Archive for Socialism

President Pickpocket

With one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, the US has forced many international companies to shelter their profits overseas. That’s not treason, it’s business. Many have called for the US to cut the tax rate even just to the global average, and give those companies incentive to “repatriate” those profits.

Yet again, we learn how Barack Obama is not most people (those he’s no different from most socialists):

Obama will propose a six-year, $478 billion public-works program for highway, bridge and transit upgrades, with half of it to be financed with a one-time, 14 percent tax on U.S. companies’ overseas profits.

The tax would be due immediately. Under current law, those profits are subject only to federal taxes if they are returned, or repatriated, to the U.S., where they face a top rate of 35 percent. Many companies avoid U.S. taxes on those earnings by simply leaving them overseas.

Oh, come on, B-Huss, last time you asked for almost a trillion for “infrastructure”. You pi**ed it away on filling potholes, and now you can’t even hit half of that? Go big or go home, Mr. President—actually, just go home.

But this is all show. Obama talks big, but can’t do anything. Obloviator proposes, Congress disposes. People may think we’re seeing his true colors, and they may be right. But it’s everything from pathetic to hilarious that True Obama has finally emerged only when he’s become Irrelevant Obama. Soak the rich as a political philosophy? Good luck with that.

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What if the Enemy of My Enemy is Still My Enemy?

Your old pal BTL is in a bit of a quandary. He finds the bloated, smug, distant, and undemocratic rule of the European Union repugnant. Yet he finds the Leftist rebellion against it even worse.

What’s a PhD in schadenfreude to do?

Greece says (in the words of the UK’s Sun) “Up Yours, Delors”:

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis replied that the government would no longer engage with officials representing the country’s despised ‘troika’ of lenders – the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.

Instead, the new government – which swept to power last weekend on a promise of ending years of austerity – would talk directly to other EU leaders to try to write off more than half of Greece’s £179 billion in rescue loans.

In fact, Tsipras was elected because he vowed to reverse the kind of austerity measures prescribed by Berlin.

To which Berlin (which is Europe, let’s be honest) responded, not so schnell, Zorba:

Germany’s Finance Ministry denied that Berlin is ready to discuss a new 20 billion Euro aid package if Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accepted supervised economic reforms.

A spokesman claimed it was ‘pure speculation’, adding: ‘That is not on the agenda at all.’

Norbert Barthle, the parliamentary spokesman on budgetary affairs for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, told the business daily Handelsblatt there would be ‘serious consequences’ if Athens refused to cooperate.

Hearing that from a German must still make European bowels loosen just a bit, nein?

But he clarified:

He said: ‘There are clear rules and we have legal stipulations about the conditions for giving European credit assistance.

‘If Greece can’t accept these conditions, it must find the necessary funding on the capital markets.’

Translation: starve.

Which is good. That’s how a capitalist should answer socialist twaddle. But in addition to hunger pangs, there will be blood. And you know whose blood it almost always is:

A Greek politician who claimed that Jews “don’t pay taxes” has been elected as Defense Minister, Greek media reported Thursday night, amid already-high concerns over rising anti-Semitism in the country that is only expected to worsen following recent elections.

Panos Kammenos of the Syriza party made the comments during an interview with Greek Ant-1 TV, according to New Greek TV, on December 18 – just days after the drive-by shooting at the Israeli Embassy in Athens.

Local Jewish leaders were outraged at the comments.

“It is a disgrace that a leader of a party in Parliament does not know that Greek Jews are equal citizens and subject to the all the rights and obligations of every citizen,” the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece stated in response at the time…

With the utmost affection and respect to my Greek Jewish friends, so the [bleep] what? Weren’t Weimar Germany Jews “equal citizens and subject to the all the rights and obligations of every citizen”? And French Jews? And Polish Jews? And Dutch Jews? And even Greek Jews? You can’t argue away vile antisemitism: as Israel has shown, you kill it dead.

