Wednesday Mashup (4/7/10)

April 7, 2010

  • 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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    More Wingnut Wrangling Over The Miranda “Bogeyman”

    February 10, 2010

    This is almost too stupid for words, but I believe it needs to be addressed.

    Via Irrational Spew Online, Byron York over at The Washington Examiner sayeth the following (here, in the matter of whether or not reading the Miranda rights to the Christmas pants bomber supposedly caused him to go quiet, which John Podesta recently commented on here)…

    …(Obama) and his administration are still trying to justify their actions in the Detroit case. “They’re changing their story constantly to try to defend their tactics,” says a knowledgeable source on Capitol Hill.

    For example, we know that the FBI interrogated Abdulmutallab for just 50 minutes before Attorney General Eric Holder decided to advise the suspect of his Miranda rights to remain silent and to have a court-appointed attorney. After that, Abdulmutallab shut up.

    Republicans hit the administration hard on that point, especially when the White House made the unbelievable claim that agents had gotten every last bit of valuable information from Abdulmutallab in that brief talk. In response to GOP criticism, administration officials leaked the story that Abdulmutallab actually stopped talking before being read his Miranda rights, meaning Holder’s decision was not to blame for cutting off the brief flow of intelligence.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, say knowledgeable sources on Capitol Hill. “It is totally false that he had stopped cooperating and then they made the decision to Mirandize him,” says one GOP source. “They made the decision, and then they weren’t trying to question him any more.”

    (By the way, one would assume this is a news report from the way it’s structured, but it’s actually editorial commentary, and it should be labeled as such.)

    In response, John Brennan, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, said the following here…

    The Republicans have been trying to score political points on “terrorism” by, among other things, suggesting that the FBI, which has obtained information from the Christmas bomber without torture, should not have been allowed to question him.

    Brennan calls them out:

    Politics should never get in the way of national security. But too many in Washington are now misrepresenting the facts to score political points, instead of coming together to keep us safe.

    Immediately after the failed Christmas Day attack, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was thoroughly interrogated and provided important information. Senior counterterrorism officials from the White House, the intelligence community and the military were all actively discussing this case before he was Mirandized and supported the decision to charge him in criminal court.

    And York actually mentions Brennan in his column, but check out how York spins what Brennan has to say…

    Brennan said he called four top GOP lawmakers — Sens. Mitch McConnell and Christopher Bond and Reps. John Boehner and Peter Hoekstra — on Christmas night, just hours after Abdulmutallab tried to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253. Brennan said he told the Republicans that the FBI had a suspect in custody; from that, Brennan claimed, the lawmakers should have inferred that Abdulmutallab would be read his Miranda rights.

    “None of those individuals raised any concerns with me at that point,” Brennan said. “They didn’t say, ‘Is he going into military custody? Is he going to be Mirandized?'”

    Within hours of Brennan’s TV appearance, all four GOP lawmakers denied the story. “Brennan never told me of any plans to Mirandize the Christmas Day bomber,” said Bond. “It never came up,” said Hoekstra. Spokesman for McConnell and Boehner denied it, too.

    GOP lawmakers don’t expect to hear that charge again.

    Well, of course they’re not going to “hear the charge” if they don’t even bother to ask the question about it, are they?

    I would tend to agree with the analysis of Matt Yglesias on this, who said the following from here…

    The underlying issue here, as I’ve been saying, is that conservatives think that any constraint on the state security apparatus is too much. They believe, contrary to all of the evidence, that the rule-bound criminal justice system can’t or doesn’t function and that things would be better if we scrapped all the rules. And, indeed, in the civilian context they’ve worked steadily and systematically over a period of decades to weaken the constitutional protections as much as possible, and bring us as close as possible to their dream scenario of limitless state-sponsored violence. The desire to push certain categories of people (non-citizens) or certain categories of suspects (terrorists) out of the constitutionally protected realm is just part-and-parcel of that broad-based assault on the idea of a rule-bound justice system.

    And leave it to Holy Joe Lieberman and three of his Repug pals in the Senate who, as noted here…

    …are pushing legislation that would require civilian authorities to consult with intelligence leaders when taking an accused terrorist into custody.

    “[This] legislation would not deprive the President of any investigative tool,” Sen. Lieberman’s Web site claims. “It would not preclude a decision to charge a foreign terrorist in our military tribunal system or in our civilian criminal justice system.”

    In a response, Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, fired back: “It is extremely disturbing that members of the U.S. Congress are essentially calling for Obama administration officials to discard the Constitution when a terrorist suspect is apprehended – as if the Constitution should be applied on a case by case basis.”

    And as noted here, as long as York and his ideological pals are so upset by our intelligence officials adhering to the rule of law, they should be reminded that Obama’s predecessor also “Mirandized” terrorism suspects also.

    But of course, we know this doesn’t comport with the wingnut worldview, if for no other reason than because it never worked for Jack Bauer on “24,” as we know.

    Update 2/12/10: More from mcjoan of The Daily Kos here…


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