Friday Mashup (5/9/14)

May 9, 2014
  • This from clownhall.com tells us the following (with the understated headline of “Guns Don’t Cause Gang Violence – Democrats Do”)…

    Between Friday night, and Sunday evening, 28 people had been shot in Rahm Emanuel’s gun control utopia (Chicago). Which, unbelievably, shows an improvement over the previous weekend, which tacked on more than 40 gunshot victims to the city’s climbing statistics. And, heck, with the CPD’s recent scandal surrounding how they classify various crimes, it almost makes you wonder if these numbers are more “ballpark” figures than actual stats.

    I mean, heck, (gun control) hasn’t exactly worked out that well so far, but why not double down? Right? The fact is, the failure of Liberalism has brought the city to its current state of deterioration. The Chicago model of unconstitutional restrictions on keeping and bearing arms has done little more than add fuel to the fire. Politicians, meanwhile, have been more than happy to ignore the easily identifiable, but politically tricky, origins of gang violence, and criminal activity.

    Yeah, well, this is part and parcel of the wingnut caterwauling on guns I realize. However, did you know that the state of Illinois recently passed a concealed carry law, as noted here?

    Well then, isn’t the Michael Schaus post proof, then, that concealed carry leads to more crime?

    And as noted here, the NRA is pushing for a national concealed carry law that would override other more sensible state laws (the party of “state’s rights” strikes again, considering how “simpatico” the NRA is with the “party of Lincoln”). Which is all part and parcel of this (and by the way, Politifact strikes again on the whole “half true” thing – the U.S. has the highest gun casualty rate among “other affluent nations on a per capita basis,” so that settles it as far as I’m concerned).

  • Next, “The Pericles of Petticoat Junction” is back to inflict the following (here)…

    The qualifications of a Tommy “Dude” Vietor or Ben Rhodes that placed them in the Situation Room during Obama-administration crises were not years of distinguished public service, military service, prior elected office, a string of impressive publications, an academic career, previous diplomatic postings, or any of the usual criteria that have placed others at the nerve center of America in times of crisis. Their trajectory was based on yeoman partisan PR work, and largely on being young, hip, and well-connected politically. I don’t think either of these operatives has a particular worldview or competency that would promote the interests of the United States. But they do talk well, know the right people, and are hip. Again, they have no real expertise or even ideology other than that.

    (The “Dude” reference, for the uninitiated, has to do with Vietor pretty much laughing off more BENGHAZI!!! idiocy from Bret Baier of Fix Noise, which I think was definitely the correct response.)

    So a certain V.D. Hanson is criticizing Vietor and Rhodes because of their ascent in the Obama Administration from a background of “yeoman partisan PR work.”

    Well then, let’s take a look at Obama’s ruinous predecessor, as long as Hanson has opened that “can of worms”:

  • Longtime Bushie Karen Hughes was a “communications strategist” who, as a member of the White House Iraq Group, helped to sell Number 43’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Iraq (here).
  • And speaking of the quagmire in Mesopotamia, former PR flak Dan Bartlett once said that his boss “never had a ‘stay the course’ strategy” here (liar).
  • When it comes to PR and marketing, though, I don’t think either Hughes or Bartlett can top Andrew Card, who rose to Chief of Staff and notoriously said here that “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August” in response to the question of why Bushco started beating the drums for war in Iraq in earnest in September 2002.
  • Given this, I would say that, when it comes to “yeoman partisan PR work,” Vietor and Rhodes are chumps by comparison (and speaking of Iraq, more “fun” with Hanson is here).

  • Further, I think it’s time to take a look at some true revisionist wingnuttery on The Sainted Ronnie R, first from Michael Barone here

    Second-term presidents over the last generation have tried, with varying results, to achieve breakthroughs. Ronald Reagan, after cutting tax rates in his first term, called for further cuts combined with elimination of tax preferences that had encrusted the tax code.