You can see BTL’s derriere pierced by the horns of a dilemma. Which is more detestable—the statist bureaucrats of Brussels (aka Berlin); or the neo-Nazis (short for National Socialists) of the fascist Left? It is with a heavy heart that I must side with gray suits over the brown shirts.

But it may be too late:

Tens of thousands of people have massed in central Madrid for a rally organised by radical Spanish leftists Podemos.

The “March for Change” is one of the party’s first outdoor mass rallies, as it looks to build on the recent victory of its close allies Syriza in Greece.

Podemos has surged into the lead in recent opinion polls, and says it will seek to write off part of Spain’s debt if it wins elections later this year.

Podemos says politicians should “serve the people, not private interests”.

Note to Spanish Jews: you may want to start packing your bolsas de viaje now.

PS: I know we’re hard on British antisemites here, and with good reason. But Britain’s reaction toward the EU’s hegemony has been to push back, and to listen to those arguing for greater distance from Berlin (aka Brussels), namely Nigel Farage’s UKIP. There’s the odd nutter in the party, but the Tories, Labour, and the Lib-Dems are no better, often worse. There’s a certain kind of crazy that effects the continent that doesn’t effect the UK.

PPS: Or does it?

The Church of England has launched an investigation into charges of anti-Semitism made against one of its more controversial vicars, Dr. Stephen Sizer.

Sizer, it would seem, has joined the ranks of what the Americans call “truthers” – those who insist that the truth has been concealed regarding who was behind the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Most truthers promote theories that the US government itself was behind the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. But Sizer has endorsed a smaller group of truthers who, in medieval blood libel fashion, say the Jews did it.

Sizer this week posted to Facebook a link to an article titled “9/11 Israel did it.” In text accompanying the link, Sizer wondered, “Is this anti-Semitic?” Whether or not it is didn’t seem to matter to Sizer, in whose mind the link in question “raises so many questions.”

PPPS: Never mind:

Britons feel more “unfavorable” to Israel than any other country worldwide except North Korea, a survey found.

The survey — taken in August and published Thursday by Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs — showed a massive surge in negative attitudes toward Israel since the previous such study, two years earlier. Thirty-five percent of Britons said they “feel especially unfavorable towards” Israel in the 2014 survey, compared to 17% in 2012.

That figure meant that Israel is regarded more unfavorably by Britons than Iran — 33% in the 2014 survey, compared to 45% in 2012. Only North Korea fares worse — regarded as especially unfavorable by 47% in 2014, compared to 40% in 2012.

At least Britain doesn’t have antisemitic politicians spewing ignorant hate speech.

PPPPS: Never mind—again:

Baroness Jenny Tonge, a member of Britain’s House of Lords with a long record of inflammatory, often antisemitic, statements against both Israel and the British Jewish leadership, has again been pressuring British Jews to collectively condemn Israel.

Earlier this week, Tonge tabled a written question in the House of Lords in which she asked “Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to encourage Jewish faith leaders in the United Kingdom publicly to condemn settlement building by Israel and to make clear their support for universal human rights.”

Tonge’s question, which comes against the background of rising antisemitism in the UK, was quickly condemned by Jewish campaigners.

Jonathan Sacerdoti of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, which recently published a disturbing survey about the current levels of antisemitism in the UK, told The Algemeiner that the “widely accepted” definition of antisemitism coined by the European Union Monitoring Center “specifies that it is antisemitic to hold Jews collectively responsible for any action of the State of Israel.”

“Baroness Tonge has a long history of making these sorts of remarks,” Sacerdoti said. “It is despicable to see her using the House of Lords to try to harass Jewish people.”

I think I’ve said enough. I’ve certainly read enough.

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Detached and Deranged

Muslim terrorists slaughter 17 in Paris, and Obama responds vigorously:

Today, the President unveiled a new proposal: Make two years of community college free for responsible students across America.

Muslim terrorists in Nigeria plunder and pillage a village, killing hundreds, and Obama leaps to defend freedom:

President Obama has revealed that he will be pushing for the Healthy Families Act (which, given that it’s about paid sick leave, should be the Unhealthy Families Act, surely?) to become law.

