Circular Firing Squads

SUPERMAN LOVES AMERICA AGAIN

In Action Comics #900, a back up strip by David Goyer, showed Superman announcing he was to go to the UN and give up his citizenship of the USA, so to ensure his actions were not mistaken for US government policy.

There was a Firestorm! (and I don’t mean a DC comics character).

Well, today, from DC Comics, on the last page of Superman #711, we see a very different situation. Superman loving America after all! That (thankfully) doesn’t spoil the story having on its own right here.

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

The challenge of a U.S. corporate tax overhaul only seems to grow.

At a House Ways and Means hearing on Thursday, some business executives were even nodding to the possibility of a value-added tax to offset the budget impact of significantly lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate.

“As you take a holistic view… the value-added tax is one of those things that needs to be on the table,” Greg Hayes, CFO of United Technologies Corp., said in response to a lawmaker’s question.

In fact, there’s a surprising amount of interest in that idea on all sides. Many Democrats see a VAT as a way to pay for new infrastructure and shore up spending programs. Some Republicans – and corporate executives – see it as a way to pay for tax cuts that would spur investment, and make U.S. businesses more competitive. Much of the corporate-rate cutting that has gone on around the rest of the developed world in recent years has been paid for by increasing value-added taxes. Other countries view it as a necessary tradeoff to boost domestic manufacturing and exports.

Mind you, corporations don’t actually pay these taxes, they just pass them on in the cost of goods. So you get the old double whammy.

It all goes to show how knotty the long-neglected problems of the U.S. corporate tax system have become. The painful reality, as several lawmakers suggested, is that the U.S. would have to get rid of many if not most of its current corporate tax breaks just in order to lower the U.S. corporate rate to the high 20s. It’s currently 35%, the second highest in the developed world. And to be truly competitive, the U.S. rate probably needs to get down to around 20%. That would leave room for state corporate rates. (WSJ)

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Students in New London will not only have to pass English to graduate, but they will have to prove that they know the American English language and be able to demonstrate it as of 2015.

The board of education on Thursday approved the major change to city education policy, according to the Day of New London.

Only 16 percent of New London High School 10th graders scored at the highest levels for English on standardized tests in 2010, the Day reports.

The student body includes immigrants from 28 countries, the Day reports. And the school district Web site includes translations in 52 languages.

“We know from colleges and employers, that our students are going to have to know how to read and write in English if they are going be successful,” Supt. Nicholas Fischer, told the Day.

The state department of education does not have a policy of this kind. (NBConnecticut)

Wonder how long before it’s ruled as “racist” and “insensitive”??…

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Washington is full of self-interested political characters, and it’s always amusing to watch ambitious schemers with common enemies harm each other instead. Inside the beltway, this is called a “circular firing squad.”

There’s no shortage of this in-fighting in flailing political campaigns. One recent example was the public scrum over President Obama’s birth certificate.

It’s natural to think that the whole “birther” phenomenon was cooked up by right-wing conspiracy theorists, but it was actually the brainchild of Hillary Clinton partisans during the 2008 Democratic primaries.

Even the White House’s late April disclosure of Obama’s long-form birth certificate didn’t quell the noise level completely, with some continuing to allege fraud. The smart money says this issue — created by supporters of Obama’s current secretary of state — will remain on the national radar for some people through the 2012 elections.

America’s food fringe has its share of circular firing squads too.

VegNews magazine — which, as you probably guessed, advocates against eating meat, cheese, or using any animal products — recently found itself embroiled in a major scandal (“major” within its tiny cultural niche, anyway).

Bloggers discovered that VegNews was airbrushing meat and dairy foods out of “stock” photography, sanitizing them just enough to credibly accompany vegan recipes. (Apparently, some animal activists were shocked to learn that a juicy burger looks more tempting than faux-meat soy loaf.)

Among the 1 percent of Americans who eat a PETA-approved diet, mass outrage ensued. And VegNews, sensing the loss of its subscription base, issued a groveling retraction.

You’d think vegans would have a great enough sense of common purpose to avoid targeting their own kind.

But to a certain degree, it’s predictable. This is what happens when you look at dinner as a political statement instead of as — well, food.

Some food revolutionaries, to be fair, are well intentioned and genuinely look for ways to improve agriculture, even if their solutions aren’t terribly practical. But there’s definitely a current of holier-than-thou snobbery running through today’s “foodie” movement. And the food-politics stage is seldom big enough for two giant egos.

A celebrity chef announces an all-organic menu. Then a school lunch program (usually somewhere like Berkeley) limits itself to organic and “local.” Eventually the one-upmanship results in someone marketing organic, local, and “heirloom” produce. Grass-fed, organic, locally raised, artisanal beef, anyone? You get the picture.

The results for organic-food crusaders are mutually destructive squabbling, fractured messages, and a confused consumer base. The same thing happens when one organic interest directly attacks another, as we’ve seen with the Cornucopia Institute’s broadsides against large, “corporate” organic marketers.

We see some flavor of this with egg marketers. Some of them may find it appetizing, for competitive advantage if no other reason, to embrace “cage free” and organic niches and promote their supposed benefits in a way that undercuts larger, “conventional” egg interests.

This may — underline “may” — be a winning strategy in the short-term. But in the long run, profit margins on cage-free eggs will creep down closer to those of regular eggs. And the whole industry will be left more vulnerable to vegan-promotion organizations like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), whose foot in the door will eventually become two feet, and then a leg.

For the uninitiated, an HSUS vice president admitted a few years ago that her organization’s goal was to “get rid of the entire [animal agriculture] industry” by “promoting veganism.”

She now runs the “Global Animal Partnership,” which Whole Foods created to legitimize its feel-good animal welfare niche marketing and help it cling to its elite status.

Whole Foods, of course, is the paragon of “progressive” food. But it still has circular firing squad problems.

Anti-biotechnology activists now claim that many products in Whole Foods stores are “contaminated” with genetically modified organisms. This might be technically true, but GMOs are harmless. Americans have been eating them for 15 years without credible evidence of any health risks.

Ultimately, Whole Foods’ purer-than-thou positioning hasn’t insulated it from pitchfork-wielding ideologues. The self-proclaimed “Millions Against Monsanto” movement even hints that an organized boycott of Whole Foods could come as soon as October.

Conventional wisdom in Washington holds that if an opponent wants to hang himself, you should give him some rope. When annoying “foodie” factions publicly bicker over who’s the most gastronomically chaste, sometimes the best thing to do is grab some non-organic popcorn and watch the fireworks. (DC)

So anyone else want to stand in front of the Firing Squad? Because there are plenty of people out there that will volunteer YOU for one!! 🙂

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel