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Were Background Checks on "Joe the Plumber" Illegal?

The Columbus Dispatch reports that state officials are investigating whether state employees illegally accessed the BMV records of Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka "Joe the Plumber."

Public records requested by The Dispatch disclose that information on Wurzelbacher's driver's license or his sport-utility vehicle was pulled from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles database three times shortly after the debate.

Information on Wurzelbacher was accessed through accounts assigned to the office of Ohio Attorney General Nancy H. Rogers, the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Toledo Police Department.

It has not been determined who checked on Wurzelbacher, or why. Direct access to driver's license and vehicle registration information from BMV computers is restricted to legitimate law-enforcement and government business. . . .

The attorney general's office is investigating whether the access of Wurzelbacher's BMV information through the office's Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway computer system was unauthorized, spokeswoman Jennifer Brindisi said.

"We're trying to pinpoint where it came from," she said. The investigation could become "criminal in nature," she said. Brindisi would not identify the account that pulled the information on Oct. 16.

richard cabeza:
Whether or not they were, does the fact that the response is a huge, collective ad hominem mean anything?
10.25.2008 4:44pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Richard.
Which response are you referring to?
10.25.2008 4:58pm
RPT (mail):
I understand that Michelle Malkin is an expert at detecting the truth in these matters. Perhaps it was her. Or perhaps Rep. Boehner asked A.G. Muskasey as part of his pre-election campaign intervention. Who knows? Perhaps it was part of the TIA ongoing surveillance. Anyone watching the "Masterpiece Contempary" series on PBS?
10.25.2008 5:03pm
RPT (mail):
Really, after the last eight years, GOP/conservatives have no standing to complain about any invasion of privacy/public records by anyone.
10.25.2008 5:10pm
Sam H (mail):
I don't understand this. If this happened where I work, in under ten minutes IT could tell you the account and machine that accessed those records. The account holder better have a very good reason or he would be out the door.
10.25.2008 5:15pm
PersonFromPorlock:
On the other hand, RPT, if the Democrats are accessing Joe's government records illegally they haven't left themselves much room for criticising the GOP.
10.25.2008 5:16pm
Guest12345:
RPT, maybe it's not a GOP/conservative thing? Maybe it's not a political thing at all, but rather merely Americans thinking that the law should be obeyed by all. Maybe we don't think that law enforcement officers and government officials should not be using their positions to satisfy their curiosity?
10.25.2008 5:17pm
Random Commenter:
"Really, after the last eight years, GOP/conservatives have no standing to complain about any invasion of privacy/public records by anyone."

I would think everybody should be outraged if state employees have been using official databases to run freelance investigations of members of the public. Wouldn't you? I ask because your comments suggest you're fine with this kind of behavior as long as people you perceive to be political opponents are on the receiving end.
10.25.2008 5:20pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Is jukeboxgrad an Ohio state employee?
10.25.2008 5:23pm
MarkField (mail):

On the other hand, RPT, if the Democrats are accessing Joe's government records illegally they haven't left themselves much room for criticising the GOP.


Agreed.
10.25.2008 5:30pm
ThreeSheets:
RPT,

If memory serves, Democrats were outraged to find out that a State Dept. official had peeked at Bill Clinton's passport file in the 1992 election. So now I guess it is OK?
10.25.2008 5:47pm
AntonK (mail):
RPT is referring to the wiretapping of terrorists. And I must agree with him: the wiretapping of international terrorists is exactly analogous to the illegal accessing of information on a domestic political opponent.
10.25.2008 5:51pm
corneille1640 (mail):

Really, after the last eight years, GOP/conservatives have no standing to complain about any invasion of privacy/public records by anyone.

Do we know for a fact that Mr. Wurzelbacher is a GOP/conservative?
10.25.2008 5:51pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
Announcing the BHO Apologist Twisto-Pretzo Challenge!

The Award - a solid tin bust of Joe Klein - will go to the BHO apologist best able to present a scenario under which this was not both an attempt to find dirt on someone who had dared to question The One but also a preview of one way a BHO admin will deal with their adversaries.
10.25.2008 6:00pm
Angus:

Do we know for a fact that Mr. Wurzelbacher is a GOP/conservative?
Yes.
10.25.2008 6:05pm
fortyninerdweet (mail):
Sam H is spot on. By this time in the process I suspect Ohio officials are simply dotting the "i"s and crossing the "t"s. Sometime Monday three public agencies in and around Columbus should be filing charges and issuing suspensions. But the national media won't care because they're drinking the same kool-aid as RTP and AntonK. ie: It's not a bad thing to do as long as its done to political outcasts.
10.25.2008 6:12pm
xyzzy:
For a non-partisan example, see the Pellicano case (FBI press release, my bold):
The jury returned guilty verdicts on two racketeering charges -- violating the RICO Act and conspiring to violate the RICO Act -- finding that Pellicano, Arneson and Turner comprised a criminal enterprise, the goal of which was to profit and to use illegally obtained information to benefit Pellicano's reputation and investigative business. The enterprise generated income by illegally obtaining confidential information about investigative targets and providing this information to clients of Pellicano's investigative agency. Arneson and Beverly Hills Police Officer Craig Stevens, who previously pleaded guilty and testified at trial, played key roles in the enterprise by providing Pellicano with confidential DMV and criminal history information that was not available outside of law enforcement. Turner and fellow SBC employee Teresa Wright, who previously pleaded guilty, provided confidential and proprietary information on telephone company subscribers.


In that case, several neutral observers, as well as the defense noted that the prosecutors seemed rather uninterested in going after Pellicano's clients:
The fact that most of Pellicano's clients were not prosecuted wasn't lost on defense attorneys. During his closing argument on behalf of Arneson, who admitted that he made thousands of unauthorized checks on law enforcement computer databases, Hummel ticked off a list of seven people who testified they had listened to wiretapped conversations -- but were never criminally charged. Prosecutor Saunders, the model of high dudgeon during the trial, scoffed in his rebuttal: "As if that makes his client any less corrupt." The statute of limitations for prosecuting wiretapping had run out in some cases, Saunders noted.


I certainly agree that the US Attorney's failure to make a serious effort to go after Pellicano's clients doesn't excuse Pellicano or his associates. All the same, the fact that Pellicano was hired by expensive attorneys leaves a lingering stench of corruption that the US Attorney did little to dissipate.

As I said, this is provided as a non-partisan example. I hope it stimulates a better discussion than might be the case if I provided links for the very recent events in New Mexico.
10.25.2008 6:15pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
I still can't understand why Wurzelbacher's background is in any way relevant to the question he asked BHO. It's the question, not Wurzelbacher that's important. Even if he were some kind of criminal nothing would be different. BHO proposes to use the tax system to go beyond funding government operations, and use it for direct transfer of income from one class of taxpayers to another.

I think the treatment Joe's getting from the press is really meant as a warning: "don't mess with BHO, or we will get you-- remember what happened to Joe." I'm sure if they can't find any dirt, they will make it up. Let's recall that personal dirt seems to come out about BHO's political opponents, such as Jack Ryan where the press sued to gain access to his divorce records.
10.25.2008 6:16pm
cboldt (mail):
-- GOP/conservatives have no standing to complain about any invasion of privacy/public records by anyone. --
.
GOP/conservatives have no standing to complain about government intrusion, meanwhile, Democrats can? That's just plain unfair, plus it inherently emboldens an oppressive government.
.
Seems you've just announced an intention to snoop like hell against political enemies, and become the enabler of a government-sponsored political oppression.
10.25.2008 6:23pm
Federal Dog:
According to what possible scenario could the searches have been legal? They occurred shortly after the debate and entailed accessing multiple state databases. What legitimate law enforcement/government business could possibly be cited in that timeframe to justify the searches?

Michael Barone has understated what is coming.
10.25.2008 6:33pm
Lily (mail):
conservatives have no standing to complain about any invasion of privacy/public records by anyone.

Really? Is this the new Obama offical policy?
10.25.2008 6:43pm
byomtov (mail):
I myself hope they quickly find the people who accessed the records, and deal with them appropriately.

This sort of snooping needs to stop.
10.25.2008 6:44pm
cboldt (mail):
-- But the national media won't care because they're drinking the same kool-aid as RTP and AntonK. ie: It's not a bad thing to do as long as its done to political outcasts. --
.
Tweak your sarcasm detector a bit to the center, and reread AntonK.
10.25.2008 6:52pm
Arkady:

BHO proposes to use the tax system to go beyond funding government operations, and use it for direct transfer of income from one class of taxpayers to another.


Help me out here. If the members of one class of taxpayers have their tax rate increased so that the members of another class can have their's lowered, how is that a transfer of wealth from the one class to the other? But if it is a transfer, then note that there must currently be a transfer of wealth going in the other direction. I.e., the low (relative to income) rate of the well-off is being purchased by the high (relative to income) rate of the not-as-well-off. Basically, wealthy taxpayers get to keep more of their income now because middle class taxpayers get to keep less of their's. That can be called a transfer, too.
10.25.2008 6:53pm
Anon #319:
Really? The Ohio AG's office is still behaving badly...surprise...to no one.
10.25.2008 6:57pm
cboldt (mail):
"Invasions of privacy should not be tolerated. If these records were accessed inappropriately, it had nothing to do with our campaign and should be investigated fully," Isaac Baker, Obama's Ohio spokesman, said.