Muslim terrorists in Syraq (or is it Iraqia?) post a video showing a child hacking off the heads of two prisoners, and Obama says no mas:

Yesterday, President Obama announced that he is challenging the federal government to remove all unnecessary regulatory barriers to broadband build-out and competition, and is establishing a new Broadband Opportunity Council. The council will bring together more than a dozen government agencies with the singular goal of speeding broadband deployment and improving access in areas that need it most.

It’s like he’s in a different movie. It’s one thing to not say the phrase “Muslim terrorists”, but to pretend that they’re not there? Setting aside any value in his proposals, aren’t they a little weird in context of daily headlines? Don’t they come from an alternate reality?

As for the proposals themselves, community college wouldn’t be free: every taxpayer would pay for it. At a time when the value of a bachelor’s degree is barely worth the paper its printed on. It’s just child care for the post-child set. Paid sick leave is fine, but to mandate it? Ask a small business owner how that would work out. And the next time he “remove[s] all unnecessary regulatory barriers” to anything will be the first. That’ll be the day.

I would ask what inanity he was going to come up with next, but I don’t want to know. They’re all accompanied by acts of Muslim terror.

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What Was That All About?

An occasional series here to stop and reconsider a one-time big ruckus, now forgotten—a journalistic ghost town, if you will. ObamaCare in two years’ time, for example.

Or France’s 75% tax rate:

It was supposed to force millionaires to pay tax rates of up to 75 percent: “Cuba without the sun,” as described by a critic from the banking industry. Socialist President Francois Hollande’s super tax was rejected by a court, rewritten and ultimately netted just a sliver of its projected proceeds. It ends on Wednesday and will not be renewed.

And that critic of the tax? He’s now Hollande’s economy minister, trying mightily to undo the damage to France’s image in international business circles.

The tax of 75 percent on income earned above one million euros ($1.22 million) was promoted in 2012 by the newly-elected Hollande as a symbol of a fairer policy for the middle class, a financial contribution of the wealthiest at a time of economic crisis.

But the government was never able to fully implement the measure. It was overturned by France’s highest court and rewritten as a 50 percent tax paid by employers.

Faced with a stalling economy and rising unemployment, the government reversed course in 2014 with a plan to cut payroll taxes by up to 40 billion euros ($49 billion) by 2017, hoping to boost hiring and attract more investments.

Cutting taxes to boost hiring and investment—those crazy French. When’s the next Jerry Lewis film festival, Marcel?

Où sont les taxes d’antan? Loosely translated: what was that all about?

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Has Anybody Here Seen My Old Friend Hugo?

Aw, woozums:

The mural above Ana Caona’s head in the gritty Caracas slum known as 23rd of January is no ordinary depiction of the Last Supper. Instead of disciples, the figures flanking Jesus Christ are rebel figures such as Mao, Lenin and Hugo Chávez.

Yet despite these symbols of revolutionary commitment, Ms Caona is disenchanted with Venezuela’s socialist government as it grapples with falling oil prices and an economy ravaged by inflation, shortages and corruption.

“There are internecine fights, micro-powers within the revolution, everyone defending their interests,” complains this member of one of Venezuela’s militias, called colectivos, which consider themselves keepers of socialism’s sacred flame and also sometimes act as auxiliary state security forces.

Ms Caona illuminates a growing public disaffection with President Nicolas Maduro’s government as oil prices have slid 40 per cent since June. She says her colectivo has taken to delivering food staples around the neighbourhood so that supplies are not “mishandled by corrupt forces”.

“Socialism’s sacred flame”: I think I see your problem. Their ain’t nothing sacred about socialism. Since when did The Last Supper depict Jesus sitting at a table full of Judases?

Rather the article makes clear that Venezuela’s system is the croniest of crony capitalism. Which worked (up to a point) when oil was at $130 a barrel, but not so much when it’s less than half that. Enjoy the fall, commies. It’s not half bad until the end.

PS: Why is Ben Stiller at the table, three seats to the left of Jesus?