    House Ways and Means chairman Dan Rostenkowski and Senate Finance chairman Bob Packwood — a Democrat and a Republican — achieved a historic breakthrough with the tax-reform legislation of 1986, thanks in part to intensive coaching from Treasury Secretary James Baker.

    See, the point of Barone’s screed is that Obama isn’t being “bipartisan” enough for his liking, with Barone’s definition of “bipartisan” being, apparently, to get beaten up and let the Republicans do whatever they want (Barone lists other examples of supposed “bipartisanship” that got things done in Washington).

    I guess that, living in the world of reality, it may not be necessary to point out at every opportunity to you, dear reader, that Number 40 raised taxes a dozen times, as noted here. However, since the other side is constantly trying to form reality to their twisted worldview, I believe that I must engage in this exercise.

    And sticking with the decade in which Reagan took up space in An Oval Office, this post from The Daily Tucker discusses a TV program called “The Americans,” which I guess has to do with Soviet-era spies living in this country.

    So what is this show about, exactly…

    In one recent scene, for example, KGB agent Elizabeth goes off on a standard 80s liberal spiel about the Nicaragua war, complete with hypocritical sympathy for Catholic nuns and dissident journalists.

    Well OK then – it looks like this Will Rahn person isn’t a big fan of ‘80s-era political activism in particular.

    In response, I give you the following from here

    I first confronted this pattern while covering Reagan’s hard-line policies toward Central America. The lies started just weeks after Reagan’s 1980 election, when four American churchwomen were raped and murdered by government security forces in rightist-ruled El Salvador.

    On the night of Dec. 2, 1980, two of the women, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan, drove a white mini-van to the international airport outside San Salvador. There, they picked up Ita Ford and Maura Clarke who had attended a conference in Nicaragua.

    Leaving the airport, the van turned onto the road that heads into the capital city. At a roadblock, a squad of soldiers stopped the van and took the women into custody. After a phone call apparently to a superior officer, the sergeant in charge said the orders were to kill the women. The soldiers raped them first and then executed the women with high-powered rifles.

    The atrocity was only one of hundreds committed each month by the Salvadoran security forces in a “dirty war” against leftists and their suspected supporters, a conflict that was more mass murder than a war, a butchery that would eventually claim some 70,000 lives. The Dec. 2 atrocity stood out only because Americans were the victims.

    The proper response from U.S. officials would have seemed obvious: to join U.S. Ambassador Robert White in denouncing the brutal rape and murder of four American citizens. But the incoming Reagan foreign policy team didn’t see it that way; Reagan was on the side of the rightist Salvadoran military.

    So, the rape-murder was treated like a public relations problem, best handled by shifting blame onto the victims. Jeane Kirkpatrick, Reagan’s choice for United Nations ambassador, depicted the victims as “not just nuns. The nuns were political activists – on behalf of the [leftist opposition] Frente.”

    Kirkpatrick’s implication was that it wasn’t all that bad to rape and murder “political activists.”

    And as far as the “Fourth Estate” is concerned (here)…

    To conceal the truth about the war crimes of Central America, Reagan also authorized a systematic program of distorting information and intimidating American journalists.

    Called “public diplomacy” or “perception management,” the project was run by a CIA propaganda veteran, Walter Raymond Jr., who was assigned to the National Security Council staff. The explicit goal of the operation was to manage U.S. “perceptions” of the wars in Central America.

    The project’s key operatives developed propaganda “themes,” selected “hot buttons” to excite the American people, cultivated pliable journalists who would cooperate and bullied reporters who wouldn’t go along.

    The best-known attacks were directed against New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner for disclosing Salvadoran army massacres of civilians, including the slaughter of more than 800 men, women and children in El Mozote in December 1981.

    But Bonner was not alone. Reagan’s operatives pressured scores of reporters and their editors in an ultimately successful campaign to minimize information about these human rights crimes reaching the American people. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

    The tamed reporters, in turn, gave the administration a far freer hand to pursue its anticommunist operations throughout Central America.