.
LOL. Methinks he protests too much. Why not just, "We understand the concern, and the access to these records should be investigated fully."
.
[My] tongue in cheek, he might have said "Our campaign accessed these records in full conformity with the law. Investigation is pointless."
10.25.2008 6:59pm
RPT (mail):
"RPT, maybe it's not a GOP/conservative thing? Maybe it's not a political thing at all, but rather merely Americans thinking that the law should be obeyed by all. Maybe we don't think that law enforcement officers and government officials should not be using their positions to satisfy their curiosity?"

Of course it is not appropriate for anyone to do it against anyone for any improper purpose, but that doesn't stop those who are urging that it be done in Ohio, et al, in order to depress the Democratic vote. This is not all that complicated. It is no surprise that Bush has asked Mukasey to intervene for a partisan purpose.

But you all complain too late. There is no reason to expect that a new Obama administration will do anything like the buss administration has done. Stop projecting. Such invasions of privacy became the norm during the Bush years, and the GOP'ers supported it against anyone they didn't like. The standards for identifying /fighting "terrorists", and the range of people who became formally or informally authorized to do so became so low that it is too late to really do anything about it. The GOP'ers were quite content to let it go on when it was being done against those whom they considered "bad guys". Now there is no standard. Thanks. You have helped change the world for the worse.

Finally, for those familiar with defamation law, what SJW did was to make himself a public figure, or at least semi-public figure by going on camera. He asked for the attention and scrutiny by asking a closed ended question that anyone here who actually practices litigation will recognize: "Under your plan, my taxes will go up, won't they? [paraphrase]." That is not a neutral fact gathering question from an ordinary citizen, it is a chance to get on the air. If he did not want to subject himself to scrutiny he would not have done interviews, gotten a book agent, etc.
10.25.2008 7:02pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Arkady"

"Help me out here."


I'm happy to. As I understand the matter, BHO proposes to "lower" taxes for people who pay no income tax by rebating money to them. That's not a reduction in taxes; it's a direct transfer from everyone else who pays taxes. BTW about 45% of taxpayers pay no federal income tax at all. Taxpayers below the median income level pay about 3% of federal taxes. It seems to me that everyone should pay something, because everyone benefits.
10.25.2008 7:03pm
RPT (mail):
"RPT,

If memory serves, Democrats were outraged to find out that a State Dept. official had peeked at Bill Clinton's passport file in the 1992 election. So now I guess it is OK?"

Not OK then, and not now. Actually, it was a lot more than peeking.
10.25.2008 7:05pm
Random Commenter:
'Finally, for those familiar with defamation law, what SJW did was to make himself a public figure, or at least semi-public figure by going on camera. He asked for the attention and scrutiny by asking a closed ended question that anyone here who actually practices litigation will recognize: "Under your plan, my taxes will go up, won't they? [paraphrase]."'

So naturally it's perfectly OK to turn his life upside down, check out his educational background and personal finances, investigate his business, (possibly) illegally inspect state databases to see what they might have on him, and to publish and broadcast all this information on Obama-supporting news media. The public is entitled to know, right?

Let's be honest: there's nothing more going on here than an attempt to punish an ordinary citizen for asking an embarrassing but perfectly ordinary question of a politician, and to divert attention from the question itself. Clearly, this is ok with you. Appalling.
10.25.2008 7:16pm
Arkady:

As I understand the matter, BHO proposes to "lower" taxes for people who pay no income tax by rebating money to them. That's not a reduction in taxes; it's a direct transfer from everyone else who pays taxes.


But don't we already have this in the Earned Income Tax Credit? We've had the EITC since 1975. It's not original with Obama.
10.25.2008 7:24pm
MarkField (mail):
To add to Arkady's point, people who pay no income taxes certainly do pay other taxes. Zharkov's point is therefore silly.

All taxes transfer money. It's only a question of cui bono.
10.25.2008 7:29pm
just me (mail):
I have never understood why Joe's license or lack there of had anything to do with his question and the answer Obama gave. It was a direct attempt to change the story from Obama's answer to Joe himself. Joe's tax liens and other stuff dug up had absolutely nothing to do with it.

I find it rather scary that so many liberals have screamed for the last 8 years about FISA and wiretapping but now see digging around in Joe's records as acceptable-all in the name of getting Obama elected.

If Obama gets elected this way now, what can we expect out of his presidency. I always sort of saw obama as Jimmy Carter's second term, but I am starting to think we may be looking at Nixon's third term.
10.25.2008 7:29pm
LN (mail):
BHO proposes to "lower" taxes for people who pay no income tax

Even people who don't pay federal income taxes pay payroll taxes, sales taxes, state and local taxes, etc. And yes, if Obama "reduces" the amount of "taxes" these "people" "pay" then he will apparently "lower" their taxes.

How poor do you have to be to not pay federal income tax?
10.25.2008 7:36pm
CiarandDenlane (mail):
'Finally, for those familiar with defamation law, what SJW did was to make himself a public figure, or at least semi-public figure by going on camera. He asked for the attention and scrutiny by asking a closed ended question that anyone here who actually practices litigation will recognize: "Under your plan, my taxes will go up, won't they? [paraphrase]."


Has anyone checked the bar association records? Maybe he's really Joe the Lawyer, who should have realized that he was inviting scrutiny under the closed-ended-questions-waive-your-privacy provision of Ohio law.
10.25.2008 7:39pm
Arkady:
Back on topic. While I certainly don't condone government employees (or anyone else, for that matter) mucking around in someone's records where they have no legal right to do so, I have to say all the anquishing over poor Joe and his after-debate notoriety is risible. Joe's having the time of his life. Hell, he's even trying to float a book deal now -- the sure sign of celebrity in our culture.
10.25.2008 7:48pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Akady:

"But don't we already have this in the Earned Income Tax Credit? We've had the EITC since 1975. It's not original with Obama."

If the EITC results in some people getting a rebate who would otherwise have paid no taxes, then indeed it is income transfer. BHO intends to increase the rebates, that's what's at issue.

MarkField:

"... people who pay no income taxes certainly do pay other taxes."


Those "other" taxes are mainly state and municipal taxes. Income taxes are the primary source of funding for the federal government. This is an issue of presidential politics, not state politics.

"All taxes transfer money. It's only a question of cui bono."

Historically the purpose of the federal income tax is to fund the operations of the federal government, not the direct and explicit transfer of income. One can argue that in effect the income tax transfers income, but that's incidental. In theory we should correct that effect if it gets out of hand. But BHO proposes to open the door to a whole new policy agenda. One obviously intended to keep his party in power by creating a patronage class. Not surprising for a Chicago politician.
10.25.2008 7:50pm
Smokey:
MarkField:
...people who pay no income taxes certainly do pay other taxes.
Most other taxes are voluntary. No purchase = no tax.

Federal income taxes, however, are mandatory. Unless you're in the lower 45% of the population which, as we all know, is living in poverty.
10.25.2008 7:51pm
cboldt (mail):
-- I have to say all the anquishing over poor Joe and his after-debate notoriety is risible. --
.
I hear ya. That the Democrats didn't want his notoriety to translate into public visibility and success, is telling. Democrats at least put their anguish to use, by eagerly working to discredit him as a person.
10.25.2008 8:00pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
LN:


"Even people who don't pay federal income taxes pay payroll taxes ..."


Payroll taxes are different because they are levied to purchase a future annuity, and not to explicitly fund government operations. The future cash flows from a SS annuity are an extremely non-linear function of the total contributions. As such it provides a high rate of return for low income contributors, and a negative rate of return for high wage earners. Thus low wage earners (the target group for BHO's income tax rebates) get a substantial benefit. For them it's a "tax" in name only.

"How poor do you have to be to not pay federal income tax?"


A little poorer than the median income as the lower 50% pays only 3% of federal income taxes, and the lower 45% pays nothing.
10.25.2008 8:03pm
Mark A.R. Kleiman (mail) (www):
Three different questions here, [deliberately?] being conflated by those on the losing side in this election:

1. Was it a crime to access Wurzlebacher's motor vehicle records? Of course it was. Whoever did it should serve time.

2. Did the Obama campaign have anything to do with the snooping? Right now, there is absolutely no evidence of that, which hasn't kept the McCain campaign from charging Obama's staff with a serious crime, just as the McCain campaign tried to create a flap out of the racial fantasies of one of its mentally-ill volunteers in Pittsburgh. That should tell every reasonable person what assertions from the McCain campaign are worth.

3. Are any facts about Wurzlebacher relevant to the campaign? Of course. He pretended to be, and is held out by the McCain campaign as being, a small businessman whose taxes would go up under the Obama plan. It turns out that he is neither. It also turns out that he's a tax-dodger and a racist (who likened Obama to Sammy Davis, Jr.). McCain can legitimately be challenged about his judgment in making Wurzlebacher into some sort of hero/poster boy, and facts about Wurzlebacher are relevant to that challenge.

As to whether the publicity is somehow unfair to Wurzlebacher, he aggressively sought it out, starting with his decision to confront Sen. Obama as Obama campaigned in Wurzlebacher's neighborhood and continuing with his baseless allegation -- which has become a McCain-campaign mantra -- that Obama's opposition to the same tax cuts McCain opposed back in 2001 makes Obama a "socialist."

As to Wurzlebacher's lack of a plumber's license: plumbing is a highly skilled occupation, requiring a license in every state. Of course those licensure rules can be abused, but since the average consumer is utterly incapable of jugding the quality of plumbing, and since homebuyers have no way of knowing the quality of the plumbing services previously purchased by homesellers, and since the potential damage from bad plumbing work is substantial, licensure is not an unreasonable rule (by contrast, for example, with licensure of hairstylists).

