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Joe and Barack's Tax Problems.

I was stunned to see some document showing Joe the Plumbers' tax problems on my 10pm (CT)newscast on the local NBC affiliate in Chicago on Thursday night. They have very little time for any national news and they actually spent time on Joe the Plumbers' tax problems. Amazing!

But when an actual candidate — Barack Obama — released his tax returns, which on their face seemed to show an ethics violation of Illinois law, the press couldn't care less.

Just to remind you, Illinois prohibits state legislators from taking speaking fees, and Barack reported "speaking fees.":

Apparently, as an Illinois state legislator through 2004, Barack was prohibited from taking honoraria for speaking under the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act.

But what about Barack Obama's 2000 and 2002 tax returns?

2000: On his 2000 Schedule C-EZ, Barack reported that he received $16,500 as a "Foundation director/Educational speaker."

2001: On his 2001 Schedule C-EZ, Barack reported $98,158 from a Chicago law firm, Miner, Barnhill, for "Legal services/attorney" (and nothing for speaking).

2002: On his 2002 Schedule C, Barack reported $34,491 for "LEGAL SERVCES / SPEAKING FEES."

These "speaking fees" are in addition to the amounts that Barack was paid as an employee, a lecturer at the University of Chicago, reported on the first page of his 1040s.

The Illinois Governmental Ethics Act (apparently last changed in 1995) provides:

(5 ILCS 420/2-110)

Sec. 2-110. Honoraria.

(a) No member of the General Assembly shall accept any honorarium.

(b) As used in this Section:

"Honorarium" means a payment of money to a member of the General Assembly for an appearance or speech . . . .

I really don't blame Obama for not addressing this; he released his tax returns after all. The problem is the press, which seems to be having more trouble than usual doing its job this season.

As I've said before, the best solution to the problem is integrating the newsrooms politically.

therut (mail):
Big Deal. The MSM is pathetic. We all know how it works. Not only is the media biased in how and what they report. But in what they do not. What headlines they print and where in the paper it is placed. Like their corrections. One of the reason I do not pay a penny for any paper. They are dying old, musty decaying things. The majority of citizens are anticipating the wake.
10.18.2008 1:17am
Spasm91:
Conjunction-Adverb-Obama:-a-crook. Day after tomorrow.

Just figured I'd get that over with.
10.18.2008 1:30am
David Warner:
"As I've said before, the best solution to the problem is integrating the newsrooms politically."

I'd settle for culturally. Mencken recruitment drive!
10.18.2008 1:32am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
It looks to me like Obama reported income in merged categories which in each case included "speaking fees" as one alternative. That means that it is possible that he didn't actually receive any income in the form of speaking fees. The income reported under the heading "Foundation director/Educational speaker" could all be income as a foundation director. It is also possible that the speaking was part of the duties in the first category, e.g. that such speaking as he did was in his capacity as a foundation director, in which case he may well not have been considered to be taking speaking fees.

It would seem that further information is needed before reaching the conclusion that he received speaking fees in contravention of the Illinois legislative rules.
10.18.2008 1:35am
Nathan_M (mail):
Are you really blaming the media for not rerunning "Obama Attacks: Greatest Hits March Volume"? The media is biased for not rooting around in the archives for nasty things to say about Obama just before the election?

If it's any consolation, I haven't seen Senator Bob Smith on the news lately to say that "[McCain's] temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him." No doubt that's because the media is biased against Obama. Or maybe that was a story from April, so it's not news any more.

If John McCain and Sarah Palin aren't making an issue of Obama's tax return, why should the media dig up a six month old story sua sponte?
10.18.2008 1:38am
Richard A. (mail):
Don't blame the media. Blame the McCain campaign for focusing on Joe the Plumber instead. Why? Perhaps because Joe's a better story. It's hard to imagine the public getting all worked up about honoraria vs. a rather huge gaffe by Obama in answering what should have been a simple question.
10.18.2008 1:39am
Patent Lawyer:
Nathan_M--

Perhaps they have no reason to bring it up now, but shortly after Obama's tax returns were released would have been nice. For a more direct comparison, I seem to remember hearing about the terrible ethics violation of Palin not including her per diem as governor on her income taxes quite a bit--without Obama bringing up the subject.
10.18.2008 1:56am
hawkins:
Huh?
10.18.2008 2:00am
omatsca (mail):
Sen. Obama should simply call for an ethics investigation, and then declare himself proud to be exonerated no matter what the results of that investigation are. Ah, the malleability of Truth when subjected to Palinesque obfuscation...

I have to agree with the main point, though. Obama's tax records should be a much bigger deal than Joe the Plumber's. (Although it is interesting that the McCain campaign has given such a central role to the entirely aspirational, hypothetical income of a random individual. I'd like to be a billionaire. Would my taxes be higher under an Obama administration?) (Sorry about the digression.)
10.18.2008 2:15am
DonBoy (mail) (www):
FOX News hasn't run anything on this either. Are they part of the liberal media conspiracy?
10.18.2008 2:18am
astrangerwithcandy (mail):

The media is biased for not rooting around in the archives for nasty things to say about Obama just before the election?


don't be a terd. you know exactly what he is saying: its ridiculous that neither of the presidential candidate's returns were scrutinized as heavily as a non-licensed plumber.
10.18.2008 2:21am
Jim Rhoads (mail):
And as usual if something is embarrassing, change the subject.

Yeah, that's the ticket.
10.18.2008 2:33am
Jim at FSU (mail):
I thought the big deal about Joe the Plumber wasn't that he did anything spectacular, it was that he asked Obama a completely ordinary question and Obama responded by expressing his intent to "spread the wealth around."

If Obama had just done his usual tap-dance and gave some meaningless platitude, no one would even care who Joe is.
10.18.2008 3:13am
Bill Kilgore:
I would just like to thank Obama and the people at the NY Times division of his campaign. It's long been time to speak truth to plumbers and to step up for the little-guy against big plumbing. By taking the time to show that this uppity turd-chaser is grossly unqualified to speak to our leader, let alone ask our leader questions related to tax policy, I feel that in the future people will be think twice before questioning their betters. That's change I can believe in.

Thank you Obama, thank God for you. (I hope that wasn't redundant.)
10.18.2008 3:20am
Robb (mail) (www):
Joe the Plumber's tax problems are very relevant: The tax lien on his property is evidence that he's broke, and not actually contemplating buying a business with earnings (or receipts?) of $250,000. (Which would cost how much --- closer to a million?)

And so, adding it all up: (1) Already not paying his taxes, (2) broke and not able to buy a $250K/yr business, (3) not actually a plumber, and (4) wouldn't pay more taxes anyhow under the scenario under either candidates tax plans,

The use of Joe as an icon isn't very ethical, in my opinion. McCain's campaign is consistently underestimating the electorate, which is why, IMO, it's doing poorly.
10.18.2008 3:21am
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Robb, that's the most transparent specious rationalization I've seen in many a year, and I've got alcoholics in the family. First, what god damned business is it of anyone's whether his dream to buy a business was sensible? He's just some guy, literally picked off the street by the Obama campaign, who made the mistake of embarrassing Obama. Second, he was completing an apprenticeship and talking to his long-time employer about buying the employer out; assuming they're personally close, it would be at all unusual for someone looking to retire to help a valued friend and employee to take over a business. And third, if using someone "as an icon" is unethical, then you must be really disgusted with Obama and Biden; at least McCain used someone real, instead of appealing to the guys he saw the other day at a restaurant that's been closed for 20 years.
10.18.2008 3:33am
LarryA (mail) (www):
And so, adding it all up: (1) Already not paying his taxes,
He had two liens, one of which he paid off. The remaining lien is $1,200, not a great deal of money. Property taxes on my home are much more.
(2) broke and not able to buy a $250K/yr business,
Ever heard of a "small business loan?" Or the former owner carrying a note? A tax lien doesn't imply you have no money, or no income.
(3) not actually a plumber, and
He doesn't have a city license that isn't required for the jobs he works, and isn't a member of the union. Big deal. If he installs plumbing fixtures, he's a plumber.
(4) wouldn't pay more taxes anyhow under the scenario under either candidates tax plans,
Irrelevant. Obama still couldn't answer the question.
It looks to me like Obama reported income in merged categories which in each case included "speaking fees" as one alternative.
As I remember from last spring, such Schedule C income isn't reported in fixed categories. The taxpayer fills in the blank.
10.18.2008 4:06am
Splunge:
I'm sorry, who gives a shit if Joe the Plumber is a convicted murderer and compulsive liar? What's the relevance?

Is the theory that, because he'd turned to the Dark Side of the Force years ago, Joe used his mind control rays to make Obama give a dumfuk answer to a straightforward question -- which is the real issue here?

Or is the theory that because Joe, possibly, doesn't actually fit into the category of person who might reasonably be concerned about Obama's tax plans and be a simpatico character (fine pillar o' the community single mother ER nurse, yadda yadda) -- then no such person can conceivably exist?

That is, it's the well-programmed Obamabot opinion that the entire country is divided, schizophrenically, into worthy yeoman "middle class" worker bees, who need a fat government check so the landlord doesn't turn Tiny Tim out into the snow on Christmas Eve, and corpulent corporate CEOs, wearing black top hats and smoking stogies, who pull down $50 mil a year? No reg'lar Joes building a tiny business with 5 or 10 employees, and a miniscule profit (for a ten-person group effort) of $250,000, who are, indeed, going to find it hard to add another employee, or move into better digs, or put up a web page, if Obama whacks them an extra $5000 a year in taxes to "spread the wealth"?
10.18.2008 4:13am
pmorem (mail):
I'd like to hear from someone who supports Obama on this one.

The treatment of Joe the Plumber strikes me as disturbing.

Is this kind of investigation of critics likely to be standard fare under an Obama administration?

If not, why not? Or is this kind of thing acceptable?

Is it reasonable to investigate in detail anyone who dares to question or oppose Obama?
10.18.2008 4:13am
Tit for Tat (mail):

the best solution to the problem is integrating the newsrooms politically.

A little affirmative action goes a long way. While we're at it can we politically integrate the boardrooms? That would certainly be the best solution to the capitalism problem. Come to think of it, I think when you mandate that the economy be ran by a cross-section of society the resulting board is called a Soviet. What do you call a newsroom that is mandated to publish the propaganda of both parties?
10.18.2008 4:30am
richard cabeza:
Tit for Tat: I think his point has been that it should be voluntary, in order to avoid such embarassments as the reporting has been.

