The Democrats are trying to make a scandal out of the fact that representatives of the Trump campaign communicated with Russians, even though those communications were 100% appropriate. I had forgotten about this post, which I wrote in March 2015, until Rush Limbaugh read from it on his program yesterday. It reminds us what a REAL scandal involving a presidential campaign and foreign policy looks like:
In 2008, the Bush administration, along with the “six powers,” was negotiating with Iran concerning that country’s nuclear arms program. The Bush administration’s objective was to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. On July 20, 2008, the New York Times headlined: “Nuclear Talks With Iran End in a Deadlock.” What caused the talks to founder? The Times explained:
Iran responded with a written document that failed to address the main issue: international demands that it stop enriching uranium. And Iranian diplomats reiterated before the talks that they considered the issue nonnegotiable.
The Iranians held firm to their position, perhaps because they knew that help was on the way, in the form of a new president. Barack Obama had clinched the Democratic nomination on June 3. At some point either before or after that date, but prior to the election, he secretly let the Iranians know that he would be much easier to bargain with than President Bush. Michael Ledeen reported the story last year:
During his first presidential campaign in 2008, Mr. Obama used a secret back channel to Tehran to assure the mullahs that he was a friend of the Islamic Republic, and that they would be very happy with his policies. The secret channel was Ambassador William G. Miller, who served in Iran during the shah’s rule, as chief of staff for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and as ambassador to Ukraine. Ambassador Miller has confirmed to me his conversations with Iranian leaders during the 2008 campaign.
So Obama secretly told the mullahs not to make a deal until he assumed the presidency, when they would be able to make a better agreement. Which is exactly what happened: Obama abandoned the requirement that Iran stop enriching uranium, so that Iran’s nuclear program has sped ahead over the months and years that negotiations have dragged on. When an interim agreement in the form of a “Joint Plan of Action” was announced in late 2013, Iran’s leaders exulted in the fact that the West had acknowledged its right to continue its uranium enrichment program:
“The (nuclear) program will continue and all the sanctions and violations against the Iranian nation under the pretext of the nuclear program will be removed gradually,” [Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif] added. …
“Iran’s enrichment program has been recognized both in the first step and in the goals section and in the final step as well,” Zarif said.
“The fact that all these pressures have failed to cease Iran’s enrichment program is a very important success for the Iranian nation’s resistance,” he added.
So Obama delivered the weak agreement that he had secretly promised the mullahs.
That, readers, is what a real scandal looks like.
As a sports nut attending St. Olaf College in rural Minnesota, I jumped on the Timberwolves basketball bandwagon during their peak Kevin Garnett years of 2002 to 2004. But with or without Garnett, the franchise has been hopeless. Between 1989, when the team entered the N.B.A., and this season, the Timberwolves have the worst record in the league.
It might be easy to lay the blame for the team’s woes on the owner, Glen Taylor, or their coaching carousel, but I blame the state. After all, Minnesota’s aversion to winning is not restricted to basketball. In a state synonymous with hockey, neither the Wild nor the Stars (while in Minnesota) has won the Stanley Cup. Same for the Vikings and the Super Bowl. The Twins did win the World Series, but that’s the exception to the losing rule.
Why all the losing? After becoming an economist, I wondered if there might be a more systematic economic explanation. Eventually, after years of research and number crunching, I found the answer. Or at least a culprit: state income taxes.
Minnesota has one of the highest top marginal income tax rates for any state at 9.85 percent. For most normal people — i.e., non-sports nuts — this is a worthy investment in great public services. Minnesota is routinely listed as a place with an excellent quality of life, including a strong public education system and a well-maintained parks system. Some of the happiest people in the country — even some long-suffering Minnesota sports fans — call it home.
To test my theory, I gathered data on the outcomes of every professional sports game over the past 40 years as well as data on state and local tax rates each team member faces. I then computed how much taxes predict winning for each league in every year while controlling for other factors such as population, income, franchise age and local amenities (i.e., weather).
Results of the analysis show that higher taxes consistently predict worse performance in every league — not just the N.B.A. but also Major League Baseball, the N.H.L., and the N.F.L. over the past 20 years. The findings do not change if I use championships or finals appearances instead of regular season wins, and no single city, team or year drives the results.
It’s in the N.B.A. that I find the largest effect. If Minnesota eliminated its income tax, the Timberwolves might win two to five more games each year. This may not sound like much, but the price for victories is quite high. Last summer the Washington Wizards signed Bradley Beal to a five-year, $128 million contract, and if things go well, they should expect him to contribute two to five wins per season. I find a much smaller effect in M.L.B., which has no salary cap, where a similar income tax change for the Twins would result in winning only about one more game each season.
