The Value-Added Tax Should Be Political Poison for Advocates of Limited Government

January 15, 2016

Tweeted this last night, but it’s worth its own post. There’s a lot to like about Ted Cruz, but his insistence that his new tax plan doesn’t contain a VAT, thus giving advocates of big government another revenue stream, is an annoying dodge. I wish he’d drop it, and the VAT.

International Liberty

It’s not my role to pick sides in political fights, but I am very interested in trying to make bad ideas radioactive so that politicians won’t be tempted to do the wrong thing.

This is why I’m a big fan of the no-tax-hike pledge. The folks in Washington salivate at the prospect of getting more of our money, but they are less likely to act on their desires if they’re scared that breaking their promises means they’ll lose the next election.

It’s also why I want the value-added tax (VAT) to become a third-rail issue. Simply stated, it would be a catastrophic mistake to give Washington an additional source of tax revenue. Especially since the European evidence shows that it’s a money machine to expand the welfare state.

Given my concerns, I was understandably distressed that two lawmakers (and presidential candidates) who normally support smaller government, Rand Paul

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The Value-Added Tax: A Nixonian Scheme to Fund Bigger Government

November 21, 2015

The VAT is to me an obviously bad idea, especially as long as there is also an income tax. But why Senators Cruz and Paul would support one is way beyond me.

International Liberty

In early 2013, a reader asked me the best place to go if America suffered a Greek-style economic collapse.

I suggested Australia might be the best option, even if I would be too stubborn to take my own advice.

Perhaps because of an irrational form of patriotism, I’m fairly certain that I will always live in the United States and I will be fighting to preserve (or restore) liberty until my last breath.

But while I intend to stay in America, there is one thing that would make me very pessimistic about my country’s future.

Simply stated, if politicians ever manage to impose a value-added tax on the United States, the statists will have won a giant victory and it will be much harder to restrain big government.

But you don’t have to believe me. Folks on the left openly admit that a VAT is necessary to…

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Donald Trump won’t rule out religious identification cards

November 19, 2015
Fine as long as the mouth stays shut

Fine as long as the mouth stays shut

No. Not just no, but Hell, no.

Yahoo News asked Trump whether his push for increased surveillance of American Muslims could include warrantless searches. He suggested he would consider a series of drastic measures.

“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out.

“We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said when presented with the idea. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”

This is the kind of crap that can only come from someone either woefully ignorant of History or suffering from a painfully tin ear.

I take a backseat to no one in my dislike for Islam and my wariness of jihad infiltration; I do not think we should be admitting Syrian refugees because, among other reasons, our ability to vet them for ties to jihadist groups has significant weaknesses. Just ask the FBI Director. To let them in is to take unconscionable risk with the safety of the American people.

But religious ID cards? Even to have that tossed out without immediately dismissing it, to include it in a range of reasonable possibilities, should disqualify him as a serious candidate for dog-catcher, let alone the presidency.

Not only is the idea offensive in itself (1), but I can already imagine the Democrats making hay out of this, whether he wins the nomination or not:

“We condemn the outrageous and racist suggestion of the Republican front-runner that Muslims should carry special identification.”

And picture Clinton, Obama, Wasserman-Schultz, Schumer, and every other Democrat intoning that over and over again in every venue they could find.  Imagine every single Jewish group in the US rightfully denouncing this, even if they loathe the Democrats’ treatment of Israel. Pity the poor serious Republican candidates who will likely have to answer question after question about what this moron said, rather than focusing on the crucial issues of the campaign.

Are we sure Donald Trump isn’t a deep-cover agent provocateur for the Democrats?

Via Jonah Goldberg, to whom I give the last word:

Now, I’ll bet Trump walks some of this back in the next 48 hours, just as he did with his initial call to admit Syrian refugees and other statements that have departed his posterior before his brain could catch them. But let’s be clear, getting the federal government involved in tracking and labeling citizens’ religious affiliations is abhorrent on the merits and a huge invitation to profound mischief down the road. Creating databases on all members of any religion is a terrible idea as well.

