The Watering Hole, Monday, April 21st, 2014: SCALIA: JUSTice REVOLTing

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Why does Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia keep giving us more reasons to question his fitness for his job?

It’s not like he hasn’t provided ample evidence of judicial bias over the years, the most fateful of which being his participation in the Selection of George W. Bush as President in Bush v Gore. Scalia’s later spinning of that decision, along with his callous exhortations to Gore voters to “get over it!”, calls into question both the decision and his more recent mental competence. One commenter on the linked article, which is from 2012, succinctly put it:

“Since Supreme Court decisions are intended to set legal precedent going forward (although in this bizarre instance the court stated this decision was meant to be sui generis, an abrogation of its function) then it is literally impossible to “get over” a Supreme Court decision. Maybe this swaggering jerk should step down if he doesn’t get that.”

justice scalia being rude
From a 2012 article in The Daily Beast, some info about the most infamous photo of Scalia:

“Vaffanculo”
Scalia didn’t appreciate a reporter from the Boston Herald asking him in 2006 how he responds to critics who say his religion impairs his fairness in rulings. “To my critics, I say, ‘Vaffanculo,’” Scalia reportedly said, flicking his right hand from under his chin. In Italian, this not-so subtle phrase means “f–k off” and the accompanying hand flick is equally rude. “You’re not going to print that are you?” he apparently asked in an interaction that occurred, it’s worth noting, inside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross at Sunday mass.”

[emphasis mine]

Scalia has no love for LGBT Americans, as discussed in a 2013 Mother Jones article. One example:

“In his dissent in Lawrence [Lawrence v Texas], Scalia argued that moral objections to homosexuality were sufficient justification for criminalizing gay sex. “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home,” he wrote. “They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”

And in this Mother Jones article from February of 2012, sarcastically entitled “Supreme Court Poised to Declare Racism Over”, the [dis]honarable Justice Scalia displays his views on racial discrimination during Shelby County, Alabama’s challenge to the Voting Rights Act. From the article:

That’s not to say all discrimination is a thing of the past. In the eyes of the high court’s conservatives, America has transcended its tragic history of disenfranchising minorities, but there’s still one kind of discrimination that matters: Discrimination against the states covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Justice Antonin Scalia said that it was “sort of extraordinary to say” that “Congress can just pick out…these eight states,” referring to the states covered by Section 5.

Later, Scalia telegraphed his reasoning for what will almost certainly be a vote to strike down part of the law. Explaining overwhelming support for the Voting Rights Act reauthorization in Congress in 2006, Scalia called Section 5 the “perpetuation of a racial entitlement” that legislators would never have the courage to overturn. “In the House there are practically black districts by law now,” Scalia complained.

[Makes ya wonder how Scalia's Siamese twin, Clarence Thomas, REALLY feels about discrimination against other American citizens of color.]

When Supreme Court Justices are connected at the spine

When Supreme Court Justices are connected at the spine


Conan O'Brien hits the nail on the head

Conan O’Brien hits the nail on the head

And then there’s these:
scalia court not political

Delusions of grandeur?

Delusions of grandeur?

Last week, Justice Scalia came out with another disturbing notion. From yesterday’s Think Progress thread:

“During an event at the University of Tennessee’s law school on Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia suggested to the capacity crowd that perhaps they should revolt against the U.S government if their taxes ever get too high.

During a question and answer part of the event, a student asked Scalia about the constitutionality of a federal income tax. Scalia assured the questioner that the tax was in fact permissible by the constitution, but added that if it ever became too high, “perhaps you should revolt.” … Supreme Court justices have largely refrained from such rhetoric. Still, in recent years, Scalia has shifted even further to the right than when he was first appointed.

Days later, at a joint appearance with fellow Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Scalia offered a bit of ironic commentary on inflammatory rhetoric. “It sometimes annoys me when somebody has made outrageous statements that are hateful,” he told the audience at the National Press Club. “Sometimes the press will say, ‘well, he was just exercising his first amendment rights’…You can be using your first amendment rights and it can be abominable that you are using your first amendment rights. I’ll defend your right to use it, but I will not defend the appropriateness of the manner in which you are using it.”

[Right back atcha, Antonin.]