These results should provide some good news for other long-suffering fans in Buffalo, Sacramento, Oakland, Washington, or all of Canada. It’s not your fault (entirely). Your teams have essentially been playing with ankle weights against teams from Florida, Texas, and Washington State. I am also sure that if you ask Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban under oath, they would admit some of the Cowboys’ and Mavericks’ continued success is because their players pay no state income taxes.
Several other factors connect the income tax effect to my theory. Comparing player salary to player value measures provides evidence that higher-taxed teams in baseball and basketball pay more for players of similar quality, suggesting tax compensation is real. The income tax effect also relies on the assumption that players and teams are responding to income tax rates when negotiating contracts. This explains why the effect arises only in the wake of collective bargaining agreements in the late 1980s and early 1990s that allowed players to become unrestricted free agents and have teams compete to sign them.
The income tax effect could also be explained if people in low-tax states such as Texas and Florida just enjoy sports more and support their teams more and this translates to more winning. But I found that in college football and basketball, where athletes are not paid and should not care about income tax rates, teams from lower-tax states do not perform better than teams in higher-tax states.
The gut reaction of die-hard sports fans to hearing that their team is worse off because of income taxes would be justification enough to eliminate income taxes all together. Heck, we might even push for income subsidies instead if it might bring a championship to Minnesota.
But the real solution lies within the salary cap rules intended to level the playing field in the first place. Why not attack the imbalance at the source? Adjusting the salary cap or luxury tax using expected post-tax instead of pre-tax dollars eliminates this competitive advantage.
Do that, and I can return to just blaming the cold weather as the reason the Timberwolves are staying home during the yet another N.B.A. playoffs season.
How about six minutes with a real American Thinker? Refreshing and crystalline, patriotic and commonsensical is the description of this six minutes of Richard Dreyfus with Tucker Carlson. Take a look, here is the video:
The first issue Dreyfus touches on in the video is not necessarily the most important, but a reminder to us all. He explains that to understand the federal judge’s ruling on the Sanctuary City Executive Order requires one to first read it. Upon doing so, one is reminded that Congress, not the Executive, controls the purse strings and thus the judge’s contention.
Secondly he moves to the issue of the importance of dissenting opinions on campus and the need for a “battle of ideas” on university campuses.
But Dreyfus continues to a greater issue. With a touch of John Locke and a dash of Thomas Jefferson, Dreyfus points to shortfalls in our school system regarding the teaching of civics. Dreyfus notes, a la Locke’s tabula rasa, that we are not born with an understanding of the Ten Commandments, and neither are we born with the knowledge of the Preamble to the Constitution. Both must be taught.
We have seen the Fox News Jesse Watters interviews of people who should know certain civics basics, but don’t. Dreyfus emphasizes that this is a dangerous condition. He notes that if we do not know who we are and what we stand for, the common fabric that binds us dissolves.
“The Constitution and the Bill of Rights must be central, and that political parties must be peripheral. “
“Civics has not been taught in the American public school system since 1970.”
“The Constitution is why we have been admired … it gives us our national identity.”
“Education turns students into citizens….it teaches them to run the country before it is their turn.”
Our national promises are opportunity, rise by merit, mobility and freedom.
“The Preamble to the Constitution is the mandate of the Country.”
Wonderful points and eloquently presented by Mr. Dreyfus. I would suggest delving even deeper into the main issue’s cause. Why were civics ever dropped by the school systems? Was that the watershed moment, when our school system took a hard turn to the Left?
I hold with all that Dreyfus presents, but I suggest we must first discover why national history and civics is ignored by the education system. When we uncover the forces that perpetuate that which Mr. Dreyfus wishes to correct, we can begin the process.
The Fascist movement began in Italy during World War i. It is an extension of socialism and is, therefore, a far left movement. There is no doubt of this, but the positioning of fascist on the left with communism caused distress among academics, mostly,, like 90% on the left. Tthe Academy, therefore, started calling fascism a far right program so that its beloved communism of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin, would not have to occupy the same segment of the political spectrum as its hated fascism of Mussolini and Hitler, although there is no doubt that Mussolini and Hitler were men of the left. this created the absurdity that “fascism is so far right it is almost left.” A very good friend of mine, a lawyer, and college president told me this and he was serious.
One feature of fascism is that it uses blunt force to gain political power. This is administering beatings to those wha say the wrong words,”Middlebury,” take over the physical space of those they don’t approve of,”Occupy Wallstreet,” or riot and burn property, “Berkeley.”