(…)

But I have little interest in going so far … that we actually resemble the straw men the Left has been screaming about all along.

Exactly.

Footnote:
(1) What else, Donald? Shall we make them wear green crescents on their clothing?

 


#RaiseTheWage – In which Seattle Leftists gets a needed lesson in economics

March 16, 2015
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least we raised the minimum wage!”

It must be nice to be a progressive; you never have to worry about the real-world consequences of your actions. Fighting for social justice? Great! Let’s raise that minimum wage in the interests of (all bow) fairness. Surely those petit bourgeois small business owners can afford it — they’re probably making more money than they should, anyway. It’s time to spread the wealth around. You, the city councilors and progressive voters of Seattle know better than any shop owner what he can afford to pay!

Strangest thing about choices: they have consequences.

Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law goes into effect on April 1, 2015. As that date approaches, restaurants across the city are making the financial decision to close shop. The Washington Policy Center writes that “closings have occurred across the city, from Grub in the upscale Queen Anne Hill neighborhood, to Little Uncle in gritty Pioneer Square, to the Boat Street Cafe on Western Avenue near the waterfront.”

Of course, restaurants close for a variety of reasons. But, according to Seattle Magazine, the “impending minimum wage hike to $15 per hour” is playing a “major factor.” That’s not surprising, considering “about 36% of restaurant earnings go to paying labor costs.” Seattle Magazine,

“Washington Restaurant Association’s Anthony Anton puts it this way: “It’s not a political problem; it’s a math problem.”

“He estimates that a common budget breakdown among sustaining Seattle restaurants so far has been the following: 36 percent of funds are devoted to labor, 30 percent to food costs and 30 percent go to everything else (all other operational costs). The remaining 4 percent has been the profit margin, and as a result, in a $700,000 restaurant, he estimates that the average restauranteur in Seattle has been making $28,000 a year.

“With the minimum wage spike, however, he says that if restaurant owners made no changes, the labor cost in quick service restaurants would rise to 42 percent and in full service restaurants to 47 percent.”

Restaurant owners, expecting to operate on thinner margins, have tried to adapt in several ways including “higher menu prices, cheaper, lower-quality ingredients, reduced opening times, and cutting work hours and firing workers,” according to The Seattle Times and Seattle Eater magazine. As the Washington Policy Center points out, when these strategies are not enough, businesses close, “workers lose their jobs and the neighborhood loses a prized amenity.”

I imagine reaction of residents must be like that of fans of a beloved local bookstore were shocked when it closed after The Special City raised its minimum wage — they cry “I had no idea!”.

Damn straight. It’s also called “magical thinking,” in which you get to do whatever you want with no blow-back. Then you wake up and realize it was all a dream.

Like I’ve written many times before, there are basic rules of economics our economically illiterate progressive compatriots need to hear. Again:

Labor is a cost, because the business owner has to provide wages and, often, benefits that cost him more money. When a government mandate increases that cost, the business owner has three choices: pass the cost along to the customer, who may decide it’s too much and stop shopping there; cut employee hours and stop hiring to save on labor costs, thus costing potential jobs and putting a burden on workers still employed; and, finally, just decide it’s not worth it anymore and close up shop. In the low-margin bookseller business, Borderlands’ owner chose the last course as the only one viable.

Do recall this mandated wage increase comes on top of any additional expenses required under Obamacare. No wonder owners in the thin-margin restaurant business are calling it quits!

Dan Mitchell calls it “Destroying Jobs with Innumerate Compassion.” Perfect.

Of course, this won’t stop the progressives who run the LA city council from making a similar mistake, here, because… magical thinking.

Via Rick Moran, who also quotes a great explanation from Reason about the connection between the value of labor and the minimum wage.

RELATED: Earlier posts on Seattle and the minimum wage.


1 million tons of pressurised CO2 stored beneath Decatur, Illinois

January 14, 2015

The enviro-Left (and Green businesses hoping for lucrative government contracts) have been pushing carbon sequestration –storing CO2 deep underground — as one way to “save the planet.” But did you know if this underground storage ruptures for any reason, the released CO2 could kill thousands? Smart. Put people at risk to fight a problem that does not exist: catastrophic man-caused climate change. Great work, Green Movement!

