The article also cites ‘a series of other tax matters,’ but declines to describe them in detail.

Then, we had Tom Daschle, who ‘made mistakes on his taxes‘ to the tune of £120,000 and has now withdrawn his bid to become Heath and Human Services secretary. He said:

“My failure to recognize that the use of a car was income and not a gift from a good friend was a mistake,” said the former Senate majority leader. “When I realized the mistake, I notified officials and I paid the tax in full.”

I am floored by this statement, mainly because I have never heard of anybody having to notify the IRS of money owed. Three years ago, the bastards tracked me down in a foreign country to collect from me (and I know this because I’m consulting their threatening notices now) back-taxes of $13.16.

Nancy Killefer, picked to become Obama’s chief performance officer, has withdrawn her name from consideration for the post, ‘citing unspecified problems with District of Columbia unemployment tax.’ God only knows what that’s all about, but I’m sure it wasn’t that she overpaid.

What the fuck are these people playing at? Are the American people really supposed to believe that a string of tax irregularities in highly-placed Democratic officials is the result of coincidental mistakes and oversights?

Iowahawk has this to say:

Here at the IRS, we realize that many well-meaning taxpayers like you can be distracted by various family illnesses, baseball pennant races, political campaigns, and so on. The rules for late filing can be surprisingly flexible if you have the right qualifying circumstances. According to IRS guidelines, you are eligible for the 306(b)(19) “I Forgot” amnesty if the following applies:

(1) Your total adjusted gross income in the “I Forgot” years was equal to or greater than $8,528,000; and
(2) You are a nominee to head a cabinet-level federal agency.

If you answered “yes” to (2), or both (1) and (2), then you are in the clear. If you answered “yes” to (1) but “no” to (2), mail 10% of the total to the Democratic National Committee and request a cabinet appointment. If you answered “no” to both, then I’m afraid you are shit out of luck. Turn yourself into your local IRS authorities, who will assist you in computing appropriate penalties, interest, and parole terms.

UPDATE: I’m not the only one who thinks this is fishy. There seems to be a suggestion that Daschle in particular has withdrawn in order to keep Obama from looking bad. I must say, I’m impressed: self-flagellating politicians falling on their swords to preserve the reputation of one of their own? Repent, for the End is nigh…