The most absurd aspect of all os this behavior is that the thugs, rioters, and occupiers and doing so ti squelches freedoms, such as freedom of speech and assembly, and they do so they portray themselves as anti-fascist. This is clever wordplay, as everyone knows fascists are evil, so it they are anti-fascist, they must be good! The glaring error here is that the fascists are them. The students are Hitler’s Brownshirts born again in America’s colleges, where students learn very little of value and know nothing of the fascist forces they are embracing and unleashing of this country.
Roger Simon writes on the subject as well.
If fascism comes to America, it will be through our college and university system.
The biggest cowards in our country today are many, if not most, of our college and university administrators followed closely by a fair amount of their faculty. They are allowing their institutions to be taken over by a monolithic world view that is increasingly totalitarian and antithetical to the diversity of opinion on which the search for truth depends.
The inmates are running the asylum — and not with any of the humor of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that Social Justice Warriors are to social justice what the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea is to democracy. In a few years, freshman handbooks may no longer be necessary. They can give out copies of Orwell’s Animal Farm instead.
And I’m not just talking about recent events at UC Berkeley, where the onetime bastion of the free speech movement has turned into ground zero for the anti-speech movement, spearheaded by the violent masked goons of the absurdly named “antifa,” speaking of Orwellian constructs. This restrictive attitude toward viewpoint diversity is pervasive throughout our colleges and universities, even though the freedom of speech enshrined in the First Amendment is arguably the most important of all principles on which this country was founded. Yet only a tiny minority of those responsible for our higher education have the courage to defend it. Most are so timid they won’t even lend their name to a petition.
Think I’m exaggerating? In September 2015, the indispensable Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) launched a campaign in support of the University of Chicago New Free Speech Statement that advocated for a “completely free and open discussion of ideas” on that campus. Since that time, only a paltry 590 people have signed on to endorse the statement, several feeling constrained to do so as “anonymous,” as if endorsing the Bill of Rights (maybe even the Magna Carta) were today hugely controversial and might endanger their ability to make a living.
Even more disturbing, as of December 19, 2016, only 17 (out of over 4000!) of our institutions of higher learning had adopted the U. Chicago statement or something similar. Among the missing (at that point anyway) were such august names as Harvard, Cornell, Brown, my own Dartmouth, Yale, the University of California system, University of Michigan, MIT, Caltech, Amherst, Williams, Swarthmore, Middlebury (needless to say)… I could go on, but it would obviously take up many pages. Shame on all of them.
We are at a moment when all stakeholders in our higher educational system — administrators, faculty, students and parents, actually the entire country — must take a firm stand against this creeping totalitarianism and support diversity of opinion on our campuses. The current monolithic atmosphere not only threatens our democratic system, it undermines education in all subjects, discouraging students from free inquiry while encouraging a lack of curiosity. It also creates an atmosphere where students are simply too frightened to express themselves in class, lest they are marked down by their professors for “incorrect” ideas or ostracized (in the tradition of the Chinese Cultural Revolution) by their fellow students.
The results of this are disastrous, socially and intellectually. Fear of ostracism induces the worst kind of conformity as well as, often, depression. And when ideas become unyieldingly orthodox in one area, they more easily become orthodox in all. The mind becomes inflexible and markedly less creative. Critical thinking disappears. This incurious rigidity mixed with fear undoubtedly has more to do than is commonly admitted with why members of the business community are complaining about the lack of preparedness of our recent graduates.
Fortunately, and almost in the nick of time, some organizations have already been taking a firm stand for this viewpoint diversity and deserve our fullest support. Heterodox University has aggregated a valuable list of faculty — liberal and conservative — who are advocates of free expression on campus. Good on them. HU also provides a useful guide to schools where openness prevails. On the more conservative side, the National Association of Scholars and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute are doing their best for an embattled campus minority, and Turning Point USA keeps a Professor Watchlist of those using the classroom for ideological indoctrination.
Since students are the consumers of education and its reason for being, equally, if not more, important are two excellent sites that deal with the student experience in today’s higher ed — The College Fix and Campus Reform. If you’re not reading them, you should be.
And not just casually. Because the people who are trying to keep our campuses free are on the front lines of the most important fight of our times — to keep America from descending into a Weimar Republic with decadent thugs shutting down speech across the country, just as they did in Germany in the ’20s and ’30s. We’re not there yet, but we’re close.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His latest book is I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already. Follow him on Twitter @rogerlsimon.
