“The government who robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul,” George Bernard Shaw once said.
For a socialist, Shaw demonstrated good sense with that quotation. Unfortunately, America has become a laboratory in which his hypothesis is being tested.
The theory of government I was taught says that government provides benefits, primarily security, to the entire population. In return we pay taxes. But lately the government has been a distributor of special privileges, taking money from some and giving it to others. America is now about evenly split between those who pay income taxes and those who consume them.
The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center recently disclosed that close to half of all households will pay no income tax this year. Some will pay less than zero — that is, they’ll get money from those of us who do pay taxes.
The Tax Policy Center adds that this year the average income-tax rate for the bottom 40 percent of earners will be negative and that their cash subsidy will equal 10 percent of the total amount the income tax brings in, thanks to the Earned Income Tax Credit and President Obama’s “Making Work Pay” program.
The view from the top also shows the lopsidedness of the tax system. The top 20 percent of earners makes about 53 percent of the income in America but pays 91 percent of the income tax. The top 1 percent pays 36 percent. The IRS says the bottom half of earners pays less than 3 percent.
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by Kyle Olson
Several days ago, Capital Research Center’s Matthew Vadum published research here indicating an ACORN alumni in the White House (other than the president): Political Director Patrick Gaspard. As I did three weeks prior at ACORNcracked.com, Matthew used a Wade Rathke blog as the source, which Rathke, the founder of ACORN, immediately changed after Vadum’s report, citing “memory tricks.” Politico led the way in poo-pooing the connection once Rathke played cover-up.
Rathke said it not only on his blog, but also at a book signing in New Orleans, which was recently covered in the Fox News Special: The Truth About ACORN.” While we attended that book signing and were not able to get that portion on tape, the Fox documentary crew did. Sadly, the remarks apparently ended up on the cutting room floor.
The fact is, Patrick Gaspard, Obama’s “Glue Man,” is more important than Van Jones ever hoped of being. The fact is, one of the most critical and influential jobs in a White House, the Director of Political Affairs, is occupied by a former SEIU health care lobbyist and ACORN organizer. To be exact, he was Executive Vice President–the #2–at SEIU 1199 in New York City.
After Gaspard was appointed to the White House, Carribbean Voice quoted him as saying, “I grew up in 1199…and I will always be an 1199er wherever I am.” SEIU’s luxury is that now taxpayers are paying for it.
Wade Rathke, current organizer with SEIU Local 100 (in New Orleans) and ACORN International (now “Community Organizations International”), called Gaspard a “great friend” on his ChiefOrganizer.org blog. Additionally, Rathke theorized how Gaspard was likely instrumental in working with SEIU to bring “big health care operators” to the table. [Figuring once scrutiny came to someone high-level in the White House, the evidence would be changed, we turned Rathke’s blog posting into a PDF.]
That is curious, given the Obama Transition team’s pledge that Gaspard would refrain from issues he had lobbied previously. According to the Washington Post, a transition spokesman said, “Patrick and Mark [Gitenstein] have jobs on the campaign that are general in nature, but per the unprecedented ethics policy laid out earlier this week they will recuse themselves from the fields of policy or agencies they lobbied in the previous 12 months.”
So we are to believe the Political Director of the White House—one of the most important players in the administration—is sitting on his hands while Obama attempts to salvage his biggest “reform” yet, and likely ever? Ethics schmethics.
When Sean Bell was shot by New York City police in 2007, Al Sharpton reached out to Patrick Gaspard (while he was at SEIU 1199) to formulate a response. According to Politicker NY, “In December 2006, Mr. Sharpton asked Patrick Gaspard to help him assemble an emergency meeting of about 300 activists, black nationalists, union and political leaders to decide on an appropriate response to the police shooting…”
Sharpton used the SEIU 1199 office to hold a protest organizational meeting. According to The Observer, the union was represented by Gaspard at the meeting.
The People’s Organization for Progress, along with the New Black Panther Party, organized protests against the New York City police department, carrying signs saying such things as “KILL THE PIGS THAT KILL OUR KIDS.”
