Tuesday, 26 May 2009

MARYLAND'S MILLIONAIRES: REALITY VERSUS TRA-LA-LA LIBERALS

Ken Berwitz

I call them tra-la-la liberals. 

They are liberals who let their self-created fantasies overcome, then supersede, reality.

There are many, many instances of this happening.  One of the more intriguing, however, is how completely Maryland's liberal governance understood the consequences of a big, new tax on "the rich" - to go along with the already-higher taxation they are subject to.

Here, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, is what happened:

MAY 26, 2009

Millionaires Go Missing

Maryland's fleeced taxpayers fight back.

Here's a two-minute drill in soak-the-rich economics:

Maryland couldn't balance its budget last year, so the state tried to close the shortfall by fleecing the wealthy. Politicians in Annapolis created a millionaire tax bracket, raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 6.25%. And because cities such as Baltimore and Bethesda also impose income taxes, the state-local tax rate can go as high as 9.45%. Governor Martin O'Malley, a dedicated class warrior, declared that these richest 0.3% of filers were "willing and able to pay their fair share." The Baltimore Sun predicted the rich would "grin and bear it."

One year later, nobody's grinning. One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000, which the state comptroller's office concedes is a "substantial decline." On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year -- even at higher rates.

No doubt the majority of that loss in millionaire filings results from the recession. However, this is one reason that depending on the rich to finance government is so ill-advised: Progressive tax rates create mountains of cash during good times that vanish during recessions. For evidence, consult California, New York and New Jersey (see here).

The Maryland state revenue office says it's "way too early" to tell how many millionaires moved out of the state when the tax rates rose. But no one disputes that some rich filers did leave. It's easier than the redistributionists think. Christopher Summers, president of the Maryland Public Policy Institute, notes: "Marylanders with high incomes typically own second homes in tax friendlier states like Florida, Delaware, South Carolina and Virginia. So it's easy for them to change their residency."

All of this means that the burden of paying for bloated government in Annapolis will fall on the middle class. Thanks to the futility of soaking the rich, these working families will now pay Mr. O'Malley's "fair share."

I blogged about this less than two weeks ago.  And here it is again, loud and clear.

As a great icon of tra-la-la liberals - and at least one blogger you read - once wrote (and still sings at the age of 90), Oh when will they ever learn?  When will they ever learn?


HOW THEY GET THEIR ROCKS OFF IN TACOMA

Ken Berwitz

Here's another chapter of the increasingly voluminous "you can't make this up" book:

From the AP:

Rocks Dropped on Cars in 'Bizarre Stripping Game'

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

 LAKEWOOD, Wash.   Troopers have arrested a man and a woman accused of damaging at least 14 vehicles, including a State Patrol car, by throwing rocks onto them from a railroad trestle over Interstate 5 near Lakewood, Wash., as a part of a bizarre stripping game.

Trooper Guy Gill says 23-year-old Joshua N. Sizemore and 18-year-old Amanda L. Madison were tossing baseball-sized rocks from the trestle early Monday. Sizemore, of Tacoma, and Madison, of Lakewood, were booked into the Pierce County Jail in Tacoma, Wash., for investigation of malicious mischief and second-degree assault.

Troopers on the ground were assisted by a State Patrol airplane that captured video of two people throwing rocks from the trestle. Investigators say Madison was in her underwear when the couple were arrested.

Investigators say the two were playing a stripping game.

One person was injured when a rock crashed through the window and bruised his arm. He did not need to be hospitalized.

I'm not exactly getting the "stripping game" part of the story.  Were they wearing the rocks?

Maybe the underwear she had on was a pair of rockey shorts.

She might have already removed her over-the-shoulder boulder holder.

Ugh.  On that saggy note, I'm finished.