An Associated Press report, “D.C. sends in the bacon,” marveled that residents of the District of Columbia paid a whopping $37,000 per capita in federal taxes, far outpacing all fifty states. The explanation? There are very wealthy people and high profit businesses in the District, with many of them presumably feeding out of the federal contracts and lobbying trough.
So how does Minnesota rank among the states? According to 2016 IRS data, we pay the second highest amount, $14,624 per capita, after Delaware’s $16,322 (the figures include corporate income taxes, a reason Minnesota ranks at the top).
The next highest states? Minnesota beat out the likes of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, Rhode Island, Washington, Nebraska, California, and Pennsylvania.
By comparison, the national average per capita amount is $8,943.
But what about the other side of this coin? How much do D.C. and the states get back (after the money has been processed through that massive federal holding pen)? In other words, how much “pork” do Congressional delegations wrangle back ?
Again, D.C. leads the pack but not in a good way. According to a study done by the New York Comptroller, for every $1 dollar sent in, the District of Columbia gets back–wait, wait– an amazing $4. Wow, how do you spell “oink?”
The explanation? D.C. residents are big consumers at the other federal trough: entitlements like food stamps, Social Security, SSI disability, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.
What about Minnesota? Unfortunately, the New York report only said Minnesota ranked 47th in 2013 for return on the dollar. But we called them and they put us at $0.86. But according to the Mises Institute, in 2016, Minnesota ranked 48th at $0.52 on the dollar. Whatever the real number is, as Mises says, “Minnesota pays in by far more than it receives back.”
We do not have any military bases or many federal installations but still, let’s not turn this into a virtue, or worse, invite the feds here. But we get should get some big bucks back here to build and fix roads. This seems like a good topic for 2018.
You might as well hear all the bad news at once, so here is more of the same:
According to the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence, “Minnesota has the most progressive income tax system in the nation.” It’s not just Minnesota; our federal tax code overall remains very progressive. That means, contrary to what the Left claims, people who do not make much money are not paying much in taxes, and may even get paid under the earned income tax credit.
Here is the top line summary from the Tax Foundation on federal taxes for 2016 (you can read the full report here).
High-Income Americans Paid the Majority of Federal Taxes
In 2014, the top 1 percent of taxpayers accounted for more income taxes paid than the bottom 90 percent combined. The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid $543 billion, or 39.48 percent of all income taxes, while the bottom 90 percent paid $400 billion, or 29.12 percent of all income taxes.
High-Income Taxpayers Pay the Highest Average Tax Rates
The top 1 percent of taxpayers (AGI of $465,626 and above) paid the highest effective income tax rate, at 27.2 percent, 7.9 times the rate faced by the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers.
Just the proof you needed that it is not hip to be Progressive.
JOHN HINDERAKER ADDS: I assume one reason residents of the District pay a lot of federal taxes is that they don’t have any other levels of government. What would be state and local taxes anywhere else are federal taxes in D.C.
Thomas J. Craughwell is the author of several books, most recently How the Barbarian Invasions Shaped the Modern World (Fair Winds Press, 2008) and Stealing Lincoln’s Body (Harvard University Press, 2007). He has written articles on history, religion, politics, and popular culture for the Wall Street Journal, American Spectator, and U.S. News & World Report. He lives in Bethel, Connecticut. Journalist, lecturer, and historian M. William Phelps is the author of eleven books, including his most recent, Nathan Hale: The Life and Death of America’s First Spy(Thomas Dunne Books, 2008). He lives in Vernon, Connecticut.
Many of the men of Brigade 2506 believed fervently that they were the first wave of Cuban freedom fighters who would liberate their homeland from Castro. They were convinced as they stormed ashore that they would be supported overhead by some of the finest fighter pilots of the U.S. Air Force, and they thought that as they advanced into Cuba, the U.S. Marines would be right behind them. Whether the insurgents had talked themselves into this conviction or the trainers from the United States had made such a promise is still a subject of debate.
The air support promised by the CIA consisted of sixteen B-26 twin-engine light attack bombers. From an airstrip in Nicaragua to the Bay of Pigs was a journey of 1,000 miles, round-trip, which left a B-26 with enough fuel to provide less than forty minutes of air cover for the Brigade. Anything longer than forty minutes and the pilots risked running out of gas somewhere over the Caribbean.
On April 14, 1961, just three days from the invasion, Kennedy called CIA Operations Chief Bissell to ask how many planes he planned to use in the operation. Bissell told the president the CIA planned to use all sixteen of their B-26s. “Well I don’t want it on that scale,” Kennedy replied. “I want it minimal.” So Bissell cut the number of planes for the invasion to eight. The next day, those eight planes attacked the three airfields of the Cuban air force, knocking out some of the aircraft, but not enough to cripple the fleet.
