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A Week That Was

June 24th, 2008 - 12:50 pm

Obama Worries

Here are some things rarely discussed that worry me about Obama:

Class Strife.

By exempting millions from any income tax at all, he is going to institutionalize, in the fashion of Rome, two classes: the growing angry number on the receiving end of bread and circuses—and the shrinking few who will pay all the income taxes.

The former will not show gratitude, but always think a greedy class of parasites on top constantly pays them too little and has an endless supply of capital for others’ needs. Gone will be the old American notion that when we see a nice car in the parking lot (I drive an older Honda with 100,000 miles on it), we walk around it in fascination—replaced by a European desire to kick in the fenders in resentment.

Business.

Listen sometime to Obama’s references to business—90% of the time they occur in a pejorative context. And when he is not overtly critical, his curiosity is a sort of naïve, wow admiration of the hip zillionaire like a Buffet or Jobs who has made so many hundreds of millions that in their golden years they suddenly don’t care much about income tax rates, death taxes, etc.—at least not in comparison with the notion that they are seen as magnanimous liberals and proof that a choice few can be both rich and generous.

Never-never land.

Obama is counter-intuitive and seems to come up with exegeses opposite to what facts suggest. The surge is working in remarkable fashion. Nonetheless, as in 2007, he continues to insist that it has failed or is of only marginal significance—even as troops prepare to hand over entire provinces to the Iraqis and more and more are scheduled for withdrawal.

Any fool knows that wind and solar, even on hot, windy days, will not furnish more than 10% of our power needs for the immediate future. Why then would he omit other sources of much needed short-term energy, when we founded the nuclear industry, have the world’s largest supply of coal, have 3-4 million more barrels of oil per day recoverable off our coasts and in Alaska, and vast amounts of tar sands and shale? If electric cars are the answer (one per household?), then nuclear power seems essential so we can plug into the grid as we sleep. All this is simply omitted. What does “millions of new jobs in green industries” mean—especially in the foreseeable future of $5 a gallon gas?

Even Al Gore’s jet burns fossil fuels, as does John Edwards’ playroom, as do John Kerry’s mansions, as does Rev. Wright’s 10,000 sq. ft palace. Why trash the industry that allows us to live in the concrete while praising in the abstract industries that cannot help us much in the present?

One-sided history.

There is a constant refrain in his historical exempla that take a one-sided view of Americana as largely pathological. Obama always seems to reference slavery, the Underground Railroad, the Civil Rights marches, and women’s suffrage. Not a word in balance about the Founding Fathers, Andrew Jackson, Shiloh, the Way West, the Gold Rush, the age of American invention and discovery, World War I, World War II (the victories like the Bulge or Iwo, not just Hiroshima, Rosie the Riveter, and the Japanese Internment). I have no problem with evocation of past reform and needed change, just the notion that there wasn’t much else apparently good.

Less than flip-flopping

Obama seems to assume that his charisma will explain every inconsistency. Trash NAFTA to the yokels—but send backchannel assurances to elites that he is a free-trader. Waffle on Rev. Wright and adjust hourly so that the black base accepts you were “forced” to pay lip service to the “establishment”, while gaining laurels from suburban whites for your racial transcendence. In fact, talk of transcending race in the manner that a Gen. Powell or Sec. Rice had done it, while warning that your enemies will use your race and middle name against you. Praise for months public financing, and then when you don’t need it, trash both the law and your opponent who is using it.

Obamanics

I think few understand the full effect of Obama’s tax hikes—payroll, income, estate, capital gains, etc—on the so-called “rich.” I know plenty of couples who live in Bay Area and for all their income are not entitled. They make together about $200-250,000. That at first glance seems like plentitude.

But not so fast. A tiny 1200 sq. foot home in Palo Alto or Menlo Park can go for a million (a friend just bought a cottage for $800,000 [two bedrooms]). Mostly Hispanic Redwood City rarely sees a modest home for less than $700,000. Gas is right about $4.80 a gallon. State taxes hit hard with nearly a 10% take. If they send a child to a private school like Santa Clara it can cost $50,000 a year in tuition, room, board, books, and expenses. These are not all CEO jetting to Hedge Fund Retreats.

