ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Willing Suspension of Disbelief

H/T Gateway Jim

The AP is reporting yet more success in the War in Iraq

6,000 Sunnis join pact with US in Iraq

HAWIJA, Iraq - Nearly 6,000 Sunni Arab residents joined a security pact with American forces Wednesday in what U.S. officers described as a critical step in plugging the remaining escape routes for extremists flushed from former strongholds.

The new alliance — called the single largest volunteer mobilization since the war began — covers the "last gateway" for groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq seeking new havens in northern Iraq, U.S. military officials said.

U.S. commanders have tried to build a ring around insurgents who fled military offensives launched earlier this year in the western Anbar province and later into Baghdad and surrounding areas. In many places, the U.S.-led battles were given key help from tribal militias — mainly Sunnis — that had turned against al-Qaida and other groups.

Extremists have sought new footholds in northern areas once loyal to Saddam Hussein's Baath party as the U.S.-led gains have mounted across central regions. But their ability to strike near the capital remains.

A woman wearing an explosive-rigged belt blew herself up near an American patrol near Baqouba, about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, the military announced Wednesday. The blast on Tuesday — a rare attack by a female suicide bomber — wounded seven U.S. troops and five Iraqis, the statement said.

The ceremony to pledge the 6,000 new fighters was presided over by a dozen sheiks — each draped in black robes trimmed with gold braiding — who signed the contract on behalf of tribesmen at a small U.S. outpost in north-central Iraq.

For about $275 a month — nearly the salary for the typical Iraqi policeman — the tribesmen will man about 200 security checkpoints beginning Dec. 7, supplementing hundreds of Iraqi forces already in the area.

About 77,000 Iraqis nationwide, mostly Sunnis, have broken with the insurgents and joined U.S.-backed self-defense groups.
Now, many on the Left (Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Stupid Country, etc) will see such news and still ridiculously make the claim that the war is a failure.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, they remain in their bubble, refusing to admit the facts that military and political progress are being made at the local level throughout the country.

Regardless of everything, their response is the same:

"It. Is. A. Loss."

It's also important to know that, as outlined by David Kilcullen in his interview with Charlie Rose, a shift of 77,000 fighters from the insurgency to the Coalition side isn't a 77,000 loss for the insurgency.

It's a 144,000 man loss.

And, the ability of those 77,000 men is much greater than 77,000 US troops, since that number of US troops would only actually mean in approximately 20,000 rifles facing the enemy, whereas the Iraqi converts do not require such a logistical chain and come with the benefit of being more capable of obtaining intelligence in communities, developing community relations, etc.

Here's the video:

Memo to the Left: Keep your head in the sand, please. We'll win this war while you continue to push the idea that we're losing.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Free to Choose

Excellent editorial in today's Opinion Journal on Fred Thompson's Flat Tax Proposal:

Flat Tax Fred
Thompson's reform leads the GOP field.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 12:01 a.m.

Fred Thompson's Presidential campaign has been struggling, in part because of a sense that he lacks passion and an agenda. But late last week he unveiled a tax reform that is more ambitious than anything we've seen so far from the rest of the GOP field.

Mr. Thompson wants to abolish the death tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax and cut the corporate income tax rate to 27% from 35%. But his really big idea is a voluntary flat tax that would give every American the option of ditching the current code in favor of filing a simple tax return with two tax rates of 10% and 25%.

Mr. Thompson is getting aboard what has become a global bandwagon, with more than 20 nations having adopted some form of flat tax. Most--especially in Eastern Europe--have seen their economies grow and revenues increase as they've adopted low tax rates of between 13% and 25% with few exemptions.

A common refrain from the Left is that we must be like other countries when it comes to health care... But they'll rarely point to economic growth that's being experienced abroad because of the lower tax rates.
The main political obstacle to such a reform in the U.S. has come from liberals, who favor punitive taxes for "class" reasons, and K Street corporate lobbyists who want to retain their tax-loophole empires. The housing and insurance industries, states and localities, charities, bond traders and tax preparers are all foes of low tax rates.

When there are a million loopholes, the only people that can exploit them are the people who can afford a bevy of tax accountants and tax attorneys. These people tend not to be the poor.
That's why the idea of a voluntary flat tax--introduced on these pages a dozen years ago--makes political sense. The Thompson plan would allow taxpayers to keep their mortgage and charitable deductions if they prefer, by adhering to the current tax code and rates. But it would also allow the option to abandon those credits and deductions except for a single allowance based on family size ($39,000 for a family of four). Most taxpayers would pay a 10% rate on income above that allowance, with a 25% rate kicking in at $100,000 for a couple. There would only be five lines on the tax form and most taxpayers could fill it out in minutes.