Of course, it requires the ability to see such reporting as a problem in the first place and for the market to react reasonably to it. But if news outlets want to run themselves into the ground, I say let them.
10.18.2008 4:35am
Ohio Scrivener (mail):
"Joe the Plumber's tax problems are very relevant."

Nice try, but Joe the Plumber and his personal finances are not the issue. The issue is Obama's response. Obama gave a very revealing answer to a simple question that Joe asked. Obama let his mask slip and his supporters are now scrambling to defend his socialist agitprop by attacking Joe the Plumber. I don't care whether Joe is teetering on bankruptcy or is the next Warren Buffet. I do care, however, that Obama told Joe that he plans to redistribute the wealth of this country aka "spread the wealth around."

I also find it pathetic that the most significant question asked to Obama in recent memory has come from some guy named Joe standing on his front lawn.
10.18.2008 4:46am
TJIT (mail):
Robb,

First: obama gave a stupid answer to a simple question.

Second: obama, you and a legion of obamatrons have decided to slime Joe the plumber in order to distract folks from the fact that obama gave a stupid answer.

Third: in a truly entertaining development this sliming has now boomeranged on obama.

It looks like he may have to throw another body (his campaign treasurer) under the bus because (wait for it and who could of guessed) obama's campaign treasurer has a tax lien against him.

I'm sure you and you fellow obamatrons will be consistent and begin ruthlessly sliming the campaign treasurer with the same vigor and enthusiasm you slimed joe the plumber.
Shouldn't We Be More Worried About Obama's Campaign Treasurer's Tax Lien?

I wonder if she feels the same way about Obama's campaign treasurer, Martin Nesbitt, who has a $2,411 tax lien from the state of California.

Think about it. In 24 hours, we've learned more unflattering details about a guy who asked Obama a question and walked away unpersuaded than almost any of his campaign staff or associates.
10.18.2008 4:51am
Bill Dyer (mail) (www):
Compulsory integration won't work.

The solution is for the corporations who run the newsrooms to wither and eventually fall into either bankruptcy or thorough-going reform. The market is already taking care of it.
10.18.2008 5:57am
Splunge:
While we're at it can we politically integrate the boardrooms?

A little clueless, are we? Ever hear of Warren Buffet, George Soros? Rich, rich guys. Total Democrats.

The silly ass stereotype that says every board member and CEO is a country-club Republican is straight out of the 1950s (and even then it wasn't true). Wake up, Rip van Winkle. Plenty of board members and CEOs are Democrats. I know some.

It's certainly true that the proportion of board members and CEOs who are Republican is higher than in the general population, but that is very likely simply because they tend to be men in their 50s and 60s, who are more Republican than average. (And as for why that's true: well, does the Democratic Party have anything to offer the generic 55-year-old businessman? I mean, aside from the opportunity to serve as society's designated fall guy and all-purpose villain?)
10.18.2008 6:28am
Robb (mail) (www):

(4) wouldn't pay more taxes anyhow under the scenario under either candidates tax plans,

Irrelevant. Obama still couldn't answer the question.


I watched the debate, and it seemed to me, McCain brought "Joe the Plumber" into the forum repeatedly to make two points:

(1) Obama's response was a bad one, and the "spread the wealth" phrase is indicative of faulty liberal policies, and

(2) Joe the Plumber is representative of the kind of people in the kind of situation that Obama's plans will hurt, but McCain's will help. McCain's direct address to Joe is evidence of this.

I agree that (1) does sound sketchy.

But I still believe that the info about Joe, and the truth that Obama's plan wouldn't hurt him is very relevant to (2).
10.18.2008 6:29am
richard cabeza:
Splunge, you may want to read the original post again. I don't think that Republicans are over-represented in the press, and I don't think JL was suggesting anything but the opposite.
10.18.2008 6:30am
Order of the Coif:
As I've said before, the best solution to the problem is integrating the newsrooms politically.


It's no fun being the token "Conservative" (even if you are a Libertarian) on a 35 person law school faculty. After two or three dozen luncheon "conversations" at which your assumed positions are Exhibit A, you learn to eat a bag lunch or volunteer to teach 12:00pm classes.
10.18.2008 6:34am
pmorem (mail):
Robb, that's an interesting theory...
The problem with it is that the slime-job on Joe had already started before the debate.
10.18.2008 6:46am
LM (mail):
I'm sure the MSM will rake over Obama's tax returns as soon as they get to the bottom of the LSAT and birth certificate scandals. You guys just need to do a better job of prioritizing your muck.
10.18.2008 6:54am
PersonFromPorlock:
Oddly enough, Joe-the-unlicensed-plumber is being called a non-plumber by unlicensed journalists.
10.18.2008 7:07am
Michael B (mail):
This reflects but one additional reason why the MSM can aptly and responsibly be thought of as a mephitis of flim-flams, obfuscations and worse this election cycle. As with the Military-Industrial complex, the MSM-Left/Dem complex or Media-Political complex is in full operation. E.g., here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here. Those and perhaps dozens of other prominent examples that could be offered serve to substantiate that mephitic quality that pervades the MSM this election cycle.

Obama is not only not responsibly vetted by our self-enamored Fourth Estate, worse still those media elites serve as apologists and cover for critical aspects of BHO's history and ideological interests, eliding and occluding information such as is reflected here, Barack Obama, Socialist? and here, Barack Obama, Socialist? Part II. But those are two examples only, and not the most egregious examples that could be offered. All this, yet somehow Joe the plumber needs to be thoroughly vetted, because he asked a question that illuminates Obama's designs for what they are. Hence, retribution becomes the order of the day and a contingent of reporters and talking heads are given their marching orders; the public needs to be told what to think and how to think, lest any illumination take place absent editorial review by these self-appointed elites.

Perhaps the most succinct and illuminating understanding of what a true journalist is was penned by Martha Gellhorn: "Serious, careful, honest journalism is essential, not because it is a guiding light but because it is a form of honorable behavior, involving the reporter and the reader."

Simple, unbeguiling and honorable behavior, involving the reporter and the reader. By contrast, we are beset with howler monkey talking-heads and reporters such as Matthews and Olberman, more subdued howlers such as Campbell Brown and a host of others who leverage the most subtle and the most egregious deceits. All of it while imagining they're honorable journalists rather than pretenders and politicized hacks.

What's striking is that none of that is hyperbole, it can all be substantiated and defended.
10.18.2008 8:27am
BT:
I happen to know someone in upper management at Channel 5 and I can tell you that there ain't going to be any integration of large or small c conservatives there or anywhere else in Chicago's media anytime soon. They are largely mouth pieces for liberal causes just like the national media are. Take a look at the Tribune's endorsement of BO, remember this was the paper that did his dirty work against Jack Ryan four years ago that gave BO a clear shot at the US Senate. Interesting that they haven't gone to such great lenghts to investigate BO isn't it?

It is apparent that many liberals are drawn to certain types of work, especially it seems where advocacy is a central theme (or has become so in recent years) law, journalism, education, social work, etc. The only way to counter act this is to develope alternative sources for information as has been done with talk radio, blogs, etc.
10.18.2008 8:36am
BT:
Also you shouldn't be stunned by what NBC did. They are merely doing their job in protecting BO and seeing that he gets elected. By focusing on Joe's problems and not BO's remarkably stupid answer and what it reveals about BO, which is where the focus should be, they keep BO safe and sound and he gets to dance away from another potentially troubling aspect of his candidacy.
10.18.2008 8:45am
cboldt (mail):
-- the best solution to the problem is integrating the newsrooms politically. --
.
I have the opposite view. Any sort of "integration" or "honest journalism" meme is pure BS from the get go. Journalists and media should be thought of as charlatans as a matter of common instinct. I mentally lump them (and politicians) into the same group that includes white-collar criminals and fraudsters.
.
If freedom is going to re-emerge, the people must stop letting inveterate liars do their thinking for them. As long as they believe there is balance or honesty in the press, readers won't take the chore of "searching for truth and conclusions" upon themselves.
10.18.2008 9:18am
Minotauro (mail):
Good one. The press will give Osama a pass though!
10.18.2008 9:28am
DNL (mail):
Newrooms need to stop acting as if they're above and immune from human nature and therefore unbiased. It's laughable, not laudable, to teach and insist that journalists remain allegedly neutral when they -- like any of us -- are entirely incapable of doing so. Preferring one candidate, policy, or political party to another is not a failing; it's expected. (Indeed, being entirely neutral would be odd.)

The political leanings of those who write to and contribute to an article -- even down to the guy who writes the headlines -- is perfectly relevant to the reader's appreciate of the story itself. This information needs to be explicit and transparent.
10.18.2008 9:31am
just me (mail):
Joe the Plumber's tax problems are very relevant:

Not.

Joe was playing football in his yard, when Obama showed up in his neighborhood.

Joe asked him a tough question.

Obama blew it.

Instead of saying he blew it, he instead allows all his little minions to go after Joe as if Joe's license or lack of license, ability to buy a business or not, or whether or not he has paid all his taxes mattered or makes the horrible answer he gave go away.

Joe asked an honest question and Obama gave an honest answer.

What bothers me is that the press has gone after Joe in a way that they haven't gone after Obama, and Obama is the guy running for president-Joe is the guy who is just trying to make a living in Ohio and has dreams of owning his own business one day.
10.18.2008 9:55am
smitty1e:
PJTV
Hopefully by next election cycle they shall have become big enough to boldly go where Senator Obama has already gone:
their own channel.
While that's simply a First Amendment play, I do hope the Court of Public Opinion weighs in against _any_ personal channels for elected officials. Seems to cut against the grain of being a civil servant, somehow.
10.18.2008 10:09am
Boonton (mail) (www):
I'm not so sure the speaking fee issue is more newsworthy. I'm an Obama supporter but the Joe the Plumber story is essentially about progressive taxation and the negative side of increasing it. While I'm not convinced the negative impact to Joe &the economy as a whole is sufficient to outweigh the necessity of some type of tax increase, I think it is pretty important to talk about even if it is in this convoluted manner of "Joe the Plumber" versus "Sally the soccar mom with the adjusting mortgage" or "Bill the returning Iraq vet who wants to become a vet but can't afford college" or whatever 'real life' character our candidates are finding.