His proposed estate taxes will kill an upper-middle class California coast couple for whom a $1 million-plus house, and 401K nest eggs were a lifetime effort. Depending on the caps Obama chooses, such estates may be taxed at death a second time at 45%.

Remember two facts: the additional revenue (if it is additional, since many will hide their income or rest on their laurels given the tax bite) won’t go for deficit reduction, given whopping new entitlements. Second, those who pay 100K more a year in FICA, income, and capital gains taxes will still be the greedy rich whose income was ill-gotten anyway.

Weddings

I put on a wedding for my daughter this Saturday at 6PM at the farmhouse for about 180 guests. At 5PM it seemed like an utter disaster. The temperature in the garden was 109 and it was unbearable. Last minute runs into town to get umbrellas, fans, misters, and ice water didn’t seem like they would do much. At 5:30 suddenly a hot Valley-type wind came up—the sort of tropical blasts that often come in unexpectedly when the temperature soars over 105.

At first it provided relief, then in minutes it blew table cloths into the wind, blasted off all the table place settings, and whipped up lighting cables. Suddenly a dirt storm was more the danger than heat prostration.

But then as if by magic, at 6:00 PM, five minutes before the ceremony began, suddenly the wind died down after doing its best to cool temperatures, and the wedding went off without a hitch, followed by a lovely nighttime dinner with pleasant breezes.

In the space of 30 minutes, one guest said, “I’m dying. See what happens when you try to have a outside wedding in late June in the Valley,” followed by one that smiled, “This was a great idea to eat out here in this pleasant breeze.”

All the other wedding problems—like blown circuit breakers taking out fans and lights just before the wedding music started—were the normal minor glitches compared to the weather. My daughter got married in the same house where her grandmother had in 1947, and her great-grandmother had in 1911—and was the sixth continuous generation to live in the same bedroom.

McCain in Fresno

I attended McCain’s lunch yesterday in Fresno. It was notable for a couple of reasons. First he told a largely ag-industry audience that farm subsidies and ethanol programs were mistakes, and he still won over the crowd, most of which had been Thompson or Romney supporters. He seems to like the role of underdog, and keeps hammering away at Obama on his flip-flopping, or as I put in the NRO corner:

Time usually has been crucial in many past campaigns. In 1968 Humphrey might have won in another week; while Jerry Ford could have overtaken Carter in another 10 days. Obama is already playing a sort of 4th-quarter defense. He knows that the more town-halls, and impromptu speeches and interviews, the more likely, given his inexperience and doctrinaire liberalism, he is going to say something that comes off quirky, whether the off-the-cuff rants at fund-raisers like the clingers speech or the latest about “them” going after his middle name and race, or Cartesque lectures about over-eating Americans in SUVs and the apparent utility of high-priced gas, or the flip-flopping on Nafta, the war, campaign financing, Rev. Wright, et al. McCain is the proverbial steady tortoise, Obama the flashy racing hare — the key question being how far exactly are they respectively along the course to the finish line in November?

World War II Again

When the Wehrmacht entered the Soviet Union in 1941 and swept through during much of 1941 and 1942, thousands of Jews were murdered by special corps of Nazi executioners. To say that somehow the war prompted these deaths that otherwise would not have occurred had Hitler been left alone raises two questions: one, had Britain and France kept out of the war, and had Hitler broken his pact with Stalin and invaded Russia, would German soldiers not have killed Jews en masse? And two, if the Holocaust was only an artifact of the war, how was it that there were legions of German killers who rounded up Jews at almost the first moment they entered Russian soil? Was this all ad hoc? No prior discussion or prep? All this a sudden change of character once the shooting war started? A 1939 Hitler was reasonable,but in 1941 he experienced a sudden personality change that led to monstrous policies brought on by conditions imposed by bellicose enemies? Mein Kampf a mere thought exercise? Himmler et al simply a little over the top? The SS a bit player of the late 1930s?

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