Watts Up With That?

It was a tenth of that, 100,000 tons, that caused the Lake Nyos disaster

Lake Nyos, a volcanic crater lake located in the Northwest Region of Cameroon Lake Nyos, a volcanic crater lake located in the Northwest Region of Cameroon

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

7000 ft below the city of Decatur, Illinois, population 74,710 people, is a high pressure reservoir which contains 1 million tons of CO2.

From the press release:

One of the largest carbon sequestration projects in the U.S., the Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP) has reached its goal of capturing 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and injecting it deep underground in the Mount Simon Sandstone formation beneath Decatur, Illinois. The project is designed to demonstrate the feasibility of carbon capture and storage. IBDP director Robert Finley talked about the million-ton milestone with News Bureau physical sciences editor Liz Ahlberg. Finley is director of the Advanced Energy Technology Institute at the Illinois State Geological Survey, part…

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RIP Australia’s Carbon Tax

July 16, 2014

Just as the EPA is trying to force us into a de facto carbon tax, Australia comes to its senses and repeals former-PM Gillard’s monstrosity. Well done, Tony Abbott!

Watts Up With That?

Carbontax_tombstoneUPDATE: at ~ 11:14AM local time in Australia, it was repealed!

From ABC: Legislation to scrap the carbon tax has passed the Federal Parliament in a major win for the Abbott Government.

After a lengthy debate, the Senate voted to get rid of the price on carbon, with 39 senators voting for and 32 voting against.

This was the Government’s third attempt to scrap the tax since the election – the first two were rejected by the Senate.

The Australian reports:

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Sweet! If the Euro collapses, US taxpayers could be on the hook for $1 trillion! Oh, yay!

December 15, 2011

You know what they say, don’t you? A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re taking about real money.

James Pethokoukis posts about the risks for the US taxpayer in the Euro crisis, pointing that, contra Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke (1), the US bailout of Europe is on. I’ll refer you to Pethokoukis’ article for the details, but the gist is this: the International Monetary Fund, to which the United States is far and away the largest contributor, has already loaned Portugal, Greece, and Ireland (three of the five PIIGS countries) roughly $100 billion, of which our share is $20 billion. Petty cash these days, you say? Hah! We’re not done yet…

If the two biggest PIIGS, Italy and Spain, come to the IMF trough, their needs may exceed the IMF’s reserves, so the EU has agreed to loan hundreds of billions to the IMF, which the IMF could then re-loan to Spain and Italy (2) — loans totaling as much as $1.3 trillion. (They don’t call them “PIIGS” for nothing.) Since this is a loan to the IMF, the US taxpayer would be on the hook to European lenders for roughly 17% of that amount in the event Italy and Spain default, or as much as $220 billion.

Makes you wince, doesn’t it? But wait, it gets better!

The Fed is hedging their bets via currency swaps with the European Central Bank. Supposedly, in the event of a default by the borrowers, the ECB could limit US exposure by buying dollars, even if it meant devaluing the Euro through printing as much needed. But that assumes the Euro and the ECB even survive a real crisis. If they don’t, we’re on the hook for it all.

I’ll let James summarize:

U.S. taxpayer exposure is $220 billion via the IMF. That’s scary enough. But then you have the Fed. Lachman notes that the counterparty to the potential $600 billion in swaps is the ECB and that “one must suppose that the European Central Bank would be able to buy whatever quantity of US dollars that it might need to repay the Federal Reserve.” Unless there is a complete euro collapse and then there might not be a ECB to repay anybody. So in addition to a global depression and 20 percent U.S. unemployment, America [‘s exposure] would be nearly $1 trillion.

The insanity of it all becomes clear when one realizes this is like nothing so much as giving an alcoholic another bottle of booze and trusting himself to go on the wagon later. Really. This time he’s serious.

