Taxes, Libel and Spending Open Thread

Taxing the Blue States: it’s a thing

Democrats have been saying for years that we need tax increases, and that paying taxes is one of the greatest forms of patriotism. Now it looks like President Trump is going to put their beliefs to the test.

Trump’s new tax plan would hit blue states hardest, by eliminating the federal deductibility of state income and property taxes. That’s going to make it harder for blue states to maintain the high tax rates they’ve traditionally levied…

As attentive readers will have noted, I’ve long dropped off the idea of cutting taxes merely to cut taxes. There are taxes which are bad, and taxes which ain’t so bad…and also taxes which are merely useful for various purposes. I’ve long advocated a “wealth tax” on super-rich individuals who own a great deal in stocks and bonds…part of this is so that the income tax on less wealthy people can be reduced, but the other part is to make these super-rich liberals feel the heat: they’re always calling for income tax hikes they never have to pay because they don’t make income, as such. But I also like this idea of putting pressure on Blue State tax rates…they jack up their rates sky high and offset it by allowing people to deduct it from their federal tax. No more, as far as I’m concerned…you want to soak your people, then pay the full political price for it.

Should we amend our libel laws?

On Sunday, a day after President Trump railed against the press at a rally marking his 100th day in office, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said of amending the Constitution to expand libel law: “I think it’s something that we’ve looked at, and how that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story.”

It would take an amendment – case law on this is pretty set in stone: you can say what you want about people and unless the target can not only prove it a lie, but prove the person saying it knew it was a lie, then the accuser is off the hook. As for me, I don’t think that the 1st Amendment was intended to provide such iron-clad protection for dishonesty.

There is an argument to be made – and its a strong one – that when someone set out to critique especially a political person, the widest latitude must be given. It is a difficult thing to get into policing political comment. On the other hand, it is so hard to combat outright lies that mostly the are left out there, unchallenged in any meaningful way. And now in the age of social media, even regular folks are coming under the gun of crude fabrications for political purposes. I’ve said before what I’d want in this area: a mere protection of employment for things uttered outside the place of employment. I know this means that a person can run down their employer, but it also – and most crucially – means that a person’s job isn’t at risk if a Twitter mob decides to take exception to a statement. Losing a job is a huge risk for people…and to protect their jobs, people will do just about anything…even knuckle under to political correctness. We need to think on this and discuss it.

The spending bill to carry us through to October 1st is not getting a lot of Conservative approval. Rightly so – it is a bad bill. I only moderately excuse it by noting it is, really, Obama’s last budget. Had their been regular order in 2016, this (or something even worse) is what we would have gotten this year. I’ll forgive this dog of a bill if the FY 2018 budget has at least an ounce of Conservatism in it.

Open Thread

Trump continues to fight the MSM – and keeps beating them. This, among other things, is why I think Trump will be re-elected: his opponents keep reminding his supporters why they supported him.

There is a bit of an arms build up going on in the Korean theater. This is dangerous stuff. But, we can’t simply let North Korea continue to hold the world up for ransom. If a battle does break out, just remember that the ultimate responsibility will lie with the men who decided not to pursue victory in Korea in the 1950’s.

Donald Surber notes how Trump is starting to re-negotiate NAFTA. I had a short discussion over free trade on Twitter with a guy I believe to be a smart, well-informed man of good will…he’s just shocked that anyone can be opposed to “free trade”. My view is that there really is no such thing. All of these trade deals are miles and miles of arcane words which no one reads before they are ratified and which are then left up to un-elected and unaccountable people to decide what they mean. To me, they work to special treatment deals for well-connected players. If we want free trade, then a free trade agreement really need be no more than a couple pages long, and be written in clear language. If its free trade, then it just should say that – trade between the parties is free of tariffs. Beyond that, I note, with great care, that each nation which has risen to economic dominance did so under a Protectionist regime…and only lost such economic dominance after going for free trade. It is just silly, in my view, to allow your own industries to go elsewhere and count the increased stock value of the corporations involved as an increase in national wealth. Wealth is what we make, mine and grow – period; the end. If we don’t make, mine and grow enough then we’re losing. Badly.

