100 Days of Failure

Frontpage mag

Bruce Thornton

All Biden had to do was not mess with Trump’s success.

The Biden administration took over the government with the wind at its back thanks to Donald Trump. With the COVID vaccines reining in the pandemic and things getting back to normal, all Biden had to do was not get in the way of success. But a lingering Trump Derangement Syndrome, and a leftwing, noisy base eager to complete Barack Obama’s “fundamental transformation” of the U.S., have led at home and abroad to actions and policies seemingly calculated to compromise our interests and security and erode our political freedom.

We can start with our southern border. Trump’s initiatives such as building a wall, stepping-up deportations, and striking a deal that kept asylum seekers in Mexico had slowed considerably the number of illegal crossings, leading to a reduction in violence from gangsters like MS-13 that flourished in so-called sanctuary cities; the end of the catch-and-release policy that dumped unvetted aliens into the country’s interior; and limiting the cruel deaths of children on the trek north.

But these successful policies interfered with the bipartisan need for de facto open borders to provide cheap labor for Wall Street, and more voters for the DNC. More important, no matter how successful, such polices were tainted by the “wicked” Donald Trump, the populist bull that wrecked the political establishment’s remunerative china shop. So they had to go.

The result has been a return to the Obama era’s spectacle of children and teens packed into squalid holding pens, increased infestations of cartel traffickers in people and drugs, and two consecutive months of about 175,000 apprehensions of border-crossers each month––the highest in two decades. All reports from those on the ground––from border patrol agents to residents to local government agencies––indicate a serious crisis that will insidiously spread across the country. But president Joe Biden is instructed to say that such influxes happen every year at this time, that Donald Trump left a “Godawful mess,” and that “We’ve now got control” over the ongoing stampede of border-crossers.

Then there’s the paradox of 8 million job openings––thanks to the V-shaped economic recovery that was well underway when Biden took office––many of which can’t be filled. Even the promise of cash bonuses and higher pay can’t attract workers. Why? Because his $1.9 trillion “COVID relief” bill actually does little to alleviate the pandemic’s effects, but a lot for bribing voters with free money, and spreading around payola to blue states and “woke” businesses. One such provision bumped up state unemployment payments by $300 a week, largess that will continue until September.

Unsurprisingly, 44% of small business owners report that they can’t fill vacancies, and one-fourth of the openings have been left unfilled. And though a projected million jobs were supposed to be created in April, the actual number was 266,000. You don’t have to be an economist to know what’s going on. When you can make more money on unemployment than you do working, why work? And why create jobs you can’t fill? That moral hazard should have been considered before doling out more cash.

Nor is this a new phenomenon. Little discussed is the role of the “dark economy,” i.e. the off-the-books cash economy, which includes crimes like drug-dealing and trading in stolen goods. No matter the government program, whether state or federal, that gives people money, millions of the beneficiaries work in the cash economy, where no income tax or payroll tax is deducted from wages. That means the reward for not working goes beyond the extra $300 Biden bucks because it includes extra money from working off the books.

That’s just one of the economic disasters the Biden crew has wrought. Donald Trump, like almost every politician, was not averse to fecklessly spending tax-payer money on sketchy policy. But he also understood that economic growth and job creation had to be nurtured by economic policy. This meant lowering the corporate tax rate, which in the U.S. is one of the highest among the advanced economies, and lowering personal and capital gains rates to incentivize investment in the economy. It means as well pruning away the thickets of regulation that cost $1.9 trillion dollars a year and slow down infrastructure and new business development. On Trump’s watch, policies on taxes and deregulation unleashed an economic boom and record-setting job growth, as well as increased wage growth.

So of course, the Biden conglomerate is planning another $6 trillion of spending, raising marginal tax rates, and rolling back Trump’s cuts of corporate and capital gains tax rates. At the same time, he’s undoing Trump’s reforms of the federal regulatory burden on business. What’s astonishing is that there is copious empirical evidence that these methods of generating revenue, which Biden claims will pay for his extravagant tax-and-spend initiatives, don’t work. And don’t forget, these efforts have already contributed to a rate of inflation 4.2%  higher than a year ago–– and the biggest jump since 2008. Flooding the economy with even more cash is likely to increase inflation.