MICHELLE MALKIN ON THE SOTOMAYOR NOMINATION, AND CLAIRE MCCASKILL'S IGNORANCE AND/OR DISHONESTY

Ken Berwitz

From Michelle Malkin, without any comment from me (it doesn't need any):

 

Hey, Claire McCaskill: Meet Clarence Thomas

By Michelle Malkin    May 26, 2009 11:29 AM

 

On Fox News Channel this morning, Sen. Claire McCaskill dutifully read her compelling personal story talking points and hyped Sonia Sotomayors compelling personal background while whitewashing her legal record.

 

Incredibly, McCaskill was not aware that Sotomayor had said I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasnt lived that life.

 

When FNC anchor Jane Skinner asked her about Sotomayors words, McCaskill tried to claim that someone else had made the statement.

 

Is Sen. McCaskill that clueless or that deceitful?

 

The Democrat senator went out to claim that the Supreme Court has no members who have grown up in poverty and overcome extreme hardships.

 

Thats something new, McCaskill argued.

 

I suggest she read Justice Clarence Thomass memoir before she open her mouth again.

Once again, Democrats send the identity politics-marinated message that the experiences and compelling personal stories of minorities dont count if those minorities stray from the liberal plantation.

 

Celebrate diversity as long as you pledge allegiance to the Left for life.


SOTOMAYOR & JUDICIAL TEMPERAMENT

Ken Berwitz

Here is an excerpt from an article by the liberal-left Jeffrey Rosen, written for the liberal-left New Republic:

A few weeks ago, I received phone calls from eminent liberal scholars I know and trust. These scholars closely follow Sotomayor's work and expressed questions about her temperament. They did not have axes to grind or personal agendas; they are Democrats who want President Obama to appoint the most effective liberal Supreme Court justices possible and were concerned Sotomayor might not meet that high standard. They put me in touch with others in the same situation--mostly former Second Circuit clerks and prosecutors who have argued before her--and nearly all of them expressed the same view, with exceptions I noted in the piece. None of these people would have talked to me without the promise of anonymity: some still argue before the judge, and others continue to interact with her. (And, no, despite a conspiracy-minded suggestion to the contrary, one of my sources was not my brother-in-law, Neal Katyal, currently the deputy U.S. Solicitor General.) Anonymous comments aren't ideal, but there was no other way, in this situation, to get people to

 

I was satisfied that my sources's concerns were widely shared when I read Sotomayor's entry in the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, which includes the rating of judges based on the collective opinions of the lawyers who work with them. Usually lawyers provide fairly positive comments. That's what makes the discussion of Sotomayor's temperament so striking. Here it is:

Sotomayor can be tough on lawyers, according to those interviewed. "She is a terror on the bench." "She is very outspoken." "She can be difficult." "She is temperamental and excitable. She seems angry." "She is overly aggressive--not very judicial. She does not have a very good temperament." "She abuses lawyers." "She really lacks judicial temperament. She behaves in an out of control manner. She makes inappropriate outbursts." "She is nasty to lawyers. She doesn't understand their role in the system--as adversaries who have to argue one side or the other. She will attack lawyers for making an argument she does not like."

Personally, my guess is that Judge Sotomayor will be passed through relatively quickly and easily -- because I don't think Republicans have the stomach to challenge a Latino woman for fear of being called racist, anti-woman, anti-Latino, etc. etc. etc.

That's too bad because between her temperament and her personal racism, which I blogged about earlier today, she has no business being on the court.


CBC (CANADIAN BROADCASTING CENSORSHIP)

Ken Berwitz

The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) is very well known for its leftward bias.  This is nothing new at all.  But I thought you might be interested in the letter written to it by the Canadian Life Coalition, regarding its non-coverage of this year's National March For Life:

Monday May 25, 2009


 

CBC "Engaged in Blatant Media Censorship" Says CLC about Lack of National Coverage for March for Life

CLC lodges formal complaint to the CRTC

By Alex Bush

May 25, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), the Canadian pro-life organization that every year organizes the National March for Life, is accusing the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) of engaging in "blatant media censorship." According to the pro-life group, "for a broadcaster who is funded by the taxpaying Canadian public" CBC's failure to give national coverage to this year's March for Life "certainly constitutes unethical journalism and professional misconduct."

