Ed Driscoll

'Yes We Camp'

You use the C-word, “Day of Rage.” I do not think it means what you think it means. Or at least that it has multiple meanings, including the Susan Sontag definition of the word, which I mentioned at the start of the month, in a post with the same headline:

Three years later though, Obama was reduced to shadowing the GOP presidential candidates in the Darth Vader Battle Bus and posing for pictures at the NOAA war room, complete with his plastic name tag on his desk reminding voters — and by now, maybe Obama himself — that he’s still the POTUS. Roger Kimball described the latter photo-op as Obama’s Dukakis in the Tank moment. Totaled-up, last month’s efforts really did make all of the 2008-era imagery look even sillier in retrospect; a zillion dollar Cecil B. DeMille biblical production as reimagined by the producers of Airplane. Surely you can’t be serious, Mr. President.

But actually, Yes He Can. “The pure examples of Camp are unintentional; they are dead serious,” Susan Sontag wrote in 1964′s “Notes on ‘Camp,’” later adding, “Camp is the consistently aesthetic experience of the world. It incarnates a victory of ‘style’ over ‘content,’ ‘aesthetics’ over ‘morality,’ of irony over tragedy.”

Zombie rounds up a collection of photos from Saturday’s “Day of FAIL,” noting that, “Really, I should have learned my lesson by now: The bigger the build-up to a protest, and the more grandiose the promises, the louder the sound of the bellyflop onto the dustbin of irrelevancy.”

The campy anti-capitalist postmodernism of the Rage crew dovetails well with Mark Steyn’s latest essay on the most prominent  camp postmodern anti-capitalist member of the far left:

“I love you, too,” said the president. “But . . . ”

Oh, no, here it comes: conditional love. “But, if you love me, you’ve got to help me pass this bill!” You’d be surprised how effective this line is: I tried it on Darlene in the back of my Ford Edsel when I was 17 and we didn’t get home till two in the morning.

Pass this bill now, or I’ll say “Pass this bill now!” another two dozen times! With this latest inspiration, Obama has taken the post-modern phase of democratic politics to a whole new level. “Pass this jobs bill”? Simply as a matter of humdrum reality, there is no bill, it won’t “create” any jobs, and it will be paid for with money we don’t have. But the smartest president in history has calculated that, if he says the same four monosyllables over and over, a nonexistent bill to create nonexistent jobs with nonexistent money will be yet another legislative triumph in the grand tradition of his first stimulus (the original Dumb and Dumber to the sequel’s Stimulus and Stimulusser).

The estimated cost of the non-bill is just shy of half a trillion dollars. Gosh, it seems like only yesterday that Washington was in the grip of a white-knuckle, clenched-teeth showdown over whether a debt-ceiling deal could be reached before the allegedly looming deadline. When the deal was triumphantly unveiled at the eleventh hour, it was revealed that our sober, prudent, fiscally responsible masters had gotten control of the runaway spending and had carved (according to the most optimistic analysis) a whole $7 billion dollars of savings out of the 2012 budget. The president then airily breezes into Congress and in 20 minutes adds another $447 billion to the tab. That’s what meaningful course-correction in Washington boils down to: Seven billion steps forward, 447 billion steps back.

And now with this weekend’s “Buffett Tax,” Obama’s class warfare dovetails yet again with the Day of Rage gang. As John Steele Gordon writes at Commentary, “let’s take the fairness lipstick off this pig:”

According to today’s news story, Obama wants to require that everyone with an income of over $1 million pay the same effective tax rate (the percentage of taxable income paid in taxes) as “middle-income taxpayers.” He calls it a matter of “fairness.”

Well, let’s take the fairness lipstick off this pig. It has nothing to do with fairness, it has everything to do with class warfare, for this would be nothing more nor less than a whacking great tax increase on capital gains and dividends on those who earn more than $1 million a year. In other words, they would be penalized for their success at creating wealth.

People with seven- and eight-figure incomes from wages already pay 35 percent on most of that income, the highest marginal rate. It is dividends and capital gains (taxed at 15 percent) that bring down their effective tax rate. But dividends are paid out of corporate profits that have already been taxed at 35 percent (ignoring various tax fiddles that bring down corporate income tax rates to an average of 25.4 percent). So dividend income is actually taxed at 50 percent already.  A large portion of capital gains, likewise, derives from retained corporate income that has already been taxed.

So President Obama’s latest tax proposal is just a disguised attempt to raise the dividend and capital gains taxes on those with incomes of more than $1 million to about 70 percent from the current 50 percent. The result, of course, will be a rush to avoid these taxes, using exactly the same method that Warren Buffett uses to avoid paying them: they’ll shelter their wealth under a corporate umbrella.

At the Politico, a reader emails in his thoughts on Ron Suskind’s new book, Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President: “It sounds like the wacky misadventures of a 50-year-old man who just got his first real job.”

Exactly. But perhaps the solution to both of the campy collectivists is simple: Obama should heed the Chicago Tribune’s advice and call it day. Then he can parachute in to join the Day of Ragers on Wall Street. The economy begins to recover, and they get a celebrity spokesman to help tell their tale — win/win for all concerned, and the very definition of Blair’s Law.

Don’t thank me all at once, America.