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Be a Patriot: Don't Pay Sarah Palin's Salary!!

Here's Gov. Palin during the debate with Sen. Biden:

"Now you [Biden] said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not patriotic. Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. In fact, too often you're the problem so, government, lessen the tax burden and on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper."
Well, you heard it here first, folks: I have uncovered incontrovertible evidence that Sarah Palin has received hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax revenue and converted them to her own personal use!! Where the hell else does she think her salary comes from?
It may be foolish, or unwise, or even unreasonable to suggest that people pay higher taxes; sometimes it surely is all of those. But it is really irresponsible, outrageous, and insulting to say that it's unpatriotic. I dislike paying my taxes as much as anyone, and I dislike the general propensity of the Democrats to spend more and to tax more. But paying taxes (along with voting) is one of the most patriotic things I do. I don't pay my taxes because I'd go to jail if I didn't; I pay my taxes because that is the price we pay to live in the society in which we live, and it's insulting to suggest that somehow I'm being snookered into acting unpatriotically. If the government has things on which it has to spend money, it is sheer Knucklehead Conservatism to say "we need to spend the money — for a war against our enemies, for example, or to pay the medical costs of our retirees — but we won't ask people to pay any taxes to fund it." And it's thoroughly irresponsible of a candidate for high office to suggest that paying taxes is unpatriotic. If McCain and Palin are elected — increasingly unlikely, but just suppose — let's just stop paying our taxes, OK? It would be the patriotic thing to do.

Whoa, folks ... this firestorm of comments is a little more than I bargained for. A couple of responses to the many, many points raised in the comments:
1. If you think I'm such a fool, YOU CAN STOP READING MY POSTS. That's the good thing about the VC - there's lots of other stuff for you to read and argue about.
2. The most interesting comments were those (from the more reasonable ones) suggesting that I mistook "unpatriotic" for "not patriotic." That's a pretty interesting point. To begin with, I would've thought they were, in fact, synonyms. Undressed is the same as not dressed. Unbearable is the same as not bearable. Unkind is the same as not kind. Unintelligent. Unfair. Unreasonable. At least, in most contexts, and most usages.
3. Having said that, I can see the counter-argument that many of you are making here; Palin's not saying "Biden is being unpatriotic", she's saying "Biden is wrong to suggest that paying taxes is patriotic." It's what we lawyers call a "fine" distinction - not irrelevant, I grant you, but, in my opinion, not central to what she was trying to communicate. Look at what she said:

"Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. In fact, too often you're the problem so, government, lessen the tax burden and on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper."

So let me get this straight. It's patriotic to say "lessen the tax burden," but it's not patriotic (oops!! I almost said "unpatriotic") to say "raise taxes to pay for the things you're buying." That's what she's saying, folks. Her words, not mine. Now, many of you seem to think that makes perfect sense, and shows that Gov. Palin understands many things that have eluded morons like me. You're perfectly entitled to your opinion. But I still don't get it. It still looks outrageous, over-simplified, and irresponsible, to me. And if that makes you want to call me names, see Point Number 1, above.

4. I know that Gov. Palin knows that her salary is funded by taxes. That was meant as irony. If you didn't catch that, I should've made it clearer.

Update 2. A few of you have tried the interesting strategy of actually reading what I wrote and thinking about it. Here's courtwatcher:

I'm convinced David P is correct here. Palin said: "In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not patriotic. Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution."

Try replacing "patriotic" with any of the words David suggests. In these cases, the context and usage make clear that in those cases, "unX" = "not X":

In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not reasonable. Reasonable is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not intelligent. Intelligent is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. etc.

In all these cases, it's clear from the context and usage that "not X" means the same as the compound word "unX" would mean. (Go ahead and explain why this is wrong - all 300+ of you. :-) ) I can see situations in which "unX" would not mean "not X," and commenters have correctly identified some of them. But this isn't one of them, and certainly it isn't obviously one of them. This part of David's post is completely reasonable even if some here disagree with it. To say it's obviously "wrong" or a failure of logic is just incorrect. It's stunning to see how unwilling people are to even imagine that someone might have a different view.

I couldn't (and, I guess, I didn't) say it better myself.
Now, once again — you might disagree with my assessment that Palin's statement was outrageous, or that it is irresponsible for a candidate for public office to make it. That's entirely fair game, and I'm even (though many of you will not believe it) open to persuasion on that. But to all of you who called me some pretty nasty names for making such a foolish logical mistake, maybe you're the ones who need to take a deep breath and look at the text on the page and think about it. Apologies can be sent to me at David.Post@temple.edu :)

Observer:
Doing something that you are required to do by law (like paying taxes) is not patriotic, for the same reason that it is not charitable. Palin did not say or suggest that paying taxes is *unpatriotic*. Patriots deserve praise for being patriotic, and no one should expect to be praised simply for doing what one is required to do. Patriotism means more than this.
10.8.2008 6:57pm
Oren:
Well, on the left-hand side of things, Thoreau considered paying taxes to be giving material aid to every unethical decision made by the government. I suppose he would consider it 'unpatriotic' to pay taxes in the sense that the US government was (he felt) not living up to its ideals.

Such patent nonsense is not confined to the right (although bizarre theories about the 16th amendment not being ratified, the meaning of the word "income" and so forth do seem to be more common among the Ron Paul crowd than the Ralph Nader crowd).
10.8.2008 6:58pm
ShelbyC:
Oh for crying out loud.
10.8.2008 6:59pm
dbett (mail):
Huh? The old phrase "Too smart by half" comes to mind.
10.8.2008 7:00pm
Patent Lawyer:
David, you're mistaking "unpatriotic", which usually effectively means "antipatriotic", with "not patriotic." To analogize to an episode of South Park:

"I've brushed my teeth every day, isn't that good?"
"Well, Eric, brushing your teeth doesn't really count as good or bad...it more counts as 'brushing your teeth.'"

Palin wasn't saying that paying taxes is unpatriotic, but that there's nothing particularly patriotic about paying taxes. And she's right. Especially when the lion's share of federal taxes goes to entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare.

You may think that "paying taxes is one of the most patriotic things [you] do." Joe Biden might agree with you. Very, very few other Americans would.
10.8.2008 7:00pm
Nunzio:
David,

You're the first person to come down with Palin Derangement Syndrome. Relax, man, it's only rock n' roll.

And if not paying taxes is unpatriotic, then I guess Wesley Snipes should have been charged with treason as well.
10.8.2008 7:01pm
Nunzio:
David,

You're the first person to come down with Palin Derangement Syndrome. Relax, man, it's only rock n' roll.

And if not paying taxes is unpatriotic, then I guess Wesley Snipes should have been charged with treason as well.
10.8.2008 7:01pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

But paying taxes (along with voting) is one of the most patriotic things I do.


You pay your taxes so you don't end up in court with the burden of proof on you, the accused.

You pay your taxes so your property isn't seized, ultimately; although if you are paid as a wage earner, the government already does that two or four times a month.

You want patriotic? Send a salami to someone's boy in the army.
10.8.2008 7:01pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
Perhaps it would be fairer to suggest that paying needed taxes is patriotic, but being asked to pay a penny more because of "patriotism" is a false appeal. Reasonable people might disagree about what that minimum is, but the principle should hold.
10.8.2008 7:03pm
keith:
While her salary is paid for by tax revenues there's no personal income tax in Alaska. So really it's only the oil companies that can complain, at least in her case...
10.8.2008 7:03pm
DReader:
David, your post seems a tad disingenuous!

Palin says "Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution."

I'm not really sure from what you've inferred that Palin believes paying taxes itself is unpatriotic. Perhaps you could explain why you believe this is her stand?

Palin's statement that acknowledging the government can be a problem and furthermore that we should always be willing to stand up against the government seems right in the line with mainstream American political ideology. I would go so far as to say that these principles played a large role from the founding on.

I also wonder how many of your co-conspirators would disagree with the statements that the "government...[isn't] always solution." or that "lessen[ing] the tax burden...and get[ting] out of the way and let[ting] the private sector" thrive and prosper is a bad thing? Do you?
10.8.2008 7:04pm
Anderson (mail):
Strictly, Palin's response initially opposed only *higher* taxes.

But that's not consistent with the rest of her response, which is indeed dumb as bricks.

I guess gov't should've "gotten out of the way" after 9/11 and let the free market deal with al-Qaeda.
10.8.2008 7:04pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

During World War II, Katz's encouraged parents to "send a salami to your boy in the army" which became one of the deli's famous catch phrases


KATZ'S
10.8.2008 7:05pm
Dave N (mail):
There have been others that have come somewhat close, but this is the dumbest election post I have seen this cycle--and I am including Jonathan Adler's on which Sarah Palin/SNL sketch was best.
10.8.2008 7:06pm
Pat C (mail):
What does the Patriot Act say about paying taxes?
That's my criteria for patriotism.
Wiretapping without a court order? Now that's patriotic !
10.8.2008 7:06pm
Sagar (mail):
Where did she say what you claim she said (paying taxes is "unpatriotic")?

Daid Post 1, Straman 0

Congrats, David, you won!
10.8.2008 7:07pm
Sagar (mail):
oh, I forgot to ask, are you a real law professor? which school?
10.8.2008 7:08pm
Sagar (mail):
Straman should be "Strawman"

preview is my friend; itchy fingers, not.
10.8.2008 7:11pm
George Lyon (mail):
David, what a lame post. She did not say it was unpatriotic. What she did say was to suggest higher taxes and more government are not the answer to all our problems. Know what, I agree with her on that.
10.8.2008 7:11pm
Wayne Jarvis:
Ah the nostalgia for last week....

I can't wait for DP's thoughts on last night's debate. Is it next week yet?
10.8.2008 7:13pm
Francis Marion (mail):
To quote Lt. Col. Frank Slade: "Uh oh, we have a moron here."
10.8.2008 7:13pm
teqjack (mail):
Sheesh. Is this satire? Yes, a patriot pays taxes: that does not mean that a patriot necessarily wants his taxes increased. Or always agrees with how various governments spend the monies thus raised. Otherwise, a patriot would be indistinguishable from a government-owned slave.
10.8.2008 7:17pm
Derek:
Wow. This is a crazy post. David, you have lost your mind. Palin Derangement Syndrome is a good description. Seriously, calm down. You dislike her intensely - we get it - but you've let it interfere with your ability to think clearly.
10.8.2008 7:17pm
Nunzio:
The federal government should regulate everything but abortion.
10.8.2008 7:18pm
TheOneEyedMan (www):
If there was no punishment for not paying your taxes, I doubt you would pay them, patriot or not.
10.8.2008 7:19pm
Sam Draper (mail):
See David Post fall off the wagon.
10.8.2008 7:20pm
gradescales (mail):
Yet another of these ridiculous posts about Palin... Looks like most of the men at the Volokh conspiracy can't handle a strong woman.
10.8.2008 7:20pm
gradescales (mail):
Yet another of these ridiculous posts about Palin... Looks like most of the men at the Volokh conspiracy can't handle a strong woman.
10.8.2008 7:20pm
Brett:
Let us all join hands and observe a moment of silence to honor the memory of the poor straw man that David just murdered in cold blood.
10.8.2008 7:20pm
genob:
Puh-leez.

It was Biden's claim that the "rich" should want to pay more in taxes because paying more in taxes was patriotic.

By the way, if Biden, or Obama, or any wealthy Democrat that believes that tax rates on the "rich" are too low has ever, even once, engaged in an act of "patriotism" by voluntarily writing checks to the US treasury, I would be interested in finding that out.

If they think that's how you can demonstrate patriotism, how come not a single one of them has ever engaged in the patriotic act? Is it only patriotic if they force everyone else to do it too?
10.8.2008 7:21pm
Anon1337:
I think the only charitable explanation here is that someone has gained unauthorized access to David's account. Surely an argument this poorly-reasoned doesn't come from a Conspirator.
10.8.2008 7:22pm
richard cabeza:
Mr Post: your arguments are terrible, and your tone is extremely unprofessional.

And it's thoroughly irresponsible of a candidate for high office to suggest that paying taxes is unpatriotic.

Theft of my money is only patriotic to those who build their politics on theft. That includes you, it seems.
10.8.2008 7:22pm
Eric Muller (www):
David, you are quite right.

Everyone agrees that surrendering your child to the government (i.e., the military draft) is patriotic.

Yet some go nuts at the suggestion that surrendering your money to the government (i.e., federal income tax) is patriotic.

(This, incidentally, dispenses with the very first comment from "observer," to the effect that "[d]oing something that you are required to do by law (like paying taxes) is not patriotic." Baloney. People are required by law to comply with draft orders. When they do so, they're acting patriotically. Or would you deny the patriotism of conscripted soldiers?)
10.8.2008 7:22pm
_quodlibet_:
LOL WUT?

"nonpatriotic" ≠ "unpatriotic"
10.8.2008 7:23pm
Harry Schell (mail):
paying money taken from you by law cannot be patriotic, it's self-preservation against the forces of the state. Increasing the share of the state in your income might be patirotic if you had a choice, but Biden does not want you to have a choice. He wants you not to resent his taking of more of YOUR money by the forces he commands.

Similar themes appeared regularly in Soviet/Nazi and US propoganda about sacrifice for the state, how noble it was. The US war bond campaigns, for example. But buying a bond still was optional.
10.8.2008 7:25pm
Phil17 (mail):
Sorry, David, I think you are off base.

Sagar beat me to it, but the argument you demolished is not the one she made. And, while like Anderson I saw two points being made, contra Anderson, I didn’t see them as inconsistent or dumb.

First, she rejects the formulation that equates patriotism with calling for higher taxes (not paying one’s taxes, but “please, sir, may I pay another”).

Second, she argues that it would be better to label as patriotic actions leading to lower taxes – eschewing the knee-jerk request for government intervention in just this special project, or, better yet, identifying area of government involvement where that involvement could be reduced or eliminated. At worst, you can use the South Park formulation and call it asking for less oppressive government, without over-reaching by actually calling it patriotic.

I agree with Gov Palin that citizens should spend more time asking what my country need not do for me, and I strongly agree that labeling a request for higher taxes as a form of patriotism is ludicrous.

Phil
10.8.2008 7:26pm
Steve:
Lost in all this is the fact that Biden quite clearly said it's patriotic for rich people to pay more in taxes, but Palin turned it into a statement about the middle class in order to score a point. That's the lie at the heart of this.
10.8.2008 7:26pm
jackal (mail):
@Eric Muller: Since this is a legal blog, may we treat 18-year-olds as adults?
10.8.2008 7:26pm
richard cabeza:
People are required by law to comply with draft orders. When they do so, they're acting patriotically. Or would you deny the patriotism of conscripted soldiers?

Bunk. The government makes a mandate, so the choice of being patriotic is no longer an option. The only visible choices are compliance with law and noncompliance with law. Either could be morally defensible as better for the country.

In other words: government's restriction of individuals' choices cause patriotism to no longer be the deciding factor (and, I would argue, is indefensible itself).
10.8.2008 7:26pm
JRC (mail):
I agree; it is a straw man argument. Palin did not say paying taxes is unpatriotic. Biden said paying HIGHER taxes is patriotic. These are different things to anyone with half a brain. Saying "paying higher taxes is not a show of patriotism" does not equal "paying taxes is unpatriotic." "But it is really irresponsible, outrageous, and insulting to say that it's unpatriotic." Maybe it is, mabye be it isn't, but she never said this. Wow, I've come to expect better analysis on this site
10.8.2008 7:27pm
Arkady:

Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution.


Except when you live in Alaska where the state motto might as well be "Subsidies R Us", given that the state gets about $14,000 per citizen from the mean ol' fedrul gubmint.


In 2005 (the most recent figures), according to the Tax Foundation, Alaska ranked 18th in federal taxes paid per resident ($5,434) but first in federal spending received per resident ($13,950). Its ratio of federal spending received to federal taxes paid ranks third among the 50 states, and in the absolute amount it receives from Washington over and above the amount it sends to Washington, Alaska ranks No. 1. [Source]
10.8.2008 7:28pm
jrman:
Just piling on here: she only said paying higher taxes is not a patriotic act. She never even implied that paying taxes was inherently unpatriotic.
10.8.2008 7:29pm
richard cabeza:
If paying taxes is patriotic, then it doesn't need to be compulsory (even if Harry Reid says it already isn't).
10.8.2008 7:29pm
titus32:
Patent Lawyer's critique is spot on.
10.8.2008 7:30pm
richard cabeza:
Except when you live in Alaska where the state motto might as well be "Subsidies R Us", given that the state gets about $14,000 per citizen from the mean ol' fedrul gubmint.


Wow! Welfare! Oh, wait, that's because the federal government owns most of the land in the state.
10.8.2008 7:30pm
spool32 (mail):
Eric:

That comparison is flawed... parents do not surrender their children to the draft, because minor children are not eligible for military service.

I would certainly argue that signing up for the draft is not patriotic at all. It's required. Patriotic acts involve a free will choice. A draftee can act with heroism and patriotism once he's in the armed forces, but registering for Selective Service isn't patriotic.
10.8.2008 7:31pm
Pon Raul (mail):
I thought you said that you wouldn't be posting on Palin anymore. I guess that you are a liar. . . or at least that you can't keep your word.

Anyways, you obviously read Friedman today, but have the same lack of logic. Your argument is a mischaracterization of what she is saying to set up a straw man.

DAVID "NO BRAIN" POST SHOULD STOP POSTING UNTIL HE TAKES LOGIC 101!!!!
10.8.2008 7:32pm
Steve:
Increasing the share of the state in your income might be patirotic if you had a choice, but Biden does not want you to have a choice. He wants you not to resent his taking of more of YOUR money by the forces he commands.

What I've noticed about conservative arguments over the years is that when government mandates something that they agree with, it's a manifestation of the will of the people being expressed through their elected representatives. (And how dare unelected judges elevate their personal preferences over a democratically enacted law, etc.)

But when government mandates something that they don't agree with, it's this faceless entity called the State raping everyone.
10.8.2008 7:32pm
richard cabeza:
Pon Raul: But if we don't distract the proles, how are they going to vote the way I know they should!?
10.8.2008 7:33pm
pete (mail) (www):

But paying taxes (along with voting) is one of the most patriotic things I do.


If paying your taxes as required by law is the most patriotic thing that you do is it ok for me to question your patriotism?
10.8.2008 7:33pm
Anderson (mail):
Good lord, these comments are like the rantings at TownHall re: Kathleen Parker.

(I actually surveyed those, to the detriment of my regard for my fellow man; the kicker had to be the argument that, if Obama weren't secretly Muslim, he'd go by "Barry" not "Barack.")

Palin Derangement Syndrome is apparently evidenced by wildly *positive* reactions to Palin.

Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. In fact, too often you're the problem so, government, lessen the tax burden and on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper.

What does that have to do with paying for the Iraq war and our national debt?

Can you imagine Palin trying out the just-quoted gibberish on Wm. Pitt the Younger in the House of Commons, circa 1793? I would devote my life to building a time machine, just to enjoy that spectacle.
10.8.2008 7:33pm
Edward Lunny (mail):
So, if paying taxes is so patriotic ,it can then be argued that fighting against taxes is unpatriotic and using legal deductions to reduce ones tax burden is unpatriotic ? In fact, by your arguement, anything that anyone does to legally reduce or avoid tax liability is unpatriotic and unamerican. Is that really your position ? If paying taxes is so patriotic, how much extra money did Joe send to the treasury, he certainly didn't give it to charity, how about you ? The poor, whom pay no taxes, must be positively treasonous ! Do you take deductions when you file your income taxes, defer taxes with a 401k or IRA, you treasonous bastard you ! Maybe a little less coffee during the day would help reduce your hysteria.
10.8.2008 7:33pm
Sagar (mail):
Eric Muller: "... surrendering your child ... "

are you talking of 18+ year adults who can vote? just like the "children/teens killed by guns" even when the said children/teens are adult gangbangers!
10.8.2008 7:34pm
Railroad Gin:
I certainly pay my taxes out of fear of going to jail and would give far less if it were truly voluntary. So would most people if they're being honest. I'd take the money that I'm forced to give to Social Security and put in in a 401(k) or the money for Medicare and give to AFLAC in a heartbeat if I had a choice.
10.8.2008 7:34pm
richard cabeza:
What I've noticed about conservative arguments over the years is that when government mandates something that they agree with, it's a manifestation of the will of the people being expressed through their elected representatives

RINOs are good at that. The GOP is growing more liberal and using those tactics more and more. Why do Democrats like to hate on "neocons"? The same reason Stalin called Fascists "far-right."
10.8.2008 7:35pm
Pon Raul (mail):
"I guess gov't should've "gotten out of the way" after 9/11 and let the free market deal with al-Qaeda."

Anderson, I think that this is actually the Ron Paul position. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_of_marque
10.8.2008 7:35pm
seadrive:
I had always considered that my service in the US Army had at least an element of patriotism, even though I was drafted. Now I learn not. (Sigh).

What order of patriotism to award the guys who enlisted, did ROTC, etc in order to serve in the military in some advantaged way, e.g. choice of branch or specialty or admission to OCS?
10.8.2008 7:35pm
Loophole1998 (mail):
Only 27 more days until Palin is just a distant (scary) memory...
10.8.2008 7:35pm
richard cabeza:
Only 27 more days until Palin is just a distant (scary) memory...

Then we can finally nationalize the health care industry and Hugo Chavez will like us!!!!!!1
10.8.2008 7:36pm
Observer:
Is this the worst attempt at an argument to ever be made by a contributor on Volokh? I am waiting for Post to offer an update to the effect that he read the quote too quickly and read "not patriotic" to mean "unpatriotic."
10.8.2008 7:37pm
Anderson (mail):
Oh, and FYI:

"patriotic, adjective: devoted to the well-being or interests of one's country."

"patriot, noun: a person (claiming to be) ready to support or defend his country's freedoms and rights."

Paying duly levied taxes, or serving in the military when conscripted, are "patriotic."

But why listen to the elitist dictionary, instead of "most Americans"?
10.8.2008 7:38pm
CDR D (mail):
If Biden thinks it's patriotic, let him set the example. the government will cash his check.

Of course, he gives about three tenths of one percent of his gross to charity, so he's a patriot:

http://hotair.com/archives/2008/10/04/the-charity-gap/


Sorry.

Ol' Joe Hair-Plugs is a blowtoad and a charlatan.
10.8.2008 7:38pm
richard cabeza:
Now I learn not. (Sigh).

Patriotism is mostly orthogonal to the decision to comply with a mandate. Keep up, please.
10.8.2008 7:38pm
DD:
This probably sounded more clever the first 10 times it was trotted out in the faculty lounge.
10.8.2008 7:38pm
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
post, bernstein, absurd statements on the candidates, next on NBC...i mean VC


oh boy, i bet you and thomas frank are BFF. if not, you two should definitely get together. you could have quite a good time explaining to each other why you are so much smarter than republicans. for my own amusement, you should get together at a bar in West LA/Hollywood so that you can sit next to two aspiring actors who can't stop commenting on how good looking they are.
10.8.2008 7:38pm
Arkady:
@ richard cabeza


Wow! Welfare! Oh, wait, that's because the federal government owns most of the land in the state.


The fed's ain't subsidizing tundra up there.
10.8.2008 7:39pm
richard cabeza:

"patriotic, adjective: devoted to the well-being or interests of one's country."

[..]

Paying duly levied taxes, or serving in the military when conscripted, are "patriotic."


You're implicitly saying that the actions of the government are for the well-being of the country. Why would you automatically make that assumption? This is why we elect people out of office.
10.8.2008 7:39pm
spool32 (mail):
Seadrive:

Don't confuse comments on the act of filling out your card with comments on the service you performed.
10.8.2008 7:39pm
richard cabeza:
The fed's ain't subsidizing tundra up there.

Of course not. It generates income.
10.8.2008 7:40pm
BookMan:
Moreover, Palin wasn't saying that not paying tax was patriotic.
10.8.2008 7:41pm
Anderson (mail):
Is this the worst attempt at an argument to ever be made by a contributor on Volokh?

You must skip the Bernstein posts.
10.8.2008 7:41pm
Steve:
You're implicitly saying that the actions of the government are for the well-being of the country.

Whether dissent constitutes "opposition to the country" or merely "opposition to the government" generally depends on whose ox is being gored, I've found.
10.8.2008 7:42pm
A Stoner (mail):
I have to agree with some other posters. She did not say it was "unpatriotic", only that it is not a definition of what being patriotic is.

Eric, Muller
"Everyone agrees that surrendering your child to the government (i.e., the military draft) is patriotic. "

Parents do not surrender their children, the children surrender themselves, as adults, and being forced to join the military is not in and of itself a patriotic act, but it is unpatriotic to refuse to join. Joining by being forced into the draft does not BESTOW patriotism upon an individual, but it also does not remove any patriotism from the person. A forced soldier will either act in his new duties patriotically, or they will act unpatriotically in their duties. People who are drafted and sent overseas who do the diservice of commiting war crimes would be unpatriotic drafties, while people who are drafted and perform their duties without trying to undermine the war effort and those they are stationed below in the chain of command are patriotic. The fact that you joined does not in and of itself determine your patriotism, it is how you act.
Paying taxes is not patriotic, but refusing to pay taxes is unpatriotic. I would say a person who knows they could get a bigger refund by itemizing, but decides against itemizing with the intention of giving more to the government would make that person patriotic, while someone who chose to itemize and put things down as deductions that are fictitious would be considered unpatriotic, and the people in between these two extremes are just your normal people who get absolutely no patriotic badge of honor for simply fulfilling their forced duty to file their taxes.
10.8.2008 7:42pm
Eric Muller (www):
Good lord, people! Have you never seen the ways in which our society lauds the patriotism of those who "send their children off" or "send their young men off" to war?

When a child is killed in action, the parent is a "gold star parent." Gold star parents occupy a special place of honor in our society, as they should. We view them as having made a heroic, and patriotic, sacrifice.

Right?

So ... if we view their service to the nation, in surrendering and even losing their children to the national interest, why should we not also view someone's service to the nation, in surrendering and even losing their money in the national interest, as in some basic way patriotic?
10.8.2008 7:42pm
richard cabeza:
Whether dissent constitutes "opposition to the country" or merely "opposition to the government" generally depends on whose ox is being gored, I've found.