A letter signed by CLC president Jim Hughes was sent to the CBC Ombudsman today, suggesting that CBC willfully "ignored" the 12,300 people who convened on Parliament Hill two weeks ago to protest the 40th anniversary of the legalization of abortion. This despite the fact that CLC provided CBC with information about the massive pro-life event well in advance, and the fact the station has reported on much smaller protests on the Hill in the past.

"How is it that CBC's national news desk has in the recent past given lengthy coverage to a paltry 200 individuals at a pro-marijuana rally on the Hill," asks the letter, "but fails to notice 12,000+ prolife citizens overflowing the grounds of Parliament Hill?"

"Is this not proof of a double standard which favours 'socially liberal' causes?"

The letter points out that even the local coverage of the March by the CBC was limited to a mere "25 seconds on a local affiliate which misrepresented the numbers attending as 'hundreds'," rather than the more than 12,000 who attended.

According to CLC, the national blackout regarding the March for Life was to all appearances initiated by the CBC "for no other reason than the CBC disagrees with our opinions on abortion." 

CLC suggests out that the omission by the CBC is even more egregious given the unprecedented level of support given to the march by the Canadian bishops, 11 of whom were present on Parliament Hill, and the "explosive 50% growth in attendance" at the march over last year's event.

Jim Hughes concludes the CLC letter, saying, "On behalf of millions of Canadians who have been deprived of unbiased journalism by its public broadcaster and the hundreds of thousands who are disgusted by the CBC's annual blacklisting of the National March For Life, I request a thorough investigation into CBC's programming practices. The results and remedies ought to receive the national publicity and exposure which CBC routinely denies to opinions with which it disagrees."

CLC also sent the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) a letter of formal complaint, which accuses the CBC of discrimination against the March for Life.

"We believe the evidence is overwhelming to support our claim that the CBC has discriminated unfairly against our massive National March For Life in that it gave no national television coverage whatsoever to this historic event," says CLC in that letter.

Is the CLC correct?  You bet your life it is.

Reporting on news has - or, more exactly, should have - nothing whatsoever to do with the opinions of reporters.  News is news. 

If there is a story about a rape-murder in Toronto, it doesn't mean the media venue supports rape and murder.  If there is a story about a terrorist attack in Montreal, it doesn't mean the media venue supports terrorism.    If the weather prediction is rain, it doesn't mean the media venue wants to ruin anyone's day.

Similarly, reporting a major pro-life event doesn't make the media venue pro (or, for that matter, anti) life.  If it is a news story, it is a news story.

But fully reporting a news story for one side of an issue, then not reporting it at all for the other side, does make the media venue something.  It makes the media venue biased.

And that is what the CBC is.  Biased.  Has been since I can remember. 

What a disgrace the CBC is.

John F. The CBC is a state-run, liberal propaganda machine. For decades under successive liberal governments, its leadership has been stacked with liberal/socialist/marxist idealogues who view their role as to reshape society in their own godless, marxist image. While giving lip-service to the virtue of "tolerance", the CBC tolerates no opinions other than its own elitist, far-left views. The fact that the CBC is state-run is scary. Why scary? Because it puts in place the apparatus for a totalitarian government, whether practicing soft or hard totalitarianism, to use the CBC for propaganda and destruction of its political and idealogical opponents, such as occurred with state-run soviet media. This is our scary Canadian CBC. (05/27/09)


THE UN THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA IS RELYING ON

Ken Berwitz

From Jonathan Tobin of www.commentarymagazine.com:

Putting Our Faith in the UN Cesspool

Jonathan Tobin - 05.26.2009 - 1:17 PM

The keystone to Barack Obamas foreign policy is a revived faith in international institutions such as the United Nations and deference to the opinion of the same. But despite the seeming popularity of this policy, reasons for disgust at the current state of the UN and its agencies continues to build up.