    Despite the tens of thousands of civilian deaths and now-corroborated accounts of massacres and genocide, not a single senior military officer in Central America was held accountable for the bloodshed.

    The U.S. officials who sponsored and encouraged these war crimes not only escaped any legal judgment, but remained highly respected figures in Washington. Reagan has been honored as few recent presidents have.

    The journalists who played along by playing down the atrocities — the likes of Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer — saw their careers skyrocket, while those who told the truth suffered severe consequences.

    And given the BENGHAZI!!! fever currently sweeping the “leadership” of the U.S. House, I think this is a timely article.

  • Continuing, it looks like VA head Eric Shinseki (who, once again, is a huge improvement over his Bushco counterpart) is in hot water, as noted here

    (Reuters) – Two Republican senators on Tuesday joined veterans groups in calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign amid claims that up to 40 people died while waiting for treatment in the U.S. veterans’ healthcare system.

    Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas, said the Veterans Affairs Department needed a “true transformation … from top to bottom.”

    “I ask the secretary to submit his resignation and I ask President (Barack) Obama to accept that resignation,” Moran said on the Senate floor.

    Assistant Senate Republican leader John Cornyn said: “The president needs to find a new leader to lead this organization out of the wilderness, and back to providing the service our veterans deserve.”

    As noted here, Cornyn voted against a bill to provide $12 billion in medical, educational and job-training benefits for our veterans returning from the wars (to be fair, Moran voted Yes as noted here).

    However, it’s not as if the Kansas senator doesn’t have his own baggage in these matters. He gave conditional-at-best support here to the military sexual assault bill sponsored by Dem Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Moran also voted against the Veterans with Disabilities Act (here), despite the request from former Kansas Sen. (and WWII-disabled vet, of course) Bob Dole that Moran and everyone else in the U.S. Senate support it.

    The Reuters story also tells us the following…

    The American Legion, the biggest U.S. veterans’ group, and Concerned Veterans for America called on Monday for Shinseki, a former Army general twice wounded in Vietnam, to step down.

    I’m not going to take issue with The American Legion, but Concerned Veterans for America…hmmm…

    Oh yeah – as noted here, that’s another “dark money” front group for Chuck and Dave Koch (kind of like “Concerned Women of America” who are apparently trying to torpedo a women’s history museum sponsored by Dem Carolyn Maloney and Repug Marsha Blackburn (!), as noted here, with “Moon Unit” Bachmann opposing it even though the plan is for her to be featured in an exhibit – way too funny).

    Returning to the main topic, I don’t know if Gen. Shinseki should resign as head of the VA or not. However, I think it’s more than a bit hypocritical to blame only him for trying to clean up a mess originated by our prior ruling cabal (which he, among a very select few – and more’s the pity on that – actually stood up to, as noted here).

  • Finally (and speaking of war), I give you former Bushco U.N. rep John “Blow ‘Em Up” Bolton (here, with what you might call some “crackpot history” in concert with his claim that President Obama’s recent far east tour didn’t go well since Obama looked tired, or something)…

    In 1932, Secretary of State Henry Stimson declared his “non-recognition” doctrine regarding Japanese aggression in China and subsequent annexations. Although politically symbolic, Stimson’s high-collared moralisms did nothing to deter further Japanese expansionism.

    Years later, when President Roosevelt finally imposed sanctions that could actually inhibit Japan’s military, the increasing likelihood of war against the Nazis was apparent. Pearl Harbor followed, but one can ask if stronger U.S. Asia policies in the 1930’s might have caused a different result.