That's disgusting.

What you're saying is that being against socialized medicine is being against the country, not against the government promoting it, because obviously the policy is good -- I just don't want to help people!
10.8.2008 7:44pm
richard cabeza:
Good lord, people! Have you never seen the ways in which our society lauds the patriotism of those who "send their children off" or "send their young men off" to war?

There's no draft on right now. There's a reason they're lauded.
10.8.2008 7:44pm
therut (mail):
Well if enough citizens dicided to not pay their taxes the .gov would be in trouble. I doubt they could throw tens of millions in jail.. Think they would listen and get the .gov off our backs. I do. Maybe I will live to see the day.
10.8.2008 7:46pm
Anderson (mail):
You're implicitly saying that the actions of the government are for the well-being of the country.

That is indeed the guiding principle by which the government is supposed to act. The fact that it fails to do so, to whatever degree, is not surprising, but it doesn't affect the argument.

Palin after all is a vehement supporter of the government's actions in Iraq, for instance. She has not suggested that she is opposed to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. Nor has she indicated an interest in repudiating the national debt.

If you've ever consulted the little pie chart that comes with your 1040 booklet, you know that the vast majority of federal expenditures fall under those 5 headings (taking "Iraq" for "defense").

Paying taxes to cover the expense of programs voted by our elected representatives is indeed patriotic. It fulfills a duty we owe our country.

I can see why this is hard for someone of Palin's intellect to grasp, but I don't see why so many of you are having trouble with the concept.
10.8.2008 7:46pm
richard cabeza:
I doubt they could throw tens of millions in jail

I think the entire 20th century was a lesson in proving that the oligarchy could do exactly that, if not just dump their bodies in Siberia.
10.8.2008 7:47pm
Arkady:


The fed's ain't subsidizing tundra up there.

Of course not. It generates income.


Evidently not enough to keep the moose's nose out of the trough.
10.8.2008 7:48pm
spool32 (mail):
Eric:

Pinning your argument on a rhetorical turn phrase is just silly. I'll by my father's child for as long as he lives, but he can't compel me to join the Army.... and the government certainly can't compel him to try and force me.

Paying a tax under threat of prosecution is altogether different.
10.8.2008 7:49pm
Anderson (mail):
There's no draft on right now. There's a reason they're lauded.

So American troops drafted in WW2 weren't lauded or praiseworthy? The guys who took bullets on Omaha Beach were patriotic and laudable only if they were volunteers?

You're sounding a little despicable here, sorry to say. I hope you will clarify that you don't mean what your words imply.
10.8.2008 7:50pm
DrObviousSo:
So the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Frankline et al that founded this country after a tax revolt was... unpatriotic?

This is a really, really stupid post.
10.8.2008 7:50pm
richard cabeza:
The fact that it fails to do so, to whatever degree, is not surprising, but it doesn't affect the argument.

So supporting a government driving the country into bankruptcy is patriotic regardless of whether that's good? Okay.

I can see why this is hard for someone of Palin's intellect to grasp, but I don't see why so many of you are having trouble with the concept.

It's mandatory. Patriotism isn't the deciding factor, no matter how many times you make a useless crack at her intellect.
10.8.2008 7:50pm
richard cabeza:
You're sounding a little despicable here, sorry to say. I hope you will clarify that you don't mean what your words imply.

Stop acting like an idiot. Being lauded for voluntary service doesn't mean that performing for involuntary service is a bad thing.

Stop with these stupid fallacies.
10.8.2008 7:52pm
A Stoner (mail):
Anderson
"I can see why this is hard for someone of Palin's intellect to grasp, but I don't see why so many of you are having trouble with the concept."

Maybe that is because you do not understand the difference between doing something volentarily and doing something under durress of force by virtue of loss of freedom, property and even life in some cases.

When you volenteer to do something good for your country, you are a patriot. When you grudgingly acquiesce to the law of the land by virtue of not wanting to have your property, liberty or even your life taken from you by force, I do not see how that makes you a patriot in heart. It just simply makes you a nuetral party to what is going on around you.
10.8.2008 7:53pm
Eric Muller (www):
spool32, I'll make it even simpler.

Please head over to your local VFW Hall and tell the Vietnam vets gathered there that they didn't act patriotically when they served as draftees. Because they were just acting under legal compulsion.

If there's anything left after they're through with you, we can continue the conversation about whether "observer" was correct when he posited that a compelled act (like paying taxes) cannot be a patriotic one.
10.8.2008 7:53pm
Oren:

So the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Frankline et al that founded this country after a tax revolt was... unpatriotic?

This is a really, really stupid post.

They founded it based on a revolt against taxation without representation. The modern right claims that we don't have to pay taxes to a duly elected government explicitly empowered by the 16A to set the level of taxation.

Big difference.
10.8.2008 7:57pm
Bad English:
"Everyone agrees that surrendering your child to the government (i.e., the military draft) is patriotic."


It's seriously uninformed to think that the military draft exists.

The main post goes way past overheated into just plain weird. Reread Palin's comments and calm down.
10.8.2008 7:59pm
CDR D (mail):
>>>Paying taxes to cover the expense of programs voted buying votes from constituencies by our elected representatives is indeed patriotic.

Fixed.
10.8.2008 7:59pm
cdog:
The only reason I pay my taxes is so I don't go to jail. Look at where our tax money goes. Subsidizing society's materialism, greed, and culture of living beyond one's means.
10.8.2008 7:59pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):

It was Biden's claim that the "rich" should want to pay more in taxes because paying more in taxes was patriotic.

By the way, if Biden, or Obama, or any wealthy Democrat that believes that tax rates on the "rich" are too low has ever, even once, engaged in an act of "patriotism" by voluntarily writing checks to the US treasury, I would be interested in finding that out.

If they think that's how you can demonstrate patriotism, how come not a single one of them has ever engaged in the patriotic act? Is it only patriotic if they force everyone else to do it too?
Let's add David Post to that list.
10.8.2008 7:59pm
richard cabeza:
The modern right claims that we don'tshouldn't have to pay taxes to a duly elected government explicitly empowered by the 16A to set the level of taxation.

T,FTFY.
10.8.2008 8:02pm
Oren:

The only reason I pay my taxes is so I don't go to jail. Look at where our tax money goes. Subsidizing society's materialism, greed, and culture of living beyond one's means.

I for one, would pay my taxes even if they were voluntary. It seems wrong to drive on the roads, send my kids to school, utilize the services of the fire dept. police and military, benefit from federal stewardship of public lands, etc... without paying my fair share.

Supposing it were even possible, would you guys really be comfortable sharing the benefits of government without paying your share?
10.8.2008 8:02pm
Steve:
What you're saying is that being against socialized medicine is being against the country, not against the government promoting it, because obviously the policy is good -- I just don't want to help people!

Nah, not at all. In fact, I can't remember the last time I heard anyone on the left arguing that it's unpatriotic to oppose Democratic health care proposals.

Maybe you and I can agree that opposing Bush's foreign policy is no more unpatriotic than opposing Obama's tax policy. But I don't think everyone will agree on that, which was my point.

If you oppose the war, are you unpatriotic, or do you simply believe that the government made policy decisions that are not in the nation's best interest? I take the latter view. Lots of folks take the former one.
10.8.2008 8:02pm
Pon Raul (mail):
"Please head over to your local VFW Hall and tell the Vietnam vets gathered there that they didn't act patriotically when they served as draftees. Because they were just acting under legal compulsion."

They are patriots because they are patriots, if they actually are patriots, not because they were drafted. Being a patriot is what is in your heart. You might still be a Y if you are forced to do X, but being forced to do X doesn't make you Y. Learn logic. It will help you out in life.
10.8.2008 8:03pm
David Larsomn (mail):
Anderson you don't seem to understand the concept of patriotism, which implies an element of free will. An action that you are forced to undertake at gunpoint is not "patriotic". Several commenters have already made the point but it bears repeating--if paying more is patriotic, why are all the congressional millionaires not sending in extra money to the treasury instead of trying to be patriotic through proxy by raping me? But you've got to love liberals: first, last and always "Putting your money where their mouth is"
10.8.2008 8:03pm
Oren:


The modern right claims that we don'tshouldn't have to pay taxes to a duly elected government explicitly empowered by the 16A to set the level of taxation.

T,FTFY.

That just makes the sentence even harder to understand. On what possible grounds could you possible assert that we shouldn't have to comply with the explicit terms of our Constitution?
10.8.2008 8:03pm
Guest--:
Anderson,

I'm not a big fan of Palin, but she didn't suggest anarchy. It's fine to argue that we need more or less government, but she wasn't suggesting no government. Your 9/11 comment was absurd. Let's deal with the actual arguments, not your carciatures of her positions. That's something I'd expect from jukebox, not you.

David,

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I really long for the days when you posted about soccer. This is really one of the dumber posts I've ever seen on this site . . . .
10.8.2008 8:04pm
deepthought:
Speaking of taxes and Gov. Palin . . . .

Apparently are a number of problems with the Palins and their 2006 and 2007 tax returns. She better start worrying about her own tax problems before she comments on tax policy and the patriotism of others.

From A Brief Analysis of Governor Palin's Tax Returns for 2006 and 2007 by Bryan Camp, (Texas Tech University Law School):

This paper focuses on five problems: three raised in the tax returns and two new ones raised by Mr. Olsen’s (a Washington DC tax lawyer retained by the McCain campaign) letter. Here’s a summary of the five problems and my conclusions, for those who want to cut to the chase. My analysis will follow.

The Palins did not report as income some $17,000 that Governor Palin’s employer (the State of Alaska) paid her as an “allowance” for her travel. Can they do that? Yes, most likely.

The Palins did not report as income some $43,000 that the State of Alaska paid the Governor as an “allowance” for her husband and children’s travel. Can they do that? No, most likely not.

The Palins deducted $9,000 on their 2007 return, claiming it was a loss from Mr. Palin’s snow machine racing activity. Can they do that? Most likely not, but more info could make the deduction OK. If any of the above issues goes against the Palins they then risk getting hit with the section 6662 penalty for “negligence or disregard of rules or regulations.”

Can the Palins avoid the section 6662 negligence penalty by claiming that they reasonably relied either (a) on the W-2’s sent to them by their employer, which did not reflect either the $17,000 or the $43,000, or (b) on their tax return preparer H&R Block, or (c) on Mr. Olsen’s opinion letter dated September 30, 2008? The three reliance defenses are unlikely to succeed, but more info may make the (b) defense a good one.

Does Mr. Olsen have any exposure to sanctions by the IRS because of his letter? I believe Mr. Olsen’s letter probably violates 31 C.F.R. section 10.35. If so, he would be exposed to possible sanctions from the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.


Also, from TaxProfBlog:

Alaska Violated State Policy in Gov. Palin's Per Diems

Following up on this morning's post, Tax Profs Agree: Gov. Palin's Tax Returns Are Wrong: Jack Bogdanski (Lewis &Clark) notes that the State of Alaska did not follow its own per diem policies in Governor Palin's case, as set forth in this two-page memo, Income Tax Implications of Long-Term Per Diem. Jack notes:

This document is a potential blockbuster. It establishes two important facts:

The state has long acknowledged that it had a duty to determine whether Palin's "tax home" was really Anchorage and Wasilla, a conclusion which would have required that her per diems be reported as taxable income.

The state knew that when an employee is planning to spend a majority of her time on state business in the Anchorage area for a four-year period, Anchorage is the employee's "tax home," and per diems for time spent in the "tax home" are taxable income.
So why didn't Alaska officials follow the state's official policies and report Palin's per diems as taxable income on her W-2? Only they can answer that.

And how can the tax lawyer whose opinion was released by the McCain campaign on Friday say that "no special consideration was ever given to Governor Palin, notwithstanding that she was the governor of Alaska"?
10.8.2008 8:05pm
Sagar (mail):
Anderson and Eric,

You have managed to "distract" the conversation - no one is pointing to David Post's idiocy anymore! congrats:-)
10.8.2008 8:05pm
richard cabeza:
Supposing it were even possible, would you guys really be comfortable sharing the benefits of government without paying your share?

Maybe the government shouldn't be doing those things.

On what possible grounds could you possible assert that we shouldn't have to comply with the explicit terms of our Constitution?

Just because they can levy an income tax doesn't mean they should.
10.8.2008 8:06pm
A Stoner (mail):
Eric Muller
"Please head over to your local VFW Hall and tell the Vietnam vets gathered there that they didn't act patriotically when they served as draftees. Because they were just acting under legal compulsion."

It is their actions that make them PATRIOTIC, and if they acted patriotically while in forced service then they are patriots, but if they acted say like John Kerry did, with express intent of going to the war zone to give him credibility when he got back the USA in order to attack the war effort I would say they are unpatriotic.
10.8.2008 8:07pm
Oren:
Addendum to my 7:03PM --- Especially considering you can't muster a Congressional majority (or even minority or even minority-of-minority) that supports abolishing the income tax, let alone repealing the 16A.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your use of the word "should"? In most cases, it's a normative word used in references to our legitimate obligations. Perhaps you are using it in some other sense?
10.8.2008 8:07pm
cdog:

Supposing it were even possible, would you guys really be comfortable sharing the benefits of government without paying your share?