By claiming to be a plumber when he actually dropped out of an apprenticeship program, Wurzlebacher is padding his resume, just as much as a law school dropout working as a clerk-typist at a law firm would be unjustified in calling himself "Joe the Lawyer." Even libertarians who believe that anyone should be allowed to practice law ought to condemn such resume-padding, unless their snobbery is such as to deny that qualified plumbers, like qualified lawyers, possess a legitimate occupational status based on their training and knowledge.

All that said, not every fact about Wurzlebacher is relevant to the campaign, and some of the attempts to damage him personally because of the political stance he chose to take ought properly to be condemned. But again, since there is no evidence that the Obama campaign was involved in any of those attempts, loose talk about "the coming Obama thugocracy," along with false claims about massive vote fraud and campaign-finance fraud, ought to be dismissed for what they are: pre-emptive whining by a bunch of (in both senses of the term) losers.
10.25.2008 8:04pm
Arkady:
@ Zarkov


If the EITC results in some people getting a rebate who would otherwise have paid no taxes, then indeed it is income transfer. BHO intends to increase the rebates, that's what's at issue.


With respect, that's not the thrust of what you originally wrote:


BHO proposes to use the tax system to go beyond funding government operations, and use it for direct transfer of income from one class of taxpayers to another.


That implies novelty. I merely pointed out that it's not new. Moreover, the EITC has been periodically increased under both Democratic and Republican administrations:


Enacted in 1975, the initially modest EIC has been expanded by tax legislation on a number of occasions, including the more widely-publicized tax acts of 1986, 1990, 1993, and 2001, regardless of whether the act in general raised taxes (1990, 1993), lowered taxes (2001), or eliminated other deductions and credits (1986). Today, the EITC is one of the largest anti-poverty tools in the United States (despite the fact that most income measures, including the poverty rate, do not account for the credit), and enjoys broad bipartisan support. [Source]
10.25.2008 8:05pm
byomtov (mail):
Most other taxes are voluntary. No purchase = no tax.

FICA? And if you state has a sales tax on food I guess you can always choose to starve rather than pay.

BHO proposes to "lower" taxes for people who pay no income tax by rebating money to them. That's not a reduction in taxes; it's a direct transfer from everyone else who pays taxes.

And JSM proposes to help people buy health insurance by givng them money - a $5000 refundable tax credit, just like the one you're objecting to.
10.25.2008 8:09pm
cboldt (mail):
-- he's a tax-dodger and a racist (who likened Obama to Sammy Davis, Jr.) --
.
I usually don't hang out in election goings on, but this election is a hoot! Call somebody a tap dancer the likes of Sammy Davis, take the "racist" brand.
.
Hell, you are a race-baiter. Pure and simple. Why should anybody take you seriously? You ought to be ashamed of yourself, you race-baiting hussy.
10.25.2008 8:09pm
Random Commenter:
"Three different questions here, [deliberately?] being conflated by those on the losing side in this election:

1. Was it a crime to access Wurzlebacher's motor vehicle records? Of course it was. Whoever did it should serve time. "


Your post should have stopped here. You're as much a latent thug as the other idiot, RPT.
10.25.2008 8:09pm
davod (mail):
Mark A.R. Kleiman:

Illegal access of someones records is still wrong!!!!!!
10.25.2008 8:23pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
M.A.R.K.:
Does plumbing in fact require a personal license in Ohio? Many sites have reported as fact that Wurzlebacher doesn't need a plumbing license as long as his employer has one, which he apparently does. If he works on plumbing all day for money, he is in fact a plumber, licensed or not.

Similarly, many excellent teachers are unlicensed, which is perfectly legal as long as they work in private or charter schools. Would you say that they're not really teachers because they haven't taken a lot of stupid ed courses? If they teach all day for pay, I think they're teachers.
10.25.2008 8:40pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Akady:

"That implies novelty. I merely pointed out that it's not new."


It is new. At least according to this analysis that appeared in the WSJ.
The Earned Income Tax Credit is already refundable. Mr. Obama would expand it to "increase the number of working parents eligible for EITC benefits, increase the benefits available to noncustodial parents who fulfill their child support obligations, increase benefits for families with three or more children, and reduce the EITC marriage penalty, which hurts low-income families.
If BHO were simply proposing to tinker with existing EIC, I suspect there would be little controversy. But as you can see he goes beyond tinkering so his plan is both new an novel.
10.25.2008 8:41pm
Arkady:

-- I have to say all the anquishing over poor Joe and his after-debate notoriety is risible. --

I hear ya. That the Democrats didn't want his notoriety to translate into public visibility and success, is telling. Democrats at least put their anguish to use, by eagerly working to discredit him as a person.


Oh lighten up, for Christ's sake. My point was Joe's trying to cash in on his 15 minutes. Who can blame him? And this


the Democrats didn't want his notoriety to translate into public visibility and success


is, forgive me, just silly. McCain was the one who pushed Joe out in the hot glare of the lights by repeating his "name" like a mantra in the last debate. He aroused all the subsequent interest; Democratic "anguish" had zero to do with it. And too date the effect of JTP on McCain's fortunes, if the polls are any indication, has been nugatory.
10.25.2008 8:46pm
juris_imprudent (mail):
FICA?

The statements I get always tell me that it's what I've contributed.
10.25.2008 8:47pm
MarkField (mail):

Historically the purpose of the federal income tax is to fund the operations of the federal government, not the direct and explicit transfer of income. One can argue that in effect the income tax transfers income, but that's incidental. In theory we should correct that effect if it gets out of hand. But BHO proposes to open the door to a whole new policy agenda.


Another absurd argument. The current tax structure redistributes income upwards. His change will mitigate that redistribution.

You're just playing word games. Every tax redistributes money from those who pay it to those who don't. Current taxes do it, past taxes have done it, future taxes will do it. There's no avoiding it.
10.25.2008 8:50pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Mark A.R. Kleiman

You are dancing around the issue. It doesn't matter if "Joe the Plumber" is even a real person. Are you asserting that no "Joe the Plumber" types exist? Of course not. The debate centers around tax policy for Schedule C filers. There are lots of small business owners that file this kind of tax return that commingles personal income and expenses with business expenses. If a business has a net income over $250k, then BHO's tax policy will act to its detriment. Do you dispute that? As such it could impact investment decisions such as the purchase of new equipment. A schedule C business already has to pay about 15% in FICA taxes right off the top. It's a burden. Believe me. I myself have given up doing consulting in the past because I could only get $0.35 on the dollar after federal, state, city, FICA. My leisure time was not worth giving up for such a low after tax return on effort.

Tax policy matters. It affects business and investment decisions. Why don't you talk about this instead of flinging insults as some guy?
10.25.2008 8:56pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
MarkField:

"You're just playing word games."

That's a funny statement for a lawyer (assuming that's what you are). BHO's proposals are more than word games as should be clear to you from what I've already said.
10.25.2008 9:00pm
MarkField (mail):

And if you state has a sales tax on food I guess you can always choose to starve rather than pay.


It's not just food. No state allows people to go naked, so they pay sales tax on clothes which the law forces them to buy. They pay property tax when they rent. Etc.

But perhaps the real answer is this: making income is just as voluntary as buying goods. No income = no tax.
10.25.2008 9:02pm
MarkField (mail):

That's a funny statement for a lawyer (assuming that's what you are).


Well, we do get lots of practice recognizing them.
10.25.2008 9:03pm
Smokey:
Mark A.R. Kleiman:

Only your first point [#1] is legitimate. The others are not. And the fact that you deal the race card from the bottom of the deck is, I suppose, to be expected. So tell us, how is comparing one African-American with another automatically "racist"? [This is the first I've heard of this, but recall Hillary's appeal to white Southerners.]

byomtov:
...if you state has a sales tax on food I guess you can always choose to starve rather than pay.
Move to a state like California that doesn't tax food. And the state's money giveaways to the 'poor' and unemployed are extremely generous. FICA? What FICA? And anyway, that's more akin to a savings/insurance plan for workers than a tax.

And I note that the 'poor' are significantly fatter in America than the average citizen, so there's not much chance of us witnessing some poor folks laying around in the gutter starving, with pool cue sized arms and legs, and distended, malnourished bellies. The fact of the matter is that finding a truly destitute person in America is extremely difficult [after eliminating those who have made bad personal choices like drug or alcohol abuse, gambling, etc.]

Face it, poverty has been almost completely eliminated in America. Yet Obama intends to jack taxes way up [keeping in mind that business don't pay taxes; their customers do].

So why is Obama jacking up taxes? Simple: to add a new army of unelected, unresponsive, unaccountable bureaucrats sucking at the taxpayers' teat. They are his primary constituents.
10.25.2008 9:04pm
David Warner:
Arkady,

"But don't we already have this in the Earned Income Tax Credit? We've had the EITC since 1975. It's not original with Obama."

Irony of ironies.

In other news, under RPT's theory, the standing of Democrats to even criticize Watergate would require that LBJ be pure as the driven snow.

Tangled webs all around!
10.25.2008 9:10pm
cboldt (mail):
-- the Democrats didn't want his notoriety to translate into public visibility and success
.
is, forgive me, just silly. McCain was the one who pushed Joe out in the hot glare of the lights by repeating his "name" like a mantra in the last debate.
--
.
That defense is non-responsive. The presence of notoriety (particularly attached to the message), without regard to how that notoriety came about (sure, he gets it by McCain using his name, fine), was intolerable to the Democrats. The preference was to turn that notoriety into a negative, rather than into success. In addition to going after "his message," they went after his reputation. Go ahead and defend the Democrats' conduct in that regard - you aren't alone.
10.25.2008 9:11pm
Reg (mail):
I totally agree with Kleiman. Working class mopes who question politicians promising bigger welfare checks need to be investigated and humiliated. Sheesh. Such pretentious attempts to aspire beyond one's current economic class need to be quashed.
10.25.2008 9:32pm
RPT (mail):
"RC re RPT:

So naturally it's perfectly OK to turn his life upside down, check out his educational background and personal finances, investigate his business, (possibly) illegally inspect state databases to see what they might have on him, and to publish and broadcast all this information on Obama-supporting news media."