Instead of saying he blew it, he instead allows all his little minions to go after Joe as if Joe's license or lack of license, ability to buy a business or not, or whether or not he has paid all his taxes mattered or makes the horrible answer he gave go away


Well I think it is interesting that the biggest problem Joe has starting a plumbing business is NOT Obama's tax policy but local license requirements which make it very hard for anyone to just 'be a plumber'. Likewise, one of the reasons Joe's hypothetical business would make $250K in profit every year is because license requirements would keep a portion of the competition out of the market.

It is pretty important to keep in mind that even though they are hard to boil down to a number like a tax rate, these rules that are almost entirely all at the state and local level probably do more to inhibit small business growth than progressive taxation.

Ohhh yea, Republicans didn't think twice of going after the Democratic poster kids for Bush vetoeing health insurance for kids.

10.18.2008 10:25am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Actually, Boonton, it was for the children of the wealthy. That's why the investigation was so noisy. The dems wanted the folks to be poor. I mean be seen to be poor, which they weren't.
So it was a lie.
10.18.2008 10:27am
finman:
The media should just point out the obvious: the messiah needn't bother abiding by rules written for normal, fallible, Illinois legislators.
10.18.2008 11:02am
MLS:
2001: On his 2001 Schedule C-EZ, Barack reported $98,158 from a Chicago law firm, Miner, Barnhill, for "Legal services/attorney" (and nothing for speaking).


This one does seem a bit odd.
10.18.2008 11:07am
Angus:
This one does seem a bit odd.
Imagine, an attorney doing legal services!
10.18.2008 11:14am
DanO29 (mail) (www):
1)The assertion that Joe the Plumber has a Tax lien speaks more to the problem with the tax system and the lack of protections for the taxpayer than his being accused of owing taxes, and a complete lack of due process. The application of a lien by a taxing agency on a man's property does not mean the man legally or morally owes the tax man a single dime.

Have you ever tried to argue with the IRS or the state franchise tax board?

2)I'm a licensed Telecommunications contractor. But before I was a licensed contractor I worked for a telephone company. I called myself accurately a telephone repairman way back in 1969 as I do now. I am amazed at the lack of just basic knowledge of how small business works by the left. You start with the dream of being your own boss, perceiving a need and work to make it happen. A man's success is tied to his abilities and luck.

As a side note, I would like to take this opportunity and speak for the many members of my profession and thank the many Professors, Lawyers, doctors and other professional people that have over the years have opened their homes to utility workers and tradesmen so that we might perform our primary duty of giving comfort and aid to the lonely housewives of America. We salute you.
10.18.2008 11:16am
Lively:
The Joe the Plumber incident could chill average citizens from speaking up if they know the full force of the media will be going after them.

Would you asked a negative question if you knew your property tax records, professional regulation records, driving record and voter registration record would be summarily pulled?

I don't have anything to hide. As far as I know, all of my above mentioned records are in good order. But what about people who are trying to straighten out things.
10.18.2008 11:29am
MLS:

$98K+ is not an insubstantial sum. In view of his other ongoing activities, it does seem a bit odd that he had the time to also practice law.
10.18.2008 11:38am
byomtov (mail):
I don't care about Joe the Plumber. I do care about McCain using him to spread a lot of lies about Obama's tax plan, like how it will keep the Joes of the world from buying a plumbing business.
10.18.2008 11:46am
byomtov (mail):
The Joe the Plumber incident could chill average citizens from speaking up if they know the full force of the media will be going after them.

Would you asked a negative question if you knew your property tax records, professional regulation records, driving record and voter registration record would be summarily pulled?


Are you seriously blaming Obama for this? Talk about derangement. If McCain hadn't made Joe a big part of his debate arguments no on would have had the slightest interest in his conversation with Obama. Do you think he's the only person in the country who ever asked Obama a question or expressed an opinion.

Anyone who thinks it was Obama who dragged Joe into an unwelcome spotlight needs to think again.
10.18.2008 11:51am
Calderon:
Imagine, an attorney doing legal services!

Imagine, a family physician providing medical services!
10.18.2008 11:51am
Alexia:
Obama's campaign treasurer has a personal tax lien, and several tax liens on his business.

Why isn't the media all over that?
10.18.2008 11:58am
JK:
Ahh, the irony, in a post about how horrible "the MSM" is, you make a bold, insufficiently supported, claim about possible criminal activity on the part of a candidate. Yes, the world is certainly going to be a much more enlightened place when blogs are a primary source of news.
10.18.2008 12:04pm
cboldt (mail):
-- Imagine, a family physician providing medical services! --
.
Interesting pick for an "equivalent."
.
[Senator Coburn] said that he has a duty to his patients, many of whom are indigent, and that he needs to continue his practice to maintain his skills and his medical license.
.
"I am currently caring for many high-risk patients including some who have multiple sclerosis and other debilitating conditions," Coburn wrote the committee. "I simply cannot abandon those patients. I trust that the committee can imagine how abruptly terminating my practice would violate my medical ethics."

.
And he was given 9 months post being sworn in to get out of the medical business.
.
I'm curious too, now that's brought up. What cases and clients did Obama work on, simultaneous to being a state legislator, that resulted in nearly 100,000 in compensation for legal services. What is his billing rate?
10.18.2008 12:07pm
cboldt (mail):
-- a bold, insufficiently supported, claim about possible criminal activity on the part of a candidate. --
.
That'd be ethics violation, not crime. And he's right. On it's face, the tax returns state an ethics violation. "Shall accept no speaking fees" is the ethical obligation, and the tax form recites "money for speaking."
.
It's easy enough to clear up. Show the invoices or other materials that support the income, and since none of those will involve speaking for a fee, the matter is cleared as being an innocent shorthand on the tax form.
.
The point is that the media doesn't undertake objective research or reporting.
.
Fake but accurate.
.
The crowd booed.
.
"Kill him"
.
etc.
10.18.2008 12:14pm
Lucius Cornelius:
Ok folks. I happen to work for the Ohio Department of Taxation. Word spread through my office the morning after the third presidential debate that Joe the Plumber had a tax lien against him.

Ohio law prohibits Tax Department employees from "browsing" the office databases. So there was a possible violation of this law in my office (unless the employee who made the initial connection had that file in front of him for a legitimate reason).

Ohio law also prohibits discussing information reported by taxpayers, even if that information is public record. So I could not talk about it with anyone, but I wondered how long it would take for someone to research the public records in Lucas County and find this fact out. I was amazed at how fast this happened.

Does anyone know if you can research tax liens (and other liens) in Lucas County, Ohio online? If not, that means someone had to go into the County Recorder's office to look that information up.

I find it a little scary that a private person who asks a politician a question can find himself getting hit with this kind of scrutiny. Let's suppose that Joe was a GOP plant. What difference would it make? Did it make a difference that the person who taped the infamous "macaca" comment by George Allen was a Democratic operative? Not one bit.

Senator Obama answered a question in way that has generated controversy...everything else is a distraction.
10.18.2008 12:30pm
Bandon:
It's clear that Obama could have given a better answer to Joe the Plumber, but I kind of doubt that Joe (as a registered Republican) was being open to whatever Obama had to say anyway.

The "spread the wealth" issue is a classic in the liberal-conservative wars, so I can see why McCain would try to make it a big issue. However, the U.S. is already committed to some wealth-spreading by having a progressive income tax. The current argument is simply over restoring a few more percentage points of tax liability for the wealthiest Americans. A degree of wealth-sharing is thus a given for both candidates -- we're simply haggling over the amount.

I would think that people would be more worried about how McCain plans to keep his balanced budget promises without increasing tax revenues. He talks about spending cuts, but is a little vague about exactly where he would cut. Given his plans to dismantle employer-based healthcare without protecting consumers from the corporate greed of insurance companies, I would also be very worried about the fate of public programs like Medicare/Medicaid under a McCain administration. These are programs that "spread the wealth," but they provide an essential safety net for the most vulnerable members of our society. I have yet to hear an intelligent argument about how getting government out of the way of the free market would sustain this safety net. Has anyone asked Joe the Plumber?
10.18.2008 12:34pm
Public_Defender (mail):
As Bill Poser pointed out, the tax returns could be correct and all income both ethically obtained and correctly reported. It's very possible, if not probably, that the MSM looked into this and discovered no story.

Generally, the order of practice for responsible journalists is 1) speculate; 2) investigate; 3) publish. Apparently, the order for Jim Lindgren (not a real journalist, I admit) is 1) speculate; 2) publish; 3) investigate.
10.18.2008 12:38pm
PersonFromPorlock:
byomtov:

Do you think he's the only person in the country who ever asked Obama a question...?

No, but he's one of the few who got an answer.
10.18.2008 12:38pm
Boonton (mail) (www):
"Actually, Boonton, it was for the children of the wealthy."

Actually it was for the children of the middle and lower middle class but regardless Republicans tried the same thing, trash the example kid by accusing his parents of really being wealthy. Turned out they were wrong but you can't blame anyone today for looking into the facts of Joe the Plumbers assertion that Obama's policies would inhibit him from buying the business.

"The assertion that Joe the Plumber has a Tax lien speaks more to the problem with the tax system and the lack of protections for the taxpayer than his being accused of owing taxes, and a complete lack of due process."

How do you know? Maybe the guy just didn't pay the tax he owes? Unless someone has found out more about it, Joe hasn't disputed the validity of the tax.

"Would you asked a negative question if you knew your property tax records, professional regulation records, driving record and voter registration record would be summarily pulled?"

Unfortunately McCain has made Joe the latest centerpiece of his campaign (previous centerpieces including, Palin the Great, Palin the discriminated against woman, McCain: taking a few personal days off the campaign to fix the economy, let's kill the SEC head!, Obama: terrorist pal, and now Joe the Plumber. People should ask why does the candidate for the leading cannot make his arguments himself.

"The "spread the wealth" issue is a classic in the liberal-conservative wars, so I can see why McCain would try to make it a big issue. "

Indeed but what exactly is spending $300B to buy up mortgages under the water? Or even, for that matter, giving everyone a $5,000 tax credit to buy health insurance? McCain suddenly going all Atlas Shrugged now is a bit like Paris Hilton campaigning on a True Love Waits platform.
10.18.2008 1:11pm
MLS:

wealthiest Americans


This is a phrase that has always left me wondering what it actually means. Real people...juridicial people...both?

