“The world wonders.” These words from Chester Nimitz unintentionally, we are told, rattled Bull Halsey during the battle of Leyte Gulf. Halsey got roped, by a Japanese ruse, into chasing a worthless fleet away from the landing zone in the Philippines. When the ruse became clear and Nimitz wanted to rally his fleet, he dashed off a radio message to Halsey. Extracting out metadata, Nimitz’s message read, “Turkey trots to water. Where, repeat, where is Task Force Thirty Four? The world wonders.” Bolded text = actual message.
It was routine at that time to pad messages, which is to say load the beginning and end of the text with nonsense to make decryption by the enemy a bit more difficult. The padding is removed when the message is distributed on the receiving end. It is clear from the text that this message was padded. The operator that constructed the message said he just tacked on the first words that came to mind. Unfortunately, the end-of-text padding was not redacted when it was handed to Halsey.
Among those in uniform, brief rebukes with clear underlying messages carry weight. “The world wonders” struck Halsey as “Where the hell are you? We can’t believe you fell for this! Get back to Leyte!” Bull Halsey, a dedicated and hard-working officer, who had already twigged to the decoy and was coming about, was crushed by what he thought were words from his boss and friend.
There is little doubt that Nimitz was pacing his office feverishly awaiting word of Halsey’s whereabouts. While he had no intention of slapping down one of his star quarterbacks, the accidental words did carry his anxiety.
That story has always stuck with me. I read it decades ago.
Ever since Donald Trump splashed into the presidential race, Nimitz’s unintentional dig has been nagging at me. Who and what is Donald Trump. Indeed, the world wonders.
Trump has been very slow to demonstrate his true bona fides. He has been loud and bombastic. He’s been abrasive (not necessarily a bad thing). He has cataloged lots of popular complaints that appeal to conservatives; but only cataloged. The only thing he got specific about before this week was to get rid of all illegal immigrant gang member “on the first day” of his administration.
Since we can rule out the use of tactical nukes on American soil, I think we can chalk that promise up to hyperbole. But that was it. Except for phrases like “Believe me!” or “It’ll make you head spin”, added for emphasis, Trump spent the first months of his campaign rattling off populists phrases and Rosie O’Donnell-calibre insults. But it was fun to listen to, wasn’t it? And a large swath of our not-too-discriminating electorate dove into the Donald waters and swam gleefully.
The rest of us stood scratching our heads and continued to wonder. Who is this guy, really? I, for one, have wanted very much for the man to be a serious candidate and to say something substantial to demonstrate he is going to be guided by responsible, conservative principles.
Let’s look at where he comes from. He’s a Wall Street/Hamptons/beautiful people type. He has spent his life among well-connected business types and trust fund babies. These are the folks who buy art that has the aesthetic quality of rubber dog shit and pretend to love it. What they actually like is the owner’s ability to splash huge amounts of cash with the immature urge to shock. The “admirer” is admiring the spending power, not the rubber dog shit. He is inspired to search out something even more ridiculous to impress his own friends.
Many, if not most of these people lean left. Let us not overlook the fact that Obama set consecutive billion dollar records selling access and influence to these folks. They are people who believe in heavy-handed redistribution of all wealth outside of their own (that’s the wealth federal regulations are designed to protect).
The good news is, the Donald, as he is stupidly known, can’t be bought by these people. The bad news is…he is one of them. Trump is buying the White House to show off to his friends and bring validation to the club from whence he hails.
How can I say such a thing? How can I abandon the hope I did hold that he might be real?
Well, this week he announced his tax plan. It is a left-leaning statist plan delivered with populists, class-envy trimmings. And it will do nothing to address the sorry state of our fiscal affairs.
First, he declares that he is going to reduce the tax brackets down to three and that he is going to raise taxes on the wealthy. Let loose the pidgeons! We’ve found the answer!…to nothing.