No. I said it was wrong for anyone to access private databases about SJW. Wrong. Illegal. Period. Please review my post. Argue honestly.

Now, it was also foolish of him to misrepresent himself in the public sphere by saying he was a licenses plumber--if he was not--and that he was ready, willing and able to buy a $250-280K business--if he was not and could not afford to--and so on.

The point is that it is not wise to jump into public debates and make statements which partisan of any kind side can easily disprove.

Finally, re the "Obama-supporting news media", this is a fiction. It is not supported by any meaningful analysis of media ownership, behavior, news content, consolidation, and so on. There are actually facts available about such contentions, as well as re the dreaded "MSM". There is no reason to take seriously anyone who makes such contentions or uses such terms. Add up the combined annual salaries of Limbaugh, Hannity and O'Reilly and tell us that "conservative" voices are not heard.

P.S. Do you believe that drosophila reasearch should be abandoned?
10.25.2008 9:36pm
cboldt (mail):
-- Argue honestly. Now, it was also foolish of him to misrepresent himself in the public sphere by saying he was a licenses plumber --
.
Priceless.
10.25.2008 9:40pm
RPT (mail):
"In other news, under RPT's theory, the standing of Democrats to even criticize Watergate would require that LBJ be pure as the driven snow."

No. LBJ was never pure. Unlike Bush, he was actually subject to real intra-party criticism and opposition. The comment was not a "theory". The problem is that GOP supporters have worked to break down legal protections for privacy and personal information and have supported and enabled the process and practice of privacy invasion of which they now complain when it is wrongfully used against SJW. The only complaint is that the destructive process is being directed against a target GOPer's like.
10.25.2008 9:45pm
RPT (mail):
"Priceless."

Thanks!
10.25.2008 9:46pm
Reg (mail):
Kleiman, do you often accuse people of racism with absolutely no evidence? Isn't that rather a despicable thing to do?
10.25.2008 9:47pm
Smokey:
MarkField:
The current tax structure redistributes income upwards.
Huh??

OK then, economic illiteracy it is. And black is white, down is up, and evil is good. Tell us, Einstein, how do folks who pay no federal taxes redistribute their income upwards? We look forward to your erudition.

RPT:
Finally, re the "Obama-supporting news media", this is a fiction.
Well, that discredits you, doesn't it? Tell us, RPT, what's the color of the sky on your planet?

Aside from my snark, which becomes an irresistible force within me when I read comments like those, may I again remind everyone that the issue is Obama's dodging of the question, not the ad hominem attacks on a private citizen.
10.25.2008 10:00pm
Lily (mail):

"pretended to be, and is held out by the McCain campaign as being, a small businessman whose taxes would go up under the Obama plan

Actually, that's not true. He stated that he was thinking about purchasing a business that he expected would earn aboutr $250k/yr (didn't specify gross or net income).


It also turns out that he's a tax-dodger and a racist (who likened Obama to Sammy Davis, Jr.).

He said he was unaware of the tax lien on his real property (Which is possible. I work in Real Estate, and sometimes we don't know a lien exists until we run a title search.) And since when is stating that someone can dance like SD Jr. a racist statement? Sammy was a great dancer, who happened to be black. Of course, I believe the new rule is: any critism of Obama is racist.
10.25.2008 10:26pm
David Warner:
Smoke,

"may I again remind everyone that the issue is Obama's dodging of the question, not the ad hominem attacks on a private citizen."

We're not Rovian agents. The issue is that which gets talked about. Add your two cents if you wish.

RPT,

"Unlike Bush, he was actually subject to real intra-party criticism and opposition."

How would you know? Are you a Republican? On the other hand, what is your understanding of what happened at the Justice Department, where one would think there are some actual Republicans? If there were no opposition, why the firings? The controversy?

"The problem is that GOP supporters have worked to break down legal protections for privacy and personal information and have supported and enabled the process and practice of privacy invasion of which they now complain when it is wrongfully used against SJW."

They? Some Dem supporters were marching against the war, some carrying out LBJ dirty trickses. Perhaps a few were both. The whole lot? Unlikely. Do all R's look the same in your world? How's that working for you?

"The only complaint is that the destructive process is being directed against a target GOPer's like."

Only? Again, interesting theory. Needs more validity.
10.25.2008 10:30pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Help me out here. If the members of one class of taxpayers have their tax rate increased so that the members of another class can have their's lowered, how is that a transfer of wealth from the one class to the other? But if it is a transfer, then note that there must currently be a transfer of wealth going in the other direction. I.e., the low (relative to income) rate of the well-off is being purchased by the high (relative to income) rate of the not-as-well-off. Basically, wealthy taxpayers get to keep more of their income now because middle class taxpayers get to keep less of their's. That can be called a transfer, too.
This makes no sense. There is already a transfer down, and BHO is proposing increasing it significantly. It is plain silly to suggest "the low (relative to income) rate of the well-off is being purchased by the high (relative to income) rate of the not-as-well-off" since the not-as-well-off in question are already not paying anything.

Your point might make sense if we were talking about the upper middle class versus large inherited wealth. But neither is getting a benefit here. Rather, it is a transfer to those who are already paying little if anything that is the issue.

Of course, the suggestion that it would only be applicable to those making over $250k is risible. Isn't this a major simplification, if nothing else, focusing on a married filing joint figure, and ignoring the fact that the threshold would be significantly lower for everyone else (who are likely a majority)?
10.25.2008 10:39pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
If we are bringing old scores out here, no one has mentioned Hillary's people pulling hundreds of FBI files on GOP members shortly after her husband took office. I realize that the Clinton's took Bill's passport files personally, but this was more than a 100 to 1 act of revenge (and the FBI files probably had a lot more juicy stuff in them too).
10.25.2008 10:42pm
MnZ:
If I read the article correctly, here are the facts.

1) There were 3 separate pulls of Wurzelbacher data.

2) The data pulls occurred in Toledo (Police), Cleveland (Cuyahoga Child Support Enforcement), and Columbus (AG's office).

3) According to my recollection of Ohio politics, these three offices would be controlled by Democrats.

4) These pulls all occurred within 48 hours of the Obama-McCain debate.

Given this, I am skeptical that these were 3 coincidental pulls of data by over-eager Obama supporters.
10.25.2008 10:59pm
william (mail):
This was a textbook Alinsky attack:

"RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.))"

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Obama would use it.
10.25.2008 11:21pm
just me (mail):
Now, it was also foolish of him to misrepresent himself in the public sphere by saying he was a licenses plumber--if he was not--and that he was ready, willing and able to buy a $250-280K business--if he was not and could not afford to--and so on.

He never said he was licensed or that he owned a business. His question implied that he was thinking about buying a business that would pass Obama's threshold.

And whether he was lying or not really isn't germane to the answer, and the problem was in Obama's answer. Joe asked a question-we can even call it a hypothetical-and Obama answered it, and answered it poorly and ever since the focus has been on Joe not the answer.

I hope they are able to figure out who the people were rifling in Joe's records-and I hope those people are held accountable.
10.25.2008 11:25pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

If the members of one class of taxpayers have their tax rate increased so that the members of another class can have their's lowered, how is that a transfer of wealth from the one class to the other?


When it becomes a payment in excess of the actual taxes paid.

This is not to claim that this doesn't happen now, but Obama has been quite blatant about his intentions.
10.25.2008 11:37pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

He pretended to be, and is held out by the McCain campaign as being, a small businessman whose taxes would go up under the Obama plan.


No, he said he hoped to be a small businessman. Read the actual interview, not the talking points.
10.25.2008 11:39pm
byomtov (mail):
It doesn't matter if "Joe the Plumber" is even a real person.

Of course it does. Don't be ridiculous.

McCain wasn't talking about small buisnessmen in general. He made an issue one particular guy, whose story does not check out. In fact, it demonstrates how much McCain is misrepresenting Obama's proposals. No way Joe pays any extra taxes if he buys the business. He conflates revenue with profits and claims that a business that grosses $250K is going to face extra taxes.

Joe may not know better, but I bet McCain does.
10.25.2008 11:41pm
Kevin P. (mail):

Mark A.R. Kleiman:
It also turns out that [Wurzlebacher]'s a tax-dodger...


Joe the Plumber has a lien on his property related to payment of state taxes. Not exactly the same thing as a tax dodger. Martin Nesbitt, the treasurer of Obama's campaign, has tax liens and his companies have tax liens too. I'll be waiting for you to denounce Nesbitt and Obama's campaign as well.


...and a racist (who likened Obama to Sammy Davis, Jr.).


I really don't get this. How on earth is comparing a black man - or anyone else - to Sammy Davis racist? You are absurd. If I compare Ronald Reagan (a white man) to Charlton Heston (another white man), is that racist too? Or is racist reserved only for those critical of Obama?

The funny thing is, Joe the Plumber was playing football in his own front yard when Obama walked into his neighborhood.