Merely as an aside, this whole "progressive/regressive" characterization of taxes I find a bit disingenuous and merely political rhetoric. Every other aspect of our economy eschews these terms. When was the last time anyone walked into a department store and paid an amount for a shirt/blouse based upon the contents of his/her W-2? A gallon of milk costs "Joe the plumber" precisely the same as "Buffett the investor". Is this really fair? After all, "Buffet the investor" is certainly able to pay more, thus letting "Joe the plumber" pay a lesser amount more in line with his financial situation.
10.18.2008 1:26pm
Skorri (mail):
I'm voting for Obama, but I don't see how 'Joe the Plumber' getting dragged through the mud is defensible. It's definitely fair game to find out if either candidate's proposed tax plans would actually harm him, but beyond that, it's unnecessary, distracting, and cruel. And as someone else mentioned above, likely to have a chilling effect on other potential question askers.

That said, the responsibility for it is on the journalists who pushed the stories about JtP and the particular editors that allowed it. Obama certainly has no responsibility for answering a question on the campaign trail, nor does McCain for using him to put on a face on a generalized class of citizens.

This isn't a partisan issue.
10.18.2008 1:30pm
Brian K (mail):
When was the last time anyone walked into a department store and paid an amount for a shirt/blouse based upon the contents of his/her W-2? A gallon of milk costs "Joe the plumber" precisely the same as "Buffett the investor".

you don't shop very much do you? i've walked into stores and seen shirts on sale for anywhere from $5 to just shy of $400. (different stores but all men's dress shirts). i can buy a gallon of milk for about $3 or $5 for 2, but i can also buy a gallon of organic milk or milk certified to be "better" by some arbitrary criteria for much more (i've seen at most ~$6/half gallon at one whole foods.)

Even though we both wear dress shirts, somehow i doubt warren buffet wears the same $15 dress shirts that i do.
10.18.2008 1:34pm
MLS:
Brian K,

My sole point was to note that if either bought the identical item at the same store the amount paid is the same for both, no matter what their income.

BTW, I would not be surprised in the least if you and WB wear identical shirts.
10.18.2008 1:41pm
vmark1:
Anyone that messes w/the tax code is either; a) dumber than a box of Q-tips b) arrogant, feels above the law c) roll the dice, if I get caught? Pout, blame CPA, pay fine. Hey if not...Look at our banking committee's approach, these yo-yo's can barely speak w/all the canary feathers on their lips. No stopping them. In case you missed any of the hearings I've found the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sm1Jyusyoqk

Another interesting income figure. Michelle made 121,900/in 04 working for the U of C Hospital..."administrator" in 05 still an "administrator." 316,962. What happened? Ooops. BO is now a US Senator. Change Indeed.
10.18.2008 1:49pm
byomtov (mail):
Do you think he's the only person in the country who ever asked Obama a question...?

No, but he's one of the few who got an answer.


Nice line, PFP, but not particularly accurate.

At least he's taking questions, unlike St. Sarah of the Bridge, whose campaign doesn't allow her within 100 yards of any reporter.
10.18.2008 1:49pm
Nathan_M (mail):
Ohio law prohibits Tax Department employees from "browsing" the office databases. So there was a possible violation of this law in my office (unless the employee who made the initial connection had that file in front of him for a legitimate reason).
...

Does anyone know if you can research tax liens (and other liens) in Lucas County, Ohio online?

You can do it using this site. There are probably much better ones, that was just the first I found from Google.

Tax liens are publically available everywhere. Imagine buying a house if you couldn't search the liens on it first. And even if they're not online, it would not take long to do the search in person. So while it's possible the media found out about the lien from someone in your department, I think it's much more likely they went looking for it themselves.
10.18.2008 2:04pm
GMUSOL05:

$98K+ is not an insubstantial sum. In view of his other ongoing activities, it does seem a bit odd that he had the time to also practice law.


One of my local state representatives is a prominent and rather wealthy attorney practicing in my county. So I can tell you from personal experience and observation that, no, it is not "odd" at all.
10.18.2008 2:06pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Does anyone know if you can research tax liens (and other liens) in Lucas County, Ohio online?

The database is down. You would have to register to use it, apparently. But the assessor/recorder database works, showing all the data about the house one would want, including aerial and street-level photos.
10.18.2008 2:07pm
richard cabeza:
Merely as an aside, this whole "progressive/regressive" characterization of taxes I find a bit disingenuous and merely political rhetoric.

"from each according to his ability"
10.18.2008 2:09pm
GMUSOL05:

I'm voting for Obama, but I don't see how 'Joe the Plumber' getting dragged through the mud is defensible.


If someone gets made into a prop, they become a target. I don't care if it's the kid who was being used by Congressional Democrats in the tobacco hearings in the early 90s, or if it's some 30something Joe Who-The-Eff-Cares being used by John McCain today. Maybe getting used as a prop is out of his control, and that's unfortunate, but it's the fault of the person who holds him out there, not the fault of the people who respond.
10.18.2008 2:10pm
PC:
Take a look at the Tribune's endorsement of BO, remember this was the paper that did his dirty work against Jack Ryan four years ago that gave BO a clear shot at the US Senate.

I was wondering what the spin on the Chicago Tribune's endorsement was going to be. In 161 years the Tribune has never endorsed a Democrat. But their endorsement is now suspect because they have endorsed Obama. Funny.
10.18.2008 2:14pm
Ben P:

$98K+ is not an insubstantial sum. In view of his other ongoing activities, it does seem a bit odd that he had the time to also practice law.


I, for one, have never heard of a lawfirm keeping well known attorneys on the payroll despite the fact they are doing little to no legal work.
10.18.2008 2:24pm
eyesay:
Re Joe the plumber, several comments here incorrectly assume (a) a sound-bite by Obama about spreading wealth was his entire response to Joe; (b) Obama dodged the question and didn't answer it. Both assumptions are incorrect.

The Video of Barack Obama's conversation with Joe the Plumber lasts 5 minutes, 46 seconds. If you heard 5 or 10 or 20 second soundbite, you heard a tiny excerpt out of context. Watch the whole thing, or read the near-transcript at ABC News.

Obama was polite and engaging, and he explained his tax plan in detail.

Joe said the company he planned to buy would make 250K to 280K per year. He didn't say if this was gross or net. (In reality, the gross revenue of the company is probably below $250K.)

Obama explained that under his tax proposal, there would be no increase below $250K and a 3% increase above 250K. Thus, if Joe's high-end $280K net profit estimate is correct, Obama's tax proposal would increase the tax by 3% of $30K ... or just $900.

Hello, there's a Republican war going in Iraq costing over $100 billion a year that we have to pay for somehow. A small business spinning off $280,000 annual profit to its owner can afford to kick in $900 to help pay for the Republican deficits of the 2000s decade.

But John McCain dragged Joe the Plumber into the presidential debate to sell Joe the Voter on the lying theory that Barack Obama's tax plans would hurt job formation. Yeah, right, a $280,000 business is going to avoid hiring an employee because of a $900 tax increase? Mr. McCain, I expect a higher level of debate from a distinguished senator like you. And I expect a higher level of debate from the distinguished lawyers and non-lawyers commenting on the Volokh Conspiracy.
10.18.2008 2:34pm
byomtov (mail):
Mr. McCain, I expect a higher level of debate from a distinguished senator like you. And I expect a higher level of debate from the distinguished lawyers and non-lawyers commenting on the Volokh Conspiracy.

I used to expect that too.
10.18.2008 2:38pm
MLS:
Mr. Cabeza,

I am curious why you chose to quote "from each according to his ability". I have usually seen the quote attributed to Karl Marx.
10.18.2008 2:43pm
therut (mail):
Does anyone know of a good place to read an overall account of how in heck we got progressive income taxes? How did the people get talked into this scheme?
10.18.2008 2:49pm
therut (mail):
As far as integrating the news media do you not remember all the hangwringing after the last election of how the MSM missed all the "value voters" discussed everywhere in the MSM. They talked of needing to have a diverse group of people from different parts of the country with differect outlooks on things. Of coarse that NEVER happened. It was all hangwringing and talk. Maybe they will be stunned this time around too and we can watch their navel gazing again.
10.18.2008 2:53pm
MLS:
eyesay:

Quite frankly, I have tried to figure out the tax plans of each without success. What and who is "rich"? What and who is "middle class"? What and who is "poor"? What does "elderly" mean (per Mr. Obama's plan)?

Adding to my problem is that their respective "health plans" are so closely associated with their respective tax plans that it is well nigh impossible to determine their effect.
10.18.2008 2:55pm
Russ (mail):
If someone gets made into a prop, they become a target.

Great. Let me know when folks will be going after Obama's children. Or, for the sake of nostalgia, when the MSM will be doing those long forgotten cover stories about Chelsea Clinton.
10.18.2008 3:09pm
Russ (mail):
Hello, there's a Republican war going in Iraq costing over $100 billion a year that we have to pay for somehow.

Funny. I wear the uniform, and the name tape on the left side of it doesn't say "United States of Republicans."
10.18.2008 3:11pm
Timber (mail):

It would seem that further information is needed before reaching the conclusion that he received speaking fees in contravention of the Illinois legislative rules.



Precisely the point of this post. The press doesn't do it's job unless you are an ordinary citizen not running for office and happen to stump and embarrass the chosen one.
10.18.2008 3:13pm
Alexia:

These are programs that "spread the wealth," but they provide an essential safety net for the most vulnerable members of our society. I have yet to hear an intelligent argument about how getting government out of the way of the free market would sustain this safety net.


Do you really think that the comments section of a blog will provide answers? Neither system is perfect. But the question we are (or should be) asking is which entity is better at equitably redistributing wealth; government or business?

Joe the plumber appears to believe that it is business.
10.18.2008 3:30pm
SukieTawdry (mail):
The game has changed. Journalists are no longer simple purveyors and reporters of fact. They're crusaders. Survey any school of journalism and you'll find the majority of students have chosen the profession because they want to make the world a "better place" and most of them as products of their education are firmly entrenched liberals who naturally believe liberalism will lead us to that better place.