And all of this from someone who was once a regular on the PBS series “Ethics In America”. The series was produced by the Columbia University Seminars on Media and Society and was hosted by Fred Friendly; individual episodes can be viewed here. I recommend checking out some of the episodes; the ones with Scalia show a younger, more reasonable and slightly more jovial Antonin Scalia.

These days, I don’t believe that Antonin Scalia knows the meaning of the word “ethics.”

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind?

The Watering Hole, Monday, December 3rd, 2012: Conservative BS on Taxes

Since I forced myself to wallow in some of the crap on Newsmax, I figured that I should share some of the sliminess with you all. Let’s start with the arrogantly delusional George Will, who manages to squeeze a lie into each paragraph of his dementia-driven article. Here’s just a few examples of Will’s drivel; he starts off with:

“With a chip on his shoulder larger than his margin of victory, Barack Obama is approaching his second term by replicating the mistake of his first. Then his overreaching involved healthcare — expanding the entitlement state at the expense of economic growth. Now he seeks another surge of statism, enlarging the portion of gross domestic product grasped by government and dispensed by politics. The occasion is the misnamed “fiscal cliff,” the proper name for which is: the Democratic Party’s agenda.”

- and -

“…he surely understands that the entitlement state he favors requires raising taxes on the cohort that has most of the nation’s money — the middle class.”

- and -

“Republicans…respond that because lower rates reduce incentives to distort economic decisions, they promote growth by enhancing efficiency. Hence restoration of the higher rates would be a giant step away from, and might effectively doom, pro-growth tax reform…Furthermore, restoration of the Clinton-era top rate of 39.6 percent would occur in the very different Obama era of regulatory excesses and Obamacare taxes. Hence Republicans rightly resist higher rates.”

On to forever-lugubrious John Boehner:

“I would say we’re nowhere, period,” Boehner said on a taped segment of the “Fox News Sunday” program that aired today. “We’ve put a serious offer on the table by putting revenues up there to try to get this question resolved. But the White House has responded with virtually nothing.”

Yet, from the same article:

“Obama has proposed a framework that would raise taxes immediately on top earners and set an Aug. 1 deadline for rewriting the tax code and deciding on spending cuts, according to administration officials. It calls for $1.6 trillion in tax increases, $350 billion in cuts in health programs, $250 billion in cuts in other programs and $800 billion in assumed savings from the wind-down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Next, we’ve got the ubiquitous Grover Norquist. Norquist, despite a growing number of Republicans attempting to put some daylight between themselves and the Norquist pledge, stated last week:

“Well, the Republicans also have other leverage. Continuing resolutions on spending and the debt ceiling increase. They can give him debt ceiling increases once a month. They can have him on a rather short leash, you know, here’s your allowance, come back next month…Monthly if he’s good. Weekly if he’s not.”

In the Newsmax article, Norquist continues in the same childish vein, threatening “Tea Party 2“:

“Republicans want to continue the Bush tax cuts, and the extenders and the AMT [Alternative Minimum Tax] package . . . it’s the president who’s threatening to raise taxes if he stamps his feet and doesn’t get his way.”

And in case you aren’t sickened enough by those three, there’s the Sue Ann Niven of the Republicans, Peggy Noonan, saying:

“The election is over, a new era begins — and it looks just like the old one…A crisis is declared. Confusion, frustration, and a more embittered process follow. This is the Obama Way.”

Got your blood boiling yet?

This is our daily open thread — it’s Monday, wake up and start discussing something!

I Pledge Allegiance

Is Mitt Romney really an American?  Which country does Mitt Romney serve?  Is there something suspicious in Mitt Romney’s tax returns?  What is he hiding?  Why does he fly the flag of another country?  Is this the country that Mitt Romney pledges allegiance to?

The party yacht proudly displays the flag of the Cayman Islands.

More questions, were there years that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes?  Is he using accounts in the Cayman Island to hide his money so that he doesn’t have to pay taxes to the United States government?

No wonder Mitt Romney is out of touch with the American people. He doesn’t know what it is like to worry about where his next meal will come from or if he still has a job or if he can pay for his mortgage or rent.  His only worry is how can he hide his money so that he doesn’t have to pay taxes.

Mitt was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  He doesn’t know what it is like to be an ordinary American.