One example is provided in an open letter signed by French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, Shoah director Claude Lanzmann, and Elie Wiesel, published by the Huffington Post. In it these three heavyweights express their dismay at the near certainty that Farouk Hosny, the Egyptian Minister of Culture, will become the next Director General of UNESCO. They write:

Mr. Farouk Hosny is not worthy of this role; Mr. Farouk Hosny is the opposite of a man of peace, dialogue, and culture; Mr. Farouk Hosny is a dangerous man, an inciter of hearts and minds. There is only little, very little time left to avoid committing the major mistake of elevating Mr. Farouk Hosny above others to this eminent post.

Hosnys statements over the years mark him down as an incorrigible Israel- and Jew-hater who has actually advocated the burning of books published by Israelis. The latter is a perfect resume line for someone who is supposedly going to be responsible for preserving the heritage of this planets culture, isnt it?

But already in office and far higher up in the Byzantine labyrinth of UN bureaucracies is another ideologue and hater: Miguel dEscoto Brockmann, president of the United Nations General Assembly. A hardcore Sandinista veteran of Nicaraguas nightmarish past, dEscoto has already provoked concern in the United States for his open hostility to the state of Israel. Now, the New York Times has reported on his plans for using the UN as a platform for institutionalizing his socialist dogmas. This not very sympathetic piece by Neil MacFarquhar, tells us that Brockman wants to create 9 new global institutions, authorities, and advisory boards:

Everyone basically agreed that the United Nations should serve as the voice of the poorest nations, and that its many tentacles provided an excellent source for collecting data on the impact of the meltdown. To Mr. dEscoto, a priest and former Nicaraguan foreign minister, the world financial crisis demonstrates the need for something closer to a revolution, both to mend the deep wounds opened by capitalist excess and to prevent future calamity. He wants the General Assembly to be anointed the leader in reformulating the worlds economic institutions. (The draft document suggested an open-ended process, steered by Mr. dEscoto.)

If the new financial system and architecture is going to be put together, and these rules of the game are going to affect everyone, as the crisis has affected everyone, the proposed solution and new rules of the game should be legitimate for everyone, said Paul Oquist, Mr. dEscotos senior adviser for the conference, and a Nicaraguan official. It is the General Assembly that offers that in a universal vein.

Sitting beneath portraits of Fidel Castro of Cuba, President Hugo Chvez of Venezuela and President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, among others, Mr. Oquist also said that the meltdown of 2008 proved that no state or states had a monopoly on financial wisdom. That statement, at least, attracts a consensus here.

So, in addition to being a cesspool of anti-Semitism, as demonstrated anew by the pick of Hosny, the United Nations will, under dEscotos leadership, become a clearinghouse for a new socialist revolution that will attempt to re-order the international financial system in the image of Nicaragua or Cuba. And Barack Obama wants us to listen more closely to the UN and care about its opinions? John Boltons famous quip about lopping off 10 floors off the UN building never seemed more moderate.

In just four months, President Obama has put us trillons upon trillions of dollars in debt, has gone a great distance towards nationaizing our finance sector, is taking over the auto industry....

...and, not content with that level of carnage, he also is moving to increase our reliance upon the UN - whose only effectiveness in recent years appears to be issuing condemnations of Israel and hosting Jew-hating "human rights" charades in Durbin, South Africa and Geneva, Switzerland.

When do some of the people in this country wake up?  When do some of the media in this country wake up?  When do some of Barack Obama's Israel supporters - especially Jewish Israel supporters - wake up?

When will it be too late?


MORE BURRIS TSURIS

Ken Berwitz

Chicago's CBS 2 has some particularly damning information about Roland Burriss, the Blagojevich-appointed U.S. Senator from Illinois:

Burris Offered To Write Check To Blagojevich

Senator Suggested Contribution Before He Was Appointed, Later Decided Against It

CHICAGO (CBS) ―

Sen. Roland Burris was recorded on an FBI wiretap suggesting that he could write a check to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign before the ousted governor appointed Burris to the Senate.