Sure, there have always been crusading journalists. But in the past, they typically would target a particular societal ill (such as sweat shops or child labor), illuminate the problem and spur on the public to demand correction. Today, it seems, they would eliminate the middlemen--us. No doubt if they had their druthers, they would dispense with all these annoyingly cumbersome (and unpredictable) democratic processes and merely choose our leaders for us. Not possible, of course, so they do the next best thing: stack the information deck. Cards that may contain inconvenient facts are no longer dealt but tossed immediately on the discard pile.

It was very telling that when Al Gore did his little lecture gig at Columbia, he advised those budding journalists that if the issue is really, really important (and, not surprisingly, he used global warming as his example), it was not incumbent on the media to present both sides. In fact, in such cases, it was the media's duty to report only those facts that supported the case being made. It's apparent journalists took Al's averment to heart long before he made it.

Media types are often narcissists. They long to be accepted members of the glitterati attending all the best parties, hobnobbing with the elites. They see no conflict in seeking the good opinions of the very people on whom they're expected to report.

Bill Kilgore--that was great. Thanks for the belly laugh.
10.18.2008 3:44pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I don't care about Joe the Plumber. I do care about McCain using him to spread a lot of lies about Obama's tax plan, like how it will keep the Joes of the world from buying a plumbing business.
Why is that a lie? Is it just too unpleasant for you to contemplate? I find it incredulous that you would actually believe that Obama could dream, even on some of that toot he took awhile back, that he could give tax rebates to 95% of everyone else, whether they pay taxes or not, impose national health care and any number of other federal programs, freeze SS retirement age, etc. merely from only raising taxes on those earning over $250,000 and on them by a mere 3%. I know the guy has no business training or experience, but even absent that, the infeasibility and unreality of that plan should be obvious.

Or, do you consider that pointing out that Obama told Joe that he needed to spread the money around a lie? Maybe that wasn't Obama speaking. But it sure looked and sounded like him.
10.18.2008 3:44pm
eyesay:
Russ, the United States started the war in Iraq on the basis of (1) lies about weapons of mass destruction (2) lies about implied connections between Iraq and the attacks of September 11, 2001 (3) lies about Iraq's role in global terrorism. Guilty of telling and spreading these lies were Republican Bush administration officials George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condolezza Rice, among other Republicans. When Democrats urged a speedy exit from this fools errand in the 2004 election, Republicans repeatedly claimed that the Democrats wanted to "cut and run." Therefore, I reasonably deem the war in Iraq a Republican war. Thank you for asking.
10.18.2008 3:51pm
Catherine:

But John McCain dragged Joe the Plumber into the presidential debate to sell Joe the Voter on the lying theory that Barack Obama's tax plans would hurt job formation.


Then go after McCain, not an ordinary citizen who asked a question. It horrifies me that you believe this supercedes Joe's right to privacy.
10.18.2008 3:51pm
Patrick22 (mail):
It is sad that so many people have no idea how the U.S. income tax system works.

To assert that people at different income levels pay different tax rates is simply wrong. Bill Gates pays the same amount of taxes on the first $15,000 he makes as anyone reading this post. The same goes for the next $30,000, etc. Tax brackets are not retroactive.

Now, there are deductions and credits and filing status differences; that is a whole different can of worms. But there is nothing, "unfair", about the progressive tax structure. Everyone pays the same.
10.18.2008 3:57pm
eyesay:
Catherine: Please note that supersede is the only word in the English language ending in the four letters sede. I fully agree with you that JtP is entitled to an ordinary right to privacy. I have not "gone after" him

However, presidential candidate Senator John McCain dragged JtP into the debate, and JtP himself has spoken on nationally televised news or quasi-news programs, speaking about himself, and has thereby made himself a quasi-public figure, which affects what is fair to discuss about him. I think his sex life, his foreign language abilities, his food preferences, and his taste in music, among other things, should not be discussed in public, but his views on taxation, his career status as a plumber, the true profitability of the business he says he is interested in buying, and his ability to afford that business (because he said he was interested in buying it) are all legitimate topics of public discourse.
10.18.2008 4:03pm
byomtov (mail):
Why is that a lie?

Because it utterly misrepresents Obama's tax proposals, especially as they affect small businessmen.

I find it incredulous that you would actually believe that Obama could dream, even on some of that toot he took awhile back, that he could give tax rebates to 95% of everyone else, whether they pay taxes or not, impose national health care and any number of other federal programs, freeze SS retirement age, etc. merely from only raising taxes on those earning over $250,000 and on them by a mere 3%. I know the guy has no business training or experience, but even absent that, the infeasibility and unreality of that plan should be obvious.

If you want to argue that his budget and tax proposals are infeasible, go ahead, but that's not what McCain was doing.

While you're at it, tell me how McCain is going to bring the budget into balance in four years, as he claimed in the debate. For that matter, why should he do that in the midst of a recession? And no tooth fairy tales about earmarks and self-financing tax cuts, please.

You're a real hard-nosed serious numbers guy, I gather, so keep it honest.
10.18.2008 4:08pm
trad and anon:
I agree that on its face this looks like a violation. It's possible though that the speaking fees reported are exempt from 2‑110(a). The exceptions most likely to be applicable are the 2-100(b) exception for travel and lodging expenses and the 2-100(b)(ii) exception for an "agent's fee or commission," whatever that means. The exception for charitable donations on behalf of the speaker could also apply; I doubt the exception for campaign contributions does.

Since there are several potentially applicable exceptions, I don't think we should conclude that Obama violated the statute without more facts about what exactly the fees were for. But it definitely bears some significant looking into.
As I've said before, the best solution to the problem is integrating the newsrooms politically.
Aren't journalists disproportionately Democrats because liberals are more likely to want to go into journalism? Journalism is a more valued and respected career choice among liberals, which makes them more interested in going into it. I don't think there's much by way of evidence that anti-conservative discrimination is keeping Republicans out of the media. It's like how the military is disproportionately Republican because conservatives have more respect for military service than Democrats do.
10.18.2008 4:16pm
Catherine:
Oh wow, what a nice subtle attempt to embarrass me there eyesay.

I don't care if Joe is giving his opinion on TV 24/7, he's not running for office and he has the right to say anything he wants to say without his private life being made public information. But how interesting that you'll give his sex life a pass in this situation. I guess that means that if he asked a question about Obama's policy on gay marriage, it would be ok to talk about that.
10.18.2008 4:26pm
trad and anon:
Why is that a lie? Is it just too unpleasant for you to contemplate? I find it incredulous that you would actually believe that Obama could dream, even on some of that toot he took awhile back, that he could give tax rebates to 95% of everyone else, whether they pay taxes or not, impose national health care and any number of other federal programs, freeze SS retirement age, etc. merely from only raising taxes on those earning over $250,000 and on them by a mere 3%. I know the guy has no business training or experience, but even absent that, the infeasibility and unreality of that plan should be obvious.
Well, this one really is a lie. Politicians, especially Presidential candidates, are routinely making promises they can't possibly keep and have no intention of keeping. In reality, Obama and McCain will finance their expensive new programs via deficit spending. In the first debate the moderator asked if there were any promises the candidates would have to cut back on now that the government is rewarding incompetence through $700 billion in corporate welfare (plus another $200 billion or so for Fannie, Freddie, and AIG).

Both of them claimed they'd be able to meet all of their campaign promises except that Obama said he might have to slow down his increases in foreign aid. It's total nonsense, of course.
10.18.2008 4:29pm
Alexia:

But there is nothing, "unfair", about the progressive tax structure. Everyone pays the same.


Nonsense. Bill Gates pays far,far more than I do. The more he makes, the more he pays. An increasingly high number of citizens do not pay anything at all.


You can call it progressive, but I call it Marxist, and it is certainly not "fair."

Fair would be more akin to charging everybody the same fee, regardless of their income.
10.18.2008 4:33pm
MLS:
Patrick22,

Fair, at least to me re taxes on income, would be a single tax rate.

Fairer still would be a tax based upon consumption.
10.18.2008 4:50pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
How dare Volokh report us the truth about Obama! They should keep quiet so Democrat trolls can't accuse them of being part of the RNC!
10.18.2008 4:56pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

I guess that means that if he asked a question about Obama's policy on gay marriage, it would be ok to talk about that.

In that case, it would be relevant to talk about Sam's sexual orientation, or at least his marital status.

Regarding the statute: Read in context, legislators are forbidden to charge for performing their duties as legislators, of which speechmaking seems to be a part. But surely people who earn their living by speaking in front of groups (e.g. law professors) would not be kept from earning a living by service in a part-time legislature. There is a grey area, of course, as Jim Wright learned when the House Ethics Committee reported in early 1989 that he had used bulk purchases of his vanity book, Reflections of a Public Man, to earn excessive speaking fees.

If Illinois has a GA Ethics Committee, I would like to see their ruling on Obama's public speaking.
10.18.2008 4:57pm
eyesay:
Catherine, honest, I wasn't trying to embarrass you. I was trying to help readers with the one word in the English language that breaks the usual patterns of proceed and recede. Honest. However, if you feel I owe you an apology, well, I'm sorry.

As for the rest of your comment, it's my view that if, in the height of the election campaign, one of the top two candidates for president of the United States comes by, and, knowing that TV cameras are present, someone engages the candidate and asks a question that begins, "I'm getting ready to buy a company that makes 250 to 280 thousand dollars a year," in this case, the ability of that individual to afford to buy that business, among some other points about that individual, become a matter of public discussion. If Joe had not injected himself into the discussion, and asked the question about a hypothetical plumber buying a hypothetical business, I would agree with you.

As for your point about giving opinion on TV 24/7, I would say this. Rush Limbaugh offers his opinions extensively on the public airwaves. Ordinarily, I would say that most aspects of his personal life, including if there happened to be a tax lien on his house, are not appropriate topics of public discourse. However, when it came to light that he had illegally acquired, used, and become addicted to prescription pain killers, and he had opined extensively against other citizens in similar circumstances, these otherwise-personal facts became matters of legitimate public discussion.

I am arguing here on the basis of ethics, not law. To the best of my knowledge, no laws have been broken in finding out and publicizing facts about Joe.
10.18.2008 5:02pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

You can call it progressive, but I call it Marxist, and it is certainly not "fair."

Fair would be more akin to charging everybody the same fee, regardless of their income.

Fair, at least to me re taxes on income, would be a single tax rate.