As for the threats to raise taxes, recently Phil Gramm and John Early showed that raising tax rates doesn’t substantially increase the amount of revenue to offset the costs they exact from the economy. The main reason is that actual tax-rates matched statutory rates for only a small number of taxpayers, as history shows:

The top tax rate of 91% in 1962 applied to families with joint incomes, in today’s dollars, of $3.38 million. After deductions and credits, only 447 tax filers out of 71 million paid any taxes at the top rate. The top 1% of income earners paid only 16.1% of their income in federal income and payroll taxes, while the top 10% paid 14.4% and the bottom 50% paid 7%. This followed the pattern set by the top Depression-era and wartime tax rates. Only three filers out of six million paid any taxes at the top Depression rate and only 13 out of 50 million paid any taxes at the top wartime rate. The top 1% of earners paid 12.6% and 23.5% of their income in federal income and payroll taxes in 1938 and 1945, respectively.

And despite the specious rhetoric about the rich and corporations “paying their fair share,” the data show they already do pay a higher proportion of all taxes than their proportion of income:

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has found that high-income Americans already bear a higher relative share of the income-tax burden than the rich do in other developed nations. The top 10% of American households earn about 33.5% of all earned income but pay 45.1% of all income taxes, including Social Security and Medicare taxes. That progressivity ratio of 1.35 is far higher than the German ratio of 1.07, French ratio of 1.1 and Swedish ratio of 1. As a percentage of their incomes, the top 10% of earners in Germany, France and Sweden paid 21%, 19% and 26% less than the top 10% in America. And the bottom 90% of earners paid 17%, 34% and 21% more as a percentage of their incomes respectively than the bottom 90% in America paid.

This means that the expense of the social welfare and health-care programs in Europe that our progressives hold up as reproach to our stingy ones, is paid for by a regressive tax on consumption that hits the bottom tier of citizens the hardest. We can see a similar phenomenon in California, where plutocrat “woke” obsessions like “clean” energy have led to regulations that affect the poor and working class hardest through some of the highest gas taxes and electricity costs in the country.

Finally, our progressive executive branch is proposing Green New Deal pie-in-the-sky goals like replacing carbon-based energy with “sustainable” and “clean” energy, for example by replacing gas-powered cars with electric ones. We can leave aside the growing consensus that the catastrophes predicted to follow a few degrees increase in temperatures has not been established as a fact. As physicist Steven E. Koonin writes in his new book Unsettled. What Climate Science Tells Us, What it Doesn’t, and Why It Matters, “The science is insufficient to make useful projections about how the climate will change over the coming decades, much less what effect our actions will have on it.”

But even if catastrophic global warming is true, converting carbon-based energy to “clean” electricity is logistically impossible given the quantities of minerals and rare-earth elements required to make the millions of batteries used in electric cars. As the Manhattan Institute’s Mark C. Mills writes, “A single electric-car battery weighs about 1,000 pounds. Fabricating one requires digging up, moving and processing more than 500,000 pounds of raw materials somewhere on the planet. The alternative? Use gasoline and extract one-tenth as much total tonnage to deliver the same number of vehicle-miles over the battery’s seven-year life.” And much of this mining occurs in countries with no concern for child-labor laws or the destructive impact on the environment.

Electric car batteries, obviously, need to be recharged. If electricity production, as is mandated in California, is to replace carbon-based fuels, then wind turbines will and solar panels will have to be manufactured in the millions. But, as Mills explains, “Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of non-recyclable plastic. Solar power requires even more cement, steel and glass—not to mention other metals.” Those materials will also have to be minded or manufactured, which requires energy. And that energy will necessarily come from hydrocarbons whose emissions will cancel the reductions from using “sustainable” and “clean” energy, which in fact is neither.

Even attempting to reach Biden’s goal of replacing hydrocarbons with electricity will destroy our economy without achieving that utopian goal. What a contrast with the Trump administration, which promoted American energy independence and removed some of the regulatory shackles put on the energy industry during the Obama years. Biden instead has shut down the Keystone pipeline, banned fracking on federal land, and shoveled tons of cash to “clean energy” boondoggles, leaving us more dependent on imported energy.

And this is just 100 days of domestic policy. Much of these proposed tax-and-spend proposals as of now look unlikely to pass, but the Republicans can’t get complacent. This is no time to make deals or “bipartisanship” horse-trading. It’s time to fight tooth and nail against these assaults on our national sovereignty and economic well-being.