The details of the conversation emerged after a federal judge said Tuesday he would allow the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee to hear a federal wiretap of the former governor's brother, Rob, having a fund-raising conversation with  Burris. Rob Blagojevich was running the campaign fund at the time.

Sources tell CBS 2 the wiretapped phone conversation occurred on Nov. 18 while Blagojevich was still governor and before he named Burris to President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat. 

Sources say that on the tape, Burris suggests that he could contribute, or have associates contribute, money to the Blagojevich campaign. Burris also expresses desire to be appointed to the U.S. Senate.

Burris' lawyer, Timothy Wright told CBS 2 that after that conversation, Burris decided against making any contribution. However, the Sun-Times reports that Burris never disclosed that information in an affidavit detailing his actions before he was appointed by Blagojevich
.

Should Burris resign?  Yes, of course. 

Will Burris resign?  No, of course not.

Will Burris be an ongoing embarrassment to Democrats and, if he runs for election next year, a disaster for them unless he is upended in a primary?  Probably yes.

"Tsuris" is a yiddish word, meaning trouble.  For Illinois Democrats, Burris is Tsuris. 


SONIA SOTOMAYOR

Ken Berwitz

President Obama apparently will nominate Sonia Sotomayor (SO-toe mah-YORE) to fill David Souter's seat on the United States Supreme Court.

I know some of  Ms. Sotomayor's biographical information (she is 55 years old, born in The Bronx, New York to Puerto Rican parents, her father died when she was 9, she has an Ivy League education, she has diabetes, etc.).  These things are interesting, but unrelated to my judgement regarding whether she should be a Supreme Court Justice.

Unfortunately, I also know some of her opinions.  They are extremely disturbing, and do relate to whether she has any business being named to the USSC. 

Read them yourself, in this May 14th New York Times article.  The bold print is mine:

A Judges View of Judging Is on the Record

 

By CHARLIE SAVAGE

Published: May 14, 2009

 

WASHINGTON In 2001, Sonia Sotomayor, an appeals court judge, gave a speech declaring that the ethnicity and sex of a judge may and will make a difference in our judging.

 

In her speech, Judge Sotomayor questioned the famous notion often invoked by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her retired Supreme Court colleague, Sandra Day OConnor that a wise old man and a wise old woman would reach the same conclusion when deciding cases.

 

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasnt lived that life, said Judge Sotomayor, who is now considered to be near the top of President Obamas list of potential Supreme Court nominees.

 

Her remarks, at the annual Judge Mario G. Olmos Law and Cultural Diversity Lecture at the University of California, Berkeley, were not the only instance in which she has publicly described her view of judging in terms that could provoke sharp questioning in a confirmation hearing.

 

This month, for example, a video surfaced of Judge Sotomayor asserting in 2005 that a court of appeals is where policy is made. She then immediately adds: And I know I know this is on tape, and I should never say that because we dont make law. I know. O.K. I know. Im not promoting it. Im not advocating it. Im you know.

 

The video was of a panel discussion for law students interested in becoming clerks, and she was explaining the different experiences gained when working at district courts and appeals courts. Her remarks caught the eye of conservative bloggers who accused her of being a judicial activist, although Jonathan H. Adler, a professor at Case Western Reserve University law school, argued that critics were reading far too much into those remarks.

 

Republicans have signaled that they intend to put the eventual nominee under a microscope, and they say they were put on guard by Mr. Obamas statement that judges should have empathy, a word they suggest could be code for injecting liberal ideology into the law.

 

Judge Sotomayor has given several speeches about the importance of diversity. But her 2001 remarks at Berkeley, which were published by the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, went further, asserting that judges identities will affect legal outcomes.

 

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, she said, for jurists who are women and nonwhite, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.

 

Her remarks came in the context of reflecting her own life experiences as a Hispanic female judge and on how the increasing diversity on the federal bench will have an effect on the development of the law and on judging.

In making her argument, Judge Sotomayor sounded many cautionary notes. She said there was no uniform perspective that all women or members of a minority group have, and emphasized that she was not talking about any individual case.