Watering Hole: August 3, 2012 – Just for chuckles…

Someone sent me this link to an article where anonymous claims to have “hacked the IRS database” and retrieved Romney’s tax records. It is really funny.

Here’s a few excepts that caught my eye:

Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul stated last week that “there has been no year in which Romney paid zero taxes”. In 2008, this was true. He earned $23,425,316 and paid $412.18 in federal income taxes. This calculates to a federal tax rate of 0.0018%. How did Romney get his tax burden so low? According to his return, he had approximately $23,407,000 in itemized deductions. These deductions ranged from $78,923 for “Toupee Creators Unlimited” and $41,826 for “Spray-on tan services” to a $3.8 million dollar write-off for a trip to Las Vegas with potential campaign donors. The Romney family also paid salaries to their numerous employees including, two yacht captains, three pilots for their private jets, two professional dog walkers, one toupee stylist and a “live-in contortionist”. What someone does with a live-in contortionist, one can only speculate. However, the $891,064 Romney spent on an “EWS Donor Party at the Pennsylvania Mansion” might give us a clue. While the return does not indicate what “EWS” stands for, given that the deducted supplies for the party included “Venetian masks, alcohol, lubricant and various Egyptian leather accessories” it was most likely an “Eyes Wide Shut” party.

And then there is this part:

In addition to his wild nights, Romney also deducted health related expenses.  These included $127,000 for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for a condition termed “Pseudologia fantastica” also known as Compulsive Liar Syndrome. This may explain why the Republican nominee’s views seem to change dramatically depending on his audience. In fact, his recent string of political gaffes may be the direct result of his inability to keep up with the many competing “truths” he has spoken over the past year. According to noted Psychiatrist Bryan King, “Pathological liars seem utterly sincere about their lies, but if confronted with facts to the contrary, will often just as sincerely reverse their story.” According to Politifact, a news organization that researches the veracity of politician’s statements, only 16% of Romney’s examined statements were found to be completely true.

Enjoy the laughs.

Watering Hole: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 – Apples

They say that apples don’t fall far from the tree.  It’s a metaphor used for explaining the behaviors of parents and their children.  Most of the time, the apples remain close to the tree unless they are carried away by an animal or roll down a hill.

I don’t know what happened to Mitt Romney as he lacks the integrity that his father displayed.  This is what George Romney had to say about politicians and taxes.  Perhaps Mitt does have something to hide.

This is our Open Thread.  What do you think?  Speak Up!

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, March 21, 2012 Sin Tax Syntax

Is it over, yet?

The good ol’ U.S.of A. has long had sin taxes – taxes on things that are “bad” for you like cigarettes and alcohol.

But in a new twist to an old theme, Republicans are now saying we should not have to pay for things we morally disapprove. Things like abortion or birth control.

Well…ok. I’m “pro-life” insofar as I don’t believe in waging war for regime change, or the death penalty. So, my taxes should not pay for wars, nor killing people. Right?

Should we allow each individual tax payer the right to pick and choose what his or her taxes pay for, based on their individual moral beliefs?

If a small segment of our population can block taxes from paying for abortions and womens’ health care based on their moral beliefs, what other programs can we defund, based on your moral beliefs?

THIS BE THE OPEN THREAD OF THE DAY. FEEL FREE TO EXPRESS YOUR MORAL OUTRAGE!

Watering Hole – Monday, June 20, 2011 – Stealing From the Poor

Where is Robin Hood when you need him?  My most recent Northern Sun catalog has a picture of Robin Hood with those very words printed on the cover.

The Republican’s budget plans will decrease taxes on the rich while increasing the tax burden on the middle class and poor.

If the Republicans have their way, will our nation become the land of the “lords and serfs”?

This is our Open Thread.  Will we allow the Republicans to continue to steal from the middle class and the poor?  Speak Up!

The Watering Hole: June 17, 2011 — The Truth About the Economy

Robert Reich explains it all — with pictures:

1. Economy doubles since 1980, but wages flat.
2. All gains from the economy go to the super rich.
3. With money comes political power.
4. Huge budget deficits.
5. Middle class divided.
6. Anemic recovery.