Mr. Wurzelbacher was playing football in his front yard with his son, Joey, on Sunday afternoon when Mr. Obama made an unscheduled stop to go door to door greeting voters and asking for their support.

The plumber asked candidate Obama a legitimate question about his economic plan and it was Obama who put his foot in his mouth and revealed that he wanted to Spread. The. Wealth. I think this is what has stuck a needle deep into the lefty psyche. The lefties went bananas over this guy. They pulled up his divorce records and found that he was - gasp! divorced. They found a "connection" (bogus) to the infamous Charles Keating based upon a common last name. They've found that he owes some taxes. They've found speeding tickets dating back to 1993. They've posted his home address and mortgage. This is all from the party of the "little people".

The press dug deeper into his background in hours than they have into Obama's background in months. This sends a chilling message to those who would ever exercise their First Amendment right to petition their government for a redress - or even a discussion! - of their grievances.

I don't think that Obama's campaign can itself be directly held responsible for the attacks on Joe the Plumber, but I don't think this thuggish attitude is rare among his supporters. And one of them is Mark Kleiman himself, demanding that the people who experimented and found the holes in the Obama's credit card donation system be prosecuted.

I can just imagine dealing with the thuggishness if Obama wins the election.
10.25.2008 11:42pm
Smokey:
I hope they are able to figure out who the people were rifling in Joe's records-and I hope those people are held accountable.
It would be very easy to figure out who is guilty.

But unfortunately for our once great country, the guilty go free -- if they are DemocRats.

I will admit that I'm wrong -- once Rep. William Jefferson, who was caught red-handed by the FBI with $90,000 in bribe money in his freezer -- is behind bars. What's it been? Years since he was caught? And he's still not even indicted!

But Jefferson is a DemocRat, therefore he gets an automatic free pass on any and all criminal activity.

Prove me wrong.
10.25.2008 11:44pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
You know, I was going to write Mark a note personally, suggesting that it would be better if his attempts to argue the facts were actually based on facts.

Then I remembered previous discussions with him and recalled that he actually had no intellectual integrity then; it would be foolish to expect that he had developed some now.
10.25.2008 11:49pm
RPT (mail):
"By CHARLIE SAVAGE
Published: October 24, 2008

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration has informed Congress that it is bypassing a law intended to forbid political interference with reports to lawmakers by the Department of Homeland Security.

The August 2007 law requires the agency's chief privacy officer to report each year about Homeland Security activities that affect privacy, and requires that the reports be submitted directly to Congress "without any prior comment or amendment" by superiors at the department or the White House.

But newly disclosed documents show that the Justice Department issued a legal opinion last January questioning the basis for that restriction, and that Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, later advised Congress that the administration would not "apply this provision strictly" because it infringed on the president's powers.

Several members of Congress reacted with outrage to the administration's claim, which was detailed in a memorandum posted this week on the Web site of the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department.

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the move "unconstitutional." He said Mr. Bush should have vetoed the bill if he did not like the provision, and compared the situation to Mr. Bush's frequent use of signing statements to reserve a right to bypass newly enacted laws.

"This is a dictatorial, after-the-fact pronouncement by him in line with a lot of other cherry-picking he's done on the signing statements," Mr. Specter said in a telephone interview. He added, "To put it differently, I don't like it worth a damn."

The Bush administration defended the decision not to obey the statute. Erik Ablin, a Justice Department spokesman, said its legal view was consistent with what presidents of both parties had long maintained.

Mr. Ablin also said the administration had told Congress that the provision would be unconstitutional, but Congress passed the legislation — which enacted recommendations of the 9/11 Commission — without making the requested change. So the administration decided to sign the bill and fix what Mr. Ablin called its "defects" later."

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
10.25.2008 11:52pm
Ted F:
I seem to recall many many TPM headlines over the fake allegation that Sarah Palin had improperly accessed personnel records -- when she neither accessed the records, nor was it illegal for her to do so.
10.25.2008 11:53pm
RPT (mail):
"Smokey:

It would be very easy to figure out who is guilty."

Well, who did it?
10.25.2008 11:56pm
theobromophile (www):
Another absurd argument. The current tax structure redistributes income upwards. His change will mitigate that redistribution.

You're just playing word games. Every tax redistributes money from those who pay it to those who don't. Current taxes do it, past taxes have done it, future taxes will do it. There's no avoiding it.

Mark Field,

You may want to check your talking points. Your theory only works if "income distribution" is entirely relative, based on temporal relations, not how money actually flows. Your argument seems to be: income flows more uphill now than it did several years ago, ergo, net distribution upward.

As we all know (or hopefully know, having passed the third grade), the difference in distribution does not reflect upon the actual distribution. In theory, there should not be a flat RATE of taxation, but a flat tax, period: everyone pays the same amount, under the assumption that they get the same services (or access to services) for that amount. Anything other than that, in which one citizen's bill is lowered due to his inability to pay, and another is raised, due to his greater ability to pay, is a distribution of wealth from the high earners to the low earners.

This all begs the question: if you don't believe that our tax structure redistributes income, nor that BHO's plan would further redistribute wealth, what do you think constitutes wealth distribution?
10.26.2008 12:02am
MnZ:
RPT, good idea...change the subject.
10.26.2008 12:04am
byomtov (mail):
But Jefferson is a DemocRat, therefore he gets an automatic free pass on any and all criminal activity.

Prove me wrong.


Smokey,

Here's a news flash. The DOJ is headed by Michael Mukasey, a Republican. Let me repeat: he's a Republican, working for a Republican President. If you want to complain about Jefferson not being prosecuted he's the guy to talk to.

(I'm not defending Jefferson, BTW. I agree he should be prosecuted. But the notion that some magical all-powerful Democratic conspiracy is protecting him is psychotic.)
10.26.2008 12:06am
byomtov (mail):
It doesn't matter if "Joe the Plumber" is even a real person.

Here's what mCcain said in his radio address a week ago:

Joe explained that he works for a small plumbing and heating company. He's been thinking about maybe taking over the business when his boss retires. Problem is, that would make Joe one of millions of small business owners who face a sudden increase in taxes under my opponent's tax plan.

Now that's a flat lie. There would be no sudden increase for Joe and McCain knows it. Further, there aren't "millions of small business owners" who would face such an increase. McCain should know that too.
10.26.2008 12:25am
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
byomtov:
According to OpenSecrets, Department of Justice lawyers have given roughly three times as much money to Obama as to McCain. The idea that the Bush Department of Justice's failure to nail William Jefferson is some kind of "Democratic conspiracy" is not as absurd as you pretend.
10.26.2008 12:35am
MarkField (mail):
theobromophile:

At last, a rational argument. Wrong, IMO, but at least sane.

Yes, I'm making a temporal argument to some extent. It's clear that under Clinton's tax rates, the upper income brackets paid a higher percentage of taxes than they have under Bush's. Obama proposes a return to Clinton's rates. Thus, it makes just as much sense to claim that Bush redistributed wealth upward as it does to say that Obama will redistribute it downward.

Note by my response here that your last paragraph misunderstands my position. I agree that Obama's plan redistributes wealth. Every tax plan does so. There's no point in criticizing Obama for this if redistribution is inherent in any tax plan.

Your post suggests we can avoid this form of relativity by adopting a flat tax.* That's incorrect. Implicit in your suggestion is the assumption that a flat tax represents a neutral principle of taxation. It isn't; it's based on a value judgment just like every system of taxation is. There are no neutral starting points in economics any more than there are in Constitutional law; it's always relative. All starting points have value judgments attached to them. A flat tax would redistribute income downward relative to some systems (perhaps upward relative to some others).

In order for the government to spend money, it must have a source of income. Borrowing doesn't count -- that simply defers the taxation into the future. To spend is to tax.

Now, the question which remains is what's the best or fairest way to tax. This raises several issues, but I'll focus on the one at hand here, namely the how government should decide to distribute the tax burden among the various social classes. Your argument is that a flat tax is fair because it operates under the assumption that everyone gets access to the same services.

This, however, is not the only question we might ask. The more important one, IMO, is "who benefits most from our society and who, therefore, has the most to lose?". From this perspective, what's fairest is to tax those who have the most. It's actually of much more benefit to the rich to have a fire department -- the poor won't lose much in a fire, but the rich might lose a lot. It's only fair if they pay more.

These aren't the only ways to set up a tax structure. We could, for example, try to impose only Pigovian taxes. That would be difficult, but it might be possible and it would meet some other definition of fairness. The point is, there are lots of definitions of "fair".

*We've never had a flat tax in this country, so it still would make no sense to criticize Obama for returning to Clinton's rates. Even if a flat tax were a neutral point, the current tax system is not neutral. In the actual circumstances, therefore, it remains relative.
10.26.2008 12:39am
byomtov (mail):
The idea that the Bush Department of Justice's failure to nail William Jefferson is some kind of "Democratic conspiracy" is not as absurd as you pretend.

Yes, it is every bit that absurd.
10.26.2008 12:55am
LN (mail):
The idea that the Bush Department of Justice's failure to nail William Jefferson is some kind of "Democratic conspiracy" is not as absurd as you pretend.

Not only is it not absurd, but it makes perfect sense. As we all know, Bush is not a conservative; rather he is a liberal, or to put it more bluntly, a socialist. He's probably donated money to Obama himself.
10.26.2008 1:51am
LN (mail):
One other thing, Obama proposes to lower taxes on everyone with an income below $250,000.

Who are these people getting their taxes cut? I would have thought that this is 95% of the country, but apparently it consists of worthless deadbeats and welfare bums. Why do conservatives hate the American people?
10.26.2008 1:56am
David Warner:
Charlie,

"Then I remembered previous discussions with him and recalled that he actually had no intellectual integrity then; it would be foolish to expect that he had developed some now."