Fairer still would be a tax based upon consumption.

I think the basic definition of fairness is that someone who earns a living by the sweat of his brow should be able to live off his earnings. Dividing the national budget by the number of taxpayers; charging Bill Gates and Charlie Botts the same amount would not be fair to Charlie because after paying an identical share, or even his pro-rata share, he would starve.

Similarly, it is not fair for a hard-working Charlie Botts to live on the ragged edge of starvation. Charlie consumes all but a small fraction of his income, so a consumption tax hits him particularly hard. Bill Gates consumes only a small fraction of his income, so a consumption tax would cause him only a fraction of the pain it causes Charlie.

Now, another way to look at fairness is to look at value received. Does Bill Gates receive sufficient bang for his buck? The United States protects his property, including his intellectual property; it preserves his company in peace, educates his workforce, lets him import alien workers, etc. etc. Not being stupid, Bill Gates, who could live anywhere he chose, could renounce his US citizenship and move to a foreign country if he thought he was getting a bad deal.
10.18.2008 5:12pm
vmark1:
But there is nothing, "unfair", about the progressive tax structure. Everyone pays the same.

That's a good one!! Everybody here's a littel secret. Start a small business and start using schedule C even better F. (Farmers have a fantastic tax lobby.) With very little effort and staying well within all tax laws you can write off over half of your taxable income on say 100k. Again farming. What can I say? Did you know you don't even have to pay OT to ag workers? If you have electrical, contracting, all of your inspections fall into an ag sector that demands nothing but a gentle wind to blow your "PASS" inspection sticker to the appropriate device/structure. Pick up a copy of TurboTax and have a ball. I'm not an accountant and have done the same taxes on a 4 million dollar farm operation that an accountant did. And came w/in 500 bucks of where they did. Bottom line. w/the aid of the tax code...managed a 3% taxable income. Not bad. I bet Bill Gates has got some number crunchers ALOT smarter than me...Dollar wise, BG pays more...percentage wise? No way...Tax code fair? Nope. Thank heaven...
10.18.2008 5:14pm
Angus:

You can call it progressive, but I call it Marxist, and it is certainly not "fair."
You can call it Marxist if you want, but that just shows to everyone else that you don't know what the term means.
10.18.2008 5:15pm
pmorem (mail):
As best I can tell, JtP was effectively selected at random. He had a choice between keeping his head down and avoiding conversation, or asking what was on his mind at that moment. Maybe the question was poorly worded or based, but it was on his mind at a time and place not of his choosing. His only alternative was to keep his head down.

Already the message to "keep your head down" is being heard. If JtP suffers serious personal consequences and those consequences are publicized, the message will be even more clear.

What I'm hearing from Obama supporters is that any random person who became a problem for the Obama Administration would be subjected to attack and personal destruction.

What I'm hearing from Obama supporters is that people should keep their heads down or face the consequences.

Are you really saying that people need to keep their heads down? Is that the kind of future you want?
10.18.2008 5:25pm
Angus:
Already the message to "keep your head down" is being heard. If JtP suffers serious personal consequences and those consequences are publicized, the message will be even more clear.
I think Joe the Plumber made his choice when he went on multiple networks to do interviews critical of Obama. At that point, he was no longer "just a guy in the neighborhood." I think any effort to criticize him is unnecessary, but mainly because the man comes across as an idiot all by himself when he speaks.

But the fact is, Joe made himself into a public figure by actively pursuing the spotlight after the initial exchange.
10.18.2008 5:30pm
trad and anon (mail):
But there is nothing, "unfair", about the progressive tax structure. Everyone pays the same.
That's a good one!! Everybody here's a littel secret. Start a small business and start using schedule C even better F. (Farmers have a fantastic tax lobby.) With very little effort and staying well within all tax laws you can write off over half of your taxable income on say 100k. Again farming. What can I say? Did you know you don't even have to pay OT to ag workers? If you have electrical, contracting, all of your inspections fall into an ag sector that demands nothing but a gentle wind to blow your "PASS" inspection sticker to the appropriate device/structure. Pick up a copy of TurboTax and have a ball. I'm not an accountant and have done the same taxes on a 4 million dollar farm operation that an accountant did. And came w/in 500 bucks of where they did. Bottom line. w/the aid of the tax code...managed a 3% taxable income. Not bad. I bet Bill Gates has got some number crunchers ALOT smarter than me...Dollar wise, BG pays more...percentage wise? No way...Tax code fair? Nope. Thank heaven...
This has nothing whatsoever to do with the progressivity of the tax structure, it has to do with the thousands and thousands (millions?) of deductions and exemptions in the tax code. Making the income tax rate progressive is unrelated: once you have your taxable income, you look up your tax on the tax table. That step doesn't require TurboTax.

Does anyone believe the tax code we actually have is fair? I don't think so.
10.18.2008 5:31pm
pmorem (mail):


Already the message to "keep your head down" is being heard. If JtP suffers serious personal consequences and those consequences are publicized, the message will be even more clear.


I think Joe the Plumber made his choice when he went on multiple networks to do interviews critical of Obama. At that point, he was no longer "just a guy in the neighborhood." I think any effort to criticize him is unnecessary, but mainly because the man comes across as an idiot all by himself when he speaks.

But the fact is, Joe made himself into a public figure by actively pursuing the spotlight after the initial exchange.


I don't see that contradicts my point, and in fact reinforces it. JtP failed to keep his head down. For that he is being punished.
10.18.2008 5:36pm
trad and anon (mail):
I don't see that contradicts my point, and in fact reinforces it. JtP failed to keep his head down. For that he is being punished.
Criticism is not the same as punishment. He's held himself as a representative, legitimate small businessman who would be hurt by Obama's tax policy. In fact he's doing business illegally, hasn't paid his taxes, and doesn't earn an income remotely sufficient to hit Obama's $250 threshold for a tax increase (and has no prospect of doing so). In other words, he's trying to mislead people about the effects of Obama's tax policy by presenting his own situation as representative when it really isn't. That's absolutely relevant to what he's been doing.
10.18.2008 5:47pm
MartyA:
As a Chicago pol and a soldier in the Daley organization, of course Hussein is dirty. I simply did not understand why Hillary (who had contacts deep in Chicago politics) didn't leak some of the proofs to the public. Maybe she will in the next couple of weeks.
But, as some have said above, the media is so biased that if we had absolute proof that Hussein had been the trigger man in the Valentine;s Day massacre, they would refuse to print it.
10.18.2008 5:49pm
pmorem (mail):

Criticism is not the same as punishment. He's held himself as a representative, legitimate small businessman who would be hurt by Obama's tax policy. In fact he's doing business illegally, hasn't paid his taxes, and doesn't earn an income remotely sufficient to hit Obama's $250 threshold for a tax increase (and has no prospect of doing so). In other words, he's trying to mislead people about the effects of Obama's tax policy by presenting his own situation as representative when it really isn't. That's absolutely relevant to what he's been doing.


In other words, yes, we can expect to see lots of this in an Obama administration.

I'm not saying it's necessarily because of anything Obama is doing, but rather because his supporters will feel emboldened and empowered to do so.
10.18.2008 5:57pm
MLS:

Similarly, it is not fair for a hard-working Charlie Botts to live on the ragged edge of starvation. Charlie consumes all but a small fraction of his income, so a consumption tax hits him particularly hard. Bill Gates consumes only a small fraction of his income, so a consumption tax would cause him only a fraction of the pain it causes Charlie.


Not trying to sound callous, but perhaps Mr. Botts should avail himself of educational opportunities to qualify for a better paying job.
10.18.2008 6:00pm
Angus:
I don't see that contradicts my point, and in fact reinforces it. JtP failed to keep his head down. For that he is being punished.
Are you saying that people who make themselves into public figures should be immune from criticism? I'll expect all criticism of Obama and McCain to stop immediately, in that case.
10.18.2008 6:00pm
wuzzagrunt (mail):
DanO29:
As a side note, I would like to take this opportunity and speak for the many members of my profession and thank the many Professors, Lawyers, doctors and other professional people that have over the years have opened their homes to utility workers and tradesmen so that we might perform our primary duty of giving comfort and aid to the lonely housewives of America. We salute you.


Dan, as the former owner/operator of a residential heating and air conditioning repair business, I'd like to say: SHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
10.18.2008 6:02pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
angus:

Are you saying that people who make themselves into public figures should be immune from criticism?


Only if you're a Republican. If you're a Democrat like Graeme Frost, it's perfectly fine for righty bloggers to put you under a microscope.
10.18.2008 6:13pm
eyesay:
pmorem wrote about Joe the Plumber: "In fact he's doing business illegally, hasn't paid his taxes, ..."

I don't believe either of these conclusions are warranted. He is working for Newell Plumbing &Heating, which has a state and city licenses. The existence of a tax lien does not establish beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of the purported unpaid tax obligation. In any event, he has paid most, if not all, of his tax obligations.
10.18.2008 6:18pm
vmark1:
This has nothing whatsoever to do with the progressivity of the tax structure, it has to do with the thousands and thousands (millions?) of deductions and exemptions in the tax code.

Trad...i agree to a point. The feds give us this code to use, so on line 12 of your 1040 you can show a (loss) that will decrease income thus decreasing your marginal tax rate.(Call it what you want. i'm going to find a legal way around it...) You do need TurboTax. It REALLY helps w/the deductions our friends in Congress have slipped into the code. Congress writes a tax law on one hand to punish those not interested in a little research to find out how to get around said tax law. There's always a backdoor. That's what lobbyist are for right?? Look, Karl Marx somehow got tossed into BO's speaking fees. Even if Karl was President in November. It doesn't matter. We have got the best Congress money can buy. We all know it. Charlie Schumer left me breathless today...scary. He trash talked IndyBanc Corp last summer while one his buddies at Oaktree investments was perusing the bank's assets looking for some viable investments. Bank tanks. Now we have some value investing. Find out now Oaktrees Mr Marks donated over 700 long (700k) to the DNC campaign fund that Schumer heads...WOW!! Of course nobody knows nothing about anything...Charlie, Chris, Barney, they are all going to be in power controlling your personal fortunes, marginal rates, consumption taxes, whatever you want to call them far longer than Karl, Barrack, McCain... You can't beat this leviathan (government) ...you have to figure out ways to avoid getting crushed. Cheers!!
10.18.2008 6:21pm
pmorem (mail):

Are you saying that people who make themselves into public figures should be immune from criticism? I'll expect all criticism of Obama and McCain to stop immediately, in that case.