No incentive currently exists to remedy this situation, other than convincing the super rich to willingly give up their unbelievably rich lifestyles and/or getting the politicians we elected to represent US in Congress to actually do something in our interests.  That ain’t happening.  Soooo….

This is our daily open thread — Discuss!!

The rich get more and more rich, on the backs of…everyone else

(Center for American Progress, image & numbers source)

How much longer can/will we allow this to go on?  How long can the 98% continue to prop up the bank accounts of people who have more money than they could ever spend, before we break completely?

So, how do you plan to pay for it..?

Taxes.. What a wonderfully confusing and contentious subject. When President Bush enacted his tax cuts for the rich in 2001 and 2003, they weren’t paid for, and the way it was set up, they were set to expire in ten years.

A refresher course on “The Bush Tax Cuts” from the New York Times:

Why are the tax cuts set to expire on Dec. 31st?

The bills were written that way because the Republicans had only the slimmest of majorities — in fact, Vice President Dick Cheney had to cast a tie-breaking vote to pass the 2003 bill. To avoid a Democratic filibuster, the cuts were rolled into a so-called budget reconciliation measure, which cannot be filibustered. (It is the mechanism President Obama and the Democrats used to pass health care reform.)

But under Senate rules, reconciliation cannot be used for any bill that would add to the federal deficit after 10 years. The “sunset” provision that called for the measures to expire in 2010 meant that the deficit was calculated as if the higher tax rates were back in place for succeeding years, a step Democrats criticized as camouflaging the bill’s true cost.

In the years that followed, Democrats vowed to let the Bush administration’s tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers expire as scheduled after this year. In the 2008 campaign, Mr. Obama called for repealing the tax cuts for the rich in 2010, a year before they would otherwise expire. But once in office, he quietly set aside that promise because of the recession, proposing to let them lapse in 2011 as the original law provided.

Both parties agree on one thing: that the 2001 income tax cuts will be extended for everyone else — that is, for the roughly 98 percent of households in which couples have less than $250,000 in annual income or individuals earn less than $200,000. The fight is over whether to extend the income tax cuts of 2001 for the top 2 percent on income that exceeds that level, and whether to extend the cuts in capital gains and dividend taxes that were the heart of the 2003 bill.

The tax cuts were not paid for and thus added greatly to the current national debt (yes, the debt that everyone is so concerned about, especially [apparently] Republicans). (Oh, and did I already mention the two wars that Bush started that weren’t paid for..?)

Continue reading

University of Kansas Confirms Paying For Lobbyist – Pays Off

The more money a company put into lobbying, the larger the return on their investment they received, which translated into higher income and better market assessed values.  The University of Kansas study proves what we have all known for a long time now.

Big companies that spent hundreds of millions lobbying successfully for a tax break enacted in 2004 got a 22,000-percent return on that investment - proof that for those who can afford it, hiring a lobbyist can pay handsome dividends.

The report details efforts by hundreds of companies in 2003 and 2004 to push through a one-time tax “holiday” that lowered for a year the tax rate they paid on profits earned abroad. All told, U.S. companies saved about $100 billion in taxes, with pharmaceutical behemoths Pfizer and Merck & Co., technology giants IBM and Hewlett Packard, and health products maker Johnson & Johnson among the top beneficiaries.

The study zeros in on 93 firms that spent as much as $282.7 million lobbying on the issue during that period, and ultimately saved a total of $62.5 billion through the tax change. Researchers used publicly available lobbying disclosures filed with Congress and financial statements submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission to compare the amount each company saved with its lobbying expenditures.

Our country can’t afford decisions being made and custom tailored for large corporations who line the pockets of our Congressmen. It’s ruining our democracy or should I say what is left of it.

Tax Cuts Hurt Working People

I am a huge fan of Thom Hartmann. He makes more sense than anyone I have ever listened to. I am very happy to see that he is putting up videos on his blog of his commentary. He is also an excellent writer. I just finished reading “Cracking the Code“. Excellent! I highly recommend it.

In this video, Thom explains how cutting taxes on working people actually hurts their income:

You can listen to Thom Hartmann weekly on Air America.