If that's not friendly fire, then you're a sociopath. Holster that weapon.
10.26.2008 2:10am
tsotha:
Huh. I haven't seen this kind of egregious use of government databases against political opponents since... well, since Hillary went through all the GHWB FBI files.
10.26.2008 5:10am
Smokey:
RPT:
"Smokey:

It would be very easy to figure out who is guilty."

Well, who did it?
Reading comprehension: -1.

To repeat: it would be very easy to nail the guilty parties. But no one is investigating, or indicting.

Why do you suppose that is?
10.26.2008 7:52am
PersonFromPorlock:
Mark A.R. Kleiman:

I repeat myself from an earlier thread, but one of the minor drolleries of this campaign is the unlicensed Joe the Plumber's being called a non-plumber by unlicensed journalists.
10.26.2008 8:05am
Arkady:
@Bruce Hayden


This makes no sense. There is already a transfer down, and BHO is proposing increasing it significantly. It is plain silly to suggest "the low (relative to income) rate of the well-off is being purchased by the high (relative to income) rate of the not-as-well-off" since the not-as-well-off in question are already not paying anything.


We're talking at cross-purposes here. I was referring to the middle-class folks who do pay taxes at a certain rate (me and, presumably, you), not folks who qualify for the EITC:


If the members of one class of taxpayers have their tax rate increased so that the members of another class can have their's lowered, how is that a transfer of wealth from the one class to the other?


We got off on the EITC because of Zarkov's original response to my first post. I should have been clearer earlier on that I was talking about those who actually do pay taxes. My bad.
10.26.2008 8:20am
Eli Rabett (www):
Let us see, Joe the virtual plumber, played by Sam, who may or may not be a plumber's assistant, asserts that he is going to buy a virtual business with virtual monopoly money that he doesn't have, the business, he just knows in his dreams that next year he is going to have an AFTER TAX INCOME of 250K$, and the dude's not even registered to vote, and posters not using their real names are burning electrons discussing this clown. Ain't the net wonderful.
10.26.2008 9:55am
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
No, Eli, Joe is not Sam, he is Joe. Lots of people use their middle names or even go by names that are not on their birth certificates at all. Did you insist on referring to the 3rd-party candidate for president in 1992 and 1996 as "Henry Perot" or did you call him Ross Perot like everyone else in America? Did you call President Clinton a liar whenever he went by 'Bill', because the name on his birth certificate is actually William? Do you think people with 'I Like Ike' signs on their lawns 50 years ago were all liars because President Eisenhower was not in fact named Ike or even Isaac? Insisting that Joe Wurzelbacher is some kind of fraud because his legal first name is Samuel is incredibly petty and stupid.

As for "may or may not be a plumber's assistant", that seems to be a lie on your part. Newspaper accounts agree that he has in fact been making his living working as a plumber. There's no "may or may not" about it. And you can't call him a "plumber's assistant" unless you have some evidence that he only stands around handing tools to the guy who does the work rather than actually getting down on his hands and knees and doing the work himself. The fact that he's unlicensed does not make him a non-plumber, any more than an unlicensed teacher is a non-teacher. If you know how to teach and someone is paying you to teach, you're a teacher, and the same goes for plumbers.
10.26.2008 10:28am
just me (mail):
No, Eli, Joe is not Sam, he is Joe. Lots of people use their middle names or even go by names that are not on their birth certificates at all.

Absolutely.

My mother in law is one of them. She not only uses her middle name, she uses a diminutive of her middle name.

There are a lot of people out there that go by middle names, initials, shoot there is a local politician here in town that is known solely by hid nickname, which has absolutely nothing to do with his given first of middle name.
10.26.2008 10:53am
Fedya (www):
Kevin P asked:
I really don't get this. How on earth is comparing a black man - or anyone else - to Sammy Davis racist?


Sammy Davis Jr. was a Jew. Everybody knows BHO is a closet Muslim. That's how it's racist.

[/sarcasm]
10.26.2008 11:23am
Randy R. (mail):
There is nothing at all wrong with doing a background check on Joe the Plumber on publically available information. If that calls into place any hypocracy, or double dealings, or whatever, too bad for him.

There is everything wrong with digging for information illegally on anyone.

That either of these two assertions are debated at all is quite surprising.
10.26.2008 1:06pm
cboldt (mail):
-- There is nothing at all wrong with doing a background check on Joe the Plumber on publically available information. If that calls into place any hypocracy, or double dealings, or whatever, too bad for him. There is everything wrong with digging for information illegally on anyone. --
.
Your ethical boundaries are clear from this. If it's not illegal, it's not "wrong" or unethical. All that's not forbidden by law is "not wrong."
10.26.2008 1:16pm
rarango (mail):
I suppose we all frame the issue in those terms we agree with. My take is that government computers were used to do research on a private citizen for what is demonstrably partisan purposes. Now if people are OK with that fine. That bothers me, however. And I am also gratified to see that some commenters who are on the political left on this blog are also condemning that practice. I appreciate that even more. It reaffirms my faith in principles. For those who somehow think that the practice is OK, well, that is indeed ominous. This seems to me to be one of those litmus tests for personal freedom.
10.26.2008 1:37pm
MnZ:

Your ethical boundaries are clear from this. If it's not illegal, it's not "wrong" or unethical. All that's not forbidden by law is "not wrong."


Or in other words, Nixon was a ethical guy other than that break-in and cover-up thing.
10.26.2008 1:42pm
David Warner:
Randy R.,

"There is nothing at all wrong with doing a background check on Joe the Plumber on publically available information. If that calls into place any hypocracy, or double dealings, or whatever, too bad for him."

So if Sarah Palin happens into your yard and you ask her about gay marriage, there's nothing wrong with the Freepers doing a background check on you? Oh wait, it wasn't the fringe, it was the freakin' corporate media. And that's supposed to be OK?
10.26.2008 2:47pm
darrenm:

Help me out here. If the members of one class of taxpayers have their tax rate increased so that the members of another class can have their's lowered, how is that a transfer of wealth from the one class to the other? But if it is a transfer, then note that there must currently be a transfer of wealth going in the other direction. I.e., the low (relative to income) rate of the well-off is being purchased by the high (relative to income) rate of the not-as-well-off. Basically, wealthy taxpayers get to keep more of their income now because middle class taxpayers get to keep less of their's. That can be called a transfer, too.

It's merely an increase in the current transfer of wealth. Anything other than the same tax rate on all incomes is necessarily a transfer of wealth. You might be for it or against it for various reasons, but to deny it is in fact a transfer of wealth is ludicrous as well as dishonest.

As for a more valid view of taxes versus income:
(I coudn't get the link to be accepted. Just take out the spaces)
http://www.american.com/ archive/2008/october-10-08/ america-has-a-highly-progressive-tax-system


But when we compare the figures for 2006, it is clear that the percentage of federal income taxes paid by the top earners was considerably higher than the percentage of AGI they received. For the top 1 percent, the difference was almost 18 percentage points. For both the top 5 percent and the top 10 percent, the difference was nearly 23.5 percentage points. For each of these groups, the difference between percentage of federal income taxes paid and percentage of AGI earned grew significantly larger between 1980 and 2006.
10.26.2008 4:15pm
darrenm:
1. The current tax structure redistributes income upwards.

2. Every tax redistributes money from those who pay it to those who don't.

Could some please explain why these two statements are not contradictory? The assumption seems to be that those in the 'upward' area of income are not paying as much taxes as the rest are.
10.26.2008 4:26pm
darrenm:

McCain wasn't talking about small buisnessmen in general. He made an issue one particular guy...


Who was meant to represent small busines men in general. This is done all the time by both parties. If you think this is something new, you haven't been around much.
10.26.2008 4:43pm
darrenm:

I can just imagine dealing with the thuggishness if Obama wins the election.


I tend to think this will mostly cease after the election. Much of the media are just so obsessed with Obama that they will let nothing stand in the way of his election. I also tend to think many will get a rude awakening later on when they discover he's not quite what they thought he was. (Is that racist, too? It's hard to tell anymore.)
10.26.2008 4:51pm
byomtov (mail):
Who was meant to represent small busines men in general.

Even if McCain was making a claim about small businessmen in general, it was a false claim.

The fact is small businessmen who own businesses like the one Joe hopes to buy will not be harmed by Obama's tax plan - they will benefit. And this is true of the vast majority of small business owners.
10.26.2008 4:52pm
MnZ:

The fact is small businessmen who own businesses like the one Joe hopes to buy will not be harmed by Obama's tax plan - they will benefit. And this is true of the vast majority of small business owners.


Then, why not just focus on that rather than running a US citizen through the wringer?
10.26.2008 5:39pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
MnZ

To make a useful example. A warning, if you will.
10.26.2008 6:19pm
Lucius Cornelius:
I am a State of Ohio employee. I have access to data bases that include Joe the Plumber. I would not think of doing a search for his records. First, it is wrong. Second, it is illegal. Third, it is very easy for my agency to track improper searches and accessing of information.

The morning after the story about Joe the Plumber broke, I heard some of my co-employees laughing. When I asked what had happened, they told me that Joe the Plumber had tax liens against him. This is the type of information that can be accessed through my agency's datab bases...though it is also accessable through non-agency sources.

The fact that the existence of his tax liens is a matter of public record does not change the fact that it would be a violation of Ohio law for a member of my agency to browse the office databases to find information about Joe and to disclose that information to someone outside the agency.