We don't need the government to provide any service whatsoever except the military. Schools, roads, fire, police, medical, retirement, etc. could all be provided through private enterprise without government intervention. Of course, that would mean that those who act irresponsibly (e.g., not saving properly for retirement) might get the shaft and not have Uncle Sam come in and bail them out whenever something goes wrong.
10.8.2008 8:07pm
Luke (mail):
how patriotic is it to support a war which you cant afford and instead make future generations pay for it?

Modern conservatism now stands for borrow and spend (mostly on waging war).
10.8.2008 8:07pm
Michael B (mail):
Sarah Palin was right. Paying taxes is an obligation, a duty of citizenship and one that almost always should be done. But it does not constitute patriotic activity as is understood within a certain, well established American ethos.

Can it be endless argued? By lawyers, partisans and others?

Yes, if you wish to spend your time doing that.

Sophists and casuists are a dime a dozen. V. this thread.
10.8.2008 8:09pm
richard cabeza:
Oren: And we can't get both parties to stop talking about continuing to socialize medicine. That doesn't mean it's a good idea.
10.8.2008 8:09pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I think that David intentionally misses Gov. Palin's point. There is nothing patriotic about feeding ever more monies to the federal government. Congress routinely spends our own money to reelect themselves, and in many cases, including Biden's, enriching their relatives and friends (and ultimately themselves when they retire). I see nothing the least bit patriotic in supporting that.

It is the entitlement mentality written large that Biden seems to be propounding here. More and more people are entitled to the fruits of our labors. And he is suggesting that it is patriotic for those of us who are paying for his largess to pay for even more of it.

I think that Palin was right to call BS on that.
10.8.2008 8:09pm
Oren:

Schools, roads, fire, police, medical, retirement, etc. could all be provided through private enterprise without government intervention.
>95% of the population has rejected that theory. This is a democracy and the rest of us have the right to organize society in a manner more suitable to us.

That's not to say that your views are wrong in any meaningful sense of the word, they just aren't the policies that a democratic government should put in place because they are at odds with the vast majority of the populace.

Even if what the people want is stupid or irrational, they have the right to get it. Libertarian paternalism is just as bad as liberal paternalism or conservative paternalism -- it implies the right of the speaker to tell people what they want over their objections.
10.8.2008 8:10pm
David Larsomn (mail):
Luke:

"Modern conservatism now stands for borrow and spend (mostly on waging war)."

There you go confusing "republican" and "conservative" again....
10.8.2008 8:11pm
therut (mail):
I would hate to have my world view be one of forcing people with the threat of loss of liberty to support me. It is such a creepy concept I am amazed people think it is moral or good. It breeds resentment. Yet people seem to get a glee out of controlling others at the point of a gun. Personally I do not.
10.8.2008 8:12pm
Oren:

That doesn't mean it's a good idea.

In a democracy, The People are entitled (within the limits of the Constitution) to enact policies that are objectively (whatever that means in this context) Bad Ideas(TM).
10.8.2008 8:12pm
David Larsomn (mail):
Therut:

"Yet people seem to get a glee out of controlling others at the point of a gun. Personally I do not."

You've tried it?
10.8.2008 8:13pm
deepthought:
Re: Palin Tax Problems

The document dump is here.
10.8.2008 8:18pm
Oren:
Also, I realized cdog got me off track. I will repeat my question:
Supposing it were even possible, would you guys really be comfortable sharing the benefits of government without paying your share?

To be clear, the situation is this (stipulated for the sake of argument:

The majority of the people, consistent with their democratic prerogative, have set up a system of government built roads, police, prisons, fire departments, etc... You are unable to convince or force them to abandon these policies. You are also unable to avoid benefiting from them since you do, in fact, drive on the roads, enjoy safety from fire, etc..., even if you don't like it. You are also empowered not to pay taxes, despite your benefits from those taxes.
10.8.2008 8:18pm
MarkField (mail):

Being a patriot is what is in your heart. You might still be a Y if you are forced to do X, but being forced to do X doesn't make you Y.


I think I get it. Sarah Palin is unpatriotic because, in her heart, she resents paying the money that supports our troops. I, on the other hand, am a patriot because I gladly pay that money.
10.8.2008 8:19pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"If the government has things on which it has to spend money, it is sheer Knucklehead Conservatism to say "we need to spend the money -- for a war against our enemies, for example, or to pay the medical costs of our retirees -- but we won't ask people to pay any taxes to fund it."

What's the knucklehead index for paying for billions in pork every year, then saying it's patriotic to pay for even more waste? What's the knucklehead index for sending billions to Washington so some senator can then send it back home to his favorite project?
10.8.2008 8:20pm
Nunzio:
Oren,

It's Republic, not a democracy. And judges long ago interpreted the Constitution in favor of the government.

This is why no flinches when Joe Biden syas the power to "regulate commerce among the states" gives him the power to regulate everything but abortion.

We never voted on that.
10.8.2008 8:20pm
cdog:

>95% of the population has rejected that theory. This is a democracy and the rest of us have the right to organize society in a manner more suitable to us.

When this country was founded, how much of a role did the federal government have in providing any of those services? And I'd say that this country did just fine from then until the early 1900's (when federal income tax was put in place and Congress was given almost limitless power through the commerce clause to get its hooks into virtually any area of society it sees fit).
10.8.2008 8:20pm
Oren:
Whatever you think of the commerce clause jurisprudence, the constitutionality of the income tax is beyond question.
10.8.2008 8:22pm
richard cabeza:
MarkField: How do you know that was the portion of tax she was talking about?

Oren: Yes, you're correct. And I think today's government madates are against the spirit of the Constitution (anything abridging life, liberty, and the pursuit), and some against the letter (including any and all gun bans -- "shall not be infringed" != "Congress shall [not]").
10.8.2008 8:23pm
Oren:
Richard, I'm behind you on the RKBA (within reasonable limits such as RPGs and SAMs) but I don't see the relevance.

The text of the Constitution explicitly gives Congress the power to tax incomes, consistent with the desires of the electorate. That's all we need to know for the purposes of this argument.

I have no objection to attempting to elect anti-tax congresspeople, trying to repeal the 16A, or any other such political opposition. I object to notions that powers acquired under a democratically ratified constitution can be labeled illegitimate (as opposed to mere unwise).
10.8.2008 8:26pm
Nifonged:
Over the last few weeks, I've become less impressed with Palin, but my God, Post is an absolute embarassment. And what's with the term "knucklehead?" Is Post still in the 4th grade?
10.8.2008 8:29pm
richard cabeza:
I was saying that the government shouldn't have an income tax, even if the Amendment stands. The only more-extreme arguments I know of involve trying to argue that the Amendment itself is illigitimate, which happens to be false and, in any case, is folly because it receives the full force of executive enforcement.

As for "desires of the electorate," I tread a fine line between wondering whether voters are malicious or stupid; but the less of my fellow citizens' risk I have to absorb, the better.
10.8.2008 8:31pm
first history:
Nifonged:

With some of her language you could say the same about Palin.
10.8.2008 8:32pm
cdog:
I'm not sure I ever said that federal income tax was unconstitutional. All I am saying is that this country prospered immensely with very little federal government intervention for many years. As a taxpayer, I feel as if a lot of the money I pay is wasted, whether it is on a war, bailouts, or pork projects, that I have very little to no control over where that money goes, and that that will never change regardless of who is elected this November or any November.
10.8.2008 8:33pm
Oren:

I was saying that the government shouldn't have an income tax, even if the Amendment stands.

"Shouldn't" because you don't like it or "shouldn't" based on some principle that I'm not understanding?
10.8.2008 8:35pm
vinnie (mail):
paying your taxes used to be a sure sign of being a patriot. Then a bunch of guys got tired of "taxation without representation" and threw a bunch of tea into a harbor.

I don't feel represented by the bailout. I don't know who does.

I will vote accordingly.
10.8.2008 8:38pm
Ben Franklin (mail):
Government is the means by which people attempt to obtain that which they cannot obtain by legitimate methods. Government is force. It may be a necessary evil, or the lesser of two evils but it is nevertheless evil.

There are certainly more moral and patriotic ways to fund government in a free society. Perhaps we should fund the government through hand-outs, freely given by the people instead of having the government confiscate everyone's wealth and then use the apportionment of it as a means of buying votes. Perhaps we could do it by raffles or lotteries or a million other ways that don't involve forcibly separating people from their possessions.

The modern day left is indistinguishable from any other bunch of Marxists in their ability to rationalise the greatest tyrannies in the name of controlling the thoughts, actions and resources of their fellow citizens. There is NOTHING patriotic about threatening your neighbors with imprisonment, or if they resist, death, so that you can take their money and pay off some investment banker's debt or to buy windmills or any of the other things that politicians and bureaucrats do in lieu of honest work.

This is why only the most contemptible and morally reprehensible of any society become part of the governing class of societies as far down the road to socialism as ours. The job requirements preclude having a conscience that is any more highly developed than that possessed by the average felon.
10.8.2008 8:38pm
Oren:
cdog, I disapprove of some uses of tax dollars to. I just respect the right of the populace to make the rules that I have to follow (within the Const., of course).

There's a difference between disagreeing with a rule/policy and calling it illegitimate. Both people on the right and left have made that mistake more and more recently.
10.8.2008 8:39pm
Oren:

There is NOTHING patriotic about threatening your neighbors with imprisonment, or if they resist, death, so that you can take their money and fund the projects that their elected representatives voted for.


Vinnie, your current taxes are put in place under a written Constitution with an express delegation of authority to a representative body. Taxation without representation it ain't.
10.8.2008 8:40pm
Lily (mail):
But it is really irresponsible, outrageous, and insulting to say that it's unpatriotic?

It is to me.
10.8.2008 8:41pm
Oren:
Incidentally, 70%+ of the populace is in favor of the "bailout" -- a majority large enough to amend the Constitution.

Whatever the framer believed, they certainly believed that if 70% of the population want a policy, they ought to get it and even be able to change the constitution to enact it.

Independence can be trusted nowhere but with the people in mass. They are inherently independent of all but moral law. ~Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane, 1819.
10.8.2008 8:43pm
Oren:
s/framer/framers/ $LAST
10.8.2008 8:44pm
MarkField (mail):

How do you know that was the portion of tax she was talking about?


Her reference was to paying taxes generally. Besides, money is fungible; it makes no sense to say that she can limit her taxes only to certain purposes. It all comes out of the same pocket in the end.
10.8.2008 8:45pm
richard cabeza:
MarkField: If you can pretend that paying for socialist programs is equivalent to paying for war, then why can't I pretend that publicly not paying a portion sends a specific message?

Oren: I don't like it because of the principle that, because it brings in as much revenue as it does, government is able to fund programs without feeling the appropriate economic impacts (specifically, it has a bad case of moral hazard). With the addition of wealth redistribution, it also shrinks the economy in order to smooth risks out between welfare recipients and tax payers, which is economically bad and morally wrong. And then there's the use of taxes to modify behavior, which distorts economies in unforeseen ways, though which had been the purpose of even excise taxes when the country began. The government acting as an agent of economic risk management seems to make everything worse.
10.8.2008 8:50pm
Arkady:
Just a question:


Doing something that you are required to do by law (like paying taxes serving on a jury) is not patriotic


Does anybody agree with this? I'm sure most of us have been called to jury duty. And I'm sure most of us when called, have served. But I'm also sure that most of us who have served have observed others come up with the most bogus excuses to get out of jury duty. Bogus, when the real reason was that the service would have been inconvenient. Is that not unpatriotic?
10.8.2008 8:54pm
richard cabeza:
Arkady: It does not require patriotism to comply with law, the alternative of which is fines or incarceration. Similarly, it does not require unpatriotic sentiment to not comply with the law, because there may be (however weak you find them) ethical or moral reasons not to. That is, compliance with law and patriotism are not strictly correlated in all cases.

Skipping jury duty for its inconvenience, while believing that juries are essential to the proper functioning of the judicial system, would indeed be not patriotic.
10.8.2008 9:00pm
NRWO:
I can’t believe it. Almost 140 comments and nobody has mentioned Holmes (“Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society”) or the Laffer curve. The former suggests why we pay taxes; the latter how much we should pay.

Taxes are important. Without taxes, Obama never would have been able to purchase that 3-million dollar planetarium projector that McCain said he purchased.

I’ve been to the planetarium. I’ve seen the Zeppelin and Floyd shows. If Obama’s projector is what I think it is, it blasts some incredible stuff onto the planetarium walls.

McCain lost the stoner vote.
10.8.2008 9:03pm
Asher (mail):
I think she was saying that there's nothing particularly patriotic about higher taxes, not that higher taxes, or paying them, are affirmatively unpatriotic.
10.8.2008 9:04pm
Shermshermy:
That was among the weakest posts on this very fine site.
10.8.2008 9:05pm
richard cabeza:
NRWO: I thought a Laffer curve illustrated how to maximize revenue. If that much revenue relative to incomes isn't needed, then it's not that important.

And I disagree with that Holmes quote for the most part, but I agree that police power is effective.
10.8.2008 9:07pm
Pon Raul (mail):
Can we all agree that David Post needs to not post about Palin?
10.8.2008 9:13pm
elim:
if you can pretend that fighting in a war is the equivalent of getting a payroll deduction taken from your check in terms of heroism and patriotism, you might be a left wing law professor/hack, two fine examples of which are above.
10.8.2008 9:14pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Meanwhile, conservative columnist David Brooks just said that Palin represents "a fatal cancer to the Republican party."
10.8.2008 9:17pm
Calderon:
Oren said

Supposing it were even possible, would you guys really be comfortable sharing the benefits of government without paying your share?

Approximately 30% of federal tax filers pay no income taxes, and so do not pay any share yet receive the benefits from federal government. Presumably most of them manage to sleep at night.

Gee, I wonder what would happen if Joe Biden went around claiming that the poor are unpatriotic because they don't pay taxes, and that government should increase taxes on "working class" families so they can exult in their patriotism?
10.8.2008 9:19pm
Volokh Groupie:
Good god this post is nonsensical---really where exactly did she say paying higher taxes was unpatriotic? I mean you can't just come out and admit that the claim that 'paying higher taxes is patriotic' is nonsensical so you deflect and try to attack something nobody even suggested?

Can we trade Post for like Tamanaha or Dorf or someone?
10.8.2008 9:21pm
elim:
perhaps the two left wing professors/hacks can go to a VA hospital, look at the people injured in war and see if they still consider themselves heroes for having taxes deducted from their checks. given their posts, they are just about delusional enough that I think they probably would.
10.8.2008 9:24pm
Mike Keenan:
Everyone who want to pay higher taxes is perfectly free to do so. No one is stopping you. In fact, I greatly encourage you to send every penny you have to the government. All of you. Now, please. Write a check and mail it in.
10.8.2008 9:24pm
Brett:
should we not also view someone's service to the nation, in surrendering and even losing their money in the national interest, as in some basic way patriotic?

Sure.

But we're not talking about surrendering and even losing money in the national interest. We're talking about surrendering and losing money so that despicable oxygen thieves like Biden can buy enough votes to remain in office indefinitely. We're talking about the 75% or so of the federal budget that you could improve the lives of average Americans immensely by zeroing out tomorrow.

There is nothing whatsoever that is patriotic about throwing good money after bad.
10.8.2008 9:25pm
Random Commenter:
"Well, you heard it here first, folks: I have uncovered incontrovertible evidence that Sarah Palin has received hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax revenue and converted them to her own personal use!! Where the hell else does she think her salary comes from?"

D Post: try some breathing exercises. Go for a walk. Take up yoga. But please stop posting this crap until you can govern your passions well enough to make sense.
10.8.2008 9:26pm
Pon Raul (mail):
Brooks said "But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I'm afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices. I think President Bush has those prejudices." I agree with him about Bush, but I don't see proof that Palin is that way. If Brooks is correct about Palin being against big ideas, then he would be correct, but I don't see proof of that. Sure, she isn't great at interviews, but I don't know how that would make her against ideas.
10.8.2008 9:26pm
epeeist:
Wow, an allegedly libertarian site is lauding paying higher taxes as patriotic...

Gov. Palin was saying that paying higher taxes -- NOT paying taxes, paying higher taxes -- was not patriotic. I agree. I don't think paying taxes is patriotic either, it's a requirement and a duty. It's no more patriotic than paying a fee to renew my passport is patriotic (or renewing a driver's license or whatever).

Also, as others have also noted, anyone can voluntarily make an extra gratuitous payment to the U.S., I once read there's a statute expressly permitting it. If paying higher taxes is so patriotic, why isn't David Post making voluntary payments? Why isn't Sen. Biden? Etc.

I do think that AVOIDING one's tax burden, leaving it to others to bear an undue portion of the burden, is generally(and arguably) unpatriotic, and I might extend that to cover some technically legal tax avoidance schemes. But even assuming arguendo that tax avoidance is unpatriotic does not ipso facto make paying higher taxes patriotic.

If paying higher taxes is patriotic, is imposing higher fines for speeding patriotic? Higher fines for breaking the law, criminally or not, generally? Higher fees for driver's licenses and hunting licenses and professional licenses and (etc.). There may be good reasons for raising those fees, but to claim that paying more money to the government is inherently patriotic is idiotic.

On tax evasion, there's a humorous quote from a "Nero Wolfe" story by Rex Stout (from about 50 years ago) which I happened to reread recently, in which the character notes to a client that given how late it is in the year, he's already in the 90% (!) tax bracket and it's hardly worth the trouble to work for him, he's offered payment in cash -- to which his reply is that he's not a paragon of virtue and might cheat a man or woman or child, but not 140 million of his fellow citizens.
10.8.2008 9:29pm
richard cabeza:
Search NewsBusters for how "conservative" David Brooks is thought to be. Based on his fawning over Obama, I can't see any conservative, as I understand it, in him.
10.8.2008 9:29pm
CJColucci:
When this country was founded, how much of a role did the federal government have in providing any of those services? And I'd say that this country did just fine from then until the early 1900's

Every time I hear someone say things like this, I wish I could find a time machine and put the speaker to the test.
10.8.2008 9:30pm
Thales (mail) (www):
I agree with David Post. The tenor of most of the outraged or flabbergasted comments shows him to be the sensible and patriotic one. I have yet to actually hear an intelligent thought (indeed, they are barely coherent thoughts) escape Sarah Palin's lips. I've heard a lot of invective masquerading as small town virtue or folksiness, including ignorant mockery of the idea of Obama's having registered African-Americans to vote and inspired them to care about the crumbling communities around them. Even if I agreed with any element of Palin's political platform, I would find that kind of posturing despicable. Is this person of presidential stature? Whatever gravitas McCain had left after selling out to the social conservative and nativist right is diminished every day he associates with this ignorant and base person.
10.8.2008 9:30pm
NRWO:
You’re right. Here’s my nickel: The Laffer curve is based, in part, on two premises: If the government takes all your money, you have no incentive to work (and so tax revenues decline). And, if the government takes none of your money, it collects no revenue (and cannot fund its operations).

Supply-siders argue that lowering tax rates increases incentives to work, which generate additional tax revenue and offset revenue losses from lower rates.
10.8.2008 9:33pm
richard cabeza:
Obama's having registered African-Americans to vote and inspired them to care about the crumbling communities around them

Oh, is that what agitating for government money is? I see. Inspiration comes from federal handouts. The banks know it!
10.8.2008 9:33pm
Splunge:
Who is this David Post fool? I wonder if he thinks breathing is patriotic, too? After all, if everyone held his breath we'd all die, and then the Republic would fall apart.

Hey, I tied my shoes today, so I didn't trip and kill myself on the way to work, depriving the gummint of my daily $80 tax contribution. I took a shower, too, so my fellow citizens didn't gag over their morning coffee when I walked by. Where's my Medal of Honor?
10.8.2008 9:34pm
Brian K (mail):
You want patriotic? Send a salami to someone's boy in the army.

this has got to be the worst definition of patriotism that i've ever heard. but, sadly, it seems to be what most conservatives think is patriotism.
10.8.2008 9:35pm
NRWO:
Cabeza: You’re right. Here’s my nickel: The Laffer curve is based, in part, on two premises: If the government takes all your money, you have no incentive to work (and so tax revenues decline). And, if the government takes none of your money, it collects no revenue (and cannot fund its operations).

Supply-siders argue that lowering tax rates increases incentives to work, which generate additional tax revenue and offset revenue losses from lower rates.
10.8.2008 9:35pm
richard cabeza:
NRWO: Yes, _but_ that's with a government that is spending at least that much money. My point is that if it didn't spend nearly as much as the optimal point on the Laffer curve, trying to reach that point would be wasteful (based on my bias that redistributing the excess would add to the waste).
10.8.2008 9:35pm
elim:
several scary thoughts-first, the writer of such drivel is helping form and train the lawyers of today; second, as a one time law clerk to a Supreme Court justice, the writer of such drivel may have actually had an impact on the jurisprudence of this country on actual serious issues.
10.8.2008 9:36pm
richard cabeza:
You want patriotic? Send a salami to someone's boy in the army.

this has got to be the worst definition of patriotism that i've ever heard.

Why? Because it's voluntary support and not government-mandated funding?
10.8.2008 9:37pm
elim:
by the way, thales, you must not have been to the south side of chicago recently-they are still crime ridden, still crumbling, and the murder rate is going up. p.s. lock your doors and drive real fast, make sure to keep an eye on your rearview, be ready to go at a moment's notice at any red light.
10.8.2008 9:39pm
Dave N (mail):
Joseph Slater,

Brooks also called Obama "a very mediocre Senator" while simultaneously calling him and McCain "the two best candidates we've had in a long time."

So a bit of a disconnect unless our political class, as a whole is much worse than I thought.

The basis for his complaint against Palin is that he considers her to be an anti-intellectual. Me? I haven't seen much evidence on it either way with she is anti-intellectual or not--other than her inability to name a newspaper she reads regularly (but hey, neither do I, though I look at a lot of sources online for information).
10.8.2008 9:40pm
EconomicNeocon (mail):
If paying your taxes is the most patriotic act you commit, then you're underperforming. Why don't you be even more patriotic and send your whole paycheck to the feds, kind of like a tip for letting you stay here?
10.8.2008 9:41pm
NickM (mail) (www):

But paying taxes (along with voting) is one of the most patriotic things I do. I don't pay my taxes because I'd go to jail if I didn't; I pay my taxes because that is the price we pay to live in the society in which we live, and it's insulting to suggest that somehow I'm being snookered into acting unpatriotically.


Since you're not self-employed, much if not all of your tax payments are withheld from your paychecks. You don't really have a choice in the matter.
When it doesn't involve making a moral choice, your action is neither patriotic nor unpatriotic.

Nick
10.8.2008 9:42pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

You're the first person to come down with Palin Derangement Syndrome.


Oh, would that it were true.

But this argument really was dumb, David.
10.8.2008 9:44pm
therut (mail):
If paying taxes is patriotic then let us move the day taxes are due to election day so we can be patriotic twice that day.
10.8.2008 9:47pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Actually elim, I am very aware of the condition of many parts of the South Side. It is pretty close to my neighborhood, and no, I don't tend to linger there if I can help it. Obama at least tried to make some things better while he was there--what does that say about his patriotism versus that of Sarah Palin, or many of the outraged, insipid and reflexive seethers currently commenting here?
10.8.2008 9:49pm
richard cabeza:
what does that say about his patriotism versus that of Sarah Palin, or many of the outraged, insipid and reflexive seethers currently commenting here?

It says we're more interested in delivering them from the yoke of corrupt Chicago politics than he is.
10.8.2008 9:51pm
first history:
Deepthought:

Good post. While Palin is railing against government, she has gotten a tax-free per diem subsidy to the tune of $43,000 for Todd and her family--definitely illegal. She should pay her taxes, then the rest of us can pay less.
10.8.2008 9:54pm
Anderson (mail):
Brooks also called Obama "a very mediocre Senator" while simultaneously calling him and McCain "the two best candidates we've had in a long time."

So a bit of a disconnect unless our political class, as a whole is much worse than I thought.


Obama may be a better executive than a legislator, assuming the truth of Brooks's comment for the sake of argument.
10.8.2008 10:06pm
Anderson (mail):
She should pay her taxes, then the rest of us can pay less.

Obeying the law is unpatriotic.
10.8.2008 10:07pm
elim:
seether? you're the one that made the silly statement. if you know the south side of Chicago and are familiar with it, weren't you being a tad disingenuous (I might even use a stronger word for what you said versus what he did, which appears to be paving the way for developers like his old boss).
10.8.2008 10:08pm
Left_Wing_Lock:
So paying taxes is patriotic, huh? Did you take any deductions to pay less taxes? If so, clearly you are an unpatriotic communist. How about exemptions? If you took those, you are a fascist. The simple point is that living up to state and federal law does not make you a patriot. How about poor people who don't pay any income taxes. I guess under Biden's and your definition, no poor people are patriotic.
10.8.2008 10:14pm
Pete Freans (mail):
But it is really irresponsible, outrageous, and insulting to say that it's unpatriotic.

As many correctly commented before me, Governor Palin neither said nor suggested that paying taxes was unpatriotic, but rather alleging that it was patriotic was an absurd notion.

It is irresponsible, outrageous, and insulting for a law professor not to read someone's words carefully. Once again, sloppy analysis.
10.8.2008 10:16pm
Wayne Jarvis:
For the record, I think equating higher taxes with patriotism is a brilliant move for Obama/Biden.

That way when Obama gets into office---instead of breaking his campaign pledges by raising my taxes---he can "raise patriotism."
10.8.2008 10:17pm
Dave N (mail):
Anderson,

An interesting way of looking at Brook's comments--except Obama's executive experience is close to non-existent and thus Brooks has no valid way to make that point.
10.8.2008 10:18pm
Wayne Jarvis:
He can raise patriotism on capital gains, and especially raise patriotism on freshly deceased.

The newly dead are some of the least patriotic Americans. True story.
10.8.2008 10:19pm
Jmaie (mail):
The majority of the people, consistent with their democratic prerogative, have set up a system of government built roads, police, prisons, fire departments, etc...

If the gov't kept itself to roads, police, prisons and fire departments, we wouldn't be having this discussion. I'd be happy to pony up my share.

Wool research, on the other hand...
10.8.2008 10:20pm
Harwood (mail):
You confuse two kinds of statement:

1. It isn't the case that doing x is patriotic.
2. Doing x is unpatriotic.

1 doesn't entail 2.

True: It isn't the case that eating broccoli is patriotic.
False: Eating broccoli is unpatriotic.
10.8.2008 10:21pm
pete (mail) (www):
By the way if anyone wants to be extra patriotic the address for donating money to the federal government is:

Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
Hyattsville, MD 20782

Make your checks or money order payable to "United States Treasury"

Please be patriotic and I hope I have not overwhelmed the office with the number of people who will now donate. I am sure David Post will get out his checkbook as soon as he reads this.
10.8.2008 10:26pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Brooks also called Obama "a very mediocre Senator" while simultaneously calling him and McCain "the two best candidates we've had in a long time."

So a bit of a disconnect unless our political class, as a whole is much worse than I thought.

Obama may be a better executive than a legislator, assuming the truth of Brooks's comment for the sake of argument.


Anderson:

While I usually agree with you, I think Dave N. is correct that Brooks's two statements regarind Obama seem strangely contradictory.

My point, though, was about Palin and what a not-insignificant number of conservatives think of her. And yeah, Brooks is a conservative -- or at least if you exclude people with his politics, you have a definition of conservatism so purist that the conservative movement becomes pretty darn small.

Of course, people are free to disagree re Palin, but I don't ever recall such negative reactions to a VP candidate from folks on the same side of the partisan divide this near an election.
10.8.2008 10:26pm
Splunge:
Harwood, maybe you're confusing two kinds of people:

1. Those who think before they write.

2. Those who write before they think.
10.8.2008 10:27pm
JosephSlater (mail):
"regarding" not "regarind" -- yikes.
10.8.2008 10:28pm
Borealis (mail):
If paying taxes is patriotic, then corporate CEOs are the most generous people in the world because they give millions of people wages and health insurance.
10.8.2008 10:28pm
p. rich (mail) (www):
You, David Post, are a self-confirmed imbecile. Go play with the small kids. Enjoy the milk and cookies, and the finger painting.
10.8.2008 10:34pm
MarkField (mail):

If you can pretend that paying for socialist programs is equivalent to paying for war, then why can't I pretend that publicly not paying a portion sends a specific message?


I have no idea what this means. Moving right along, since the Republicans have repeatedly claimed that funding the troops is patriotic, then it is obviously patriotic to pay the taxes which provide those funds.


When this country was founded, how much of a role did the federal government have in providing any of those services? And I'd say that this country did just fine from then until the early 1900's


Only if your grading curve is pretty steep. Anyone who would prefer to live in 1900 rather than today is pretty obviously ignorant of everyday life in 1900. And I don't just mean progress in science; I mean government sponsored and government provided services as well.

In addition, it's just silly to pretend that the federal government didn't play a role in American society in 1900 (a much larger role than it played in 1800). Just as much of our progress since 1900 is attributable to the federal government, so much of our progress between 1800 and 1900 was attributable to the federal government.
10.8.2008 10:36pm
Mac (mail):

But paying taxes (along with voting) is one of the most
patriotic things I do.



Oh, dang! I thought shopping was the most patriotic thing to do!
10.8.2008 10:37pm
richard cabeza:
Just as much of our progress since 1900 is attributable to the federal government

Unless you mean "progress toward socialism," you lost me here.
10.8.2008 10:38pm
Oren:


Unless you mean "progress toward socialism," you lost me here.

Yes, civil rights for blacks is definitely socialism. Acceptance of women into the workforce, also socialism. Civil rights for criminal defendants -- socialism.

What, pray tell, isn't socialism?
10.8.2008 10:40pm
richard cabeza:
Not bending society to government's will isn't socialism.

But we can't have that, because it's for the good of the children.
10.8.2008 10:44pm
DiverDan (mail):
David, I disagreed with many of your other posts, but at least they were at least logical and rational. You've now officially gone over the edge. You need to get back on your meds before they let you post again.
10.8.2008 10:49pm
Mac (mail):

You want patriotic? Send a salami to someone's boy in the army.



Hey, Glenn Bowen,

Don't forget the Marines!

However, you are not allowed to send any product containing pork to a Marine or Army or Navy etc. if they are stationed in a Muslim county such as Iraq or Afghanistan. Can't hurt their sensibilities, you know. So make sure the salami is beef. My son and his fellow Marines in Iraq enjoyed his care packages a lot. The 12 to 13 hour days, 28 days a month, not so much.

David,

I am glad, (I think), that you vote. However, the patriotism goes to the Marine and other Military Men and Women, past and present, who have kept us free so you can enjoy the right to vote, not to you for voting.

There was a recent survey of college students about activism. Now, I think of the Civil rights movement, Suffrage, etc. when I think of "activism". Turns out, these kids describe themselves as activists if they are vegan, or buy organic food or ride a bicycle.

Ditto, David, with your view that paying taxes and voting is patriotic.
Absurd.

Get to know some Military men and women. You will start to learn about not only what patriotism is, but sacrifice as well. Or do you consider that you sacrifice for your country because you go to the polls to vote instead of voting absentee?
10.8.2008 10:53pm
David Warner:
Like a moth to the flame...

Biden was referring to the marginal tax dollar, suggesting that that dollar would be more productive in Washington than in, say Wasilla. I'd say that would be a debate a libertarian blog would be comfortable in claiming to be (at least) open.

But Biden doesn't stop there. He asserts that sending that dollar to Washington is a patriotic duty. He is free to do so. What is strange is advocating that the state should enforce that duty. If it were patriotic duty, what need enforcement?

And Palin is somehow deranged in so questioning why?
10.8.2008 11:02pm
Mac (mail):
therut (mail):

Well if enough citizens dicided to not pay their taxes the .gov would be in trouble. I doubt they could throw tens of millions in jail.



Uh, I think it would only take 12 million of us to not pay our taxes for the gov. to be in trouble, at least, if you look at what we are told by this gov. about not being able to do anything about the 12 million illegal immigrants in this country.
10.8.2008 11:13pm
Mac (mail):

Paying taxes to cover the expense of programs voted by our elected representatives is indeed patriotic. It fulfills a duty we owe our country.



Anderson, glad to know I am patriotic for paying for all those programs. But, does that include the waste and fraud in Medicare, for instance, and the pure pork in most spending bills not to mention the bills our "elected representatives" vote for, like the Farm Bill, because they will get big campaign contributions? I have just a wee bit of a hard time feeling patriotic about my tax dollars going for Corporate Welfare and to other assorted crooks elected or otherwise.
10.8.2008 11:19pm
DangerMouse:
Post has a severe case of Palin Derrangement Syndrome. Ironically, the more he posts about how bad or stupid Palin supposedly is, the more it just confirms the same about him.
10.8.2008 11:21pm
SenatorX (mail):
People who view themselves as elites like to think they are patriotic by paying taxes. It's sad but true.
10.8.2008 11:22pm
Mac (mail):


I for one, would pay my taxes even if they were voluntary. It seems wrong to drive on the roads, send my kids to school, utilize the services of the fire dept. police


Oren,

Of the taxes you mentioned, most of them enumerated above are not paid by your federal taxes. You pay for the roads when you buy gasoline (some of which goes to the state and some to the Feds) and pay your state income taxes and for schools when you pay your property taxes and the fire, etc. when you pay your local sales taxes when you buy something. Actually, the Feds taking a lions share of our money would mean that we have much less left over to pay for the above items.
10.8.2008 11:26pm
Hoosier:
I have nothing to say—Goofy premise in the post—but I don't want to be left out if this turns into the longest thread ever.
10.8.2008 11:27pm
Hoosier:
I don't drive 90mph on interstate highways. Look at me, saving lives every damned day!

I am a home-town hee-roe!
10.8.2008 11:30pm
Mac (mail):

This document is a potential blockbuster.



deepthought,

A tax document a potential blockbuster? Sure to outsell the Bible any day now, no doubt.

By the way, per diem is not taxable. It is payment for expenses and is not income.
10.8.2008 11:33pm
b:

thales:
including ignorant mockery of the idea of Obama's having registered African-Americans to vote and inspired them to care about the crumbling communities around them.


if people were being honest, they would recognize that sarah palin's comments about obama's community organizer past came AFTER obama felt the need to mock her for being "only a small town mayor." to which she replied that a mayor has a lot more responsibility than a community organizer. and she's right. oh, and she's a governor. but way to condescend, obama.

if the silver tongued senator can dish it, why can't he take it?
10.8.2008 11:36pm
Z J (mail):
Not that anyone will read this post, since there are over 200 others, BUT...

DB is right. It is incredibly UNpatriotic to lower taxes during a time of war, and generally during a time of increased spending. Like NOW. Let's all agree that not leaving the bill to our children is patriotic. Other words come to mind, too (moral, right, considerate, responsible).
10.8.2008 11:39pm
b:

You want patriotic? Send a salami to someone's boy in the army.

this has got to be the worst definition of patriotism that i've ever heard. but, sadly, it seems to be what most conservatives think is patriotism.



it's not a definition of patriotism, it's an example of a patriotic act. and likely a great deal more patriotic than anything most liberals have done lately. (hey, broad stroke stereotyping is fun!)
10.8.2008 11:42pm
Mac (mail):
epeeist:

Ah a fellow traveler down the Nero Wolfe road. A btright spot on this blog.
10.8.2008 11:49pm
mainfloorguy:
Paying taxes make you feel patriotic? Here's a way to "double your pleasure..." Pay mine, too!!!!
10.8.2008 11:50pm
fortyninerdweet (mail):
David, easier on the caffeine, please. Motion denied. Move on, counselor.
10.8.2008 11:54pm
Mac (mail):
Brian K (mail):

You want patriotic? Send a salami to someone's boy in the army.

this has got to be the worst definition of patriotism that i've ever heard. but, sadly, it seems to be what most conservatives think is patriotism.


Brian K, why don't you try it sometime either the Military or sending care packages. Lots of civilians do, you know. It's a lot of work and the Gov, makes it as hard as possible with the Custom's Form etc. Let me know when you've put a few together and mailed them off, OK? Too much work? You can go to Soldier's Angels and volunteer to write letters to servicemen. Again, let me know.
10.8.2008 11:54pm
Mac (mail):

Obama at least tried to make some things better while he was there--what does that say about his patriotism versus that of Sarah Palin, or many of the outraged, insipid and reflexive seethers currently commenting here?


Really, thales, or was he as most of the others in the crop of "helpers" just using them to get government money and power to move ahead? That's what he did and he didn't change anything at all.

Haven't you noticed that, so far, the "poor" always get used and shafted by community activists and politicians? Did anything change? No. But lots of money went to so-called activists. Give me a break. Next you will be telling me how noble Al Sharpton and Charlie, I govern the committee that makes tax laws but I am pleading ignorance about my tax return, Rangle? It was his wife's fault, remember? These people are called poverty pimps. They market in the problem and the last thing they want is a solution. They NEED the poor for a political base and need them to stay poor. Education has received ever increasing sums of money for years but has gotten worse and worse. The solution? More money. Yeah, right. If Obama were still there, I might agree with you. But, he did just what every other poverty pimp does, moves on to higher office.
10.9.2008 12:05am
matt b (mail):
professor,

would you mind paying for my patriotic shortfall? i going to be short this april.
10.9.2008 12:07am
deepthought:
Mac:

A tax document a potential blockbuster? Sure to outsell the Bible any day now, no doubt.

By the way, per diem is not taxable. It is payment for expenses and is not income.


The analysis is not mine, but the linked sources. Does your analysis include Todd Palin's et. al. per diem, even though the family members are not state employees? Also, do you believe the State of Alaska did not violate its own rules? Please cite the appropriate Alaska tax code sections. Thanks.
10.9.2008 12:12am
Dave N (mail):
deepthought,

Whether they are state employees is not the test. The test is whether they were engaged in governmental functions.

The First Lady (or in Todd Palin's case, the First Dude) will often engage in governmental functions simply by being married to the Governor (or President, for that matter). Cut a ribbon; give a speech; do SOMETHING that benefits the State and it counts.
10.9.2008 12:19am
deepthought:
Mac:

Correction, the Federal tax code.
10.9.2008 12:20am
Mac (mail):
JosephSlater


Of course, people are free to disagree re Palin, but I don't ever recall such negative reactions to a VP candidate from folks on the same side of the partisan divide this near an election.


Ok, so I don't think is was quite this close to an election, but you forgot Eagleton, perhaps? His party dumped him. That's pretty negative.
10.9.2008 12:25am
Mac (mail):
deepthought:,

See David N above. Also, you are proving why we need a national sales tax or a flat tax. We wouldn't have these problems.
10.9.2008 12:30am
deepthought:
Mac:

I suggest you read A Brief Analysis of Governor Palin's Tax Returns for 2006 and 2007 by Bryan Camp, (Texas Tech University Law School). It's only 12 pages and a very easy read, esp. before you make bald assertions without the detailed facts.
10.9.2008 12:32am
David Matthews (mail):
Well, I've been away from VC for a while, and if this is what's happened to it; God, where did it go wrong.