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By KARL ROVE
So our top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he has spoken with President Barack Obama only once since June.
This is a troubling revelation. Right now, our commander in chief is preparing to make one of the most important decisions of his presidency—whether to commit additional troops to win the war in Afghanistan. Being detached or incurious about what our commanders are experiencing makes it hard to craft a winning strategy.
Mr. Obama’s predecessor faced a similar situation: a war that was grinding on, pressure to withdraw troops, and conflicting advice—including from some who saw the war as unwinnable. But George W. Bush talked to generals on the ground every week or two, which gave him a window into what was happening and insights into how his commanders thought. That helped him judge their recommendations on strategy.
Mr. Obama’s hands-off approach to the war seems to fit his governing style. Over the past year, he outsourced writing the stimulus package to House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, washed his hands of Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to reinvestigate CIA interrogators, and hasn’t offered a detailed health-care plan.
Mr. Obama’s aloofness on the war will be a problem if the recent airing of Joe Biden’s views on Afghanistan is a tipoff that Mr. Obama will rely on his vice president’s guidance. According to reports in the New York Times and other publications, Mr. Biden supports reducing troop levels in favor of surgical attacks—mostly launched from offshore—and missile strikes against al Qaeda, especially in Pakistan.
Such an approach would almost certainly lose the war. Actionable intelligence—key to defeating an insurgency—would dry up. Tribal chieftains would cut deals with the Taliban and al Qaeda. The Afghan government would probably collapse, and the Afghan people would have little choice but to swing their support to the Taliban. Pakistan would likely come to see us as a fair-weather friend and increasingly resist U.S. attacks against al Qaeda on its soil. American credibility would be shattered. And militant Islamists would gain a victory.
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By ANAND GOPAL
KABUL — Eight American troops and two Afghan soldiers were killed during a firefight in a remote part of Afghanistan Saturday, one of the worst single-day battlefield losses for U.S. forces since the war began. The deaths come at a time the U.S. is studying the possibility of closing remote outposts and shifting troops to more populated areas.
A tribal militia attacked two U.S. outposts in the northeastern province of Nuristan early Saturday, resulting in a prolonged firefight, a U.S. military spokeswoman said. The militia launched its attack from a mosque and a village near the Afghan-Pakistani border, said Muhammad Farouq, the provincial security chief. U.S. military officials declined to release further details of the incident until an investigation was completed. The Associated Press reported that as many as seven Afghan troops died in the attack.
“This was a complex attack in a difficult area. Both the U.S. and Afghan soldiers fought bravely together,” Col. Randy George, a commander of forces in the region, said in a statement.
It is unclear if the tribal militia has a relationship with the insurgents. However, insurgents in the area enjoy the support of locals, Afghan government and U.S. military officials said. “It’s very hard to separate the population from the insurgency there,” said Lt. Ryan Keogh, who previously was stationed in an area near the region where the firefight took place. “The population backs the insurgents and often act in conjunction with them.”
The U.S. is considering closing small, remote outposts such as those that were attacked Saturday. The shift is part of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s proposed strategy to place forces near population centers and away from isolated areas. “There’s no strategic value to having outposts in places where there aren’t a lot of Afghans,” one U.S. military official based in northeastern Afghanistan said.
Nuristan, a rugged, mountainous province that borders Pakistan, has been the scene of similar attacks. In July 2008, a group of 200 insurgents overran an isolated U.S. combat outpost, killing nine soldiers and wounding 27 in what remains the single biggest U.S. battlefield loss in the war. American forces subsequently withdrew from the area and it has now been overtaken by insurgents, according to local residents.
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The hubris is staggering.
By Mona Charen
President Obama’s speech to the U.N. has been called naïve and even “post-American.” It was something else as well: the most extravagant excursion into self-worship we have yet seen in an American leader.