Some people are talking very positive of the new replacement for ObamaCare…but plenty of purple State Republicans are wary of it. I think this is yet another stalking horse…perhaps a way to prove to solid Conservatives that there had to be a little “give” in the final deal. We’ll see.

$425 for pre-stained jeans.

Aside: I’ve noticed since Trump won, things have never stopped happening. There is an acceleration of politics, as if we’ve got a guy who wants to do things, rather than just legacy hunt and pose. We’ll see how it works out.

I’m past 15,000 words on the novel. The story is getting rip-roaring.

A Quick Thought on the Elite

There are, indeed, elite people in the world. People who have been specially gifted with certain talents. A talent for being a surgeon; a talent for being a plumber; a talent for pure intellectual inquiry, etc, etc, etc. But here’s the price of being an elite: service. That is what our elites are missing…and have been missing ever since the Enlightenment came along. Then it was that our elites started thinking not in terms of service, but in terms of ruling…of telling us how to live, because they knew better than the yokels how it should be done. It should be noted that the elites who lead the way in this were those who usually lacked practical knowledge…you know, how to build a bridge or manage a water system. This is not to say that we never had busybodies prior to about 1750, nor to say that everyone with a liberal arts degree since then has been an annoyance. But the rule holds true: prior to about 1750, those who had more thought they owed service; since then, they feel a right to rule.

The duty of the elite is to serve the needs of the yokels as defined by the yokels. Anything other than that would either be worthless, or tyrannical. You want to be elite? Fine – then your whole task in life is service. After all, the first shall be last…

Novel Writing Open Thread

The new novel is up to 11,000+ words. It is really just flowing out of me. I’m very happy with it. I hope it doesn’t suck! I’ve got lots to do…I suspect it’ll be in the neighborhood of 150,000 words before I’m done, given that I can already see a whole series of adventures for the brave hero and his loyal side-kick to engage in. I also have to do some research for authenticity…a few scenes already forecast are outside my areas of expertise. I’ve only tried my hand at fiction fitfully in the past…this is going to the finish. Hope to have it out in a year.

Lots of post-mortems coming out now about the Hillary Campaign. I’m not sure what to believe about all of them…the Clintons are so relentlessly dishonest and they’ve got so many shills working for them secretly and openly that it is hard to separate fact from fiction…and even something critical of the Clintons might be created just as part of a larger effort in their long-term favor. But a couple things I’ve read stick out: Hillary essentially created a sort of “loyalty checklist” for fellow Democrats, rating them on their loyalty to her, and it is also claimed that she spied on her own troops to see who might have been speaking out of turn. These two things I lend credence to because they are in keeping with the overall Clinton character. And the more I think about it, the more grateful I am for my vote last November.

Rachel Maddow – and I’m not kidding here – linked the anti-government protests in Venezuela to the fact that the Venezuelan government (through a government-run entity) donated money to Trump’s inaugural celebration. Seriously – with there being no food on the table in Venezuela; with Communist hit squads being armed by the government; with political opposition being beaten and sent to jail…Maddow’s take is that a donation to Trump is what set everyone off. Remember this every time a liberal tries to claim they are the smart guys.

TrumpCare II is apparently for real – and there might be a chance it passes, this time.

Trump is the very worst Russian stooge in history – Exxon denied right to drill for oil in Russia.

Governor Dean is unclear on what the 1st Amendment is about. To be fair, he’s pretty unclear about a lot of things.

V the K notes that Democrats suddenly seem totes cool with legislating morality. I’d like to point out, however, that all legislation is an imposition of morality. Its all about just which morality is to be imposed.

