Wednesday Mashup (4/7/10)

  • 1) I don’t know if anyone else has noticed besides yours truly, but Dana (“Mouthpiece Theater”) Milbank of the WaPo has been on a roll (including here, on what you could call a taxing matter – maybe I should have saved this for April 15th, but I thought it couldn’t wait – Milbank is a bit tasteful with his snark here also)…

    You thought only conservatives got mad about taxes?

    Tea partiers, eat your hearts out: A group of liberals got together Tuesday and proved that they, too, can have a tax rebellion. But theirs is a little bit different: They want to pay more taxes.

    “I’m in favor of higher taxes on people like me,” declared Eric Schoenberg, who is sitting on an investment banking fortune. He complained about “my absurdly low tax rates.”

    “We’re calling on other wealthy taxpayers to join us,” said paper-mill heir Mike Lapham, “to send the message to Congress and President Obama that it’s time to roll back the tax cuts on upper-income taxpayers.”

    “I would with pleasure sacrifice the income,” agreed millionaire entrepreneur Jeffrey Hollender.

    The rich are different.

    In another era, the millionaires on Tuesday’s conference call might have been called “limousine liberals.” But that label no longer applies. Now any wealthy liberal worth his certified-organic sea salt is driving a Prius.

    Among families earning more than $250,000, fully 64 percent favor raising taxes on themselves. This part was surprising — but possibly suspect. Only 65 of the 1,907 people polled were in that income group, too small a sample for solid conclusions.

    Still, the millionaires on the call get credit for putting (some of) their money where their mouths are. They are among 50 families with net assets of more than $1 million to take a “tax fairness” pledge — donating the amount they saved from Bush tax cuts to organizations fighting for the repeal of the Bush tax cuts. According to a study by Spectrem Group, 7.8 million households in the United States have assets of more than $1 million — so that leaves 7,799,950 millionaire households yet to take the pledge.

    Well, a journey of a thousand miles, as they say…

    And on the matter of tax rates versus economic prosperity, Matt Yglesias (via Steve Benen and John Cole) tells us here about how those oh-so-horrible “soak the rich” rates during the years of the Clinton Administration led to economic prosperity, while “three periods of ultra-low taxes were followed by a budget crisis (Reagan) and catastrophic global economic collapse (Coolidge-Hoover, Bush).”

    Also, let’s not forget the myriad tax loopholes available to the “pay no price, bear no burden” investor class, some of which are noted here.

  • Update 7/21/10: A little late with this I know, but this is another good column by Milbank on Arizona governor Jan Brewer and her “illegal to be brown” law (cringing when I think of the wankery to come to make up for this).

  • 2) This tells us that, apparently, the new Obama-sponsored “boogeyman” for the wingnuts (tiring of Craig Becker, Kevin Jennings and Dawn Johnsen, apparently) is Goodwin Liu, a University of California at Berkeley law professor nominated by President Obama for the Court of Appeals for the Ninth District….

    On Tuesday, Liu sent 117 items to the (Senate Judiciary Committee), a “supplement” to an earlier questionnaire he filled out on his record, including articles he wrote and events in which he participated but neglected to include in his original submission. The committee’s seven Republicans — led by ranking member Jeff Sessions (Ala.) — responded with a scathing letter to panel Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.).

    “At best, this nominee’s extraordinary disregard for the Committee’s constitutional role demonstrates incompetence; at worst, it creates the impression that he knowingly attempted to hide his most controversial work from the Committee,” they wrote. “Professor Liu’s unwillingness to take seriously his obligation to complete these basic forms is potentially disqualifying and has placed his nomination in jeopardy.”

    As Mark Hamill (I believe) voiced once as The Joker in a “Batman” cartoon, this would be hilarious if it weren’t so pathetic (hey, have to work in my pop culture references where I can, you know?).


    I have a question for Jeff Sessions; do you member Miguel Estrada?

    As noted here in this “News Hour With Jim Lehrer” segment, Estrada was submitted by the prior ruling cabal to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. However, as noted by Charles Schumer in the interview, “the White House told him not to answer questions, not to give up certain documents that would show his views on key issues that affect millions of Americans, workers’ rights, and the right to privacy, and the First Amendment, and environmental rights.”

    Sessions of course disagreed with that, saying “Miguel Estrada did answer questions, and he did not turn over the internal memorandum of the U.S. Department of Justice Solicitor General’s Office, for which he worked, because they were not his documents.” Still, though, that leaves the question unanswered; how the hell is the Senate supposed to evaluate the fitness of a judge if there’s no paper trail? Strictly on his or her say-so? Do you seriously mean to tell me that the DoJ couldn’t have allowed the documents in question to be reviewed by the Judiciary Committee?

    So, as far as Sessions is concerned, Estrada is fine even though, when pressed about the typical hot-button issues as a right to privacy, he said “I can’t answer these questions because it might violate Canon Five of the legal ethics, which says you can’t talk about a pending case” (interesting dodge). But Liu showed “incompetence” when he sent 117 items to the Senate Judiciary Committee, a “supplement” to an earlier questionnaire he filled out on his record?

    Give me a break.

  • Update: More from Media Matters here…

  • 3) Finally, I have an update on the Repug gubernatorial primary in PA and DA Tom Corbett’s boneheaded decision to join other attorneys general in this country in a lawsuit to try and overturn recently-signed-into-law health care reform (seems the stupidity is contagious…as noted here, PA State House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans threatened to cut off funds to Corbett’s office in response).

    I will give Evans the benefit of the doubt that he’s trying to watch over taxpayer funds here, but despite the idiocy of what Corbett is trying to do, the best thing to do in response is to let the lawsuit die the natural death for which it is destined.

    However, because Evans “took the bait,” Corbett has – you guessed it! – turned the whole idiotic dustup into a campaign fundraising pitch (here).

    So the Repugs and Corbett played a bit of “rope-a-dope,” and Evans went for it (I believe Evans is a good man and a good public official, though he doesn’t have much in the way of political instincts if this ultra-dumb episode is any indication).

  • Update 4/8/10: Corbett sure keeps interesting company (here).

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