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Coming Soon to a Health Care System Near You

They say smoking and obesity are bad for your health—and they aim to prove it!

Obese patients and smokers face an immediate ban on routine operations according to a major NHS clinical commissioning group.

In a statement it said: ‘The CCG decided that for those patients undergoing hip and knee operations with a body mass index of more than 35 (morbidly obese) they patient would be required to have a BMI of under 35 or to lose five per cent of their weight before planned surgery, whichever is the lesser weight loss.’

The new restrictions will be extended to all non-urgent surgical procedures, however, it will not apply to cancer treatment or urgent cases.

I would say that’s big-hearted of them, but that might lose them their coverage. I can sort of understand the joint replacement requirement to lose weight. Recovery from the operation might be nigh on to impossible if one is morbidly obese. But how does smoking matter? Of course no one should smoke. But it’s not illegal.

Dr Burke said that he was being forced to curtail some services because the CCG is currently running a deficit of £14.5 million.

He said he was now going to restrict access to second hearing aids as well as certain expensive drugs.

Put down the chip butty, Nigel, or kiss that hearing aid goodbye.

‘The CCG has a legal duty to live within its financial resources and the prioritisation of services is helping us to do that.’

My waking nightmare is that the last words I hear on this earth are are those, from Kathleen Sebelius’s mouth.

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Another ObamaCare Success Story [UPDATED]

Right up there with Supreme Court fights, canceled plans, un-kept doctors (period), and the fiasco that was and is Healthcare.gov:

One in three Americans say they have put off getting medical treatment that they or their family members need because of cost. Although this percentage is in line with the roughly 30% figures seen in recent years, it is among the highest readings in the 14-year history of Gallup asking the question.

Last year, many hoped that the opening of the government healthcare exchanges and the resulting increase in the number of Americans with health insurance would enable more people to seek medical treatment. But, despite a drop in the uninsured rate, a slightly higher percentage of Americans than in previous years report having put off medical treatment, suggesting that the Affordable Care Act has not immediately affected this measure.

Then there’s this nugget:

If the goal of ObamaCare was to give the poor more access to health care, Mission Accomplished: those making less than $30,000 and those on Medicaid showed improvement on these scores.

And if the goal was to give that access to the poor at the expense of the middle class, Mission Also Accomplished. Everybody else suffered. Everybody. These numbers explain not only the truth of ObamaCare, but the story of the recent elections.

Yet again, I am forced to ask: what was the point of ObamaCare? More and more I am forced to answer, to take from the barely-making-it and give to the hardly-even-trying. Even if we thought that was noble or even worthwhile, did we need to hijack one-six of the nation’s economy?

Silly BTL, hijacking one-sixth of the nation’s economy was the goal. Any benefit to the poor—which could have been accomplished by any number of easier fixes—was merely the means to an end.

PS: It ain’t just hangnails we’re postponing:

If these stats make you sick to your stomach, I wouldn’t put off seeing your doc.

UPDATE
How could I forget this success?

Health insurance giants are eating up a bigger slice of the marketplace in most states, despite intense efforts under ObamaCare to increase competition.

The three largest insurance companies held an average of 86 percent of customers in the individual market last year, up from 83 percent in 2010, when the healthcare reform act was passed, according to a Monday report from the Government Accountability Office.

The report found that the marketplace remained highly concentrated from 2010-2013, the latest year data was available, which shows the nation’s slow progress to dislodge long-standing insurance monopolies under the Affordable Care Act.

The findings are a blow to the Obama administration, which has touted lower costs and more options for millions across the country under the healthcare law.

Bull[bleep]. “A blow to the Obama administration”? They wrote the damn bill, and interpret it any damn way they choose. This is by intent, by design. How dare you insult this wise and marvelous man by declaring his signature achievement an abject failure. That’s my job.

Obama couldn’t have passed the law without the consent of the insurance companies. They had to know that their profits were assured—and what fat-cat would oppose the mandated addition of more clients to their roster? If it weren’t for crony capitalism, Obama wouldn’t believe in capitalism at all.