What I used to be able to count on is that the original poster would be intelligent, cogent, logical, and often provocative.

Now I find a post whose author's reading comprehension is somewhere below what I'd expect to find at Free Republic or the Daily Kos.

Damn, Mr. Post, if you get paid more than minimum wage for your logical skills, you are guilty of serious price gouging. On the other hand, if you're selling snark per pound, you might be giving someone a bargain.

But this trash is not worthy of what I've come to expect from Eugene Volokh, Orrin Kerr, Dale Carpenter, or even you.

I'll check back after the election. Maybe sanity will have reasserted itself.
10.9.2008 12:33am
Mac (mail):
I think, as I recall, one of the greatest fears of the Founding Fathers was that we would end up with an electorate who would not be paying taxes, but who could vote for Other people to pay taxes. I believe, if memory serves, that is why only property owners could vote. You had to have a stake in the game.

Somewhere between 40-50% of our citizens don't pay any Federal Income taxes. I think we are soon going to see why our Founding Fathers were worried about this scenario.
10.9.2008 12:34am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I for one, would pay my taxes even if they were voluntary. It seems wrong to drive on the roads, send my kids to school, utilize the services of the fire dept. police and military, benefit from federal stewardship of public lands, etc... without paying my fair share.

Supposing it were even possible, would you guys really be comfortable sharing the benefits of government without paying your share?
I certainly wouldn't. Like many people, I've figured out how to use the tax loopholes so that I pay about 12% of my income in federal income tax. That's a level that I consider appropriate (since much of the federal budget subsidies to the rich and irrational expenditures).

Obama, of course, will increase the subsidies to the rich (that's the purpose of Democrats), with a few scraps for the poor as window dressing.
10.9.2008 12:44am
Jerry F:
This is just a misunderstanding between two different views on what patriotism mean.

Republican patriotism: Raising babies and killing taxes.
Democrat patriotism: Raising taxes and killing babies.
10.9.2008 12:47am
David Warner:
"Meanwhile, conservative columnist David Brooks just said that Palin represents 'a fatal cancer to the Republican party.'"

Brooks is the prototypical "young fogey", and is thus a conservative in temperament, if not much else. He's also inclined to worship authority, which the candidate of global technocracy exudes out of every pore.

The Niebuhr thing is a perfect illustration. Niebuhr was cutting-edge in the 30's and 40's, with something of a revival in the 60's. All the common interest in Niebuhr of Brooks and Obama shows is that Brooks is infatuated with the past and that Obama has a passing familiarity with center-left theology/social thought.

Niebuhr's also likely the first (and, often only) theologian anyone on the left* would come up with if asked to name one. Brooks wonder at Obama's familiarity with Niebuhr only reveals his own shallowness. Of course, Obama could likely also fill him in on James Cone if he were really interested in ideas**.

* - which raises questions about the intellectual barrenness of the theological left over the past 50 years

** - my guess (judging, like Brooks, by his current associates) is that Obama's association with the radical/illiberal left has pushed him in a more liberal direction. As has mine.
10.9.2008 1:00am
Jerry F:
David Warner: Brooks is a phony. He believes that McCain and Obama are the two best candidates for President in a long time, when in fact, anyone who is right-of-center (whether an all-around partisan Republican, a libertarian, a religious conservative or a paleocon) would agree that they are the two worst candidates for President from their respective parties in recent memory (probably in the history of the U.S., but I don't know enough about the candidates for President who came before FDR to say this decisively).
10.9.2008 1:06am
David Warner:
Jerry,

I respectfully disagree. I find personal qualities in both that certainly eclipse Gore, Kerry, or Edwards. Given the ineffectiveness in many respects of Bush/Cheney, that's not much of a bar to clear either.

I also disagree that libertarians or most religious conservatives are "right-of-center" in any way that makes historical sense. They certainly do not fit the fascistic bill this generation raised on continental leftism expects to find when they think of "right". Hence the difficulty "getting" Palin and the resulting cognitive dissonance plaguing those like our esteemed poster.
10.9.2008 1:19am
David Warner:
As for Palin's putative support for our efforts in Iraq, I doubt that she would have been praying that there was a plan(!) if she were fully on board before McCain picked her.
10.9.2008 1:21am
MLS:
This article seems to me to have as much substantive content as do research papers pertaining to the study of the feeding ecology of yellow baboons...
10.9.2008 1:21am
Mac (mail):
Jerry F:

Agreed. When I find myself looking fondly at Hilary and Bill and wishing McCain was running against Hilary, you know this Democratic choice is pretty bad.

On the other side, I find myself wondering how in the hell did McCain win the primaries when there were so many other good candidates? His biggest problem now is the same one he has always had, he sees so many sides to every issue and wants to reach out so bad that he doesn't know where he stands.

If he were a real Republican, he would have a coherent and easily understood economic message. As he is somewhere in nowhere land, he is grasping. So is Obama, but the press lets all of his inconsistencies go and it doesn't matter because Obama "understands" the voter.
10.9.2008 1:23am
Mac (mail):
Jerry F:

Agreed. When I find myself looking fondly at Hilary and Bill and wishing McCain was running against Hilary, you know this Democratic choice is pretty bad.

On the other side, I find myself wondering how in the hell did McCain win the primaries when there were so many other good candidates? His biggest problem now is the same one he has always had, he sees so many sides to every issue and wants to reach out so bad that he doesn't know where he stands.

If he were a real Republican, he would have a coherent and easily understood economic message. As he is somewhere in nowhere land, he is grasping. So is Obama, but the press lets all of his inconsistencies go and it doesn't matter because Obama "understands" the voter.
10.9.2008 1:23am
Mac (mail):
David Warner:

As for Palin's putative support for our efforts in Iraq, I doubt that she would have been praying that there was a plan(!) if she were fully on board before McCain picked her.



Given that her son was in the military and scheduled to go to Iraq, and as one who has "been there", I can assure you she was supporting and praying. And, she will be praying as she has never before in her life until her son returns.
10.9.2008 1:27am
David Warner:
Mac,

"If he were a real Republican, he would have a coherent and easily understood economic message."

I'd think the test of a real Republican would be whether he was supporting his candidate about now. Which wouldn't leave you much authority to speak on the subject of McCain's reality. Bites, doesn't it?
10.9.2008 1:30am
Jerry F:
David Warner:

"I find personal qualities in both that certainly eclipse Gore, Kerry, or Edwards."

Fair enough, I really was thinking primarily of the issues.

"I also disagree that libertarians or most religious conservatives are 'right-of-center' in any way that makes historical sense."

I am not sure what this means. Certainly, society has moved to the Left significantly over the past 50 (or 20, or even 10) years, so most people who are considered right-of-center today (and by this I would include libertarians and Christian-Coalition types) would not necessarily have been all that far from the center historically. For example, 20 years ago, anyone other than the very far Left would have vehemently opposed homosexual marriage, and hardly anyone would have taken seriously the idea of giving all sorts of constitutional rights to foreign detainees outside the U.S. But I don't think that's what you're getting at.

Mac:

"On the other side, I find myself wondering how in the hell did McCain win the primaries when there were so many other good candidates?"

I always thought that McCain won because conservatives were split between Romney and Huckabee, while the minority centrist Republicans all went for McCain (Huckabee wasn't fiscally conservative, but he did attract the votes of many social conservatives). The fact that McCain and Huckabee were united to screw over Romney also helped. Had it been a vote between Romney and McCain only, I am convinced Romney would have won (and we wouldn't have been in the horrible mess we are in today).
10.9.2008 1:47am
Mac (mail):
Not really, Mr. Warner.

I am not a Kool-aid drinker. I am capable of believing that McCain/Palin will be much better for the country than Obama without thinking that McCain is perfect. I see his flaws and was never a huge fan and I live in Arizona and know his record rather well.

I was never a fan of Bill and Hilary, but she is looking darned good right now. At least she is a practical person of knowledge and was not likely to drive our country into the ground. And, I would pity the terrorists or their sponsoring country who dared to attack us while she was President. If I can be rational about the Clintons, I can certainly be rational about McCain.

Why don't you try it sometime? It saves one from defending indefensible positions and looking like a fool. They are humans, sir. Last I checked, no human was perfect. With politicians, it is always a question of who will do the least harm. JFK was the last politician I adored and, in retrospect, he nearly brought on a nuclear war due to his inexperience and he got us into Viet Nam. Lesson learned.

What about you?
10.9.2008 1:48am
David Warner:
"I am convinced Romney would have won (and we wouldn't have been in the horrible mess we are in today"

I'm not convinced that the guy who looks like he's straight out of Wall Street central casting would be doing so hot just now. No fault of his, of course.
10.9.2008 1:53am
HUH?:
This post isn't satire?
10.9.2008 1:53am
Mac (mail):

The fact that McCain and Huckabee were united to screw over Romney also helped. Had it been a vote between Romney and McCain only, I am convinced Romney would have won (and we wouldn't have been in the horrible mess we are in today).



Jerry F.,

I think you are right.. However, I think Romney's Mormon religion was a factor. Not just among the Christian right, but with so called tolerant voters as well.

I can't believe the naiveté of Mr. Warner who seems to think one must be besotted with the candidate to be for them. How childish.
10.9.2008 1:55am
Random Commenter:
"I'd think the test of a real Republican would be whether he was supporting his candidate about now. "

Boy, does this sound like projection. Must be relaxing not to have to think for yourself.
10.9.2008 1:58am
response to HUH?:
Layers don't do satire. Not well, anyway.
10.9.2008 1:59am
Psalm91 (mail):
"Mac:

At least she is a practical person of knowledge and was not likely to drive our country into the ground. And, I would pity the terrorists or their sponsoring country who dared to attack us while she was President."

Hello? The country has already been run into the ground by your team. Re pitying the terrorists, when is it that Bush and McCain are going to reveal their secret plan for getting Bin Laden, who has gotten a free ride from your guys for seven years. I apologize for "looking backwards".
10.9.2008 2:00am
therut (mail):
How can the Professor Post be a adjunct scholar at the CATO institute and have this view of taxation??? Bizarre.
It's not really bizarre at all. What's bizarre is when people expect institutions like CATO, or the Volokh Conspiracy, to have a single viewpoint on every problem imaginable -- the party line. Sometimes, institutions like to have diverse viewpoints -- it spices things up, and makes you question your assumptions. DavidP
10.9.2008 2:03am
Mac (mail):
Psalm91,

Uh, you boggle the mind. Your comments are apropos to what? You should apologize. It is accepted, if you don't do it again. This post is ridiculous enough without dragging Bin Laden into it.

As to running the country into the ground, I presume you think that Franks, Dodd and Schummer have nothing to do with our current problems?

All Democrats are good and all Republicans are evil? Something like that?

Fine, just please don't tell me that Obama is "The One". OK?
10.9.2008 2:11am
Ohio Scrivener (mail):
F.A. Hayek would have enjoyed hearing about Joe Biden's misuse of the word patriotism.

There is, in Hayek's words, "a universal tendency of collectivist policy to become nationalistic as due entirely to the necessity for securing unhesitating support."

Thus, patriotism - the last refuge of a scoundrel -- is now misused to support high taxes and the long road to serfdom.
10.9.2008 2:13am
Melancton Smith:
Every year I pay more in taxes than most people gross...I'm fairly certain I'm paying more than my 'fair share'.

I pay the taxes because that supports the infrastructure that makes my wage earning possible. However, I don't like how much is wasted.

I've been a supporter of flat tax since the 80's sometime. Set a dollar amount deduction and flat rate on the rest.

I don't understand the logic that states the 'rich' aren't paying their fair share when they pay higher tax rates as it is.

And really, isn't my burden on the Federal Government the same as anyone else? Why should I pay more for the 'services' I receive than others do?
10.9.2008 2:15am
David Warner:
"What about you?"

I'm not big on questioning the reality of my fellow citizens without cause. I also follow Washington's advice to avoid faction, so I'm American, neither Democrat or Republican. My main concern is that the current level of support for our elected representatives and candidates (as opposed to support for the military on the one hand, and unelected power - the Ivy/Beltway axis - on the other) is a threat to the survival of the Republic, so I defend them, exactly because they're human, and that's what we're stuck with. History teaches that the alternatives are worse.

In the past, I've supported both Bill Clinton and Gingrich's congress. Tragic that both men were too small for the opportunity, though altogether they didn't do badly. I supported Bush, but the combination of 9/11 messianism and Cheney's insularity in war-time hamstrung his effectiveness in other areas, such as social security reform, where his gifts were sorely needed.

I voted last week for Obama. I think it's time to get beyond the Boomers' petty rivalries, and Obama is, if nothing else, post-Boomer. I think he's also likely to scale back our world policeman role, which our future generations, lacking representation, should not be taxed to fund. In much of the country today, the Dems are the conservative party, in that vast swaths of the establishment are Democrats, so Obama is likely to be the less disruptive choice. See Warren Buffet, for instance.