European nations have loaned Greece billions time after time, and yet the Greeks continue their profligate social spending and never reform. And the problem is spreading, as Italian and Spanish finances near collapse. But, instead of recognizing the desperate need to find an orderly end to the Euro so that debtor nations can devalue national currencies as much as needed to grow their way out of debt via exports, they keep trying to save it by buying their way out of debt with more debt. This only delays and makes worse the inevitable end: massive defaults, bankruptcies at major banks, and social chaos.

Now we’re getting into the act in a potentially very big and very harmful (to us) way. And on top of our own horrendous debt.

There is no easy way out of the international debt crisis, but surely the way to start is to stop being stuck on stupid.

Footnotes:
(1) Sure, Ben, we won’t bail them out directly. We’ll just do it through our seat at the IMF. That makes all the difference in the world. And I bet you’ll respect us in the morning, too.
(2) Anyone else reminded of a shell game?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Anniversary of a bad idea

December 11, 2011

On this date in 1941, Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini declared war on the United States in support of their Japanese ally.

Benito, I have this great idea...

How’d that turn out for you, guys?

Mein Führer?

Berlin, 1945. Second thoughts?

Il Duce?

Not what you'd hoped for?

Prime Minister Tojo?

That worked out well, didn't it?

Maybe you should have thought about it a bit more. See, it’s generally not a good idea to make us angry.

In fact, it’s a really bad idea.

Morons.

Note: This is one of a few WWII anniversary posts I put up every years.


The Grinch who taxed Christmas

November 8, 2011

I knew Obama was desperate for revenue — any revenue– but taxing Christmas trees to pay for programs to “improve their image?”

Somehow, call me crazy, but I think a Christmas tree has a much better public image than our president.

via Baseball Crank.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


You want to know how dumb unions can be?

September 18, 2011

This dumb. Southern California grocery workers are set to walk out as soon as tomorrow and shut down hundreds of stores over, at most, $23 a week:

Now, as in 2003, one key sticking point is healthcare. What’s at issue is a painfully common refrain in corporate America: medical costs are rising.

Under the latest offer from the employers, grocery workers would pay $9 a week for individual coverage and $23 a week for a family, company and union officials said.

The grocers say these premiums are necessary to help offset rising healthcare costs and augment the amount Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons are agreeing to pay into a trust fund that purchases healthcare for workers. But union officials say that what the employers have proposed to pay during negotiations on the complex deal is far short of what is necessary and would ultimately gut the trust fund. Instead, union officials say, the employers need to pay more in order for the fund to be viable long term.

Consider that California has unemployment of at least 12% and that many, many people are experiencing tight wallets these days. And the union bosses think it’s a good idea to put their own people out of work? Do the unions really expect sympathy from the public when all they’re being asked to pay for healthcare is $36 per month for a single person and $92 for a family? Do they really expect people facing far more onerous financial conditions to say “Oh yeah, man. You’ve got a real grievance here. I’m totally willing to drive 20 miles to find a non-union store while you fight to save 36 bucks a month!”

Really? I expect instead you’ll see a lot of people crossing the lines as the strike goes on, and plenty of “scab” workers — people who need jobs.

I supported the strikers back in 2003, because I felt they had a real grievance. Contrary to the article, the real issue then was management at Safeway trying to forcing workers to pay for management’s poor business decisions.

But this… this is dumb.

via Pirate’s Cove

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama in the Keynesian Twilight Zone

September 12, 2011

Via Power Line, here’s a cute video from Minnesota Majority satirizing Obama’s weird obsession for trying the same failed solutions to unemployment over and over again:

Maybe it’s because I’m such a Twilight Zone fan, but I think this is pretty amusing. And, like TZ itself, kind of scary at the same time. Thank goodness this could never happen in real life…

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Quote of the Morning, Euro-panic edition

September 12, 2011

From Walter Russell Mead, on the creation of the Euro:

Creating a monetary union without a true federal government is looking more and more like the biggest European policy mistake since Britain and France let Hitler have the Sudetenland.

Visit his blog to find out why.

Looks to be a rocky Monday out there.


California: If we can’t tax you, we’ll let the other guy do it!