They’ll rue the day, however, they ever got into bed with him. Whatever the capitalist equivalent to herpes, crabs, HPV, HIV, and chlamydia, they’ll get them all. Those valued profits will be their undoing, and socialized medicine will be all that’s left.

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Great Orators of the Democrat Party

Move over, Stephen (Kansas Nebraska) Douglas and Robert (Exalted Cyclops) Byrd—this is a new generation:

Elizabeth Warren:

Barack Obama:

And now Hillary Clinton:

I don’t know if Bill Clinton brought arithmetic to Washington, but he brought a ruler. Maybe six inches on a good day, and slightly bent to the left.

I don’t scare easy, but this is straight Marxist-Leninist ideology. What else of that toxic creed do they secretly, or not so secretly, think? I mean, when do the firing squads commence?

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Kinda Ironic

Don’t you think?

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has defended the seizure of a factory owned by US-based company Clorox.

“Socialist formula: any company that’s abandoned will be taken over by the working class,” Mr Maduro said.

Cleaning products maker Clorox closed its production facilities in Venezuela last week, saying government-imposed price freezes were crippling it.

Not even bleach can clean the caked grime on the “socialist paradise” that Chavez built.

Clorox, which sells bleach and other household cleaning products in Venezuela, announced in a statement on 22 September that it would cease its operations there immediately and try to sell its assets.

It cited as its reason government price controls on its products, which it said had led to millions of dollars in losses.

The statement said that for nearly three years, the company had had to sell more than two-thirds of its products at fixed prices which did not cover its production costs, which had been driven up by skyrocketing inflation.

It also said recent price increases “were nowhere near sufficient”.

Venezuela earlier this month announced that its annual inflation rate had reached 63.4%.

We want three digits! We want three digits! (They’ll probably have it by the time you read this.) Only a socialist country could have 63% inflation when prices are “fixed”.

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Number 32 With a Bullet

To the head:

On Monday the Tax Foundation, which manages the widely followed State Business Tax Climate Index, will launch a new global benchmark, the International Tax Competitiveness Index. According to the foundation, the new index measures “the extent to which a country’s tax system adheres to two important principles of tax policy: competitiveness and neutrality.”

A competitive tax code is one that limits the taxation of businesses and investment. Since capital is mobile and businesses can choose where to invest, tax rates that are too high “drive investment elsewhere, leading to slower economic growth,” as the Tax Foundation puts it.

The index takes into account more than 40 tax policy variables. And the inaugural ranking puts the U.S. at 32nd out of 34 industrialized countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

One small correction: the authors of the study list Slovenia and Slovakia separately when everyone knows they’re the same thing. And is there really a Switzerland and a Sweden? Someone should clean that up.

Aside from that, however:

Any day now the White House and Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) will attempt to raise taxes on business, while making the U.S. tax code even more complex. The Obama and Schumer plans to punish businesses for moving their legal domicile overseas will arrive even as a new international ranking shows that the U.S. tax burden on business is close to the worst in the industrialized world. Way to go, Washington.

With the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate at over 39% including state levies, plus a rare demand that money earned overseas should be taxed as if it were earned domestically, the U.S. is almost in a class by itself. It ranks just behind Spain and Italy, of all economic humiliations. America did beat Portugal and France, which is currently run by an avowed socialist.

The new ranking is especially timely coming amid the campaign led by Messrs. Obama and Schumer to punish companies that move their legal domicile overseas to be able to reinvest future profits in the U.S. without paying the punitive American tax rate. If they succeed, the U.S. could fall to dead last on next year’s ranking. Now there’s a second-term legacy project for the President.

And people wonder why Recovery Summer V has been no more successful than Recover Summers I-IV. (People wonder, but the media seem not to.)

But get a load of this remedy. Are you sitting down?

Rather than erecting an iron tax curtain that keeps U.S. companies from escaping, the White House and Congress should enact reform that invites more businesses to stay or move to the U.S.