Open Thread

I’ve been trying to work up an idea of Conservatism – and it is difficult. Methinks I’ll concentrate for a bit on writing my novel (my first: solo effort…got the inspiration a couple days ago and have about 5,400 words down already. It’s going to be a fairy tale…”fantasy” is the genre it is called these days, but fairy tale is what it really is…and a proper fairy tale. Our fairy tales these days – Star Wars, Harry Potter, eg – are all wrong because the heroes have special powers…in a proper fairy tale, the hero is an ordinary person who battles prideful people who have special powers). I’m still going to ponder Conservatism – what it means; what it is for; how we might get it – but it’s going to be secondary for a bit. I’m finding that working out a story about a hero, his friends and his enemies is far more fun than I ever expected it to be.

Elizabeth Warren is miffed that McConnell won’t talk to her. This might be rude – but, honestly, what on Earth could McConnell have to talk about with her?

Pretty good article on the Secession movement in California – about both the people who want to remove California from the Union as well as those who want to break up California into smaller States. I, as I’ve said for years, back the latter effort. In fact, I’ve come up with a new wrinkle for my Secession idea – the creation of City-States. Think about it – Los Angeles and New York dominate their respective States…what is going on in rural New York and California is buried under millions of votes in Los Angeles and New York City. Essentially, win those cities and you’ve won the State…which is why, de-facto, the Senators from New York and California essentially only represent the interests of Los Angeles and New York City (with a bow to the San Francisco Bay Area in California, as well). I’ thinking that any city that grows to more than 750,000 population should automatically become a City-State…boom!, it’s no longer part of the State it is in, but is off on it’s own…has it’s own Senators and whatever local government they decide (they’d essentially keep their own House members as is). The former State no longer collects taxes there (debt is apportioned based on per-capita debt in the State at the time the City-State is created), the City-State no longer has a say in the State government. It’s designed to ensure that States are never dominated by over-large urban areas.

Nations are taking precautions against a blow up in Korea. This is the fruits of thinking there is a substitute for victory. Had Truman allowed MacArthur to win the Korean War, none of this would be going on. Korea would be a unified, democratic nation and China might not even be communist. If war, then war all the way. If you don’t want to war all the way, then don’t war, at all.

Robert Stacy McCain takes note of Sarah Silverman’s words and actions. I gotta hand it to McCain…he risks his sanity for us on a daily basis by actually trying to understand Progressives.

Don Surber notes how Trump is working on plans to actually reduce the number of people working for government. This cuts at the very heart of Progressive power in the United States. It is similar to what Walker did in Wisconsin. Without the massive power and money of government employees, the left simply lacks the genuine support to contest for power in the United States – outside a few very blue areas in the big cities. If Trump can do this – and you know the bureaucracy will fight back desperately; even harder than they did against Walker – then he will have set the stage for GOP/Conservative victory for a generation. Doesn’t matter if Trump’s intent is mere efficiency (I’ll bet that is his prime motivator); the fact of the matter is that reducing government employees means reducing Progressive power.

Happy Easter!

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead. – John 20:1-9

Open Thread

Queen Elizabeth’s former chaplain opined that if you don’t believe in the resurrection, you can’t be Christian. This has stirred some controversy…which is really tiresome. I’ve read some of the comments, and it seems that some are offended at the remark. This is what I don’t get: I understand that believing in things like the incarnation and the resurrection is difficult. But if you don’t believe in such things then you are, by definition, rejecting the core of Christian belief. Of course you’re not a Christian if you reject such things! But some people appear to want to claim the title of Christian, without having to do along with all that troublesome stuff that Christians believe. And others are willing to back such people for fear of being “judgemental”, or some such silliness.