I can just see the lobbyists for Financial Services firms screaming!
Liberals are already objecting that the plan is not "paid for," by which they mean it doesn't raise taxes the way they hope the next President will. But Mr. Thompson is right in refusing to play by the "static revenue" scoring game that demands that one dollar in estimated tax cuts be offset by one dollar in estimated tax increases somewhere else. "The experts always overrate the revenue losses from tax cuts," Mr. Thompson says, and history supports him going back to the Mellon reductions of the 1920s, the Kennedy tax cuts of the 1960s, the Gipper's in the 1980s, and this decade's success with President Bush's reductions.

Mr. Thompson's plan is based on one introduced by GOP Representatives Paul Ryan and Jeb Hensarling that is in any case not designed to lose revenue. It is intended to allow federal receipts to grow at the rate of the economy, which would leave them at some 18% or 19% of GDP--roughly their average of recent decades. When critics object to revenue losses, they are really saying that the tax share of GDP should be allowed to rise to 20% and higher, which is where we are headed if the Bush tax rates expire.

Paul Ryan for President!!!!
We'd prefer a flat tax with one rate instead of Mr. Thompson's two. Once the concession is made that richer people should pay a higher tax rate, the political temptation is always to raise the rate on the wealthy. The virtue of the single-rate flat tax isn't merely its efficiency but also its moral component: It treats all taxpayers equally. If a person makes five times more money than his neighbor, he should pay five times more taxes, not 10 or 20 times more.

However, what's refreshing about the Thompson plan is that it goes well beyond the current Republican mantra to make "the Bush tax cuts permanent." That is certainly needed, but the GOP also needs a more ambitious agenda, especially with economic growth slowing. The flat tax has the added political benefit of assaulting the special interests who populate the Gucci Gulch outside Congress's tax-writing committee rooms. Lower rates and simplify the tax code, and you instantly reduce the opportunities for Beltway corruption. It is both a tax policy and political reform.

The two apparent Republican front runners, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, should be paying attention. Both have called for tax cuts in general but have dodged any endorsement of the flat tax--presumably because they think it is too politically risky. The politically calculating Mr. Romney has questioned whether the flat tax is "fair." Mr. Giuliani is more open to the idea, saying the flat tax "would be a lot easier. It would probably bring in a lot more revenue and it would not have some of the burdens on the economy that the massive tax code has." That's right, so why not go all the way?

Mr. Thompson's voluntary proposal is one way to deflect some of the inevitable political opposition. Anyone who prefers the current tax code can stick with it. The rest of us can have a better choice.

Now, I have supported the Fair Tax as described by Neal Boortz in the past (and which is currently being proposed by Mike Huckabee), but I have some reservations regarding the effects of a national sales tax and the way in which it would be administered.

However, I have always been a fan of a flat tax system and think that the two tier system proposed by Thompson is a much needed step towards tax reform.

The key provision of Thompson's plan is the freedom of choice - to choose whether to continue paying taxes under the current system (with its myriad rates, deductions, and hours of paperwork) or to simply fill out the 1 page Thompson Tax Form and send in your check.

The Left often accuses the Right of being anti-choice, although its most often the Left that eliminates or reduces the choices that individuals can make (see Education, Healthcare, Taxation, Property Rights, Free Speech, etc, etc). I think Thompson (and the GOP in general) could benefit greatly from making such a policy prescription a major item in the 2008 campaign.

However, given the MSM's proclivity to cover only the personalities, the gotcha moments, the lost war that doesn't look so lost anymore, and the media's own coverage of said topics in Campaign 2008, perhaps it's impossible to get anyone to pay attention.

Fred can significantly improve his position with this issue and endear himself to the conservative base that has been completely demoralized by the big government programs of compassionate conservatism. Candidates like Romney and Giuliani could also improve their positions by aggressively challenging the current tax codes and the Dems' desire to make it more complex and more painful.

When I watched the last Democratic debate, I commented to my wife that if they were to take power of the legislative and executive branches, our economy would be doomed. I hope that Thompson's approach gains traction - quickly.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler