Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Shared Responsibility Payment"

Winston Smith of the Internal Revenue Service has come up with a NEWSPEAK euphemism for a new tax. It's a "Shared Responsibility Payment."

Here is how it is calculated:

If you (or any of your dependents) do not maintain coverage and do not qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment with your return. In general, the payment amount is either a percentage of your household income or a flat dollar amount, whichever is greater. You will owe 1/12th of the annual payment for each month you (or your dependents) do not have coverage and are not exempt. The annual payment amount for 2014 is the greater of:
  • 1 percent of your household income that is above the tax return filing threshold for your filing status, such as Married Filing Jointly or single, or
  • Your family’s flat dollar amount, which is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, limited to a maximum of $285.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

When Failure Is Success

Victor Davis Hanson points out yet more NEWSPEAK floating around.

Losing a job is freedom from job lock. A budget deficit larger than in any previous administration is austerity. A mean right-wing video caused the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi. Al-Qaeda was long ago washed up. The Muslim Brotherhood is secular. Jihad is a personal journey. Shooting people while screaming Allahu akbar! is workplace violence. Unaffordable higher premiums and deductibles are the result of an Affordable Care Act. Losing your doctor and your health-insurance plan prove you will never lose your doctor and your health-insurance plan — period! Being a constitutional lawyer means you know how to turn the IRS and the FCC on your enemies. Failure is success; lies are truth.
President Obama’s polls are creeping back up again. They do that every time the latest in the series of scandals — the IRS, AP, NSA, Benghazi, and Obamacare messes — recedes into the media memory hole. The once-outrageous IRS scandal was rebranded as psychodramatic journalists being outraged. The monitoring of AP reporters and of James Rosen is mostly “Stuff happens.” The NSA octopus was Bush’s creation. You can keep your doctor and your health plan — period — begat liberation from “job lock” and the ability to write poetry because you don’t have to work.
Yet after all the 24-hour outrages, and all the op-eds pointing out that a self-described constitutional-law professor has been the worst adversary of the Constitution since Richard Nixon, and after perhaps even a slide in the polls of a point or two, we will soon forget Ms. Clyburn and her idiotic attempts to diversify the news by seeking uniform expression in the media.
After all, we have forgotten EPA Director Lisa Jackson — former right-hand woman to former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine — who mysteriously disappeared from the EPA after creating a fake e-mail persona, “Richard Windsor.” The latter nonexistent crusader won an award from none other than Lisa Jackson’s EPA.
And we have forgotten Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who suddenly disappeared from the Cabinet after the FBI inquired into her Obama fundraising activities as secretary, and who is currently being sued over her mysterious freebie use of a union-owned luxury jet to hop between the coasts.
And we have forgotten Lois Lerner, who focused the IRS on tea-party groups, took the Fifth Amendment, retired, and is no longer “outrageous.”
And we have forgotten former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner — of failing-to-pay-his-taxes fame — who went back through the revolving door after threatening Standard & Poor’s for downgrading the U.S. credit rating.
President Obama always seems to take the attitude, What does it matter, and who cares? And so he goes along blaming either President Bush or Fox News, when not citing the conspiracy of ATM machines, earthquakes, and tsunamis that combined to thwart his populist efforts.
Who cares that fiscal discipline is now defined as raising taxes so as to borrow only $600 billion rather than borrowing $1 trillion a year for six straight years? And who cares that millions will lose their doctor, their health-care coverage, and most likely their jobs because of Obamacare?
Ditto foreign policy. Who cares that Obama issued five deadlines to Iran to cease enrichment and, when rebuffed, unilaterally dropped sanctions in favor of negotiation? Who cares that he declared a red line in Syria, and when the regime crossed it and gassed its own people, he announced that he had never issued a red line in the first place? Who cares that he issued a step-over line to President Yanukovych of Ukraine, as if anyone would not step over anything because Obama warned him not to?
Ditto also leading from behind in Libya, the flip-flopping from the radical Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood to the junta in Egypt, the reset with Putin, the friendly initiatives to the late Hugo Chávez that ignored the near collapse of Venezuela, as Latin America goes back to the late 1970s in another failed round of coerced statism.
For elite rich liberals, whose money and privilege exempt them from the consequences of Obama’s policies, and their own ideology, he will always be their totem. He is iconic of their own progressivism and proof of their racial liberalism, and thus allows them to go on enjoying their privilege, without guilt and without worrying too much about how they got it or whether they might lose it.
For the vast new millions on federal disability insurance, food stamps, and other entitlements, Obama is their lifeline to government support. Who would risk losing that by worrying that the world is becoming a very dangerous place?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Everyday political Newspeak

I saw this perfect example of Orwellian Newspeak published in Breitbart and couldn't resist including it here. This is perceptive and incisive observations by the author, Wynton Hall.