Trump’s press secretary got into trouble over a maladroit comparison between Hitler and Assad – seems he said that even Hitler never used chemical weapons. The usual suspects on the left and among Never Trump immediately leaped on this…asserting that Spicer didn’t know about the use of poison gas in the death camps and was a cruel, stupid man. I’m pretty confident that Spicer knows about Auschwitz – what he meant to say, I think, is that Hitler never used poison gas in military operations. Someone did manage to dredge up an assertion that Hitler used it in the Battle of Kerch…I’m doubtful. My knowledge of World War Two is pretty deep and I’d never heard of that before. I guess it could have happened…and it’s not like Hitler would have been held back by moral scruples. But, to do something like that would have invited retaliation…using it against surrounded troops who would shortly be starved out while not using it at Normandy where it might have defeated the invasion (at least temporarily), doesn’t seem credible. Main thing, however, is that Spicer was punished on social media for making a statement in the wrong way…what the left and the MSM don’t realize is that such attacks will only further cement the support of Trump’s voters. The only way the Democrats win in 2018 and 2020 is to pry some lose…they are doing everything they can to ensure that for at least the next few years, the Trumpster’s are firmly behind their guy.

In light of this, last night I decided to collect some liberal tears – my first since November 8th. There was a special election in the Kansas 4th House district to replace the guy Trump appointed as CIA director. This is in Kansas, and in a R+15 district. You just know the Republican was going to win. The Democrats did give it a shot – picking a guy who seemed a good, “moderate”, us-folksy match to the mostly-rural district, and the DNC stayed out as Democrats are radioactively unpopular, as such, in Kansas. The Democrat leaped out to an early lead and Democrats on Twitter were popping the champagne…sure that this was the first victory for the #Resistance and that all was falling into place. I just watched as the GOP numbers slowly rose…with it winding up being a GOP victory by a bit over 6 percentage points. Now that this is done, Democrats, MSMers and Never Trumpers are claiming it is a moral victory…that a district that Red should be within 6 points demonstrates how terribly unpopular Trump is and that disaster awaits the GOP in 2018. Whatever. Don’t get me wrong – some times a special election can show a change of political direction. The most famous recent case was the victory of Scott Brown in deeply Blue Massachusetts in advance of the 2010 mid-terms. But, it should be noted that while Brown won the special election, he lost when he went up in the actual mid-term…and that his opponent was just about the worst candidate Democrats could have found for the seat. But, still, it was a shocker – and demonstrated to everyone paying attention that Obama’s policies were not necessarily popular. But his loss also showed that the out party winning in the other side’s strongholds is a fluke. To be sure, there are some GOP seats at risk…and in the normal course of political reaction in the first mid-terms, Democrats should have a solid shot at winning the House (the Senate is just too far out of reach…far too many at-risk Democrats running in 2018). But, I don’t suspect they will – they won’t because not only are they not changing themselves away from the Democrat Party defeated in 2016, they are doubling and tripling down on what, particularly, swing voters didn’t like about the Democrats in 2016. We’ll see how it comes out, but I’m not wringing my hands in worry over what will happen.

Swedish newspaper calls for common sense Car Control in response to the recent Stockholm attack. The left simply cannot be parodied any longer. In light of this, however, I’d like to note something I think important, but most people seem to be missing: any alteration of our way of life in response to terrorism is a victory for terrorism. As we put up the metal detectors and have TSA searching our junk (in more ways than one); as we grow the surveillance state by leaps and bounds; as we issue travel warnings; as we do all manner of things which inconvenience ourselves in a quest for safety, the terrorists are winning. They are making us bend to their will. We have been fighting terrorism and the ideologies which support it via defensive means all along. Douglas MacArthur was once asked his formula for defensive warfare. He had a one word response: defeat. We must go on the offensive and keep on the offensive, or we’re eventually going to have our backs to the wall. This is why I disagree with the overall concept of isolationism and defending Fortress America…we can’t defend ourselves here…we can only beat the enemy over there.

Prisoners in Ohio managed to build computers and hook them up to the prison’s network. Hats off to the cons for cleverness…but, of course, this is bad. And makes me believe that along with criminal justice reform, a great deal of prison reform needs to happen.