On the morning of April 17, as the Cuban militia pinned down the men of Brigade 2506, the Cuban planes that had survived the air strikes attacked the exiles from the air. Meanwhile, the B-26s, their fuel low and their forty minutes up, veered away from the beach for the flight home. The Brigade’s commander, San Román, radioed his CIA handlers for help. “We are under attack by two Sea Fury aircraft and heavy artillery,” he reported. “Do not see any friendly air cover as you promised. Need jet support immediately.” When San Roman’s request was denied, he replied, “You, sir, are a son of a bitch.”
With the sea at their backs, no means of retreat, and no chance of advancing into the interior of Cuba, the Brigade was in a desperate position. Back in Washington, the CIA and the Kennedy administration concluded that the invasion would fail. In a conversation with his brother, Robert Kennedy, the president said he wished he had permitted the use of U.S. ships to back up the Cuban exiles. “I’d rather be an aggressor,” he said, “than a bum.”
On April 18, Kennedy authorized six fighter jets from the aircraft carrier Essex to provide one hour of air cover for the CIAs attacking B-26s over the beach at the Bay of Pigs. But the jets from the Essex and the B-26s missed their rendezvous because the Pentagon forgot to factor in the one-hour difference in time zones between the B-26s’ base in Nicaragua and the beach in Cuba.
That same day, Kennedy’s national security advisor, McGeorge Bundy, gave the president a status report on the invasion. “The Cuban armed forces are stronger, the popular response [is] weaker, and our tactical position is feebler than we had hoped,” Bundy said. That was perhaps the kindest possible description of the Bay of Pigs operation.
As a humanitarian concession, the president permitted U.S. destroyers to approach the Cuban coast to pick up survivors. The ships were authorized to get within two miles of shore after dark, but no closer than five miles during daylight hours. The directive meant the rescue mission was beyond the reach of almost every man in Brigade 2506. A handful who had managed to swim to one or another of the bay’s outlying cays were picked up, but the rest lay dead on the beach or were captured by Castro’s forces.
At 2 p.m. on April 19, after two days of being pounded by militia, tanks, and the Cuban air force, Commander San Román and Brigade 2506 surrendered. “Everything is lost,” Allen Dulles told former vice president Richard Nixon. “The Cuban invasion is a total failure.”
Sixty-eight Cuban exiles were killed in the Bay of Pigs debacle; 1,209 were captured, and nine of them died of asphyxiation in a windowless sealed truck that took them from the beach to prison in Havana. After twenty days of interrogation, the prisoners were given show trials and sentenced to life in prison.
Soon after the conviction of the men of Brigade 2506, Castro made a public offer to exchange the prisoners for farm machinery. Kennedy leapt at the proposal. Immediately he formed the Tractors for Freedom Committee, chaired by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, with the purpose of collecting donations to purchase farm equipment for Cuba. But the group was not able to meet Castro’s exorbitant demand of $30 million worth of capital relief, and it disbanded. The tractor deal fell through.
Negotiations between the two governments went on sporadically over the next twenty months. Finally, on December 24, 1962, Castro announced that he was releasing the Brigade 2506 prisoners in exchange for $53 million in medicine and food from the United States. He also promised, “as a Christmas bonus,” to permit 1,000 of the prisoners’ relatives to emigrate to the United States.
The animosity between Cuba and the United States intensified after the Bay of Pigs debacle. Cuba allied itself with the Soviet Union, while America continued its policy of isolating Cuba economically and diplomatically. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev viewed America’s failure at the Bay of Pigs as a sign of Kennedy’s weakness and inexperience, an assessment he felt was confirmed after meeting Kennedy at the Vienna Summit of April 1962, where it appeared to some that Kennedy was sandbagged by Khrushchev’s threat to cut off West Berlin from the Western powers. Within six months, Khrushchev was placing nuclear missiles in Cuba, an action that brought the world as close as it has ever come to all-out nuclear war.
In the face of the missile crisis, Kennedy held firm. The Soviets backed down, removing the nuclear weapons from Cuba, but the tension between Cuba and the United States has dragged on for more than forty years. During that time, political observers and historians have argued that the failed invasion actually strengthened Castro’s grip on Cuba. Certainly, Che Guevara thought so. In August 1961, at a meeting of the Organization of American States in Uruguay, he sent a note to Kennedy saying, “Thanks for Playa Giron [another name for the site of the invasion]. Before the invasion, the revolution was weak. Now it is stronger than ever.”