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Re-Thinking Capitalism

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As one of the nation’s premier non-economists, I have some thoughts I’d like to share about how to fix the economy to the betterment of the many over the enrichment of the few. We’ve all heard the expression, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Most of us believe it to be true (because it is), but the naysayers are almost always from the elite class of people who have quite a lot of money. More than they need, if you want to be perfectly honest. And to me, therein lies the heart of the debate: Should Capitalism be about getting what you need, or getting what you want?

The people who study this stuff refer to it as Wealth Condensation, but I’m a non-economist, so I’m simply going to refer to it as a “flaw” in the system. In a nutshell, the way things are set up right now, wealth flows through the system into the hands of an elite few – the Super Rich. I’m talking about the people with, like, a hundred million dollars or more. They’re out there, and they have a lot of the money. Continue reading

The Redistributor Of Wealth

Remember the tale of Robin Hood, who robbed the rich and gave to the poor? He was a “redistributor of wealth”.

John McCain accuses Barack Obama of being “Robin Hood” because Obama wants to lower taxes for the middle class and raise taxes for the rich back to the pre-Bush tax rate. The poor don’t pay taxes so they won’t be getting any tax relief. Compare the tax return that you will receive under Obama’s plan against the tax return that you will receive from McCain’s plan.

From AmericanProgressiveAction.org

In 2001 and 2003, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) opposed the Bush tax cuts, arguing that they came “at the expense of lower- and middle-income Americans” and were too costly in a time of war. As a presidential candidate, however, McCain not only embraces the Bush tax cuts but also proposes massive additional tax cuts that are even more tilted against the middle class.

To assess the McCain tax proposals, we begin by defining five key characteristics of the Bush tax cuts: they cost an enormous sum, skew benefits to the wealthy, favor capital over work, protect tax shelters, and increase federal budget deficits. We then assess the McCain proposals against these five benchmarks. Finally, we compare both the Bush and McCain plans with the conservative tax agenda known as “Five Easy Pieces” advanced by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and other conservative tax groups.

Our analysis suggests that the McCain plan shares five key characteristics of Bush policies. First, it is enormously expensive, costing more than $2 trillion over the next decade and essentially doubling the Bush tax cuts. Second, the McCain plan would predominantly benefit the most fortunate taxpayers, offering two new massive tax cuts for corporations and delivering 58 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent of taxpayers. The Bush tax cuts provide 31 percent of their benefits to the top 1 percent of taxpayers.

Third, the McCain tax plan continues the shift of the tax burden from investment income onto earned income. Fourth, the plan not only fails to address current tax shelter problems in the tax code but in fact will lead to increased sheltering. Fifth, McCain cannot pay for his tax cuts without massive reductions in Social Security, Medicare, or other key programs that benefit the vast majority of Americans.

Cindy McCain will receive an increased tax return (over $60,000.00 more) from her husband’s tax plan while the middle class will continue to receive little or nothing. The McCain tax savings would go from $313,413.00 to $373,429.00.

From ThinkProgress.org

In a new Center for American Progress Action Fund analysis, Michael Ettlinger documents how much the presidential candidates stand to personally benefit from the McCain and Obama tax proposals. The McCains — who report an annual income of over $6 million — would receive well over $300,000 from John McCain’s tax plan.

For further details about reported income and tax relief of both the McCains and the Obamas, visit the WonkRoom as it provides a more detailed analysis of the candidates tax plans.

WOW – can you say conflict of interest? Read some more about the redistribution of wealth upwards which is exactly what John McCain’s tax plan will do in the “Reverse Robin Hoodat Homeless in LA.

What amazes me is that middle class McCain supporters shout “No” to Barack Obama’s tax plan even though they would benefit the most from Obama’s tax plan. Why would someone from the middle class support paying higher taxes so that the wealthy could receive more tax relief? Isn’t this like cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face? Isn’t voting for McCain voting against one’s own best interest? The middle class McCain supporters call Obama a “socialist”. If any of the McCain supporters travel over public bridges and public roads, benefit from police and fireman, use the public library and use public water and sewer, then they too, are “socialist”. Let’s not forget to include the recipients of Social Security and Medicare which is another “socialist” idea.

The McCain tax plan would eventually eliminate the middle class. This would foster a return to the feudalistic state where the wealthy own everything and the poor support the wealthy. John McCain’s plan rewards investments and corporations and punishes the worker who will see an increase in taxes because John McCain will tax health benefits for workers.