OMG! You are one bad-ass newspaper, WSJ. Next you’ll be arguing for a cut in the capital gains tax rate:

A rising tide lifts all boats, but Obama warned us that the tide would stop rising if he were elected president. One promise he kept.

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Cherokee Note Speaker

I clicked on this link to read about Liz Warren’s latest populist screed, and a Geico commercial featuring a pig named Maxwell started playing. Not kidding.

Of course, when you think about it…

It must be Maxwell’s high cheekbones.

Senator Elizabeth Warren says she picked up a lot of her feistiness from reading Nancy Drew novels as a kid. Today she believes the most important mystery to solve is how to get the American economy working for someone other than billionaires.

It’s a message she’s been taking all over the country, and she isn’t afraid to call banks, credit card companies and some employers cheats and tricksters.

“The biggest financial institutions figured out they could make a lot of money by cheating people on mortgages, credit cards and payday loans,” she told a packed auditorium at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where she spoke alongside New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. [I bet that duo sold more tickets than did Simon and Garfunkel’s Central Park reunion. Ed.]

The Democrat from Massachusetts even said the market is broken in many regards.

Actually, Lieawatha, they make more money on regular mortgages, credit cards, and loans. Especially when you figure in the enormous fines incurred by the “bad apple” financial institutions. The “market” sounds like it’s working fine.

But let’s [yawn] hear her out:

Warren was the driving force behind the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after the 2008 financial crisis. The agency has returned billions of dollars to Americans who were wronged.

“Traffic works better with traffic lights,” she explained.

What about if the traffic cops are crooked?

The Washington Times, citing congressional investigators, internal documents, and interviews with employees, reports that workers at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed 115 official grievances through the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) in 2013 alone.

Among the complaints are that managers retaliated against employees for comments or questions that they didn’t like by denying vacation time, refusing internal requests for promotion, and hiring unqualified acquaintances who would have to be trained by employees in lower positions.

“Certain managers have adopted an authoritarian, untouchable, unaccountable and unanswerable management style,” CFPB enforcement attorney Angela Martin told Congress earlier this year.

More seriously, according to the Times, Martin’s testimony alleged the existence of an entire department at the CFPB nicknamed “The Plantation” that is staffed almost entirely of black workers supervised by white managers with no obvious promotional track.

“There is an entire section in Consumer Response Intake that is 100 percent African-American, even the contractors, and it is called ‘The Plantation,'” Martin said. “And people tell me it’s very hard to leave The Plantation. You must be extremely savvy, or you must [have] somebody else [help you] to get out.

Not even the traffic cops in Ferguson, MO talk this way!

And this only makes our case better than we could ourselves: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.”

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The People Who Brought You the Weekend…and Low Productivity

I could not let Labor Day pass without my own tribute to the sacrifices made by the working men and women of this country.

I’m so sorry you had to sit through this:

Vice President Joe Biden railed against corporations in a combative Labor Day Parade speech in Detroit with union bosses and their members in attendance – speaking with such passion that even when he made up the name of a fictional historical American president the crowd applauded.

“Why do CEO’s now make 333 times more money than the line worker when back when [WAGER?] was president, they made 25 times what the line worker,” Biden said (10:40). “What happened? What happened?”

President who? Wager? President Way-gur? Did the vice president start saying “Reagan” and then realize halfway through that he shouldn’t? Or did he just make the name up?

But it wasn’t the text that tripped Biden up. It was the optics.

Untitled

Even on Labor Day, it’s not a good look to appear next to someone named “Jimmy” and “Hoffa”.

This is how you do populism for the folks:

We used to call that a “work shirt”. I don’t know what made it a work shirt, but it had to be blue. Check.

But what about the background guys, so heavily vetted by the Obama PR machine? AFSCME I get: American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. SEIU in green shirts, instead of purple.

But what about the guy in the red shirt with the clenched fist? What’s that all about? I thought Obama was the first Post-Clenched-Fist™ president.

And the symbolism! Soviet Communism, anyone?

A-ha!

Now it all makes sense.

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