Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saying a Premature Peace Would Be a Worse Disaster, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Preaches War

M. Henri Lafontaine, president of the International Peace and Arbitration Association, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize [two years ago] and is a member of the Belgian Senate, has just left France for the United States, where he intends to conduct a campaign against the propaganda of certain American pacifists in favor of stopping the war. In conversation with a correspondent of the Herald, M. Lafontaine said that he proposes to preach throughout the United States that nothing could be more disastrous to the cause of civilization and justice than the conclusion of a premature peace.
The New York Herald, European Edition, July 3, 1915

Friday, November 13, 2015

An American Tax Nightmare

The bureaucratic burden of identifying, verifying and reporting has caused many banks to regard American clients, particularly those of moderate means, as more trouble than they are worth 
wrote Stu Haugen in May as the former head for Republicans Abroad in France called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (Fatca) "a massive breach of the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable search and seizure."
Middle-class Americans living abroad are losing bank accounts and home mortgages and, in some cases, having their retirement savings exposed to debilitating taxes and penalties.

There is no recourse and no appeal process. Those impacted are left with the choice of uprooting their families (including foreign spouses and children), careers and businesses to re-establish a life in the United States; or to make the painful decision to renounce their citizenship.

Without significant and timely changes, that will only be the tip of the iceberg as foreign financial institutions continue their search for unprofitable American accounts. Remember, the vast majority of those renouncing citizenship are not wealthy tax evaders trading their passport for income tax savings; they are middle-class Americans, living overseas, fully compliant with their U.S. tax and reporting obligations.
A week later, the International Chairwoman of Democrats Abroad, Katie Solon, responded:
Stuart Haugen’s article on the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act is an accurate portrayal of Fatca’s failings but gives an incomplete account of nonpartisan efforts to limit its impact to the tax cheats who are the intended targets.

Democrats Abroad and several nonpartisan organizations of Americans overseas have been lobbying for four years for a “Same Country Safe Harbor” proposal to provide relief to law-abiding citizens and lessen the burden on financial institutions without giving cover to those hiding taxable assets in third-country accounts. The Same Country Safe Harbor plan would exempt from Fatca reporting the accounts of American citizens who are legal residents in the country in which the accounts are held.

The Democratic National Committee called for Fatca reform eight months ago. The Treasury Department could implement the exception without legislation, which Mr. Haugen and the sponsors of repeal admit is unlikely to happen in this Congress or the next.

If the Fatca Legal Action lawsuit is ever to succeed, it will take years. Right now, the Same Country Safe Harbor proposal is the best hope for urgent Fatca relief.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Last Leader of DDR: "It was clear to me that I was not really prime minister but administrator of a giant bankruptcy"

In a 25th anniversary article on the fall of the Berlin Wall, the New York Times' Alison Smale asked six Germans from different generations (roughly 25, 50 and 75 years old) to describe their views on the past, present, and future of Germany. Notably Lothar de Maizière, the first (and last) freely elected prime minister of East Germany, had things of interest to say.

Adapting to a New Life
Lothar de Maizière, 75:
The elections [in spring 1990] were not really elections — they were a plebiscite for the unity of Germany, a state ruled by law, a federal system with a social market economy and the Deutschmark. I knew very exactly studies on the state of East Germany economically, so it was clear to me that I was not really prime minister but administrator of a giant bankruptcy. Back then I had 160 clients a year as a lawyer, now I had 16 million clients, full of unbelievable expectations.
Lingering Differences
Mr. de Maizière, 75:
I visited a lawyer friend in Prague three years ago and asked why people there seemed more content than those in Berlin. Two things, he said: We are comparing with earlier, while you still compare with the West. And we are changing, while you were changed.
The Russian Connection
Mr. de Maizière, 75:
The first time [Mikhail S. Gorbachev and I] met in Moscow on April 29, 1990 ... I had brought a piece of the Berlin Wall … as gratitude for his words, “He who comes too late gets punished by life.” And then he said something that I will never forget: “Didn’t we all come too late?” Gorbachev is for me a hero from a Greek tragedy. He wanted to have a humanized form of socialism, and got a shabby capitalism, pretty much the shabbiest. He wanted a democratized Soviet Union, and got its collapse. And yet he remains one of the great saviors of the second half of the 20th century.
Mr. de Maizière, 75:
I always said there was a 10/10 generation — 10 years too long in East Germany to really make a fresh start, and 10 years too young to retire. And that is tragic, because they were the people who for 40 years effectively carried East Germany. And then they were told we don’t need you any more.

Plus Ça Change… A Sherlock Holmes Story from 1891 Proves Prescient

Ann Althouse links to a New York Post story about a bum boasting he makes $200 an hour panhandling (cheers to Instapundit).

Remember the Conan Doyle story about the anguished family who called Sherlock Holmes about the husband/father millionaire who had vanished for days?

In The Man with the Twisted Lip, what was worse was that the police had found a disfigured beggar who was wearing the millionaire's coat, and he refused to testify or explain why he was wearing the man's coat.

Dr Watson's story concludes as Holmes pulls on the beggar's beard, it comes off and it turns out to be the millionaire!

He explains that many years ago, he had lost his job and had had no choice but to turn to begging for a short term.

Here, however, he made a lot more money than he had at his regular, honest job, and so he had turned professional beggar, amassing his fortune over the years.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Stealth is the Left’s watchword: Oh, those stubborn conservatives, when will they ever learn the value of compromise?!

Supporters of Houston’s “Equal Rights” Ordinance (HERO) are predictably crying foul after voters resoundingly rejected their ballot measure last week
notes Benny Huang.
Apparently it lost only because bigots poisoned the debate with “misinformation.” Sore losers that they are, its proponents can’t accept that the voters understood what was at stake and voted accordingly.

 … Particularly galling to HERO supporters was the opposition’s succinct slogan: “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms.” Once voters understood the issue in those terms the ordinance was doomed. HERO’s supporters count the slogan as one of the most egregious “lies” told in a vicious smear campaign. The only problem is that it happens to be true.

 A little background on HERO would be appropriate here. The original HERO legislation debated in the Houston City Council in 2014 explicitly stated that any person would be allowed to use “public” restrooms consistent with his or her “gender identity.” In plain English that means that dudes would be allowed into ladies’ rooms—provided that those dudes believe in their heart of hearts that they were born with incorrect body parts…or simply claim to. Women changing into their sweats at a Curves gym might look up and see a guy standing there in all his naked glory; and as long as that guy proclaims himself to be a woman, the law would indulge his delusion.

 … Both sides know HERO is about bathrooms but only one side wants to talk about it. Stealth is the Left’s watchword.

Predictably, the Houston Chronicle also ran an article bemoaning the intransigent opposition. The subtitle of the article shouted: “Compromise suggested for city ordinance not enough for some GOP, faith leaders.” Oh, those stubborn conservatives, when will they ever learn the value of compromise?
Perhaps conservatives didn’t want to “compromise” with the homofascist mayor because she’d already admitted that the exclusion of bathroom language didn’t alter the law one iota. A compromise without concessions from both sides is no compromise at all. That’s just caving. And why should HERO opponents cave when they have the voters behind them?

It should come as no surprise that the Houston Chronicle endorsed HERO twice. … Jayme Fraser … knew that Mayor Parker’s compromise was bogus and yet she still wrote a ludicrous article implying that the anti-HERO camp was stubbornly refusing to meet HERO supporters halfway.

Liberals are generally pretty bad at compromise and the homofascist subset is absolutely incapable of it. This is the Civil Rights Movement all over again and you’re Bull Connor. Ergo, they get everything and you get nothing. They don’t always get their way because sometimes they just lose; but they never settle for half a loaf and they absolutely never give up.

On occasion, they’ll offer a faux compromise of the variety that Parker proposed. Other times they try the incrementalist approach—“settling” for a partial victory, only to return shortly thereafter wanting to renegotiate the deal. After three or four partial victories they find that they’ve achieved everything they wanted. But most of the time the LGBTQXYZ activists don’t even do that. They concoct phony hate crimes, they riot, they sue, they get people fired from their jobs, and occasionally they even murder people. When they finally taste sweet victory they run the rainbow banner up the flagpole and declare #Lovewins!
Be sure to read Benny's description of "the pickle that suburban Palatine, Illinois has found itself in trying to accommodate a delusional high school student who thinks he’s a girl."
Intolerable! Everyone must be forced to believe the Big Lie. This is a “civil rights issue” and nothing less than total capitulation will suffice. We wouldn’t meet Jim Crow supporters halfway, would we?

