And With the Way You Look

… I understand that you are not impressed:

[Demagogue Defined]

  • Like me, Drew Cline was not impressed with President Obama's corporate jet-bashing at yesterday's press conference.
    The tax-escaping corporate jet owner is such a bad person that President Obama mentioned him six times during his press conference. He portrayed these people as "millionaires and billionaires" whose big tax breaks stand in the way of Washington adequately funding college scholarships and child safety programs.

    "I've said to some of the Republican leaders, 'You go talk to your constituents -- the Republican constituents -- and ask them," Obama said, "are they willing to compromise their kids' safety so that some corporate jet owner continues to get a tax break? And I'm pretty sure what the answer would be."

    But how are corporate jets preventing Washington from keeping children safe?

    A common feature of Barackrobatics is alleging his opponents are presenting a "false choice". Exercise for the reader: can you spot a false choice in the quote above?

  • Like Drew Cline, Senator Marco Rubio was also not impressed:
    "Talking about corporate jets and oil companies," Rubio says, missed the point. "Everybody here agrees that our tax code is broken," he says, and he is open to discussing tax reform. "But don't go around telling people that the reason you are not doing well is because some rich guy is in a corporate jet or some oil company is making too much money."
    Why, it's almost as if Obama was intentionally engaging in cheap demagoguery to avoid discussing fiscal issues honestly! Could that possibly be true?

  • Richard Rubin and Andrew Zajac, reporters for Bloomberg, were not impressed by the fiscal impact:
    President Barack Obama's proposal to end a tax break for corporate jet owners, a repeated refrain in his news conference yesterday, would achieve less than one-tenth of 1 percent of his target for reducing the federal deficit.
    Specifically: the estimate is $3 billion increase in revenue over 10 years. Charles Krauthammer is not impressed by that:
    I did the math on this. If you collect the corporate jet tax every year for the next 5,000 years, you will cover one year of the debt that Obama has run up. One year.
    And the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler was also not impressed, once he (also) did some math:
    In a bit of class jujitsu, the president six times mentioned eliminating a tax loophole for corporate jets, frequently pitting it against student loans or food safety. It's a potent image, but in the context of a $4 trillion goal, it is essentially meaningless. The item is so small the White House could not even provide an estimate of the revenue that would be raised, but other estimates suggest it would amount to $3 billion over 10 years.

    Meanwhile, student financial assistance, just for 2011, is about $42 billion. So the corporate jet loophole -- which involves the fact that such assets can be depreciated over five years, rather than the seven for commercial jets -- just is not going to raise a lot of money. It certainly wouldn't save many student loans.

    Kessler also found facts lacking in other areas of the press conference.

  • Congressional Republicans were not impressed, suggesting that Obama was going for easy targets:

    "Interesting that he keeps pointing to corporate planes and oil/gas as the only examples of the tax hikes he wants," said Don Stewart, Sen. Mitch McConnell's spokesman, in an email to reporters. "Odd that he doesn't mention things like his plan to raise $70 billion on manufacturers and small businesses" through changes in tax accounting methods.

    Why, it's almost as if Obama was intentionally engaging in cheap demagoguery to … oh, wait, I already said that.

  • James Pethokoukis was not impressed with what he deemed the President's "clumsy attempt at class warfare" either:
    Who knows, maybe the president just has something against jet airplanes, akin to his apparent dislike of those job-killing ATMs. But this seems certain: Obamanomics took flight in 2009 as a purist Keynesian experiment in economic management from high above. The ultimate Dreamliner for Democrats. Now, two-and-a-half-year later, it's begun its sputtering descent.

  • At RedState, Repair Man Jack has a masterfully pissed-off rant on the topic. I encourage you to Read The Whole Thing, but the bottom line is (guess what?) that he is not impressed:
    Barack Obama's rhetoric on this issue is toxic, disingenuous and deliberately divisive. He actually seems to want Americans to hate one another just a wee tad more. If the choice he presented us with were actually honest and accurate, my decision would still be easy. "J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!" At least Rex Ryan is normally obnoxious and repulsive on his own dime. That is no longer true of either America's Boy President or our national government.

  • And you know, they told me that if I voted for John McCain, people would get yanked off MSNBC for Speaking Truth To, Or At Least About, Power. Well, I didn't vote for McCain, but nevertheless I am not impressed with this dick move:
    MSNBC senior political analyst Mark Halperin was suspended on Thursday by the cable network after he called President Obama "a dick" on a popular morning show and then quickly apologized.
    Color Hugh Hewitt equally not impressed with MSNBC:
    And make no mistake --Halperin is an Obama acolyte. His book Game Change makes clear that he sat on story after story that would have hurt the Democrats generally and the president's nomination and election specifically throughout the 2008 campaign until after the voting was done. There is no higher service than helping deep six the bad news, and Mark Halperin came through for Obama and the left when it counted. So eighteen months out from the next election he shows a little false independence from the boss, the better to serve the big guy over the next year-and-a-half, and MSNBC blows it up into a display of "journalistic ethics" --from the most reliably unhinged, hard-left studios in the business. Sheesh.
    Sheesh indeed. And even more not impressed is Professor J:
    Halperin has been suspended by MSNBC "indefinitely." But Obama, who falsely accused Republicans of wanting to sacrifice children, the elderly, and sick people for the benefit corporate jet owners, still is in office.

    Go figure.

(A number of the above links were via Geraghty's Morning Jolt newsletter; you should subscribe. )


Last Modified 2012-09-26 5:03 AM EDT

Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream

[Amazon Link]

A few years back, I read John Derbyshire's Prime Obsession, a 2003 book (of all things) about the Riemann Hypothesis, an unproved mathematical conjecture. And (of course) I'd been reading his stuff over the years at National Review. He's probably the only conservative writer who's appeared in a Bruce Lee movie.

So I picked up his novel, written back in 1996. As you might expect from a math-geek conservative Kung Fu movie actor, it's unusual. The first-person narrator is Chai, and he's had an interesting life: Born in Red China, got caught up in the Cultural Revolution, became a Red Guard, escaped to Hong Kong in disgust, lucked into a job in a bank. His unexpected talents propel him upward in the financial hierarchy, and he emigrates to America, settling down in a comfy bourgeois existence with a wife and a kid on Long Island.

That's probably a good book right there, but Chai develops a slightly unusual hobby for a Chinese immigrant bank executive: he becomes obsessed with Calvin Coolidge. He reads everything he can find about Silent Cal; he and the family make a pilgrimage to Vermont to check out the family homestead.

But in addition, Chai becomes aware that his one true love in China, Selina, is also in America. And Selina becomes an obsession as well. These two threads intersect unexpectedly right at the end of the book, in a charming manner.

Without spoiling things too much, you can read the book two ways: taking Chai's narrative at face value, accepting his interpretation of events. Or you can pick up on the clues Derbyshire scatters throughout the text, and discover for yourself what really happened. (And, frankly, I didn't figure things out until a few hours after I finished the book, started to think about it a bit, and … Oh, yeah. Duh.)


Last Modified 2012-09-26 5:02 AM EDT