Aren’t you glad that today is April 15th? Have you paid your taxes yet? The answer to that is yes, you have paid your taxes. Every time you got your paycheck, you were also paying your taxes since they were withheld from you automatically. But have you filed your tax return yet? The good news is that the due date for tax filing this year is April 18th. TGIF!

For your entertainment, here are two videos. The first comes from ReasonTV about why you should pay your taxes.

Failure to pay taxes leads to Obama!

The next comes from Disney Studios as part of the war effort. Can you spot what really dates this cartoon? Hint: it’s not the anti-German or anti-Japanese stand.

What dates this cartoon is the discussion of saving money so taxes can be paid four times a year: March 15th, June 15th, September 15th, and December 15th. Because of the need for ready cash, tax collection was changed during World War II from quarterly payments to automatic deductions from the people’s paychecks. There is an unfortunate side effect of automatic payroll deductions, as explained by a government article:

Another important feature of the income tax that changed was the return to income tax withholding as had been done during the Civil War. This greatly eased the collection of the tax for both the taxpayer and the Bureau of Internal Revenue. However, it also greatly reduced the taxpayer’s awareness of the amount of tax being collected, i.e. it reduced the transparency of the tax, which made it easier to raise taxes in the future.

The top income tax rate rose from 68% in 1940 to 88% in 1942 to an astounding 94% in 1944. What sort of incentive does a hard-working business owner have to spend more time in the office or expand his business if his reward is the joy of being allowed to keep a mere six cents out of every dollar he earns? “But the rich should pay more than they already do! After all, they can afford it!” Yes, I have heard this cry from liberals. And most of the time they demand that “the rich” should pay more taxes. Rarely do liberals call for their own taxes to go up, but sometimes it happens. Author Stephen King asked a rally in Florida, “As a rich person, I pay 28 percent tax… what I want to ask you is, why am I not paying 50?”

That’s a good question. Why isn’t he paying more? If he really wants to pay more in taxes, nothing’s stopping him from voluntarily giving more money to the government. Does he need the heavy hand of government to force him (and everyone else, regardless of their personal inclinations) to pay more taxes?

Based on his own words, I guess he does. But he certainly doesn’t speak for me.

Believe it or not, Hamas has been using a Mickey Mouse look-alike called “Farfur” to peddle their Jew-hating message. I can imagine it now. . .

And now at the Mickey Hamouse Club, it’s time to practice saying goodbye…

M – I – C “See you later!”
K – E – Y “Why? Because we hate Jews!”
M – O – U – S *BOOM!*

Reality is just as strange. In the video below, you can see Farfur get caught for cheating on his test. And why did he cheat? Why, it’s all the Jews’ fault, of course:

Why did you cheat?

It was against my will, uncle Hazem, because the Jews destroyed our home, and when the Jews destroyed our home, I couldn’t find my notebooks.

Yeah, and the dog ate my homework, too. Sheesh. But the next part of the video is also instructive.

By Allah’s will, we will promote through Islam good, love and justice. Ask history, and ask the Jews, did they ever live in a time period better than the one they live under Islam. And ask the Christians how their security was assured in the churches and monasteries.

I guess the suicide bombings are just part of Islam’s “good, love and justice.” As for security for Christians in their churches, Hazem must think that the Church of the Nativity was attacked by Buddhists instead of the Muslim Palestinians who held it for 38 days in 2002. While he may believe his own propaganda, some of us remember history.

Cox and Forkum do a great job, as usual, in showing the absurdity of Palestinians using a Mickey Mouse-like figure to teach the children.

Hamas Kindergarten

The other day I was playing Asheron’s Call, a fun online game that my wife calls Asheron’s Crack for reasons I’ll leave up to the reader to discern. A group of eight or nine of us had ventured to a rather nasty section of the Dires to slay some difficult monsters. Our aim was simple: to slay as many fly-ridden Lugians as we could and maximize the amount of experience per hour we could earn, so we could improve our skills. To maximize our chances of success, we were grouped together. The leader of our fellowship was a character called Code-Red, and it was soon apparent that she had problems associating with several of the other players. My friend Tan Po and I noticed that all the other members of the fellowship got along just fine, but Code-Red kept having issues with various people. To paraphrase her own words, “There’s a bunch of jerks around today.”