Now it is possible that this record was on someone's desk legitimately and that no illegal access of records was made. But I am very suspicious about this. I am going to make a report to the Ohio Inspector General about this tomorrow morning. It should be easy enough for the IG and my agency's IT personnel to determine if illegal browsing was involved.
10.26.2008 8:14pm
byomtov (mail):
Then, why not just focus on that rather than running a US citizen through the wringer?

Because McCain brought him up as an example. McCain, not Obama. So why is it unfair for Obama to point out that the very individual McCain is using as an example of how terrible Obama's tax plan is will not be hurt at all, and probably will benefit?

Suppose I say, "The US health insurance situation is awful. Look what happened to Mr. Brown. He couldn't get insurance and then got sick and blah, blah, blah." Would it be unfair for you to point out that Brown in fact did have insurance, and that it covered his treatment, and there was no disaster? Of course not.

And if I tried to argue that I was just using Brown as ana example, you'd be right to point out that the example doesn't illustrate my point, as Joe doesn't illustrate McCain's.

Come on. Think.
10.26.2008 8:33pm
Russ (mail):
The fact is small businessmen who own businesses like the one Joe hopes to buy will not be harmed by Obama's tax plan - they will benefit. And this is true of the vast majority of small business owners.

Not so much true for their (soon to be former) employees. Higher taxes on those folks will do two things - force them to cut back on those nasty expenses like salaries, and pass along any increases to the consumer. Great unless you happen to be one of those elusive "consumers."

Even more so when you look at our obscene corporate tax rate(35%). The government takes more than a third of your income and we wonder why businesses move out of the US? You can't have it both ways - high taxes and lots of businesses.
10.26.2008 9:03pm
CB55 (mail):
Where's the beef? Is it true that in Ohio that records such as home ownership, tax liens, records of civil law suits and judgments, marriage records, and contractor permits are in the public domain! Most or all of these records can be found on the Internet and if not at the county, city or state reporting office at no charge or for a small fee.
10.26.2008 9:07pm
CB55 (mail):
Russ:

States such as Texas has a low business tax base and a business friendly environment, but it also is rated in the top ten in it's poverty rates and the quality of life in the great state of Mississippi is grim despite the low tax rate for business and wealth.
10.26.2008 9:15pm
just me (mail):
Where's the beef? Is it true that in Ohio that records such as home ownership, tax liens, records of civil law suits and judgments, marriage records, and contractor permits are in the public domain! Most or all of these records can be found on the Internet and if not at the county, city or state reporting office at no charge or for a small fee.

Doesn't matter if they are in the public domain. If a state computer was used to access that information contrary to state rules-either ethics or criminal-by a state employee for a non approved purpose then that employee is subject to punishment, and should be.

Also, the article specifically states that his BMV information was searched and that information is not public record.
10.26.2008 9:27pm
cboldt (mail):
-- Would it be unfair for you to point out that Brown in fact did have insurance, and that it covered his treatment, and there was no disaster? --
.
Following your advice for the Joe the plumber incident, the "attack" would be limited to something on the order of "If and when Joe takes on his plan to buy a business, his taxes under the Obama tax plan will be $xxx greater than under McCain. In exchange for spreading the wealth, he (or his employees) will get [fill in the blank]."
.
But what the Democrats offered first was 1) he's no goddamn plumber, he's a liar, he has no license; 2) he has tax liens, the fricking deadbeat; 3) he's lying about wanting to buy a business too, so the point is moot.
.
Demonstrating that the personal attack is alive and well.
10.26.2008 9:39pm
cboldt (mail):
-- Where's the beef? --
.
Ahhh, another disciple of liberal use of the personal attack.
10.26.2008 9:41pm
CB55 (mail):
"Doesn't matter if they are in the public domain. If a state computer was used to access that information contrary to state rules-either ethics or criminal-by a state employee for a non approved purpose then that employee is subject to punishment, and should be.

Also, the article specifically states that his BMV information was searched and that information is not public record."

The penalty for the enforcement of such laws is weak, and the reward for the findings of such records is high (it keeps newspapers in business). It is possible that said records of Joe the Plumber was widely known and or distributed.

The employee is not guilty until proven guilty. In a recent action in the state of California, a man lied and obtained AT&T phone records. AT&T was held harmless as AT&T only followed its own and legal procedure.
10.26.2008 9:54pm
David Warner:
CB55,

At long last, have you left no decency, sir?

Spare me the tu quoque.
10.26.2008 10:08pm
CB55 (mail):
cboldt:

Give Liberals a break and Joe the Plumber a rest. All I can say is if you are going to play Joe The Plumber - pay your taxes, own a permit, have some money in the bank, have a clean nose and do not appear like you are a political pant
10.26.2008 10:14pm
MnZ:
Yes, CB55, people had better be without sin if you question The One.
10.26.2008 10:26pm
CB55 (mail):
David Warner &MnZ:

Neurotics have several defenses for their actions too bad they are all executed poorly. I don't know anything about Joe Wurzelbacher, but I just have one bit of advice. If you have anything in your past that you're not proud of
— a messy divorce, a DUI, an unpaid bill, an indiscreet comment, whatever — be prepared for it to become public knowledge. Joe in the end might be bad for McCain at this point some might call into question his judgment not only about HIM and Joe but HER (Pain) and HIM.
10.26.2008 10:44pm
cboldt (mail):
-- All I can say is if you are going to play Joe The Plumber - pay your taxes, own a permit, have some money in the bank, have a clean nose and do not appear like you are a political pant --
.
I hear you loud and clear. I think the practice you are defending is despicable, but am willing to adopt it as a retaliatory action. Tit for tat baby. Bring it on.
10.26.2008 10:54pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
cboldt.
I think they are depending on you having scruples.
10.26.2008 10:58pm
MnZ:

Neurotics have several defenses for their actions too bad they are all executed poorly. I don't know anything about Joe Wurzelbacher, but I just have one bit of advice. If you have anything in your past that you're not proud of — a messy divorce, a DUI, an unpaid bill, an indiscreet comment, whatever — be prepared for it to become public knowledge.


That is the Chicago way. Leaders can be scoundrels because people have to be perfect before they challenge them.
10.26.2008 11:09pm
cboldt (mail):
-- I think they are depending on you having scruples. --
.
Well, they define scruples by their own actions. I did some research on CB55, and concluded from his book reviews that he's a communist at heart. He voluntarily expresses demonstrably anti-American views. That explains the nature of his agitating on this forum.
10.26.2008 11:14pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
cboldt.
Yeah. But he's depending on you having real scruples. He doesn't think you'll abandon your upbringing. He/they don't think you are capable of lowering yourself to their level.
Either way, they win. Either they take advantage of your superior ethical system, or they can insist you did something unethical.
It goes without saying that they are particularly vile, that they can use your principles against you and smile.
10.26.2008 11:45pm
cboldt (mail):
Richard Aubrey - You make several very good points. Thanks.
10.26.2008 11:48pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
zarkov:

It doesn't matter if "Joe the Plumber" is even a real person.


I think this is known as the 'fake but accurate' doctrine.
10.27.2008 12:07am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ted:

I seem to recall many many TPM headlines over the fake allegation that Sarah Palin had improperly accessed personnel records -- when she neither accessed the records, nor was it illegal for her to do so.


It's not a "fake allegation." There's ample evidence of funny business on this point:

Confidential status of Wooten's personnel file

According to the police union ethics complaint, Bailey had improper access to confidential information from Wooten's personnel file.[47] Palin responded by stating that Todd Palin had this information because Wooten had signed a release placing his entire personnel file in the public domain.[140] However, Palin has also claimed that her family was not aware of Wooten's suspension until July 2008.[115] Also, Wooten's release of February 7, 2008[142] did not place his file in the public domain. It only released his file to McCann's attorneys in connection with the divorce proceedings.

Awareness that Wooten had already been disciplined

According to Palin, she and her family were unaware, prior to July 2008, that Wooten had been disciplined in 2006. For example, on September 1, 2008 Palin said that "Monegan never told Governor Palin or Todd about the discipline that Wooten received ... the parties involved had no idea how the matter was resolved ... As far as the Palin family knew [as of July 2008], Wooten ... had escaped discipline."[115] In a sworn statement on October 8, 2008 Todd Palin said "the DPS never informed me or my wife that Wooten had been disciplined."[166]


Palin has said the file was in the public domain, even though it wasn't. It's pretty clear that Palin got access to records improperly via her sister's divorce lawyer.

Palin is also claiming she had the file, and in the same breath saying she didn't know that Wooten was punished. This is very implausible, for obvious reasons.

There are glaring contradictions here, and they've been mostly unexplored and unreported. Because Palin generates such a large amount of material that's more obvious and more humorous.
10.27.2008 12:07am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
charlie:

he actually had no intellectual integrity then; it would be foolish to expect that he had developed some now


Speaking of intellectual integrity: your palin site contains a number of falsehoods. I've pointed this out several times, like here. Would it be foolish for us to expect that you will ever correct those falsehoods?
10.27.2008 12:17am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Gnats, juke. Gnats.
10.27.2008 12:22am
Eli Rabett (www):
Working under someone with a plumber's license makes you the plumber's assistant.
10.27.2008 12:25am
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Working for someone with a plumber's license does not make you a plumber's assistant, which is what you wrote at 8:55am, ER. Nor is he even the plumber's assistant, if his boss trusts him to go out and do plumbing work on his own. I'm a teacher, and the fact that I have a department chair and a principal who look in on me now and then doesn't make me an assistant teacher: I do the teaching in my classroom, they don't.