No, that misses my point. I'm saying that under an Obama administration, anonymous citizens should keep their heads down or face the consequences.

Are there any adults (other than a complete exhibitionist) who can honestly say there is nothing in their life or past they wouldn't want splashed all over the front page of the local papers or the NYT in an unflattering light? Not necessarily something wrong or illegal, but something that can be portrayed very badly.

Is there anyone here who can honestly claim to be free of anything that can be portrayed as sin? Anyone who isn't vulnerable to that kind of personal destruction?

Think about it.
10.18.2008 6:24pm
pmorem (mail):
eyesay,
I didn't write that. It was in a block quote from Angus. I should have put Angus' name at the top of the block quote. Sorry for the confusion.
10.18.2008 6:26pm
eyesay:
pmorem: No, it was trad and anon, not Angus, who wrote what you copied in your block quote.
10.18.2008 6:32pm
pmorem (mail):
I stand corrected.
The sloppiness on attribution of block quotes was a problem, which I didn't unwind correctly.
10.18.2008 6:37pm
Random Commenter:
"Criticism is not the same as punishment. He's held himself as a representative, legitimate small businessman who would be hurt by Obama's tax policy. In fact he's doing business illegally, hasn't paid his taxes, and doesn't earn an income remotely sufficient to hit Obama's $250 threshold for a tax increase (and has no prospect of doing so). In other words, he's trying to mislead people about the effects of Obama's tax policy by presenting his own situation as representative when it really isn't. That's absolutely relevant to what he's been doing."

You seem like a thoughtful person. Does it not bother you that you're demonizing a man for the crime of being a voter who doesn't support your candidate? I find some of what you're saying appalling. So what if he's not currently making $250k a year. Obama isn't president and his "spead the wealth around" policies haven't been enacted yet, last I checked. Joe the Plumber could very well be making $250K a year in 2010 or 2011 when these extra taxes go into effect. Your claim he has no prospect of doing so just shows a lack of familiarity with small business, and the plumbing trade in particular. Moreover, you seem to be faulting the guy for being aspirational. Would you prefer he had no ambition other than to live off the public teat?
10.18.2008 6:38pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Obama is just lying.

He cannot do all what he wants in the way of spending/new programs/transfer payments and only raise taxes 11% [36% to 39%]on people making more than 250,000. There are not enough of them. All the rich people in the US don't generate enough income.

So, he is either lying about his new programs or about his tax plans.

He is a liberal democrat, which do you think he is lying about? [See Clinton's middle class tax cut]
10.18.2008 6:40pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Oh yeah, McCains's lying about balancing the budget too. Can't possibly happen.
10.18.2008 6:46pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
The point of the original post though is not that Joe [a limited public figure in Sullivan speak] is off limits but that the attention is grossly disproportionate.

He gets immediate and gleeful attention though he is a minor figure, Obama gets grudging and relative minimal attention though he is a [the?] major figure.
10.18.2008 6:51pm
pmorem (mail):

jukeboxgrad wrote:
Only if you're a Republican. If you're a Democrat like Graeme Frost, it's perfectly fine for righty bloggers to put you under a microscope.


Your point that the problem is even worse than I have said is well taken.
10.18.2008 6:55pm
T. Shaw (mail):
We know more negatives about Joe and Cindy McCain than we know in toto about B. Hussein and Michelle. Did they ever do anything noteworthy? If they did it'd be 24/7 all over the MSM. Ergo, I conclude neither ever did anything except stuff that would turn America against them.

Is is true that Obama refuses to release his birth certificate? I can show you mine. Why would Osama need to hide it?

Is it true Obama will not release his university transcripts? Not getting straights A's doesn't disqualify one. Reporting one is a Kenyan national may not play well in Peoria.

But, all's well. Osama will pay your health and get them evil rich white rat s.o.b.'s, once for all. Maybe.
10.18.2008 7:17pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Is is true that Obama refuses to release his birth certificate? I can show you mine. Why would Osama need to hide it?

I'm guessing he or his mother or his grandparents lost the copy that went home with him from the hospital. A lot of stuff happens in 40 years. So he ordered a replacement. Departments of Vital Statistics do not store the birth certificate images any more. My birth certificate is an unsatisfying printout like Obama's.
10.18.2008 7:29pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Hilarious. Obama walks up to Joe the Plumber, and within days all the Obama supporters and the MSM int he tank for him are pointing all of his faults and tying him right in with McCain as if McCain pulled this guy out of the woodwork. The lesson here is simple: If the public is watching, do not fail to bow before Obama, or your life will be torn to shreds as much as possible.

Obama has been a big government Socialist his entire life. Why does anything think that if he becomes President he is going all of a sudden become a good steward of economy by implementing policies that have been shown to fail both here in the States and worldwide?

I am sure all of the people here (especially well-off attorneys) who plan to vote for Obama will find themselves quite unhappy with his tax policies and soon start to wonder if leftist Socialist policies are worth the price of confiscatory tax rates. You think Bush is a spender? Wait until Obama has an unchecked Democratic Congress to work with.

We'll see what America chooses in a few weeks.
10.18.2008 7:34pm
eyesay:
Random Commenter wrote, "Joe the Plumber could very well be making $250K a year in 2010 or 2011 when these extra taxes go into effect. Your claim he has no prospect of doing so just shows a lack of familiarity with small business, and the plumbing trade in particular. Moreover, you seem to be faulting the guy for being aspirational. Would you prefer he had no ambition other than to live off the public teat?"

Given that he doesn't have a plumbing license or contractor's license, that he applied for an apprentice program in 2003 but didn't complete it, that the revenue of the business he hopes to acquire is on the order of $100,000, and that he doesn't seem to have the income and assets to support a loan large enough to acquire a business that does have an annual profit of $250,000, the prospect of JtP's income reaching $250,000 in 2009 or 2010 seems a bit unrealistic, and I think it's fair to say that there is little to no prospect of this outcome. I don't think one needs to be an expert in small business or in the plumbing trade to draw this inference. I don't believe anyone here at the Volokh Conspiracy holds JtP in lower esteem over his hopes to eventually acquire the plumbing business for his own. We all admire his ambition, and the public teat reference is both a red herring and a straw man.
10.18.2008 7:42pm
byomtov (mail):
What I'm hearing from Obama supporters is that any random person who became a problem for the Obama Administration would be subjected to attack and personal destruction.

This is deranged. You've heard no such thing.

Obama walks up to Joe the Plumber, and within days all the Obama supporters and the MSM int he tank for him are pointing all of his faults and tying him right in with McCain as if McCain pulled this guy out of the woodwork. The lesson here is simple: If the public is watching, do not fail to bow before Obama, or your life will be torn to shreds as much as possible.

More derangement. Joe would be a complete unknown if McCain hadn't dragged him into the debate. That was Obama's fault, somehow?

McCain tried to use Joe's situation to discredit Obama's tax proposals. Only the information was all wrong, and Joe wouldn't end up paying more taxes. Is it Obama's fault that McCain campaign is so incompetent they can't check some simple thing out?

Then Joe decided to go on TV and give a bunch of interviews. Was that Obama's fault? Did he force Joe to go public?

How crazy do you have to be to think that Obama set out to nail Joe because he asked Obama a question? Plenty.
10.18.2008 7:46pm
Random Commenter:
"Given that he doesn't have a plumbing license or contractor's license, that he applied for an apprentice program in 2003 but didn't complete it, that the revenue of the business he hopes to acquire is on the order of $100,000, and that he doesn't seem to have the income and assets to support a loan large enough to acquire a business that does have an annual profit of $250,000, the prospect of JtP's income reaching $250,000 in 2009 or 2010 seems a bit unrealistic, and I think it's fair to say that there is little to no prospect of this outcome."

And we have heard these things because of relentless opposition research by Obama's friends in the press over the last few days. Evidently the NYT dumpster diving squad was recalled from Alaska and sent to Joe's place.

Aren't you at least a little ashamed to be abetting the trashing of this guy, who's basically nothing more than a voter?
10.18.2008 7:55pm
pmorem (mail):

byomtov wrote:
This is deranged. You've heard no such thing.

More derangement. Joe would be a complete unknown if McCain hadn't dragged him into the debate. That was Obama's fault, somehow?

I heard such things in this very thread. Every justification of the trashing of JtP implies the belief that such actions are acceptable.

JtP was already in the spotlight before the debate.
10.18.2008 8:06pm
eyesay:
Random Commenter: "Aren't you at least a little ashamed to be abetting the trashing of this guy, who's basically nothing more than a voter?"

No, he's not "basically nothing more than a voter." He is someone who misrepresented himself and his business in a conversation with presidential candidate Barack Obama, and then injected himself into the public sphere by appearing on nationally-televised programs.

In an interview with Katie Couric of CBS, JtP said, "I've always wanted to ask one of these guys a question and really corner them and get them to answer a question of — for once instead of tap dancing around it. And unfortunately I asked the question but I still got a tap dance. Do you — almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr." This statement is highly revealing, first because it shows that despite a detailed, five-minute explanation from Senator Obama about his tax plans, JtP was so committed to playing "gotcha" that he didn't notice that Obama had fully answered his question, and second because while there are many noted American tap dancers, JtP named Sammy Davis Jr., who is not the tap dancer most people would think of first, but who is, like Barack Obama, of African ancestry, which raises the question of exactly what JtP's problem is with an intelligent, thoughtful, detailed response from an African-American candidate for presidency.
10.18.2008 8:25pm
tioedong (mail) (www):
Legal question:
Aren't tax liens covered by the Privacy act? If they go onto one's credit report, aren't credit reports also covered by privacy laws?