 

She also noted that the Supreme Court was uniformly white and male when it delivered historic rulings against racial and sexual discrimination. And she said she tried to question her own opinions, sympathies and prejudices, and aspired to impartiality.

 

Still, Judge Sotomayor questioned whether achieving impartiality is possible in all, or even, in most, cases. She added, And I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society.

 

She also approvingly quoted several law professors who said that to judge is an exercise of power and that there is no objective stance but only a series of perspectives.

 

Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see, she said.

 

Charles J. Ogletree Jr., a Harvard law professor and an adviser to Mr. Obama, said Judge Sotomayors remarks were appropriate. Professor Ogletree said it was obvious that peoples life experiences will inform their judgments in life as lawyers and judges because law is more than a technical exercise, citing Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.s famous aphorism: The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.

 

In a forward to a 2007 book, The International Judge (U.P.N.E.), Judge Sotomayor seemed to put a greater emphasis on a need for judges to seek to transcend their identities, writing that all judges have cases that touch our passions deeply, but we all struggle constantly with remaining impartial and letting reason rule. Courts, she added, are in large part the product of their membership and their judges ability to think through and across their own intellectual and professional backgrounds to find common ground.

How am I supposed to feel about a potential Supreme Court Justice who tells me that a "Latina woman" would make better decisions than a White man because of the "richness of her experiences"?  How would I be expected to feel about a nominee who said that his experiences as a White, European male would more often than not enable him to make better decisions than a Latino Woman?  How fast would that man be bounced from consideration after saying such a thing?

How am I supposed to feel about Sotomayor's comment that the Appeals court is where policy is made - since the Appeals Court does not make policy - and neither does the Supreme Court.  Has Ms. Sotomayor ever heard of the LEGISLATIVE BRANCH?  If she thinks that judges have legislative responsibility, or should have legislative responsibility, or don't have legislative responsibility but it is ok for them to usurp it in some situations, she is unfit for any judgeship, let alone the USSC.

And how am I supposed to feel about Ms. Sotomayor's definitive statement that gender and national origin will make a difference in how she performs as a judge.  Isn't she supposed to leave those factors at the door if she is a Supreme Court Justice?  Isn't a Supreme Court Justice's function to determine the constitutionality of laws, not to adjust or remake those laws based on gender and skin color?

How is Ms. Sotomayor's coment different from what a Southern Judge could have said to justify the way Blacks were treated until the civil rights movement?  What if one of those judges said "I'm a White man of European ancestry.  That may and will make a difference in my judging"?  Would he be acceptable for the Supreme Court?  Traffic Court?  Any court? 

Interestingly, at a hearing in 1997, Sotomayor said "I don't believe we should bend the Constitution under any circumstance. It says what it says. We should do honor to it."

But based on what she has said since, Ms. Sotomayor has either forgotten that simple truth, or she just mouthed the words to get her judgeship and ignored them afterwards.

Which of those two makes you comfortable with her on the Supreme Court?


THE CALIFORNIA GAY MARRIAGE RULING

Ken Berwitz

Breaking news from the Associated Press:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The California Supreme Court has upheld a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, but it also decided that the estimated 18,000 gay couples who tied the knot before the law took effect will stay wed.

 

The decision Tuesday rejected an argument by gay rights activists that the ban revised the California constitution's equal protection clause to such a dramatic degree that it first needed the Legislature's approval.

 

The announcement of the decision caused outcry among a sea of demonstrators who had gathered in front of the San Francisco courthouse awaiting the ruling.

My congratulations to the California Supreme Court for determining that there really is such a thing as being a little bit pregnant.

Either gay marriage IS or ISN'T banned.  Either it IS or ISN'T legal.  This is an issue of legal principle, not timing.

Incidentally, if anyone wants to know where I stand on legalization of gay marriage, I wrote a sex-neutral wedding song that can be used for gay weddings.  I think it's pretty good.  If you want the words and music just let me know.

That clear enough?


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