    Yes, “one” can ask indeed if “one” were a total moron, I suppose. As noted from here

    In 1933, President (Franklin D.) Roosevelt proposed a Congressional measure that would have granted him the right to consult with other nations to place pressure on aggressors in international conflicts. The bill ran into strong opposition from the leading isolationists in Congress, including progressive politicians such as Senators Hiram Johnson of California, William Borah of Idaho, and Robert La Follette of Wisconsin. In 1935, controversy over U.S. participation in the World Court elicited similar opposition. As tensions rose in Europe over Nazi Germany’s aggressive maneuvers, Congress pushed through a series of Neutrality Acts, which served to prevent American ships and citizens from becoming entangled in outside conflicts. Roosevelt lamented the restrictive nature of the acts, but because he still required Congressional support for his domestic New Deal policies, he reluctantly acquiesced.

    The isolationists were a diverse group, including progressives and conservatives, business owners and peace activists, but because they faced no consistent, organized opposition from internationalists, their ideology triumphed time and again. Roosevelt appeared to accept the strength of the isolationist elements in Congress until 1937. In that year, as the situation in Europe continued to grow worse and the Second Sino-Japanese War began in Asia, the President gave a speech in which he likened international aggression to a disease that other nations must work to “quarantine.” At that time, however, Americans were still not prepared to risk their lives and livelihoods for peace abroad. Even the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 did not suddenly diffuse popular desire to avoid international entanglements. Instead, public opinion shifted from favoring complete neutrality to supporting limited U.S. aid to the Allies short of actual intervention in the war. The surprise Japanese attack on the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 served to convince the majority of Americans that the United States should enter the war on the side of the Allies.

    And as noted from here

    By 1940, the (Second Sino-Japanese) war descended into stalemate. The Japanese seemed unable to force victory, nor the Chinese to evict the Japanese from the territory they had conquered. But western intervention in the form of economic sanctions (most importantly oil) against Japan would transform the nature of the war. It was in response to these sanctions that Japan decided to attack America at Pearl Harbor, and so initiate World War II in the Far East.

    OK, so, to review:

  • Sanctions against Japan were probably necessary in hindsight, but to try and make the argument that Roosevelt sought them too late and Pearl Harbor might have been prevented is ridiculous. If anything, if sanctions had been imposed earlier, an attack might have happened earlier (again, not saying that sanctions were wrong) when we would have been less adequately prepared to fight it than we were.
  • As the article states above, there was not enough of a “push back” against the isolationist sentiment Roosevelt faced across the political spectrum at home after World War I. And he needed those same senators opposing military action to support the New Deal.
  • I’m not a bit surprised, however, to find out that Bolton knows nothing about that period of history, given that he finished his column with the following (again, using this totally inaccurate reading to justify another attack on Number 44)…

    In December, 1937, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of all people observed that, “It is always best and safest to count on nothing from the Americans but words.”

    5_fig002
    And the fact that Bolton would say that without a single word of acknowledgment of the price this country paid to defeat the Axis Powers in World War II (particularly repugnant as we approach Memorial Day) tells you how callow and ignorant he truly is.


  • Monday Mashup (7/23/12)

    July 24, 2012
  • Pity the poor “pay no price, bear no burden,” put-upon “job creators,” as Ari Ari Bobari whines here

    You wouldn’t know this from President Obama’s rhetoric, but our tax system, according to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), is incredibly progressive. Consider: The top 1% of income earners pay an average federal tax rate of 28.9%…The average federal tax rate on the top 20% is 23.2%. The 20% of taxpayers earning between $50,100 and $73,999 pay an average 15.1%, and so on down the line. The CBO report includes payroll as well as income taxes paid.

    There’s also another way of looking at fairness, and that’s the tax burden. Here, consider the top 20% of income earners (over $74,000). They make 50% of the nation’s income but pay nearly 70% of all federal taxes.

    WAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!

    Gee Ari, do you want to know what the top rate was in, say, 1958? You know, back when this country had a federal government that actually did stuff, like building the interstate highway system, without a bunch of conservative naysaying? 90 percent, that’s what!

    Moreover, as noted here

    Rich Americans are not overtaxed. Not by a long shot. From 1996 to 2007 the overall federal tax rate for the richest 1 percent fell by more than 6 percentage points. The top marginal income tax rate dropped from 70 percent in 1980 to 35 percent today. And that’s just for starters.