In unrelated legal question: The Palin "abuse of power" seems to be over the failure of the Alaska State Police to take reports of domestic violence seriously. Aren't there laws covering complaints of domestic violence against policemen? Would such complaints be also considered as under the "privacy act"?
10.18.2008 8:26pm
eyesay:
pmorem wrote: "Every justification of the trashing of JtP implies the belief that such actions are acceptable. JtP was already in the spotlight before the debate." I don't believe that most of the comments here about JtP are in the "trashing of" category. On the contrary, the comments by JtP himself and his Republican users-of-his-example are in the "trashing of" category, specifically, trashing of Senator Obama, accusing him of being a socialist or Socialist on the peg of reversing a Bush tax cut of 3% on incomes over $250,000, to a level below those prevailing under President Reagan. (Was Reagan a socialist, too?) If JtP was already in the spotlight before the debate, that is because Republicans were already hyperventilating about JtP and using his untrue story about planning to buy a business supposedly spinning off $250K to $280K annual profits as a basis for lying about Obama's tax policies in that they are socialist and would have a significant negative impact on job formation.
10.18.2008 8:34pm
eyesay:
Tax liens are a matter of public record. Persons or corporations planning to acquire property need to have a way of knowing what clouds exist on title to a property.
10.18.2008 8:36pm
Random Commenter:
"In an interview with Katie Couric of CBS, JtP said, "I've always wanted to ask one of these guys a question and really corner them and get them to answer a question of — for once instead of tap dancing around it. And unfortunately I asked the question but I still got a tap dance. Do you — almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr." This statement is highly revealing, first because it shows that despite a detailed, five-minute explanation from Senator Obama about his tax plans, JtP was so committed to playing "gotcha" that he didn't notice that Obama had fully answered his question, and second because while there are many noted American tap dancers, JtP named Sammy Davis Jr., who is not the tap dancer most people would think of first, but who is, like Barack Obama, of African ancestry, which raises the question of exactly what JtP's problem is with an intelligent, thoughtful, detailed response from an African-American candidate for presidency."

I guess your answer is "no", then. You're not ashamed.
10.18.2008 8:41pm
eyesay:
Random Commenter: I'm not ashamed of any my comments. There comments by others that I am not comfortable with, and you'll note that above, I protested another comment's use of "he's doing business illegally" and "hasn't paid his taxes."

But now that you bring up the question of being ashamed, I hereby protest this comment by Jim at FSU: "If Obama had just done his usual tap-dance and gave some meaningless platitude, no one would even care who Joe is." Obama does not usually "tap-dance" — certainly no more than John McCain, and his answers are noted for detail and not meaningless platitude.
10.18.2008 8:48pm
Random Commenter:
"I don't believe that most of the comments here about JtP are in the "trashing of" category."

No, of course not. We commonly call people lying, illegal-business-running, racist dead-enders when we simply mean we "admire [his] ambitions", to use examples and a quote from your posts alone.

Gimme a break. This guy embarrassed your candidate, so he must be destroyed. Let's stop pretending there's anything different happening here, or that he's anything other than a voter with an opinion. The nerve of the guy.
10.18.2008 8:53pm
pmorem (mail):
In all fairness, eyesay has objected to some of the accusations hurled at JtP.

The problem, as I see it, is that if this general response (including the parts eyesay objected to) receives positive reinforcement, it will likely occur to a greater extent in the future.

eyesay and I may disagree about whether this event is partially or largely "over the line", but I think we agree that at least part of it is.

Is this part of a pattern? Is it likely to be more extreme in the future?

If it's part of a pattern, then it's something I find disturbing enough to feel the need to oppose it as early and strongly as I can, particularly by calling it out.
10.18.2008 9:01pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Guilty of telling and spreading these lies were Republican Bush administration officials George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld

... Bill Clinton, Jay Rockefeller, Madeline Albright, Al Gore, and all the other people who spoke in favor of the Iraq Liberation Act.
10.18.2008 9:10pm
Fred Z (mail):
eyesay, a few points in opposition to your comments. JtP said, per you: "I'm getting ready to buy a company that makes 250 to 280 thousand dollars a year,..."

Why is that a misrepresentation? How else would he get ready other than by becoming an apprentice, working in the trade and paying down his extant tax and other debts? You make much of his lack of journeyman status and lack of license. Is there any impediment to him getting those things in the future? You complain he has no money and could not buy - can he not borrow? You seem to say he misrepresented what the business makes. I have worked with tradesmen for 30 years and I assure you they often use the word "makes" with reference to gross receipts.

I have watched the JtP videos a lot and I got the sense of an ordinary man asking a snap question with some ignorance and no preparation. He then shot off his mouth a bit with Couric. For this the nutroots and the mainstream media have attacked him with fantastic savagery.

That is why we react with horror. We all know we are a bit ignorant, a bit stupid, a bit unprepared and bit prone to shooting off our mouths. We do not expect the pillory for it. When it is condoned and encouraged by the 1st or 2nd most senior politician in the country it becomes an assault on freedom of speech.
10.18.2008 9:57pm
Not Danny Darwin:
"After McCain's election to the House in 1982, he and his family made at least nine trips at Keating's expense, three of which were to Keating's Bahamas retreat. McCain did not disclose the trips (as he was required to under House rules) until the scandal broke in 1989."

http://www.slate.com/id/1004633/

Where's the press on this story, Mr. Lindgren?
10.18.2008 10:11pm
trad and anon (mail):
You seem to say he misrepresented what the business makes. I have worked with tradesmen for 30 years and I assure you they often use the word "makes" with reference to gross receipts.
I don't doubt it. But JtP specifically mentioned the $250,000 figure—i.e., the start of the bracket where Obama wants to increase the marginal tax rate. Gross receipts of $250,000-$280,000 wouldn't get JtP anywhere remotely near the $250,000 profit it would take for Obama's marginal tax rate increases to kick in. Since JtP was talking about Obama's marginal tax rate increases, what he said only makes sense if he meant profit rather than gross receipts. Consequently, the most reasonable interpretation is that he did in fact mean profits. Or he had no idea what he was talking about.
10.18.2008 10:14pm
byomtov (mail):


Given that the McCain campaign won't let its VP nominee within shouting distance of a real reporter (and I wouldn't either, if I had nominated that idiot), accusing Obama of not answering questions is truly rich.
10.18.2008 10:34pm
Fred Z (mail):
Trad, I'm trying to say that JtP was ignorant, he made a mistake. We now know (I think) that the business he wants to buy nets about 100K/annum. My guess is such a business 'makes' $250k in gross receipts. Maybe he misphrased his point, maybe he dreams someday of making $250K net. I dunno. I do not guess he is the brightest light in the sky.

So he made a stupid mistake of one sort or another. Let's kill him.

Let's also ignore Obama's absolutely socialist answer. Sorry, eyesay, it was. Socialist, I mean. For what it's worth, I do not think Obama is a real socialist - he's just another political opportunist who learned too well the buzzwords of his political milieu - Chicago Democrat city politics. But the answer was pure socialism.

Let me also comment on the stupidity of the Democrat treatment of JtP - more determination for Repubs and a deepening picture of Obama supporters as nasty, creepy thugs.
10.18.2008 11:17pm
LM (mail):
byomtov,

As silly as it is that anyone still cares about Obama's scholastic performance, I'd actually prefer not to have the records for the other three candidates. I have a feeling that's knowledge that could only damage national morale. So if anybody thinks three weeks before an election it's a productive use of their time to keep asking for Obama's report cards, I say good for them. At least I'm not afraid of knowing what they might find out.
10.18.2008 11:45pm
LM (mail):

Let's also ignore Obama's absolutely socialist answer.

The financial recovery plan the Bush administration just got approved by a bi-partisan Congress comes much closer to "pure Socialism" than anything Obama has proposed, much less could ever get approved on an equally bi-partisan basis.
10.18.2008 11:52pm
Angus:

Let's also ignore Obama's absolutely socialist answer. Sorry, eyesay, it was. Socialist, I mean.
Please show me where Obama said: "The state will own and operate that plumbing business, not you." Otherwise, it's not socialism any more than the Republican fascination with military power is fascism.
10.18.2008 11:57pm
trad and anon:
So he made a stupid mistake of one sort or another. Let's kill him.

* * *

Let me also comment on the stupidity of the Democrat treatment of JtP - more determination for Repubs and a deepening picture of Obama supporters as nasty, creepy thugs.
If this sort of criticism is the equivalent of "thugs" wanting to "kill" someone, what are we to make of the attacks on radical socialist America-hating communist terrorist Muslim traitor Barack HUSSEIN Obama?
10.18.2008 11:57pm
For the plan, click right there ----------------^^^ (mail) (www):
As I've said before, the best solution to the problem is integrating the newsrooms politically.

I don't know if that's a joke or not, but the best solution is to give the MSM some competition.

And, it's extraordinarily easy to give the MSM competition since we, er, control the means of distribution.

Here's the plan:
1. Get a list of really tough questions.
2. Go to a public appearance by BHO.
3. Read one of the questions to him and get video of his response.
4. Upload his response to Youtube.

If someone asks BHO a real question and gets a "good" response, it will get millions of views. And, if enough people do that it will make the MSM look very bad: millions of people will wonder why the MSM didn't do that.

Details at the 'www' link above.

If you support this plan, please contact those listed my the 'www' link and ask them why they aren't helping push the plan. Is there something they aren't telling us?
10.19.2008 12:01am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
tioedong:

The Palin "abuse of power" seems to be over the failure of the Alaska State Police to take reports of domestic violence seriously. Aren't there laws covering complaints of domestic violence against policemen?


What "domestic violence?" Your question seems to be about the failure of certain people to get their facts straight. Wooten's wife told police that he never abused her. A judge quickly dissolved a temporary restraining order because there was no proof of violence.

Palin is a serial fabricator, and she's been routinely spreading lies and exaggerations regarding Wooten's misconduct. Here's an idea: educate yourself. Take a look at some primary documents, like the original police reports. You can find them via the wiki article. google troopergate.
10.19.2008 1:03am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
charlie:

Bill Clinton, Jay Rockefeller, Madeline Albright, Al Gore, and all the other people who spoke in favor of the Iraq Liberation Act.


The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (link) called for support to "Iraqi democratic opposition organizations," via a limited amount of money, training and equipment. It specifically indicated we should have no military role beyond that: "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or otherwise speak to the use of United States Armed Forces (except as provided in section 4(a)(2)) in carrying out this Act."

I guess there must be a redacted portion of the bill which calls for an unprovoked invasion. Maybe you can help us find that section.

And speaking of spreading misinformation, I wonder when you're going to get around to correcting your Palin rumors site. It's still packed with false statements, even though on multiple occasions I've pointed out a bunch of them to you (like here and here).
10.19.2008 1:03am