And I notice you have neither defended nor withdrawn your claims that Joe's name is really Sam and that he "may or may not" even work as a plumber's assistant. You also might want to check your claim that he's not even registered to vote: others have sneered at him for allegedly voting for McCain in Republican primary, as if that somehow disqualifies him from criticizing Obama. All in all, your 8:55am comment was a pile of inane snark. You really need to either revise and extend it or withdraw it.
10.27.2008 12:43am
Randy R. (mail):
"So if Sarah Palin happens into your yard and you ask her about gay marriage, there's nothing wrong with the Freepers doing a background check on you? Oh wait, it wasn't the fringe, it was the freakin' corporate media. And that's supposed to be OK?"

Of course! Any public information on me is just that: public! I can't stop anyone from digging up information on me now, and I'm sure many people do. Heck, people even dig up information on people when they go on a date, for pete's sake. Is that unethical? Dishonest? Even if it were, how are you going to stop it? Anyone with a computer and internet access can find out a whole boatload of information on you.

And if I were to tell Sarah Palin that I'm against gay marriage, and that's why I'm voting for her, then I can expect the journalists to do their job and find out that I belong to several gay organizations and have supported gay marriage publicly in many occasions, and if they call me a hypocrite for, then I get exactly what I deserve.

I do draw the line at obtaining any information illegally, however, for obvious reasons. But if you don't think some information should be available to the public, then perhaps you should write to your congressman and have him reserve the decisions that Congress has made in the past eight years regarding privacy. I didn't create this situation -- the Republicans did.
10.27.2008 2:07am
Randy R. (mail):
Richard: "Either way, they win. Either they take advantage of your superior ethical system, or they can insist you did something unethical.
It goes without saying that they are particularly vile, that they can use your principles against you and smile."

Well, Michelle Malkin is a self proclaimed conservative, and she actually published the phone numbers and addresses of several students in LA who allegedly did something that she didn't approve of. (The phone nunmbers were not public information, BTW) The students got lots of death threats and other phone call and hate mail, yet Malkin refused to take down the information from her website.

So if you think that one side has ethics and the other does not, you are sadly mistaken.
10.27.2008 2:14am
Randy R. (mail):
Cboldt: "Demonstrating that the personal attack is alive and well."

Certainly. The Republicans perfected it against Cindy Sheehan. And Terry Shiavo's husband.


Or don't you remember?
10.27.2008 2:17am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Well, Michelle Malkin is a self proclaimed conservative, and she actually published the phone numbers and addresses of several students in LA who allegedly did something that she didn't approve of. (The phone nunmbers were not public information, BTW) The students got lots of death threats and other phone call and hate mail, yet Malkin refused to take down the information from her website.
Malkin's actions might have been classless, but it's false to say that the phone numbers were not public information. (Malkin's not exactly Sherlock Holmes; how do you think she got them?) The students in question published them on their own press release touting their actions. Malkin didn't do anything wrong by (re-)publishing them.

What Malkin did that was classless was after hearing that people were making threatening phone calls to those numbers, refusing to take down the post upon being asked.
10.27.2008 2:35am
whit:

Is it true that in Ohio that records such as home ownership, tax liens, records of civil law suits and judgments, marriage records, and contractor permits are in the public domain! Most or all of these records can be found on the Internet and if not at the county, city or state reporting office at no charge or for a small fee


not sure about ohio, but in many jurisdictions, this information is public.

driver's license info is not (anywhere that I am aware of).
10.27.2008 2:42am
David Warner:
CB55,

"Give Liberals a break"

We are the liberals, Einstein. What is this, tu quoque day, circular firing squad style?


Randy R.,

"Even if it were, how are you going to stop it?"

Self-respect? Ethics? Common decency? Or would you recommend mutually-assured-destruction?

[Godwin-censored] did it. I'm against [Godwin-censored]. Therefore, watch out world, here I come!
10.27.2008 3:05am
cboldt (mail):
-- Or don't you remember? --
.
I remember just fine, thank you. And now I have learned that you are a "tit for tat" practitioner.
10.27.2008 4:00am
Russ (mail):
do not appear like you are a political pant

Those wascally Republicans - they drew Obama into Joe's yard and forced him to engage him. McCain saw him coming and used his vast mind control powers to steer Obama into a trap!
10.27.2008 5:43am
tsotha:
All I can say is if you are going to play Joe The Plumber - pay your taxes, own a permit, have some money in the bank, have a clean nose and do not appear like you are a political pant

Absolutely. We can't have normal people questioning their betters.
10.27.2008 6:02am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Randy R.
David saved me the trouble of instructing you that the stuff--euphemism alert--you posted about Malkin was false. Also, that everybody knows it's false, including you who didn't know everybody knows it's false.
You learn something new every day.
10.27.2008 11:30am
byomtov (mail):
"If and when Joe takes on his plan to buy a business, his taxes under the Obama tax plan will be $xxx greater than under McCain. In exchange for spreading the wealth, he (or his employees) will get [fill in the blank]."

No, cboldt. That's the McCain lie. If Joe buys the business he's interested in his taxes under Obama's plan will not be more than under McCain's.

As to the other points you mention, they came from a variety of press sources, including this one, for example. Isn't it perfectly natural for the press to probe a bit once McCain drags Joe onto the national scene. If you want to blame someone for Joe's treatment, blame McCain.
10.27.2008 1:14pm
Randy R. (mail):
David: "The students in question published them on their own press release touting their actions. Malkin didn't do anything wrong by (re-)publishing them. "

Thanks for the correction. Then the students got what they deserved. If you publish your phone number, then people might call it.

"I remember just fine, thank you. And now I have learned that you are a "tit for tat" practitioner."

And what I have learned from you is that if Republicans destroy a person's life, that's okay, but Democrats are evil no matter what they do.

Look, I'm not saying that it's okay to destroy a person. But public information is by its nature, public. Some blogger out there is going to find it out. So if you don't want information out about you, then don't publish it. There are students who post photos of themselves doing horrible things, and then are surprised when they go for an interview and find that the potential employer saw it. Most of the stuff that people are complaining about was put out voluntarily. (See Barbara West's website).

Obama has spoken with probably hundreds of people during this campaign, and every single one of them has not be scrutinized, except for Joe. Why? Partly because McCain made an issue of it. Now, that's not Joe's fault, but then, Joe shouldn't be calling himself a plumber if in fact he isn't.
10.27.2008 2:58pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Randy R.
Joe shouldn't be asking the One a tough question if he isn't ready to be raked over the coals.
Got it.

The issue with the Frosts and SCHIP was that the Frosts' circumstances discredited the dem assertion that SCHIP was for poor folks only.

The issue with JTP is that it serves to distract the discussion from Obama's answer, which is the real issue, and to warn others from even thinking about questioning The One.

Big difference.
10.27.2008 3:37pm
byomtov (mail):
The issue with the Frosts and SCHIP was that the Frosts' circumstances discredited the dem assertion that SCHIP was for poor folks only.

That's right-wing BS.

The issue with JTP is that it serves to distract the discussion from Obama's answer, which is the real issue, and to warn others from even thinking about questioning The One.

BS again. The issue with JTP is not that he questioned Obama, but that McCain used him as a vehicle for lying about Obama's tax proposal.
10.27.2008 4:41pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
byomtov.
Careful with the scatology. Might get you banned.

Why is the concern with the Frosts not a matter of demonstrating that SCHIP was not being used as advertised? They were well off, had a big home whose value was significantly higher than that necessary to buy a similar home in a somewhat less classy neighborhood and use the difference for, say, health care. Each of them had jobs which did not provide health care, but each of them had the opportunity to get one. This was like finding the poster child for one of the Clintons' tearjerkers had cleared the debt for his pool when he went bankrupt on account of medical debts. Supposedly.

And what does JTP's life have to do with Obama's answer, other than fervid foaming will serve to distract from Obama's answer, not to mention warn off future inadvertent acts of lese majeste?
10.27.2008 4:56pm
Fury:
The latest on records of Joe the Plumber being accessed:

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director confirms that records of Joe were accessed after the McCain-Obama debate, stating:

"Our practice is when someone is thrust quickly into the public spotlight, we often take a look at them...."


Joe's driver license and vehicle registration was accessed three times from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles database after the McCain-Obama debate.
10.28.2008 12:11pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
"Our practice...."
Yeah. Just because, having nothing productive anybody can make us do, we look up records for the hell of it.

Sure as hell, this whole thing is both a warning and an attempt to distract from O's answer.
10.28.2008 12:14pm
Fury:
WNWO in Toledo is reporting the arrest of a Toledo Police Department records clerk, alleging that she performed an improper inquiry for information regarding "Joe the Plumber".
10.28.2008 7:06pm
Fury:
The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that there was a total of three instances of records of "Joe the Plumber" being accessed after the last McCain-Obama debate.
10.29.2008 9:17am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I believe one of the records searches was initiated in another county, from an agency which has no business in any county but its own.

So, was it criminal?

I think the question is whether it's actionable as a suit over privacy. You can't plead out in civil suits in order to avoid discovery, can you? It's some other process and it involves cutting a very large check. Maybe JtP will be able to buy that business after all.
10.29.2008 9:27am
Fury:
The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that checks on "Joe the "Plumber" after the McCain-Obama debate were more extensive, and included checks to determine "if was receiving welfare assistance or owed unemployment compensation taxes."

This was in addition to the checks in the child support system to determine if he owed back child support obligations.
10.30.2008 8:15am