In a speech marking the five-year anniversary of his $831 billion economic stimulus plan, President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that his plan, passed one month into his presidency, succeeded and that his critics were proven wrong and "have had to eat those words."

Obama also touted his auto bailout and green energy initiatives as major successes. 
"Anybody who had dire predictions for the auto industry and said, 'We couldn't do it. Manufacturers couldn't bring jobs back to America.' Every time they say that, they are proven wrong," said Obama. 
Obama added, "Anybody who says we can't compete when it comes to clean energy technologies like solar and wind, they have had to eat those words." 
The auto bailout cost American taxpayers $10 billion, which General Motors CEO Dan Akerson says GM should not have to pay back. 
A full 80% of Obama's $20.5 billion Department of Energy green energy loans were funneled to Obama's top campaign donors and cronies, like Obama bundler George Kaiser, owner of the now defunct Solyndra. 
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) blasted the Obama stimulus plan on its five-year anniversary. 
"Five years later, our economy is still sluggish, Americans are dropping out of the workforce by the thousands, and the President's latest big government experiment, Obamacare, is now on track to slash 2 million more jobs from the workforce," said Cornyn. 
The labor force participation rate five years ago stood at 65.8%. Today it has fallen to 63%
In January 2009, 31.9 million Americans were on food stamps. Today, five years after Obama's $831 billion stimulus, 47 million people receive food stamps. 

Under President Barack Obama, the United States debt has increased $6,666,142,606,010.53, according to the latest figures from the Treasury Department.

Rules for Radicals

I saw a blog post with the heading of Newspeak that discussed Saul Alinsky. The post wasn't very well written, but it reminded me of Rules of Radicals which is a fascinating book. I'll just summarize the point here:

When writing about street drama and actions, Alinsky describes, on page 125 of Rules for Radicals (1971 Vintage Books) tactics to beat the man—the institutions and the people who represent the hated establishment and culture. He speaks of the societal institutions and establishment persons as the enemy.
1. Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.
2. Never go outside the experience of your people.
3. Wherever possible go outside the experience of the enemy. (cause confusion, fear, retreat)
4. Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.
5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.
6. A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.
7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
8. Keep the pressure on with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the time and space for your purpose.
9. The threat is usually more terrifying that the thing itself.
10. The Major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
11. If you push a negative hard enough it will break through into its counter side.
12. The price of the successful attack is a constructive alternative.
13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. 
And just for fun, here's an editorial cartoon that illustrates the rules.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hipsters and Lenin

I recently read this comment on the bizarre phenomenon of so-called educated people wearing communist regalia, Lenin t-shirts, etc. I couldn't agree more with the parts in bold below:

When I see hipsters wearing Mao hats or Lenin T-shirts, I’m grateful. It’s like truth-in-labeling. For now I know you are: Woefully ignorant, morally stunted, purposively asinine, or all three.

If you aren’t an anti-Communist — a passionate anti-Communist, not an anti-Communist of the rhetorical box-checking variety — please don’t talk to me about how the Iraq War was immoral or how Bashar Assad is evil or how imperialism, slavery, and colonialism are forever stains on the American soul. Because there is no indictment of America — or any other nations! —  that can be delivered credibly by someone willing to defend the record of Soviet (or Chinese) Communism.
As I note in my column, it’s generally agreed upon that the Nazi Holocaust was worse than the Soviet Terror. I am reminded of when Robert Conquest, one of the greatest chroniclers of Communism’s evil, was asked by a writer for Le Monde, if the Holocaust was “worse” than Stalin’s crimes:
“I answered yes I did,” Conquest recalls, “but when the interviewer asked why, I could only answer honestly with ‘I feel so.’” Nonetheless, he adds, “Whatever view one takes, without feeling the Holocaust one cannot feel, or understand, Stalinism.”
I think this gets it as right as you can. If the Holocaust was worse it is because it feels so. But only barely and for reasons that are impossible to articulate, given the enormity of Communism’s transgressions. I agree with Conquest, but I would never want to make that case to a Ukrainian. To tally up the barbarities one-against-the-other is to translate two incomprehensible horrors into a game of points and demonic trump cards.
That said, there is at least one way in which the Soviet horrors were far worse than the Nazis’. As a cultural matter, the Soviets pretty much got away with it. Nazism is forever synonymous with evil (at least in the West). Communism is not. Meredith Vieira would never call the symbolic end of Nazism at a German Olympic ceremony, “a bittersweet moment.” Call Hitler a monster and you are repeating a boring truism. Call Lenin or Stalin monsters and you are revealing your silly obsessions or hang-ups. “Who cares?” comes the sophisticated response or, even worse, “Who?”