Did We Hitch Our Wagon to a (Death) Star?

Vittorio Arrigoni, who had devoted several years of his life to the Palestinian cause, is dead -- murdered by those he thought he was helping.

An Italian pro-Palestinian activist was killed by Palestinian Islamic extremists who had kidnapped him in Gaza on Thursday.

Gaza police on Friday found the hanged body of Vittorio Arrigoni when they stormed an apartment in Gaza City where he was being held.

Hours earlier, his kidnappers, a group inspired by Al Qaida calling itself "Monotheism and Holy War," had posted a video showing Arrigoni, 36, blindfolded and with cuts on his face.

His head was held up in front of the camera by a hand gripping his hair.[snip]

Arrigoni had lived in Gaza for several years working with the International Solidarity Movement.

The ISM's web site describes the group as a "Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli apartheid in Palestine by using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles."

Arrigoni is not alone in making a fatal error about the Palestinians.

Daniel Pipes point out that:

"Angelo Frammartino, an Italian, was killed by stabbing in eastern Jerusalem in August 2006 by someone affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Juliano Mer-Khamis, who appears to have been an Israeli citizen, killed in early April 2011 in Jenin by persons unknown."

In the same vein Western women who travel to Gaza to throw in their lot with the Gaza residents are routinely sexually abused and raped and the practice hushed up by the organizations that sponsor their work there.

While Western civilization seems ever more determined to preserve in the gene pool those who like these volunteers haven't the slightest survival instinct or talent for intellectual discrimination, the rest of the world seems to operate under a more atavistic scheme.

Poor Vittorio, seen earlier swaggering smugly about Gaza  for the cameras with relief supplies, met his untimely death because he misjudged his environment and the limits of non-violent action in barbarian territory. 

As Vittorio fatally misjudged Palestine, so does Obama misjudge the inexorable and sometimes brutal laws of economics. His address this week on the budget makes that clear.  He and his party continue down the path of some nonsensical, hippy dippy 1960's notions about the role of government, the desirability of income redistribution schemes, and the efficacy of unlimited federal power and spending. And if we do not succeed in imposing some sanity on government spending and programs the U.S. will find that in electing this poseur we hitched our wagon to a death star.

The national debt is now 16 million tons worth of one dollar bills, as Iowahawk shows us graphically.

At the moment the president's budget shortfalls are $1.6 trillion annually. He tried to slough the problem off -- as he always does -- as the fault of his predecessor, but Obama himself signed on to those exact same tax policies last December that he attacks in April.  In any event, no reputable economist believes that raising the tax rates will either improve the economy or make a substantial dent in the shortfall. To the contrary, many credibly believe a rise in taxes will further stifle growth and, relying on experience, argue it will result in a revenue reduction. When this was posed to Obama some time ago he responded that even if higher taxes result in lower revenue, the rich nevertheless had to pay more taxes for "fairness" sake alone.

Many took particular issue with his dishonest characterization of tax cuts and present deductions -- many of which he hopes to cancel -- as "spending reductions in the tax code."  They misunderstand him I think.  This was the only honest part of the speech -- revealing his belief that all that is produced in this country belongs to the federal government for it -- that is to say him -- to dispose of as he sees fit. 

On the spending side he is as much a class warrior and as inconstant as he is on the revenue side.

Jake Tapper captures the essence of the Obama intellectual schizophrenia well:

"We're not going to be able to do anything about any of these entitlements if what we do is characterize whatever proposals are put out there as, ‘Well, you know, that's -- the other party's being irresponsible. The other party is trying to hurt our senior citizens. That the other party is doing X, Y, Z."

President Obama today:

"One vision has been championed by Republicans in the House of Representatives and embraced by several of their party's presidential candidates...This is a vision that says up to 50 million Americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit.  And who are those 50 million Americans?  Many are someone's grandparents who wouldn't be able afford nursing home care without Medicaid.  Many are poor children.  Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Down's syndrome.  Some are kids with disabilities so severe that they require 24-hour care.  These are the Americans we'd be telling to fend for themselves." [/quote]

Mark Steyn   pithily notes how puerile the entire speech was:

The whole speech was like that, a litany of brain-dead slapdash rhetorical questions that for sentient beings are no longer rhetorical: My fellow Americans, do we want an America where our most lethargic and mediocre youth are denied a leisurely half-decade acquiring a fraudulent six-figure credential in some worthless pseudo-discipline simply because we can't afford it?

Well, it'd be a start.

The people who elected  him should not be the least surprised that he cannot handle the reins of his office. At the time they elected him there wasn't any evidence he had the slightest capacity for the position. Jay Cost tags Obama as an "inexperienced faker" whose only demonstrable talent was successfully gaming the nominating process.

I think Cost has a point but I'd go further.  Obama is  an "inexperienced faker" without even the possibility of growing into the office.

Think of it. He blew off recommendations of the bipartisan deficit commission he just appointed, he savagely and rudely attacked Paul Ryan's plan in an address which offered the invited Ryan no opportunity to respond, and now  proposes  to balance the budget by a series of make believe cuts and fantasized  revenue enhancements. The Wall Street Journal's Review and Outlook:

Under the Obama tax plan, the Bush rates would be repealed for the top brackets. Yet the "cost" of extending all the Bush rates in 2011 over 10 years was about $3.7 trillion. Some $3 trillion of that was for everything but the top brackets -- and Mr. Obama says he wants to extend those rates forever. According to Internal Revenue Service data, the entire taxable income of everyone earning over $100,000 in 2008 was about $1.582 trillion. Even if all these Americans -- most of whom are far from wealthy -- were taxed at 100%, it wouldn't cover Mr. Obama's deficit for this year.

Mr. Obama sought more tax-hike cover under his deficit commission, seeming to embrace its proposal to limit tax deductions and other loopholes. But the commission wanted to do so in order to lower rates for a more efficient and competitive code with a broader base. Mr. Obama wants to pocket the tax increase and devote the revenues to deficit reduction and therefore more spending. So that's three significant tax increases -- via higher top brackets, the tax hikes in ObamaCare and fewer tax deductions.

Lastly, Mr. Obama came out for a debt "failsafe," which will require the White House and Congress to hash out a deal if by 2014 projected debt is not declining as a share of the economy. But under his plan any deal must exclude Social Security, Medicare or low-income programs. So that means more tax increases or else "making government smarter, leaner and more effective." Which, now that he mentioned it, sounds a lot like cutting "waste and abuse."

Mr. Obama ludicrously claimed that Mr. Ryan favors "a fundamentally different America than the one we've known throughout most of our history." Nothing is likelier to bring that future about than the President's political indifference in the midst of a fiscal crisis.

Vice President Biden slept through the big address.

Was he silently expressing the depth of his enthusiasm for Obama's plan to create yet another fictitious deficit reduction commission with the vice president in charge this time?

In the end, we have a major crisis and a president who doesn't understand its magnitude and lacks the political skill to deal successfully with it even if he did. In that sense the people of Guatemala are a lot smarter than we are. A wildly popular autobiography about a Guatemalan peasant, Rigoberta Menchu, with an appealing but fake life history  (written by a ghost author) was promoted by all the usual elites and garnered a Nobel Prize. The subject of the work became an international figure and ran for   President of Guatemala in 2007. She lost handily-winning only 3 % of the vote.

We should have been so lucky.