Biden from the Beginning

Frontpage mag

Lloyd Billingsley

White House resident Joe Biden was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972, at the age of 29. Two years later, in 1974, the Delaware Democrat was the subject of a 4,000-plus-word Washingtonian profile, but not for anything he had accomplished in office.

“I have no illusions about why I am such a hot commodity,” Biden told Kitty Kelley.  “I am the youngest man in the Senate and I am also the victim of a tragic fate which makes me very newsworthy.” Biden’s wife Neilia and the couple’s infant daughter were killed in a car accident shortly after Biden’s election in 1972. Biden wanted to resign, but Senate majority leader Mike Mansfield promised him prestigious committee assignments. The grieving newcomer had higher goals in mind.

“I know I can be a good Senator, and I know I can be a good President,” Biden told Kelley. “I know I could have easily made the White House with Neilia. And my family still expects me to be there one of these days. With them behind me anything can happen.” As Biden’s sister Valerie explained, “Joey is going to be president someday. He was made to be in the White House. Just you wait and see.”

Biden proclaimed “there is no other walk of life which can do more good for mankind than politics,” but money was also part of it. “I am worth a lot more than my salary of $42,500 a year in this body,” Biden explained in the Senate. “It seems to me that we should flat out tell the American people we are worth our salt.” That brought a response from William Loeb, editor of the “right wing”  Manchester Union Leader.

“Can you imagine the conceit and stupidity of a young man of 30 who would say that? The voters of Delaware who elected this stupid, conceited jackass to the Senate should kick him in the rear to knock some sense into him, and then kick themselves for voting for such an idiot.”

As Kelley noted, Biden framed Loeb’s editorial and hung it in his office. “When you get a blast like that you really know you’re worth something.” Kelley had reason for doubt.

In the course of the interview, Biden leaned over his desk, shook his finger and said,  “And whether you like it or not, young lady, us cruddy politicians can take away that First Amendment of yours if we want to.”  Kelley took the threat as confirmation that Joe Biden “defines politics as power.”

In 2010, Mark Bowen cited Kelley’s “notoriously revealing” profile in his 9,000-plus word Atlantic piece on the Delaware Democrat. As Bowden recalled, when Biden ran for president in 1988 he was “discovered passing off as his own passages from a speech by a British Labour politician.” In 2008, Biden finished the Iowa caucuses with less than one percent of the vote, and Bowden wondered if the Delaware Democrat might be seeking something else.

“I would not be anybody’s secretary of state in any circumstance I could think of,” Biden said at the time, “and I absolutely can say with certainty I would not be anybody’s vice president. Period. End of story. Guaranteed. Will not do it.” Biden did do it, and Bowden recalled his statement to Kelley that he would be a good president. Bowden wasn’t sure.

“Though plenty smart, Biden is not an intellectual,” Bowden explained. Biden was an “indifferent student” in college and law school, and “he makes few references to books and learned influences in his speeches and autobiography.” Bowden named no books that someone aspiring to be president of the United States might want to read, perhaps landmark works by Solzhenitsyn, Orwell, F.A. Hayek and many others. As Mark Twain said, the man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.

In a 1987 campaign speech, Joe Biden “borrowed liberally, and without attribution, from the British Labour politician Neil Kinnock.” At the time Kinnock and his party were heavily embedded with the Soviets, so Kinnock was perhaps the worst choice Biden could have made. On the other hand, Biden credits his humiliating plagiarism with “saving his life.” If he had stayed in the campaign, “he likely would have ignored the warning signs that sent him to the doctor.” What, exactly, the doctor needed to treat is not explained, but it is possible to guess.

Mark Bowden is the author of Black Hawk DownHuế 1968, and The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden. With Joe Biden the serious writer took a softer approach.

“Joe Biden doesn’t just meet you, he engulfs you. There’s the direct contact with his blue eyes, the firm handshake while his other hand grasps your arm, the flash of those famously perfect white teeth, and an immediate frontal assault on your personal space. He shoulders right through the aura of fame and high office. Forget the Secret Service, the ever-present battery of aides and advisers, the photographers clicking away: the vice president of the United States moves in like an old pal with something urgent to tell you—just you. If he’s in a chair, he’ll scoot it closer; when the furniture’s not portable, he’ll lean forward, planting his elbows on his knees, gesturing with both hands while he speaks, occasionally reaching over to touch your arm or leg for emphasis.”

Joe Biden is also a “virtuoso talker. That fluency is not a gift but an accomplishment.” Biden’s “occasional well-publicized gaffes have served to humanize a leadership team that all too often seems aloof, cerebral, and elitist.” Readers might think Biden’s gaffes are a positive accomplishment, and his politics largely a matter of style.

Contrast this highly promotional account with Kitty Kelley, known for unauthorized biographies of Nancy Reagan, Frank Sinatra and the Bush Family. Biden’s threats to take away First Amendment rights convinced Kelley that the Delaware Democrat “defines politics as power.”

Jump ahead to 2021 and the First Amendment is under attack as Joe Biden seems determined to take away the Second Amendment rights of every American. In the White House, Victor Davis Hanson notes, Biden is “as he always was,” as incompetent as Jimmy Carter, as corrupt as Bill Clinton and “a greater racial divider than Barack Obama.”

This is what happens when a cruddy politician taps the “most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics.” 

Here We Go… Again?

Flopping Aces

by Just Plain Bill

January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. He accomplished this by dividing the population, intimidating the public with political terrorism (using the Sturmabteilung, the “Brownshirts”), blaming every problem and misery (even a worldwide depression) on the administration in power (Weimar), and scapegoating Jews for the ills of Germany society.
Hitler made lots of promises to the German people to gain the trust of a small majority of the voting public. He held subsequent elections, but violent intimidation and fraud played prominent roles in each one. His Ministry of Propaganda took over all media and pushed only the narratives the Party wanted the public to believe. He exploited a tragedy, the Reichstag fire (which the Nazis may have started), to institute an “Enabling Act” which superseded all civil liberties and laws and undercut the power of the Reichstag to pass and enact laws.
Having used the Enabling Act to make the Reichstag irrelevant, Hitler ruled by decree. Through decree, he imprisoned those who posed a “threat” to national security. He stripped his favorite scapegoats, the Jews, of their rights. Under Hitler, the State took over and controlled where citizens worked, their wages, and their jobs. The State-controlled who citizens could associate with. The State-controlled who could marry whom. The State-controlled what lives were worth allowing continuing. The State-controlled the information the citizens could have access to.

State spending went wild. The nation was pouring money into its military because Hitler had a specific agenda of conquest. He led through an ideology of power, force, threat, and hate. Very quickly, Germany was facing a financial crisis. Hitler placated the public with free education, health care, and vacations.

In a little over 6 years, Germany instigated a world war which led to utter, catastrophic, and complete ruin for them, much of Europe, and left 80,000,000 dead.

Does history repeat itself or does it merely rhyme? Either way, the next election will be telling. If Democrats get the opportunity to pass the laws they want to destroy honest elections, eliminate the Congressional protection of the filibuster and turn the Supreme Court into a Democrat rubber stamp, even without another world war, the United States of America will absolutely face utter ruin and catastrophe. Look no further than the current situation at our border to see what this totalitarian regime is capable of when it puts its totalitarian talents to the task.

Early Release for up to 76,000 California Inmates


Meanwhile, as our liberal rulers wage a relentless propaganda war against local police, tie their hands, cut their funding, and reduce their numbers, we read this from California, the model for single-party Democrat rule:

California is giving 76,000 inmates, including violent and repeat felons, the opportunity to leave prison earlier as the state aims to further trim the population of what once was the nation’s largest state correctional system.

At least 20,000 of these felons had been given life sentences.

California is 'killing' the US economy: Steve Moore | Fox Business

Image via foxbusiness.com

By making them “emergency regulations” the agency could impose the new rules without public comment.

Everything is an emergency now. That way, our rulers get less pushback from those they rule.

Overcrowding is usually offered as an excuse for unleashing criminals on the public…

Meantime, officials announced in mid-April that they will close a second prison as a result of the dwindling [prison] population… California Correctional Center in Susanville will close by July 2022. Officials announced last fall that Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, east of San Francisco, will close by this October.

At this point, it would be hard to deny that Democrats want there to be more violent crime. The only question is why. An attack on gun rights is at least part of the answer.