Colbert on Taking One’s Oath Seriously

Stephen Colbert is America’s most thoughtful supplier of late-night comedy. Last night, he gave a heartfelt thank you to Sen. Mitt Romney for voting to remove the “monstrous child in the White House”; excoriated Romney’s Republican colleagues for ignoring their solemn oaths to do “impartial justice”; and said some funny stuff too.

Note: The Romney family once took a trip with their dog in a crate on the roof of their car. More famously, Mr. Romney was defeated in the 2012 presidential election by Barack Obama, who Mr. Colbert definitely voted for.

Sophistry

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “sophistry” as “the use of clever but false arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving”.

Consider, for example, the statement on Mitt Romney’s official website that says he wants to “make permanent, across-the-board 20 percent cut in marginal (income tax) rates”.

So if you make a lot of money and the last dollar you earn is now taxed at a rate of 35%, your new, lower rate will be 28%. That will lower your taxes by quite a large amount, especially if you earn a million dollars or more.

If you don’t make so much money, and your last dollar is taxed at a rate of 25%, your new rate will be 20%. Your marginal rate will go down by 5%. Not bad, but the high earner’s rate will go down by 7%. That’s how percentages work.

It certainly sounds like Romney is advocating a big tax cut for the highest earners, bigger as both a percentage of income and as a dollar amount.

At the last debate, however, Governor Romney said: “The top 5 percent will continue to pay 60 percent, as they do today. I’m not looking to cut taxes for wealthy people. I am looking to cut taxes for middle-income people.”

Well, if he’s not looking to cut taxes for wealthy people, he’s made a grievous error.

But wait — the top 5% will continue to pay 60% of all income taxes! Doesn’t that mean that the high earners aren’t getting a tax cut at all?

Of course not. Since the total amount of taxes being paid will go down, the top 5% will still pay 60% of that smaller total. At the same time, they will receive a big tax cut on their “earned” income, much bigger in fact than low earners.

As Bill Clinton said today, someone running for President thinks we’re dumb. No surprise, it’s Mitt Romney, sophist.

The Moment That Will Be Remembered

I couldn’t bring myself to watch the presidential debate last night — I’d get too angry when one guy was talking, and too frustrated when the other guy was, plus there’s the annoying moderator.

But the debate has already generated one memorable moment, possibly the one that will stick in people’s memories for a long time:

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For more evidence, scroll through this:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/10/04/1140178/-For-those-who-don-t-think-Romney-s-Big-Bird-moment-is-a-major-thing

Final Thoughts on What Romney Said

There’s been a lot of commentary on Romney’s 47% remarks. What I haven’t seen anyone pointing out is how plain dumb his remarks were.

He said that the people who are totally committed to voting for Obama are the same people who don’t pay Federal income tax.¬†

He knows, of course, that there are plenty of people with well-paying ¬†jobs who would never consider voting for him. Many of these people live in states like California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Illinois. These states are home to lots of “liberal elitists” who the Republicans like to complain about. So his claim makes no sense, even from a right-wing perspective.

He also said that the people in this supposed group don’t take responsibility for their own lives. There are some such people, of course, but they are clearly a much smaller group than committed Obama voters and the people who don’t owe Federal income tax.

How could an apparently intelligent person like Romney say something so stupid? My guess is that he was simply engaging in some right-wing stream of consciousness while pandering to his wealthy contributors. If they took a moment to think about it, everyone in the room would understand that, literally speaking, his statements were false. But it would be great fun to hear him insult liberal Democrats, low-income people and welfare cheats by lumping them all together. His absurd remarks reveal as much about his audience as they do about him.