    The Bush tax cuts, enacted in 2001 and 2003, delivered massive new tax breaks to the rich, reducing a millionaire’s tax bill by hundreds of thousands of dollars. And tax benefits—such as the home mortgage interest deduction, the charitable deduction, and the employer provided health care exclusion—all benefit the rich more than they benefit the middle class. One in four millionaires pays a lower overall tax rate than millions of middle-class families.

    One percent of the people paying 40 percent of all the taxes? It sounds unfair, right? But stop to think about it for more than a moment and it becomes apparent that the statistic is meaningless.

    First of all, federal income taxes are only one part of the overall tax system. By focusing only on the one piece of the tax code that is very progressive, conservatives are artificially inflating the share of taxes paid by the 1 percent.

    Second, the rich pay most of the taxes because they make most of the income. Think about it: Of course the richest 1 percent of people pay way more than 1 percent of all the taxes—they have way more than 1 percent of all the income. That’s why they are in the top 1 percent.

    Third, the share of taxes paid is a really silly way to think about tax burden. What matters isn’t the amount of taxes someone pays as a share of total revenues. What matters is the amount of taxes someone pays as a share of his or her own income.

    But of course, this is typical for Fleischer, who has a knack for numeric misrepresentation, as noted here.

  • Next, it was inevitable that the pro-gun crowd would use the Aurora massacre over the weekend to express their own sort of umbrage at those nasty “anti-gun libs” who want to confiscate their weapons of death and mayhem, as noted here

    The target of liberal legislators is the gun show. If you are a licensed gun dealer you hold a Federal Firearms License and are required by law to perform a background check before you can release the gun to the buyer. That makes good sense and often there is a waiting period. A waiting period makes good sense too unless you are someone being threatened or harassed and you happen to need a way to defend yourself. The attacker will be reassured that the government will deny you, the potential victim, an immediate opportunity to purchase a tool to defend yourself. When an attack is going to happen in seconds the police, if called, will respond in minutes to take the crime report.

    I would say that that’s a real dig at the men and women of law enforcement, which of course is typical for the hardcore pro-gun zealots. If you believe that you could be attacked “in seconds,” then I think the prudent thing to do is give the police some advanced notice, wouldn’t you say? Or (and here’s a really left-wing idea I suppose), you could go to the police, tell them you have a suspicion that someone is going to attack you, and actually let them investigate as opposed to carrying out some vigilante “justice” with tragic consequences (see Martin, Trayvon).

    Continuing…

    Here is the controversial aspect of a gun show: the unlicensed seller. This is a person that wants to sell his personal property to another individual. It is the equivalent of you saying “Mike, you want to sell that .22?” And then me telling you I’ll take 50-bucks for it. We have a deal and I’m the unlicensed seller. But, I don’t need a license to sell you my .22. That is the “gun show loophole.”

    Closing the “gun show loophole” enables the government to curtail person to person sales. That is what is really behind the attack on gun shows. Every gun would have to be turned into a gun dealer so that it could be tracked by the Federal Government and then the transfer process would be monitored by the Federal Government. The right you have now to sell your neighbor your shotgun will be gone, forever.

    Once again, WAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!

    In response, I give you the following from here

    Why is it important to get rid of the gun show loophole?

    The gun show loophole makes it very easy for guns to fall into the hands of prohibited individuals, including criminals and juveniles. Closing the loophole would put a barrier between the legal and illegal markets for guns. It is more difficult for law enforcement to trace firearms sold on the secondary market. Second-hand firearms typically have left the possession of a licensed dealer, where records are kept, and reached the hands of an unlicensed seller, who is not required to keep records.

    How can we close the gun show loophole?

    It’s simple. Closing the dangerous loophole merely requires unlicensed gun sellers at gun shows to conduct the same instant background checks that licensed dealers must conduct.

    Won’t closing the gun show loophole violate the Second Amendment?

    No. No matter what your interpretation of the Second Amendment is, it is illegal for criminals and youth to get guns, and federal law already requires background checks for sales by licensed dealers. We need background checks at guns shows to protect law-abiding citizens while keeping guns out of the hands of those prohibited from owning them.

    Won’t requiring background checks on all sales at gun shows be a bureaucratic nightmare?

    Closing the gun show loophole would merely involve unlicensed gun sellers at gun shows implementing that same system. More than 95% of background checks are completed within two hours, and most are completed in just two minutes.

    Will closing the gun show loophole put gun shows out of business?

    No. Three of the five states that host the most gun shows – Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California – closed the gun show loophole years ago, and gun shows continue to thrive.

    And as far as the supposed lack of public interest in gun control, I think the following should be noted from here.

  • Finally, I didn’t realize that Willard Mitt Romney was so desperate to shift the debate from his whole “to the manor born” attitude about not releasing additional tax returns (to say nothing of his wife) as well as how many employees he laid off at Bain Capital (to say nothing of when he supposedly left) that he would start clipping quotes (and, if past is prologue, he’ll continue to pull this garbage even though he has been completely busted on it, though the wingnutosphere, true to form, has dutifully carried his proverbial water).

    Update 7/31/12: And isn’t this precious, by the way, in a related story? Too damn funny…

    For the record (as Greg Sargent notes here), this is what President Obama actually said about job creators and government…

    Let me tell you something. There are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.

    I also think it’s a good idea, in light of this, to look at what past presidents have said about government, to give you some perspective as to who is on the right side of history here and who isn’t (and please spare me any dreck from The Sainted Ronnie R or his “son”…the yield from those tiny minds on this subject isn’t worth noting in the final analysis).

    First, though, I digress slightly and give you this (Update 7/24/12: I forgot to add this yesterday)…

    …big government is not something that has been forced on Americans by liberal elitists and power-hungry bureaucrats. We have it because we ourselves have demanded big government to deal with the many big problems we have faced in our society. We have called for big government programs when it has been obvious that there are serious problems that cannot be solved through individual effort or by the natural workings of the free market.

    And by and large, most Americans continue to support these big government programs. Polls consistently show that between 60 and 70 percent of Americans want to see increased federal government activity around issues of the environment, education, crime, Social Security, and health care. Importantly, such large majorities supporting big government programs cannot simply be made up of liberals; they must also include a lot of moderates and conservatives as well.

    So when it comes to the issue of big government, it may actually be the Republicans who are the elitists — who are trying to impose their view of minimal government on a public that has demanded and still supports most big government programs. Democratic candidates in the upcoming elections would do well to make that one of their campaign messages.

    Further, I think we need to consider the following quotes from some of our former presidents:

    If men were angels, no government would be necessary.James Madison

    “The bulk of government is not legislation but administration.” “Men can never escape being governed. Either they must govern themselves or they must submit to being governed by others.” – Theodore Roosevelt

    “The object of government is the welfare of the people.”- TR again

    The success of our popular government rests wholly upon the correct interpretation of the deliberate, intelligent, dependable popular will of America. – Warren Harding (even someone not remembered as that great of a president knew something so obvious)

    And perhaps, coming from the granddaddy of them all on this subject (don’t totally agree with all the sentiments of the author here, even if he does make some good points – and I think we can substitute “9 and 3” years here with “8 and 4,” and we’d be about right)…

    For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.

    We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

    They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

    And given all of what we’ve seen so far in this election (to say nothing of what remains to be seen), it’s pretty damn plain which candidate represents the “organized money” part of the equation and which one doesn’t.


  • 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).


    Bucks County’s Big Mouth Peddles More Anti-Obama BS

    October 22, 2008


    Yesterday, J.D. Mullane (John?) of the Bucks County Courier Times wrote a column about a Philippine émigré to this country named Perlyn Donapel; she became a citizen on July 2nd and will vote for the first time in the upcoming election.