June 13, 2011

Really, I sometimes wonder if Democrats oligarchs  in the state legislature are issued fake mustaches so they can twirl them and laugh maniacally as they find new ways to shove new taxes down our throats.

The latest comes as a result of our annual battle over the state budget, which is due June 15th. The Democrats will have no problem passing the budget, since it requires only a simple majority and they control both chambers (1). But, they still have to come up with the money to pay for that budget, since there’s a statutory requirement that it be balanced.

Now, the governor and and his legislative allies want a special election to impose new taxes to help fund that budget. (They call them “extensions of existing tax hikes,” but, since those are set to expire no matter what, they’re really tax hikes.) A special election requires a two-thirds vote of both chambers, and the Republicans are holding out, creating an impasse; correctly, in my mind, but we’ll come back to that.

So, faced with solid opposition, what does Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg do? He calls for the political equivalent of an end-around play, introducing a law allowing the counties to impose income taxes:

Counties, school districts and community colleges would have broad authority to seek taxes on income and a vast array of products including cigarettes and alcohol under a bill approved by the California Senate on Friday.

The bill, which Senate leaders say will pressure Republicans to support the governor’s tax plan, gives the local entities power over taxes that currently only the state Legislature can impose. The Senate passed the bill after Republicans, and a handful of Democrats, refused to support a measure sought by Gov. Jerry Brown to place extensions and increases of current state tax rates on a special election ballot. That measure needed a two-thirds majority vote from the Senate.

The special election measure would have asked voters this fall to extend and increase personal income and sales taxes, along with the vehicle license fees, through June 2016. But Democrats in the Legislature altered the plan so that if voters rejected the measure, most of the taxes still would have been imposed for the remainder of 2011-12 fiscal year.

The article goes on to point out that Steinberg is playing hardball (with our paychecks as the ball) to pressure the Republicans to accede to a special election (2). But implicit is the threat to send the bill to the Assembly, where I’m sure it will pass easily. And there are several problems with this:

First, We The People made our will clear about new taxes in 2009, when Prop 1A was crushed 65-35. The voters sent a very loud, very clear message to Sacramento that we are taxed enough, thank you, so instead please do your jobs and come up with a budget that meets existing revenues. Instead, they either want another expensive special election (3) to ask us the same question we only just answered, or they’ll let the counties and school districts do it (to us). This is not only “playing hardball” with Republican legislators, it is also a slap in the face of the voters who’ve already made their will plain.

But arrogance is often a trait of oligarchy, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

The second problem is with the very idea of giving county boards of supervisors, school districts, and community colleges the power to tax — they’ll go right ahead and do it. Sure, they’ll have to call an election, but all they’ll wind up doing is encouraging the most productive elements of society to move elsewhere. This only gives wastrel government more money to waste and helps them avoid dealing with massive waste and inefficiency by encouraging them to rob their constituents. It’s like giving an alcoholic the keys to the liquor store.

Finally, the fundamental objection is this: We are taxed enough. California has an income tax with eight rates. The top two tiers pay 10 and 11 percent, respectively. Now, you might think only the wealthy get hit with these rates. Well, in California, we have a different idea of “wealthy.” The second highest tax bracket, 10%, starts at $47,055. Yes, you can make less than 50 grand a year, and Sacramento thinks it only fair that you fork over 10 percent. And let’s not forget sales taxes that range from 9.25% to 10.75%.

And Brown, Steinberg, and the Democrats want more, one way or another.

The real problem here isn’t that taxes aren’t high enough, it’s that nearly 40 years of Democratic control of the legislature have lead to insane spending and borrowing, as well as unsustainable public employee pensions. Instead of a bloody-minded obsession with raising taxes, the legislature should be bending all its efforts to creating the conditions here that will stop the flight of businesses from California and encourage others to come here: fewer regulations and lower costs to do business. And they should be easing the way for intelligent exploitation of our natural resources, including the billions of barrels of oil estimated to sit off our coast. All of these would create jobs that would bring in revenue without having to raise taxes.

Instead, we get political gamesmanship and an unwillingness to see that the Golden State is going the way of the goose that laid the golden eggs.