We lost the last war with the homofascists because we tried to accommodate them. We thought we could offer them civil unions—all the benefits of marriage without the word. They weren’t satisfied. We thought we could let them do their thing and it would never affect us, but soon they were forcing us to be unwilling participants in their sham weddings, demanding to use church-owned property for their ceremonies, and dismantling long-standing codes of conduct for teachers at religious schools. There is no “live and let live” with these people. It’s absolute servility or pitched battle, nothing in between.
Related by Benny Huang: • Every media outlet has chosen to share Lila Perry’s delusion that he’s a girl, which explains why noone can find the teen’s real name anywhere

• "No One Is!" Leftists and Their Calculated Lies Intended to Pacify the Bitter Clingers

• Ranger School: Everything in the Obama administration is make-believe and subordinated to the agenda—even truth

• That’s what nondiscrimination laws are—involuntary servitude laws

• Diversity compels society give up its traditions, its sacred rights, and even its basic decency

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Free speech is dying a death of a thousand exceptions

"This is not a free speech issue!" Or so goes the slogan of the crusading censor.
Benny Huang is enthusiastic about the new book by the author of There is No Such Thing as a Free Press.
Mick Hume, free speech advocate and author of Trigger Warning (Is Fear of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech?) daftly disassembles the arguments of the shut-your-piehole crowd. Hume argues that the expression of controversial ideas is becoming nearly impossible in the West despite its professed adoration for free speech.

While Hume assures the reader that his book was not written in response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre which occurred just as he was wrapping up the project, he does discuss the hypocrisy of the European elites who suddenly became staunch defenders of Charlie's artistic expression—and acted as if they always had been. Western nations are full of censors, he argues, and many of them are in high places. Banning sentiments that might offend Muslims was fairly pedestrian before the Charlie killings and continued unabated after the fact.

While almost most people claim to support free speech in theory, plenty of people rationalize exceptions to the principle that essentially nullify the sacred liberty. Free speech, he argues, is dying a death of a thousand exceptions. He focuses primarily on his native Britain, where the situation is dire, but warns that even the United States, despite its expansive first amendment, is succumbing to this dangerous trend. Hume obliterates some of the common rationales for censorship, including "That's not free speech, it's hate speech" and Oliver Wendell Holmes's "You can't yell fire in a crowded theater!" His analysis is spot-on.    

Monday, November 09, 2015

Everyone knows that no fault divorce is required to liberate women from being trapped in commitment; Yet change the context to the cost of broken families, and suddenly everyone knows that men are running away from commitment

Everyone knows that traditional marriage is a cruel institution that “traps” women in commitment, depriving them of the romantic love their noble hearts desire
writes Dalrock, satire dripping from his jaws.
Everyone knows that no fault divorce is required to liberate women from being trapped in commitment.

Modern women’s enthusiasm for divorce is hardly a well kept secret. [Not all modern women view divorce as empowerment, but a large enough majority does feel this way, which is why divorce empowerment is ubiquitous in entertainment aimed at women.]  If you are looking at media aimed to women, divorce empowerment is a staple.  This is quite literally a shameless obsession.  As new commenter Anna mentioned recently:
It’s crazy that every time that I find an article about marriage, it’s either about the actual wedding or divorce. As a 26 year old woman that has been married for 6 years, I’m well aware of the pressure for divorcing. There’s always a “5 ways to know that your marriage is over”. This is how I found your website and it all makes so much sense, even though I’m not a christian. I have no idea why society is leaning towards destroying its foundations.
Yet change the context to the cost of broken families, and suddenly everyone knows that men are running away from commitment.  This is especially important when it comes to conservative backing for child support.  In 2005 Phyllis Schlafly laid out what should be the standard conservative position on a government program designed to destroy families in Federal Incentives Make Children Fatherless:
The federal incentives drive the system. The more divorces, and the higher the child-support guidelines are set and enforced (no matter how unreasonable), the more money the state bureaucracy collects from the feds.
Follow the money. The less time that non-custodial parents (usually fathers) are permitted to be with their children, the more child support they must pay into the state fund, and the higher the federal bonus to the states for collecting the money.
The states have powerful incentives to separate fathers from their children, to give near-total custody to mothers, to maintain the fathers’ high-level support obligations even if their income is drastically reduced, and to hang onto the father’s payments as long as possible before paying them out to the mothers…
We can no longer ignore how taxpayers’ money is incentivizing divorce and creating fatherless children. Nor can we ignore the government’s complicity in the predictable social costs that result from more than 17 million children growing up without their fathers.
Yet Schlafly is an extreme outlier among conservatives on this topic.  Conservatives are the strongest backers of the child support system, and this is due to a deeply held belief that broken families are caused by men who aren’t willing to stick around and raise their kids.  This belief is so strong that conservatives end up taking very unconservative positions on the family.  Instead of opposing a law that creates perverse incentives to break up families, they enthusiastically support it.  Instead of supporting marriage, they support the system designed to replace marriage.  Instead of supporting an incentive based structure for production, they are wedded to a crushing soviet style quota system that discourages hard work.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

In Order To Solve Problems, It Is Imperative That You Have Problems to Solve

Jim Davis's Garfield does a good job of describing the modus operandi of white-knight politicians in-shining-armor who are eager to come to our rescue.