Beware of politicians who claim to be “humbled by the responsibility the American people have placed upon me.” It’s a neon sign flashing the opposite. And sure enough, in almost the next sentence, the president allowed that “I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world.” Really? The whole world pulses with hope and expectation because Obama is president? People in Amsterdam, São Paulo, and Taipei have a spring in their step because an Illinois Democrat won the White House? Well, yes, he says, but it’s not “about me,” rather it’s a reflection of dissatisfaction with the “status quo that has allowed us to be increasingly defined by our differences and outpaced by our problems.” Oh yes, and everyone around the world was electrified by Obama’s campaign slogan because these expectations “are also rooted in hope. The hope that real change is possible and the hope that America will be a leader in bringing about such change.”
Obama is, we are told, the smartest man to sit in the Oval Office in many a year. And yet he is capable of truly flabbergasting fatuities like this: “In this hall, we come from many places, but we share a common future.” You don’t say? That’s right up there with Warren Harding’s declaration that “the future lies before us.” Obama announced that we no longer “have the luxury of indulging our differences to the exclusion of the work that we must do together. I have carried this message from London to Ankara, from Port of Spain to Moscow, from Accra to Cairo, and it is what I will speak about today.” Note the personal pronoun. But what message has this evangelist carried to all these world capitals? That hope and change have been vouchsafed to the fallen world in the person of Barack Obama?
Crime: Instead of lobbying Olympics officials to bring the games to his hometown of Chicago, President Obama should be huddling with local officials to figure out how to control violence there.
Some say Chicago is too broke to host the Olympics. Others say it’s too corrupt. Above all, it’s too dangerous. Crime is out of control, and the president shares some blame for the trend.
As an Illinois state senator representing South Side Chicago, he helped pass one lenient crime bill after another — and now he wants to go even further at the federal level.
Chicago is the new Murder Capital USA, passing New York with close to 500 homicides last year.
Teen gang violence is horrific, as the nation witnessed this week with the beating of an honor student outside a South Side high school. Derrion Albert was clubbed to death with a two-by-four, then kicked and stomped by a pack of crazed youth.
Following that, a 14-year-old boy was chased down in the same area and hit with a pipe, fracturing his skull. The teen was found lying in the road in a pool of blood. In the past year, school violence in Chicago has claimed the lives of 30 students.
This violent crime wave has gone unabated since actress Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew were gunned down last year in a triple homicide in Chicago.
As his hometown turned into a killing field, Obama remained silent until the Albert video inconveniently went viral in the middle of his and the first lady’s courtship of Olympic honchos. Now he expresses belated shock through a spokesman.
Maybe there’s a reason for his silence. As a local legislator, Obama was soft on violent gang crime, as we repeatedly noted on these pages before the election. He voted to weaken penalties on gangbangers who deal drugs in schools. He also blocked a bill that would send youth who commit a second violent felony to prison. He fought to keep even the most violent juvenile offenders out of the adult system.
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WASHINGTON — On June 7, 1981, Israeli F-15s and F-16s took off for the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq, after the pilots were emotionally briefed that “The alternative is our destruction.” In fact, Prime Minister Menachem Begin had no idea if the raid would stop the Iraqi nuclear program or merely slow it. But slowing it was reason enough.
Since the George W. Bush administration, the American military has assessed that an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities would only delay the development of its program. “The reality is,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said recently, “there is no military option that does anything more than buy time. The estimates are one to three years or so.
“But for several months, high-ranking Israeli officials have been telling American visitors that buying time may be worth it. The Osirak raid, after all, turned out to be an unexpectedly decisive blow. And who knows what political changes might take place in Iran during a few years of nuclear breathing space? Not many Israelis would need to be convinced by this argument — a recommendation would go from the chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to the security cabinet and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Perhaps a dozen people could shake the world.
Clues of Israeli desperation are now so obvious that many have missed them. Netanyahu’s recent speech at the United Nations was generally reported as part of a rhetorical tit for tat with Israel’s bombastic enemies. But perhaps Netanyahu’s impassioned warning against the world’s first Holocaust-denying nuclear state should be taken at face value. Former U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Dov S. Zakheim thinks Netanyahu might have been “setting the stage to say to the world after a strike, ‘I told you so.'”
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