The choice is clear… I am voting for “Robin Hood”, the “redistributor of wealth”. His name will appear as Barack Obama on the ballot.

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Red Flags Have Gone Up On Palin’s Per Diem Payments

The flags are flying and we aren’t talking about those on a football field. These flags are the ones that the Alaskan government has thrown up, by reviewing Palin’s tax returns. After Sarah Palin released her taxes it was found that she did not pay taxes on the per diems for working at home and for the travel expenses that the state of Alaska paid for her family.

Gov. Sarah Palin’s practice of charging the state when she stays in her home must be reviewed to determine if she should pay taxes on the payments, state Finance Director Kim Garnero said today.

Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, released two years’ worth of tax returns last week that did not list the per diem payments she received since becoming Alaska governor in December 2006. She collected nearly $17,000 during that period for 312 nights spent in her Wasilla home, about an hour’s drive from Anchorage, according to state travel records.

According to Garnero, a typical work year for most employees is 260 days. The governor’s staff however, believes that Sarah Palin’s work year should be considered 365 days. The reason, she is on call. If their interpretation is used then that would mean she put in about 43% of last year in Anchorage. In that instance, Palin would not have to pay taxes on her per diem.  Sounds to me like the Governor’s Office is trying to rewrite what is considered a typical work year.

Continue reading

Debate: Obama Rips McCain On Tax Cuts For The Rich

Obama slams McCain on his hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the rich that dwarf his grandstanding on earmarks.

OBAMA: [...] Sen. McCain mentioned looking at our records. We do need to look at our records.

Sen. McCain likes to talk about earmarks a lot. And that’s important. I want to go line by line through every item in the federal budget and eliminate programs that don’t work and make sure that those that do work, work better and cheaper.

But understand this: We also have to look at where some of our tax revenues are going. So when Sen. McCain proposes a $300 billion tax cut, a continuation not only of the Bush tax cuts, but an additional $200 billion that he’s going to give to big corporations, including big oil companies, $4 billion worth, that’s money out of the system.

And so we’ve got to prioritize both our spending side and our tax policies to make sure that they’re working for you. That’s what I’m going to do as president of the United States.

Good Morning from Europe – The Sunday Papers

View from Piz Martenas - Savognin - Switzerland

What’s another week? While “Europeanview” was negotiating the slopes of Swiss Mountains “on two sticks” as our revered resident witch calls it, the world kept turning. For me personally the fun story came out of Germany this week. A tax fraud scandal rocked the Republic and threatens the safe haven for tax-ridden estates, Liechtenstein. And, of course, the Democratic Party’s nomination leads the news again. Kosovo has declared its Independence, much to the dismay of the Serbs and Russia and Pakistan has voted, but not found a government coalition yet.

Germany first. When the boss of Germany’s logistics giant “Deutsche Post” was led from his villa by police on charges of tax fraud, this made headlines, but as it turned out it was the tip of an iceberg. What had happened? The LGT, the Liechtenstein Bank of the principality’s ruling family, decided to join the ranks of 21st century banks and digitalize their bank records. An employee, who was scanning documents in this projects, decided to save the records on a bunch of DVDs and then asked the bank for an allowance for special expenditure which would have included the return of the DVDs to the bank. The bank refused, so this person sent e-mails to the German, British and US authorities, claiming moral scruples in the light of so much blatant tax evasion and reaping in a hefty sum from Germany alone. German Police and State Attorneys are orchestrating a drama in publishing names and facts which will see it’s next round on Tuesday. “The Economist” says:

THE word Schadenfreude was coined for just such occasions.(…) Germany was already in the throes of an argument about pay, equality and whether capitalism is fair. Globalisation and economic reforms have squeezed the wages of ordinary Germans. Yet the pay of Germany’s top managers jumped 17.5% in the 2006-07 financial year, according to Kienbaum, a headhunter. The same class has lately been held responsible for expense-account sex (Volkswagen), systematic bribery (Siemens) and subprime self-abuse (IKB and the state banks of Saxony and Bavaria).

The culprits now have a chance to turn themselves in, which will lower their sentences considerably, or try to sit it out and face the music later. Many may wish they had acted according to the wise words of this commentary in “The Telegraph”.