    This would be merely an inspiring story if it weren’t for the typically ugly turn Mullane takes towards the very end…

    I think [Democratic Sen. Barack] Obama is a good debater and a good speaker, but his words, they seem to me to be empty,” (Donapel) said.

    She has examined his taxing policies and she is alarmed. She does not think they are good for small-business owners.

    “My husband — he owns a very small business and he employs a few people. Obama would raise our business taxes. This is a threat to hard work, a threat to small business. You will be taxed more, and you are already working hard for what you make, but now you have to work harder to make up for it,” she said.

    Making up for the money lost to the government means that her husband will have to work even harder. It is like a man on a treadmill who is already running at a brisk pace, and the treadmill’s speed is increased.

    This isn’t just merely dishonest; it’s repugnant as well.

    So…you can’t make a legitimate case that Obama will raise taxes on small businesses, so you instead allow a recent arrival to this country to make a well-meaning but uninformed statement without correcting her, J.D.?

    What an utter fraud you are; here’s the reality from the following CNN/Money article…

    Should small business owners fear for their wallets if Obama is elected? Not the vast majority, business and tax experts say.

    The bottom line: McCain’s claim (that Obama would raise taxes on small businesses) only works by using an overly broad definition of what counts as a “small business” – and even with that definition, fewer than 2% of business owners would be hit by Obama’s proposed rate increase. For those who are affected, the increase would be levied only on a part of their earnings, not all of them.

    In Mullane’s column, we learn that Donapel considers America to be a “dreamland.” That’s wonderful, and I wish her the best of luck.

    The problem for Mullane, though, is that, while Donapel believes she is living in a dreamland, Mullane appears to be “reporting” from one as well (and for a taste of Mullane’s more fragrant anti-Obama bile, check out this post from his blog yesterday – I don’t recommend reading Mullane’s online musings with a full stomach, though).


    McBush Loves Dubya’s Tax Cuts

    October 6, 2008

    Just a reminder…


    The “Boehner Bungle” Follows The “Rangel Wangle”

    September 13, 2008

    (Image from Business Week.)

    Boy, how would you like to be Dem U.S. House Rep. Charles Rangel these days?

    Last July, it was reported here in the New York Times that he had managed to obtain four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem while just about every other resident is allowed no more than one (and Harlem has become a pricey place to live, though Rangel agreed to relinquish one apartment that he used as an office here).

    Next, it turns out that interest was waived for Rangel on a loan to purchase a villa at the resort of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic here, though he also failed to report income on the property here, and this tells us that he owes back taxes also.

    Oh, and did I note that, as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rangel is in charge of writing the tax code? To be fair, though, Rangel has requested an ethics investigation into all this, as noted here.

    And for the cherry on the icing of the proverbial cake, if you will, Rangel’s attorney defending him through all of this is none other than Lanny Davis, noted Fox Noise Democrat and former Hillary Clinton apologist (Davis, for my money, established himself as one of the most annoying human beings on earth during the campaign, continually “moving the goalposts” on behalf of his candidate).

    The real reason I’m even mentioning this, though, is because U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Man Tan) has called for Rangel to step down as the investigation proceeds (I’m not defending Rangel, but he should be cut at least the same slack as anyone else under an ethics cloud).

    Let’s do a deal, Boehner (pronounced bo-ner); if you get off Rangel’s back on this, I won’t mention how you were bought and paid for by Sallie Mae to the tune of $100,000 during the bad old days of the happily-now-departed 109th Congress, OK? (noted here, and in the course of Boehner’s “duties,” he screwed over college students trying to pay off their loans since $12.7 billion was cut from the student loan program – interest rates were raised to make up the difference, and the ability to consolidate loans for easier payoff with lower rates was no longer allowed).

    I would call Boehner’s silence for the time being “a small price to pay,” wouldn’t you?


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