Two women, old friends, met up again after having lost track of each other for many years, and started to catch up on each other’s lives. Out came the family pictures. During this reunion, one of the women was surprised to find out that her friend had been married and divorced multiple times. Her surprised comment was, “Wow! You married all those guys, and each one of them turned out to be a jerk!”

One of the things I learned from growing up in a military family is that time is short. I came to expect that my family would stay somewhere between one and three years in any place. I learned how to make friends quickly because if I waited too long, either I or the other person would be gone. Every place we lived was the best place to be, and the people around us were the nicest people. But I have met other former military brats who never had it that good. As the military transferred them around the globe, they were always sent to the worst hell-holes. To make matters worse, every time they moved, they had the rottenest luck to be transferred right into the midst of a bunch of jerks. Every time.

In the early ’80s, the Walt Disney Company was in trouble. Its first animated feature film of the decade–actually, its first animated feature film since 1977–was the critically-panned The Fox and the Hound, and it wouldn’t be followed by anything until the release of The Black Cauldron four years later. Neither of these titles did much to improve Disney’s standing in the entertainment world. It was almost as if the company had run out of steam, too tired to do anything really interesting.

Enter Michael D. Eisner from Paramount Pictures. Eisner took the reins at Disney in 1984; during his run, the Disney corporation grew from a $2 billion company to a $58 billion behemoth in 2005. Under Eisner, the animation department has turned out blockbusters such as Finding Nemo, The Lion King, The Incredibles, Monsters Inc., Toy Story 2, Aladdin, Toy Story, and Beauty and the Beast. That’s a pretty impressive group of movies. I listed them in the order they appear in the Top 100 grossing movies of all time (as of this writing).

But not all is well in the Mouse House. Eisner took home $737 million from 1996 – 2001 as Disney’s CEO. That’s a pretty penny for any company to spend. And if you add to that figure just two examples of situations where Eisner has cost Disney, the amount goes up past the one billion dollar mark. Eisner picked Michael Ovitz to replace Disney president Frank Wells, who died in a helicopter crash in 1994. But a year later Ovitz was out, with a severance package of about $90 million. I wouldn’t mind being fired from my job if I could walk away with a golden parachute of that size. (Fire me now! Please!) Eisner also had personality clashes with the former Disney studio head, Jeffrey Katzenberg. The primary creative force behind the Disney animation renaissance, Katzenberg was awarded $250 million for broken contractual agreements, and he went off to become the K in Dreamworks SKG, an entertainment empire in direct competition with Disney.

Eisner is also having very public issues with the Weinstein brothers of Miramax Pictures, a Disney subsidiary. This breakup has been compared to a messy divorce with children involved. Each side is pointing various fingers at the other and calling the other jerks. The end result is that the brains behind the Miramax label will soon be out of Eisner’s control.

Another blow is hammering away at Eisner’s continued control of Disney: the Pixar debacle. The Pixar animation team has one more movie that it is contractually obligated to create for Disney, and then the company is free to produce movies for itself. This is not only a major creative loss for Disney, but a serious financial blow as well. Pixar has been a huge cash cow for Disney; in the above-mentioned list of animated Disney movies which make the top 100, five of the eight are Pixar creations. And the loss of Pixar falls squarely on Eisner’s shoulders.

If you saw The Incredibles in theaters, you probably noticed the Pixar short that preceded it–a brief cartoon called Boundin’. Some have been puzzled by this short. As Pixar shorts go, it isn’t nearly as funny as Geri’s Game, For the Birds, or Knick Knack. But the lovely and talented wife sees Boundin’ as an allegory of Pixar and its soured relationship with Disney. *Spoiler Warning* The lamb could be seen as Pixar getting fleeced by Disney for all it is worth. Then along comes wise advice in the shape of the Jackalope, who could be the ghost of Walt Disney, telling the shorn sheep to buck up and to bounce back from the misfortunes. The interesting thing is that Pixar was able to put this allegory past the Disney people, including Eisner.

So Michael Eisner was successful in pulling Disney up from the doldrums where it was languishing in the ’70s and early ’80s, turning it into an entertainment powerhouse, but he continues to have run-ins with creative, talented people. When they inevitably knock heads, Eisner gives them the boot. I guess that’s what you do when you are surrounded by jerks.

There is an old phrase that keeps coming to mind as I think about these stories: “If everyone around you is a jerk, then maybe, just maybe, it’s you.”