The US Democratic Primaries are still making headlines in the Sunday Papers. Especially Hillary Clintons woes are being pleasurably reported on, it seems, by “The Times”. The Paper relishes the blunders a campaign, once dubbed a well oiled machinery, made on its way from unavoidable to “on the ropes”.

Clinton has set up a website, http://www.delegatehub.com, outlining a path to the nomination which relies on arm-twisting the super-delegates and seating the “ghost” delegations from Florida and Michigan, states which broke party rules by holding their contests early.

Gerard Baker suggests Hillary Clinton may become toxic in the end, never mind the damage to the Democratic Party.

“The Guardian”, however, concentrates on a relatively new development in the campaigns. The role of the press and their increased scrutiny of Barack Obama.

In the New York Times, two influential columnists weighed in with brutal attacks against Obama. David Brooks called him a ‘trophy messiah’ and Paul Krugman claimed Obama’s campaign was ‘…dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality’. Meanwhile, in the Boston Globe, Obama supporter Margery Eagan expressed her own doubts about her pick. ‘I’m nervous because John McCain says Obama is an “eloquent but empty call for change” and in the wee, wee hours a nagging voice whispers: “Suppose McCain’s right,’ Eagan wrote.

But the Guardian, too, decides:

Such tactics (circumventing campaign finance laws) also cannot hide the fact that the Clinton camp is in deep trouble. Much of the top leadership still remains deeply split over the right tactics in the final days before Texas and Ohio go to the polls.

The Kosovo province of Serbia has unilaterally proclaimed its independence, which turns out to be an inspiration for many separatist movements around the globe, much to the anxiety of the ruling majorities. “Der Spiegel” portrays six European regions with separatist movements.

Pakistan’s elections didn’t bring a clear winner. There will be a civilian coalition government, maybe even without Musharraf, but the Pakistani Taliban have already made clear, that any governmant better stayed clear from getting involved in the tribal areas.

This is what struck “Europeanview” as interesting this morning and there is, of course much more to be found through the links provided. I wish you all a very peaceful, happy and healthy Sunday. Take care! 

Huckabee’s Fair Tax – A Burden on the Poor

One would need to purchase goods for this tax to work and if retail sales are falling, then this tax would do nothing to help bolster the economy or decrease our deficit. It could give a boost to an already thriving “black market”. Republicans – they love taking those “stupid pills” with their breakfast.

From The American Prospect

Huckabee’s Magic FairTax
Huckabee’s FairTax? Nothing of the sort. It’s just a grand sales tax with fuzzy math and a fancy name.
Ezra Klein | January 17, 2008 | web only

“When the FairTax becomes law,” Mike Huckabee promises, “it will be like waving a magic wand releasing us from pain and unfairness.” That’s quite a tax policy. I’ve always found sales taxes to be more like a magic wand imbuing me with lots of pennies, even though the sweater clearly said $25.95.

And let’s be clear. That is what the “FairTax” is. A sales tax. A big one. The magical tax fairy is going to float down from her wondrous revenue castle and, with a click of her enchanted rates calculator, eliminate all federal income and payroll taxes. But she will leave in its place a hefty sales tax affecting everything you purchase (save educational spending). For every dollar you spend, you will pay an extra 30-or-so cents in “FairTaxes.” It’s like the worst magic trick ever.

I say “30-or-so cents” because no one is exactly sure what the required rates will be. This gets a little tricky, so bear with me. The FairTax folks swear on a stack of bibles it will be 23 percent. But that calculation appears, impressively, to be both wrong and misleading. When most of us hear 23 percent taxation, we imagine paying a dollar and then being asked for 23 additional pennies, for a total of $1.23. Not the FairTaxers. They run their calculations as “tax inclusive,” which means they include the total tax in our hypothetical dollar. So they imagine the item costs 77 cents, then the shopkeep adds in their 23 cents of taxation, and then you divide that total dollar — which includes the added tax — by the tax rate, to get your 23 percent. But that’s not how we’re used to thinking of these things. If the total cost of your item is 77 cents, then adding 23 cents is a tax rate of 30 percent. So under the FairTax scenario, a dollar of goods would have you handing over 30 cents of taxes.

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