Monday, April 23, 2007


No, Senator Reid. The "war" is not lost. The "war", which has become the misnomer of this or any other age, was won a long time ago. In 2003 American troops invaded Iraq on the heels of a "shock and awe" bombing and missile campaign. Within months the war was over. Officials of the Iraqi government either surrendered or fled. Among the latter, Saddam Hussein would later be found hiding in a hole in the ground. Military commanders and their troops surrendered. Organized resistence was ended. The war, by any measure of conflict, was over and the United States and its allies had won.

What remained was, and is, a postliminium conundrum having nothing to do with a war. A secularly-divided populace has resumed an internicine struggle held in abeyance for years only by the iron-fisted cruelty of the now-absent dictator, Hussein. To the extent that they were victors, and occupiers, the American and other foreign forces were met by rag-tag civilian opposition in a nation universally armed. Since the vast majority of the victorious forces are American it is they who bear the brunt of casualties.

The misnomer, "war," has become the semantical mistake of this new century for the United States. The President and his administration embrace the misnomer with fervor, calling for "victory" in this non-existant war without ever carefully defining what victory in a phantom struggle might entail. Opponents swiftly adopted the misnomer in the belief that a "war" was surely something to be ended. They have been trumped. You want to surrender, cut and run, in the middle of a war? America does not lose wars! Ah, but America, as poiinted out, has already won this one. The misnomer is of course adopted by the Generals. They wear stars composed for warfare. They do not fight postliminums.

So long as the great debate is framed around that word, "war," there can never be rational discourse. But what would happen should some national political candidate issue a statement of policy: "I will not refer to the continued presence of American forces in Iraq as a war in any debates to come or any speeches to be made. I will make possible rational discourse on the subject."

If widely adopted, this will depoliticize a subject which has depoliticize a subject which has brought the American psyche to its knees.

The War in Iraq is Over. We won.


Is any tax reform plan perfect? Of course not. Can't happen. I doubt that there is a way to devise a perfect plan for the government to seize money from its subjects, either through force, such as the income tax, or through choice, such as with a sales tax, in a perfect way. Certainly nobody, not even the most fervent big-government socialist liberal, would say that our current income tax system is anywhere near perfect.

Lacking perfection, it is inevitable, then, that any tax reform proposal would escape criticism, and there are criticisms of the FairTax that need addressing. To that end Congressman John Linder and I are now working on a sequel to The FairTax Book. The new book will be called "The FairTax, Answering the Critics." In researching for this book we have gathered letters from politicians as well as private citizens, tax policy experts, government officials, elected representatives, academicians, think tanks and, of course, those crafters of public opinion --- the pundits.

Work on the new book has shown that critics of The FairTax can be divided into two groups; those who deal with the subject honestly, and those who do not. Perhaps we shouldn't have been, but we were amazed to discover that most --- not some, but most --- of the critics of The FairTax have to first lie about the proposal before they launch into their critique. Amazingly enough, the president's tax reform commission took just such a tact. In laymen's terms, the tax reform commission said that while the FairTax idea looks good, there is no way the congress would pass it as written. So the commission then proceeds to re-write the FairTax legislation into a form that it thought the congress might actually pass, and then proceeded to criticize it.

The FairTax is the most thoroughly researched piece of tax reform legislation ever presented to the U.S. Congress. Well over $20 million has been spent on economic and sociological research in putting this plan together, and the research continues to this day. Still, though, we have a tax reform proposal that actually transfers power to the people, and this is just not to be tolerated -- especially by the left. So the procedure is to develop a list of lies and half-truths about the FairTax and then use those lies to go on the attack.

Such is the path that was taken in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Jay Bookman, the deputy editorial page editor. Bookman is a fervent liberal, a huge believer in the cause of big government. Perhaps he's most troubled by the fact that the FairTax would constitute the biggest transfer of power from the government to the people since the formation of this country. He also may be upset that if the FairTax were to become the law of the land politicians would no longer be able to pursue their class warfare goals through tax policy. With the FairTax Jay Bookman would no longer be able to write opinion pieces relating to tax matters with constant references to "the richest 1%" and phrases like "pay their fair share."

So ... why pick on Jay Bookman today? Because he has a column in today's AJC entitled "Fervent faith in FairTax defies reason." First, a small critique. It's "FairTax." One word .. with the F and the T capitalized. No big deal? Well, you could actually read the bill or the book and discover this fact, or a few Google clicks. Besides .. the name is trademarked. I'm sure Mr. Bookman has a great fondness for accuracy .. so this should matter to him.

Wait! Did I say Jay Bookman had a fondness for accuracy? Sorry. By the second paragraph of his column we find out that this is not so. There he is, doing what so many other critics of the FairTax have done, blatantly lying about its terms. Bookman writes "Instead, those taxes will be replaced with a retail sales tax of 30 percent on all services and new goods."

That is flat-out wrong, and he knows it to be flat-out wrong. Bookman has adopted the "first lie, then critique" policy of the FairTax opponents. The FairTax is a 23% inclusive tax, not 30%. The FairTax is a replacement for the income tax, so it is calculated using the same methods we use to calculate the income tax. You know --- comparing apples to apples and all that? I wonder if someone would do me the favor of researching the writings of one Jay Bookman to find out if he ever quotes our income tax on an exclusive basis. If he did, he would find out that the top rate is somewhere well over 50%. But wait! He likes the income tax, so those figures will be reported honestly.

The problem here is that you just know that if a critique of the FairTax contains a blatant and intentional misrepresentation in the second paragraph, there is not much that will follow that can be treated seriously. Sure enough ... in the very next paragraph Bookman says that Congressman Linder has claimed that the FairTax would force prices down by as much as 30%. Wrong again. That figure is closer to 22%.

And so it goes. Misrepresent, then attack. The tactics of the left.

Hey ... here's an idea! I'm up for a fight right now. How about a public debate somewhere? Jay Bookman and me! Look, I've debated Yale tax law professors and former deputy assistant Treasury secretaries on the FairTax, I think I might be able to stand up pretty well against a deputy editorial page editor who finds it necessary to lie about an idea before he can criticize it.

Date and time? We'll work it out!