Raising taxes on the wealthy, because they have the nerve to be wealthy is the reason wealthy people spend billions every year hiding their wealth. They keep tax lawyers and accountants busy 24/7 seeking loopholes to avoid as much taxation as possible. This is also the old LEFT WING song about needing to punish productivity; yours if you made your fortune or your father’s if you inherited it. It has never worked, it never will work, and brace yourself, it is not intended to work here. By leaving in place the Byzantine maze of federal regulations, the effective tax rate on rich people will not increase substantially. With his silly idea of singling out hedge fund managers and other traders, he will not only fail to collect substantially more revenue, he’ll hurt retirement funds and other investments. Those traders will not let themselves be hurt by an increase in their tax burden. It will simply be an increase in the cost of doing business. The cost will be passed along to the not-so-well connected who invest through the offices these traders run or work for.
The tax brackets changes are simply a fraud. As I point out in my political masterwork, 16 20 24 (available in fine bookstore everywhere), brackets, write-offs and tax credits are theater whereby the government makes you think you are getting something, or that someone else isn’t; or to get you to do something, like buy a house. But they are not real. The game is fixed and the house always wins. It doesn’t matter if there are three tax brackets or twenty, they are there so the politicians can jigger them to make you think they’ve helped you. They are an intentionally complicated fraud.
And then he dropped the big bomb. Fifty percent of the citizens of this country will no longer pay any taxes at all. In class warfare, that’s the nuclear option. That sets one half of the country, the ones paying the bill against the other, the ones riding for free. It also creates a mindset in the non-payers that says who cares how big the government gets. I’m not footing the bill. It won’t hurt me.
But oh, won’t it make Trump popular among the non-thinking classes? You remember those folks. They are the ones who used to have Obama stickers on their bumper.
This moment is also instructive about our view of the rest of the Republican field. Anyone who thinks the approach to tax reform includes anything other than a flat income tax or a simple retail tax (not a VAT – we already pay the corporate tax when we buy goods), is not a conservative. He or she might think they are. Or they may simply be lying. But to say a progressive tax is fair and useful is to label yourself a RINO; at least in terms of tax policy.
As I also mention in my gripping epic, 16 20 24, fairness is simple. 1/5 of your income as tax is the same as 1/5 of my income or 1/5 of Bill Gates’ income. But politicians and their weenie media slaves have been working since 1913 to have you unknow that simple fact. A flat, simple tax across the board is the key to a proper and honest tax code.
And no, you don’t tax legitimate welfare recipients. How stupid is it already that the government cuts you a check, whether it’s welfare or social security or a military check and then taxes it. But we’ll save getting rid of welfare freeloaders and wasting money this way in another post. Or you can read about in…nah…I won’t say it again.
To the Republican field: Trump knows that every word I’ve said here is true. That’s why his tax plan, after it has been digested, may be his undoing. Anyone favoring a flat tax shouldn’t be afraid to pounce on Trump for his plan. He will get loud. He’ll insult you. When he does, get louder, but stick to your argument. You may not cost him in the polls (I believe you will) but the most important result is that you will rise in the polls by pounding away again and again. Point out the underlying lie in his plan and pound away!
A couple more short points.
When you combine this new left-leaning twist in the Trump saga with his ego, we see another disturbing pattern getting clearer. Trump is more arrogant and self-centered than even Obama. Who would have thought a year ago that we’d ever have someone as conceited in American politics again. But here we are. One thing the new president must do is to push a huge amount of power in the executive branch back to congress where it belongs. There is no way, no way in hell, that Donald Trump will EVER shed an iota of power – ever. It is not a part of his personality. If you thought Obama was certifiably crazy in his use of royal proclamations, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
There is still the question of whether Trump is a shill for the Clintons or a Democrat using his popularity and deceit to stymy Republicans. So far his behavior doesn’t answer well. While sitting at the top of the poles, Trump has wasted 95% of the air time, generously provided by the media* firing down at those trailing him and not firing across at two of the easiest political targets in modern times, Bernie and BJ Bill’s wife. Why waste that valuable air time? The guy at the top shoots down at his own peril. So much for the guy who wrote The Art of the Deal.
*The MSM wouldn’t piss in a Republican’s hair if it was on fire. And yet, they air every word Trump utters. They let him have all interviews he wants. He even sets the venue! Again, WHY? Do they believe, as I am starting to believe that Trump, is the great White Hope of the Democratic Party?
Matt Jordan is a travel writer, political commentator and author of 16 20 24. Get your SIGNED copy here! A book on his travels in Mexico and Belize will be released in the Fall of 2015.
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