Footnotes:

(1) And see what that’s gotten us? Let this be a warning to the rest of you.

(2) More money we can’t afford to spend.

(3) I think they learned it from the EU: “You’ll keep voting until you give us the answer we want, peasant!”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Dear Republicans: This is a club, learn to use it

May 16, 2011

Because if you don’t hammer Obama every day from now until Election Day with the fact that his stimulus plan caused a net loss of 500,000 jobs, you don’t deserve to win:

Our benchmark results suggest that the ARRA created/saved approximately 450 thousand state and local government jobs and destroyed/forestalled roughly one million private sector jobs. State and local government jobs were saved because ARRA funds were largely used to offset state revenue shortfalls and Medicaid increases rather than boost private sector employment. The majority of destroyed/forestalled jobs were in growth industries including health, education, professional and business services.

(Emphasis added)

That’s from a study (PDF) by economists at Ohio State. In other words, we borrowed and spent nearly one trillion dollars (that’s $1,000,000,000,000) on the assurance of President Obama and the (Social) Democrats that doing so would stimulate the economy, create new jobs, and restore prosperity. Instead, we bought a bunch of pork-barrel projects and waste that only made unemployment worse. We’d have been better off if Obama and Congress had done nothing.

That monument to incompetence alone should cost them the 2012 election.

You’ve been handed a club, Republicans: use it.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Restraining Leviathan III: when the IRS goes wild

April 24, 2011

Here’s a question, the answer to which may just be a hearty “WTF?” Why does the IRS want to turn US banks into deputy tax collectors for foreign governments?

Under a proposed regulation, the Internal Revenue Service would order banks to report interest on deposits from foreign investors, not to the US government, but to the home government of the depositor.

What’s the problem, you ask? There are five, but I’ll list two here:

  1. Foreign depositors have put trillions of dollars in US banks because of the very fact that we don’t report interest payments to their governments. Yes, it’s tax avoidance on their part, but the moneys deposited here help grow our economy through loans and investment capital. If this regulation is enacted, foreign depositors will have every reason to move their fortunes elsewhere, to places like Hong Kong or the Caymans, which don’t threaten to rat them out to their governments. That loss would be a tremendous blow to our already ailing economy and banking sector.
  2. Even worse, this regulation overturns established US law. Congress mandated this safe-harbor for foreign deposits 90 years ago in recognition of the benefits an inflow of capital would bring, and that law has been reaffirmed by our democratically elected legislators at least twice since then. Yet now a bureaucratic agency want to undue laws enacted by the legislature through simple fiat.

WTF, indeed.

Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute has produced a video that goes into these and three other reasons why this regulation shows the IRS is Stuck On Stupid:

This proposed regulation and the harm it will do have attracted the attention of Congress, who’ve reacted in bipartisan opposition to this dumb idea. For example, Senator Rubio said in a letter to President Obama:

At a time when unemployment remains high and economic growth is lagging, forcing banks to report interest paid to nonresident aliens would encourage the flight of capital overseas to jurisdictions without onerous reporting requirements, place unnecessary burdens on the American economy, put our financial system at a fundamental competitive disadvantage, and would restrict access to capital when our economy can least afford it. …I respectfully ask that Regulation 146097-09 be permanently withdrawn from consideration. This regulation would have a highly detrimental effect on our economy at a time when pro-growth measures are sorely needed.

You can read more reactions to this bureaucratic usurpation at Mitchell’s International Liberty, though I have no doubt the statists in the Congressional Progressive Caucus think it’s just peachy.

LINKS: Other posts on Leviathan government.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Band of (Illegal) Brothers?

March 23, 2011

Call it a gut feeling, but my hunch is that this odd incident is more a reflection of clever stupidity than anything menacing:

13 Illegal Immigrants Arrested in California Wearing U.S. Marine Uniforms

Border Patrol agents recently arrested 13 illegal immigrants disguised as U.S. Marines and riding in a fake military van, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Tuesday.

The illegal immigrants were clad in Marine uniforms when they were apprehended at the Campo Border Patrol Westbound I-8 checkpoint at 11 p.m. on March 14 near Pine Valley, Calif., border officials said. Two U.S. citizens in the van also were arrested.

Pine Valley is just east of San Diego.

Like I said, “clever.” There’s a big military presence around San Diego, and there are a lot of Hispanics in the military, so seeing a bunch of Hispanic US Marines being transported from one place to another wouldn’t be too odd.

But what was the “stupid” part, you ask?

The name labels on their uniforms all read “Perez.”

D’oh! 

via The Jawa Report, which has video.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


I like the BBC, but not enough to pay them

March 22, 2011

I admit it: this conservative likes the BBC, in spite of its self-confessed left-liberal bias. Maybe it’s a nostalgic attachment to the Beeb’s role in World War II, when their overseas radio broadcasts would begin “This is London calling,” bringing a message of liberty, hope, and resistance to people trapped in the Nazis’ empire. Or maybe it’s just a natural reaction to the reassuring aura of authority that comes from a posh London accent — at least for the Anglophilic among us. (Another confession.)

But, much as I like Auntie Beeb, I don’t want to give her US taxpayer dollars:

BBC World Service to sign funding deal with US state department

The BBC World Service is to receive a “significant” sum of money from the US government to help combat the blocking of TV and internet services in countries including Iran and China.

In what the BBC said is the first deal of its kind, an agreement is expected to be signed later this month that will see US state department money – understood to be a low six-figure sum – given to the World Service to invest in developing anti-jamming technology and software.

The funding is also expected to be used to educate people in countries with state censorship in how to circumnavigate the blocking of internet and TV services.

It is understood the US government has decided the reach of the World Service is such that it makes investment worthwhile.

In other words, we’re in a fiscal crisis with a looming entitlement crash and a massive deficit, we’re seriously thinking of defunding our own quasi-national broadcaster, and yet Foggy Bottom thinks it’s a good idea to give money to the British Broadcasting Corporation? Six figures may be chicken feed in DC, but spending even a dime of our money on this is nonsensical. Granted, London is massively cutting defense spending and is imposing what amounts to (for them) an austerity budget (including cuts to the BBC), but they can fund their own darned radio service, if they think it’s so worthwhile.

And may I remind State that we ourselves have a pretty well-respected overseas news service, the Voice of America? Sending the money their way would accomplish the same goal while directly serving American interests.

Oh, wait. I forgot. It’s the State Department we’re talking about. Never mind.

I’ll give Fausta the final word on this mini-farce:

Let me get this straight, the US is broke, borrowing money from China, and will be funding the BBC to broadcast in China?

I’m sure it makes perfect sense inside the Beltway.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Anniversary of a bad idea

December 11, 2010

On this date in 1941, Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini declared war on the United States in support of their Japanese ally.

Benito, I have this great idea...

 

How’d that turn out for you, guys?

Mein Führer?

 

Berlin, 1945. Second thoughts?

Il Duce?

Not what you'd hoped for?

Prime Minister Tojo?

That worked out well, didn't it?

Maybe you should have thought about it a bit more.

Morons.


It’s official

December 7, 2010

President Obama’s pork-laden monstrosity stimulus program was an absolute failure:

Wilson’s study makes an important contribution to this debate by focusing on state-by-state comparisons. A large portion of stimulus funding at the state level was based on criteria that were entirely independent of the economic situation that states faced. For example, the number of existing highway miles was used to calculate additional transportation spending.

The study uses this resulting variation in state-level stimulus funding to determine what impact ARRA funding had on employment — including both the direct impact of workers hired to complete planned projects, as well as any broader spillover effects resulting from greater government spending. Administration economists have repeatedly emphasized the importance of this indirect employment growth in driving economic recovery.

The results suggest that though the program did result in 2 million jobs “created or saved” by March 2010, net job creation was statistically indistinguishable from zero by August of this year. Taken at face value, this would suggest that the stimulus program (with an overall cost of $814 billion) worked only to generate temporary jobs at a cost of over $400,000 per worker. Even if the stimulus had in fact generated this level of employment as a durable outcome, it would still have been an extremely expensive way to generate employment.

In other words, on the advice —nay, the insistence!— of the President and (Social) Democratic leadership, we borrowed and blew over $800 billion dollars… for nothing! Well, except for unused airports, frozen fish sperm, and coke for monkeys, among other things.

Actually, it was less than nothing, for the study shows how assistance to state Medicaid programs actually cost jobs:

Interestingly, federal assistance to state Medicaid programs appears to have decreased local and state government employment. One possibility is that requirements to maintain full Medicaid benefits in order to receive federal aid proved sufficiently expensive that state governments pushed though additional rounds of layoffs in non-health related areas.

Oh, well done, you geniuses. Go ahead, pat yourselves on the back. Trusted by the voters to heal a sick economy, you acted like drunken sailors in a brothel on payday and actually made it worse. And now we’re stuck with your hangover. High fives and group hugs all around!!

It’s no wonder the voters took you to the woodshed last month. It is a wonder they didn’t have you shot.

Via Gay Patriot and Hot Air.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama and Holder strike again: terror trial botched

October 7, 2010

During his campaign for the presidency and after he took office, Barack Obama made a large point of arguing that the military commission system set up by Congress to try terrorists somehow violated our highest principles and moral values as a nation. It was garbage, of course, but it fed the fantasies of his leftist base. Then it got serious when the President’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, decided to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other al Qaeda jihadists in New York City.

While the subsequent uproar stopped (for now) the trials of KSM and his comrades, one trial went on: that of Ahmed Ghailani, who has confessed to being the prime mover behind the deadly truck bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in the 1990s. Because of a question as to whether the confession was admissible under the rules of the US criminal court system, the Obama-Holder Justice Department decided to go through with a trial. “No problem,” they assured us. “We have a witness who makes this a slam-dunk case, proving the wisdom of our determination to treat terrorism as a criminal matter!”

Then the judge kicked out the witness.

Oops.

Now the trial is in deep jeopardy. Yes, the man who has confessed to killing hundreds of people in those bombings and who is a hero to jihadis around the world may just walk free. Former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy explains the problem:

Clearly, however, the prosecutors in New York do not want the trial to devolve into theater over the CIA interrogation methods. Were the government to try to prove Ghailani’s statements to the FBI, defense lawyers would have latitude to summon the CIA interrogators. They would argue that the CIA’s earlier, rough tactics tainted Ghailani’s subsequent, seemingly voluntary confession. The Justice Department is determined to steer clear of that controversy, and of any criticism that it exploited Bush-era tactics, even indirectly. But there’s a trade-off: The jury won’t learn that Ghailani admitted to planning the bombing, buying the TNT, and being celebrated afterward as an al-Qaeda hero.

The Justice Department figured it could roll those dice because it has a witness, Hussein Abebe, who is prepared to testify that he sold Ghailani the TNT. Not so fast, say Ghailani’s lawyers. They argue that the government learned about Abebe only because of Ghailani’s confession. By their lights, having agreed not to use it, the government implicitly concedes that the confession is toxic; therefore, the argument goes, it is no more proper for prosecutors to call a witness discovered because of the confession than it would be to use the confession itself.

Prosecutors reply that there is a big difference between using admissions pried from a defendant under coercion and merely calling a witness. The government may inevitably have found the witness anyway. Moreover, even if the confession tipped the government off to Abebe’s existence, he is a volunteer, providing testimony of his own free will.

Read the whole thing.

Basically, the judge decided Abebe’s testimony was “fruit of the poisonous tree,” and thus inadmissible. This just shows what McCarthy and others, such as former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, argued was right: that the civilian court system is not set up to handle terrorism cases.

Unless they can come up with yet another “slam dunk” approach or get Ghailani to confess*, the administration may well be faced with the choice of letting a mass-murdering al Qaeda terrorist go, or throwing him back into the military commission system and looking even more ridiculous for it.

Great job, guys. What’s your next trick?

*(Fat chance of either happening. Ghailani is probably planning his vacation in Waziristan even now.)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)