That said, I have great respect for McCain, and bright hope for Palin, who will be needed to clean up the messes Obama's friends will no doubt make, and to rally those dissatisfied with mere Europeanism.
10.9.2008 2:16am
Splunge:
when is it that Bush and McCain are going to reveal their secret plan for getting Bin Laden,

"Getting" bin Laden? Now there's a top priority for the next Prez, getting a lone fella who, yup, ordered up one of the most horrific attacks in history more than seven years ago, when half the guys now serving in Iraq were in 8th grade, and who has ordered up a grand total of...well, zero follow-up attacks since then, and who may well be wormfood for the past five years, for all we know. Plus his global cultural influence is now on a par with that of Michael Jackson and Supertramp.

I'll bet you're pissed at FDR and Truman, too, because, although they defeated the Axis and freed Europe, they failed to get Adolph Hitler.
10.9.2008 2:28am
Mac (mail):
(link) David Warner:,

Given the above, though it was a bit hard for my poor brain to follow, then why do I need to not criticize McCain ever in order to vote for him? I think I said first, politicians are human. None are perfect.

I am now very confused, Mr. Warner.

I am very happy there has been a resurgence of Blue Dog Democrats. You are aware, perhaps, that the Far Left of your party is doing every thing in their power to defeat them? They would rather have a Republican in the seat than a Democrat that is off the Reservation. I am finding these people scary. Look at what they tried to do to Lieberman. There is no room for divergent views in the Democratic Party, it seems, and they will do anything to squash them.

I think Obama and his closest friends are of this persuasion and the incident in St. Louis did not make me feel any better about him.
10.9.2008 2:29am
David Warner:
Jerry F.,

"I also disagree that libertarians or most religious conservatives are 'right-of-center' in any way that makes historical sense."

I am not sure what this means."

I spell it out somewhat in the following sentence above. The original right-wing (from the French Revolution) referred to where the nobility/Monarchists sat in the National Assembly. Our current equivalent to the French nobility is the limousine "left", who, like their French forebears, advocate for more government power and less religious liberty.

Both libertarians and (most, like the Palin variety) religious "conservatives"* would have actually been found sitting on the left of that Assembly. Of course, in France they'd been slaughtering or running off the evangelicals for centuries, so there weren't many left there.

Basically what I'm saying is the defenders of the status quo today actually tend to consider themselves "left", so their adversaries - libertarians and religious conservatives - get labeled (wrongly) right-wing, when what actual progress getting made arises there.

* - what they're trying to conserve is the well-spring of liberal values
10.9.2008 2:30am
Daryl Herbert (www):
Of course cheating on your taxes or evading them is unpatriotic.

But what Joe Biden is saying, is that because it's patriotic to pay taxes, therefore we would all be MORE patriotic if tax rates were higher. That's a silly and anti-libertarian idea. Palin is right to mock it.
10.9.2008 2:33am
David Warner:
Mac,

"You are aware, perhaps, that the Far Left of your party is doing every thing in their power to defeat them?"

My party? My party is the signers of the Declaration and those who've flocked to that banner.

"I think Obama and his closest friends"

Like Reagan, Obama doesn't seem to have close friends.

"why do I need to not criticize McCain ever in order to vote for him?"

I should think a member of a party would be willing to do more than vote. At least not questioning whether one's candidate is a "real" Republican. I don't question whether Obama or McCain are "real" Americans. There is of course the possibility that Obama considers himself more than that, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
10.9.2008 2:38am
David Warner:
Random,

"Boy, does this sound like projection. Must be relaxing not to have to think for yourself."

Somehow I don't think lack of independent thought is my problem.

And when did the VC add sound? How do I turn it on?
10.9.2008 2:45am
Pedantry Express, CHUGGA CHUGGA:
"Boy, does this sound like projection.

And when did the VC add sound? How do I turn it on?

Don't be an ass. Furthermore, you really don't hear the words as you read them? I've read that correlates with lower reading comprehension. Just saying.
10.9.2008 2:51am
Brian G (mail) (www):
This is the dumbest post I have ever read here, by far. Everyone is now dumber for having read it.
10.9.2008 3:14am
Splunge:
My party is the signers of the Declaration and those who've flocked to that banner.

And you're an Obama voter? Given that Jefferson would have recoiled in horror and contempt from much of that for which the modern left side of the Democratic Party stands, including racial quotas, oversight and regulation from Washington that pry into every detail of private contracts, "hate speech" codes, "sensitivity" training and "fairness" doctrines that muzzle speech both personal and political, a massive Federal power nearly free of the doctrine of enumerated powers and contemptuous of states' rights, a Federal power to tax that is openly used to manipulate individual choice, and a general prizing of harmony of opinion over individual liberty, this is astounding.

Jefferson would certainly have supported the abandonment of oversees military adventurism (or for that matter a standing military capable of it), but he would also have been nauseated by the proposal to let the aristocrats of Europe circumscribe American foreign policy in a craven search for international "respect" and "stature."

Weird. Just goes to show that Jeffersonianism is so protean that both Marx and Hayek would probably call themselves adherents.
10.9.2008 3:17am
Mac (mail):

There is of course the possibility that Obama considers himself more than that, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.


Mr. Warner,

What, pray tell, are you talking about? Obama's only close associations of which we are aware have all hated America. Wright, Ayers, Pleger (sp?), and many of his financial and power backers. You make no sense to me. Sorry. I do not follow.



I should think a member of a party would be willing to do more than vote. At least not questioning whether one's candidate is a "real" Republican.


I never spoke to what I may be doing to get McCain elected, even if I don't agree with him 100%, did I? You are making an assumption not born out by any facts which you have available to you.

Again, McCain is not a "real" Republican. To say otherwise would be inaccurate and stupid. I have to behave in a ridiculous manner or I am not loyal? Don't think so.

Look, Obama hangs with people who hate America, his wife doesn't seem too fond of her country to the point that they have totally muzzled her, he has taken tons of money from FM/FMac, the second highest in his 3 years in the Senate He has never, ever stood up to his own party to reform anything. He loves earmarks. He loves lobbyists. I see nothing but "business as usual" despite his rhetoric.

He has threatened stations with the FCC and tried to get the Attn. General of Mo. involved in his battle with the NRA ad and has gone to
DOJ with another ad. I find that scary as hell and am quite sure that "the signers of the Declaration and those who've flocked to that banner." would not approve of government sponsored censorship of free political speech.

He worked for ACORN and represented them as a lawyer and donated money to them and they are, again, indicted for voter fraud in Las Vegas. this time.

The Democratic Party wanted to funnel 500 million dollars of the money paid back by the bailout to ACORN. You would, I am sure be very hard pressed to point to anything positive ACORN has done for "the poor" other than help to intimidate banks into making bad loans to poor people that are now a huge part of our problem. And, his Party is and himself are head over heals involved in an organization whose primary function seems to be to submit thousands of fake voter registrations to whatever state appears to be close.

If your Party is that of the signers of the Declaration, all I can say is, why are you not for McCain? I don't think they stood for suppression of free political speech and the throwing of elections by fraud.

Now, please stop with the nonsense. You must be in college or a recent grad to be so incoherent.
10.9.2008 3:22am
Mac (mail):
One further thought tonight on voting as a patriotic act.

I sat today with my absentee ballot and I still have a thrill run through my body (apologies to Chris Mathews)) that I hold this absolute symbol of freedom. With ACORN and other voter fraud possibilities it has lost a tad of it's luster because I don't want my vote canceled by some jerks who are crooked. Plain enough?

Contrary to Mr. Post, I feel lucky, fortunate and blessed that I live in a country where I have the capability of voting. It is sacred to me. It is not patriotic nor is it a sacrifice. The ballot is delivered to my mailbox. It took me minimal time and effort to register. It will take a lot more time to study the various propositions and candidates. I will cheerfully and gratefully put in the time. I am in awe of the patriotism and sacrifice of others, going back to Washington, who made this possible for me, including my son.

But, am I patriotic for taking a minimal amount of time and effort to study and then vote? No. I am blessed. Mr. Post has it all wrong.

Now, if I lived in Iraq or Afghanistan, where the people literally thought they were going to be killed when they went to vote and even performed the Muslim purification ritual before going as they thought they would die for voting, yeah, they are pretty damn patriotic. But me and you and Mr. Post, no.

Given the battles that many people have fought for the right to vote to remotely suggest that you, in this country, going to the poles is patriotic is pathetic. To suggest that paying taxes is patriotic when you have so many who have given their lives for freedom is disgusting. You want us to be surfs? Many came to this country to get away from the excessive taxes imposed on them by Kings, etc.

You need to do some serious reading of our history.
10.9.2008 3:44am
Grover Gardner (mail):
How about a post about the Uighur case--or is that too meaningful for someone VC to comment on?
10.9.2008 3:53am
not ace or gabe:
10.9.2008 4:08am
Mac (mail):
Grover Gardner,

C'mon Grover, I'm just getting warmed up.

That said, I really am ticked off. You have to be a complete imbecile and totally ignorant of the patriotism and the sacrifice of our Military and their families, to make as stupid a statement as Mr. Post made.

Mr. Post,

Try getting up every morning for 7 months and checking all the news web sites for "chopper down:. Try spending 7 months preparing for a uniformed officer at your door. I could go on, but I won't.

Yeah, I am quite sure Sarah Palin, John McCain and even Sen. Biden, if he had a brain, to give the devil his due, know what I mean. You, on the other hand, sir, seem to have no clue about what goes into and has gone into, your right to vote.

No sir. You are not a patriot because you vote and pay taxes. You have the privilege of voting because of patriots and fighting against unjust and excessive taxation is something our Founding Fathers would understand quite well.
10.9.2008 4:14am
Mac (mail):
I will add that when I would see that it was not my son's chopper, CH-53 Delta Super Stallion down, I would have a moment of elation. Then, I would feel bad as someone else's child had died.

However, Mr. Obama said he wants to send our troops into Darfur. Just great. Somalia worked out so well. Just what I want. Our troops going into harms way so Liberals can feel good about themselves. Kind of like feeling good about other people paying taxes. Yeah, that's worth dying for. Especially, when our last Dem President chose the polls over backing up the troops in Somalia. Just what we need to do, invade another Muslim country, esp one where we have no national interest.

Did you miss that we are broke and Obama wants to rebuild the economy of Georgia and then Ukraine as well as give 50 billion to the UN to fight global poverty?

Never has Obama mentioned that our infatuation with ethanol greatly
contributes to global starvation and, just maybe, we should rethink this?

Not to mention increased prices for all food products at home. Yeah, Obama really cares about "the poor". Maybe you should look at what Obama did for his homeless African half-brother, George, to see how much the Obama's really care about "the poor". He has not given George one damn dime.

I have an "adopted" African child that I support to the tune of 35.00 bucks a month. I have no where near the money Obama has.

But, you believe. Good luck, folks. Be patriotic. Give Obama your money.
10.9.2008 4:59am
Doc (mail):
Eric Muller-- "Everyone agrees that surrendering your child to the government (i.e., the military draft) is patriotic. "

I'm amazed that no one else has jumped on this idiotic statement. Not all of us agree that the draft was a good idea, or that it can ever be justified. I personally disagree with the whole concept of a draft, and hold that the entire concept is anti-patriotic. I can respect those who served when drafted, but oppose the entire concept of involuntary servitude. Yes, Congress has a right to "raise armies", but the means to do so are not unlimited. (no, I am not anti-military-- 30 years service on active duty).
10.9.2008 5:07am
Jayson Virissimo:
">95% of the population has rejected that theory. This is a democracy and the rest of us have the right to organize society in a manner more suitable to us.

That's not to say that your views are wrong in any meaningful sense of the word, they just aren't the policies that a democratic government should put in place because they are at odds with the vast majority of the populace.

Even if what the people want is stupid or irrational, they have the right to get it." -Oren

So if "the people" want to harm individuals they should have the right to do it even if those individuals object? Are you serious? If you observe a family where the parents beat the children would you just shrug and say "well that's what the family wants so they have a right to do it". I guess we really can't criticize Athens for executing Socrates because, well, that is what they wanted and they have the right to do it.

Yet another case of democratic fundamentalism.
10.9.2008 6:16am
Tom Hanna (www):
Ever study the American Revolution and the patriots who fought it over a relatively small tax on tea?
10.9.2008 7:30am
Before Gore, Kneel:
Last week, I was uncertain that Post is a fool. But that suspicion is now confirmed.

Biden's point was not that not paying taxes is unpatriotic, but that paying higher taxes if you're rich is. He and Obama need to make this point on the threshold of their wholesale conversion of US capitalism into French/German Socialism. Their socialist revolution depends upon expanding their client class to 100% of the population (via free health care with online data 'health' records that will track who, where, how much and how many just to start), but paid for by the top half. Since this top half includes most employers (people don't get jobs from poor folk) breaking their back with the patriotism canard is and will be important. Especially because anyone can see that unrationed universal health care is impossible unless it is also worthless or not universal. But even in failure it will be inevitably more expensive as every cent spent on all of health care today.

So, consider the difference between being anti-capitalist activists like ACORN and another set just as illegally opposing a Biden/Obama administration and their imposition of the health care state. ACORN will get away with their activities, but the 'right wing anarchists' will be skewered for a butterfly collection for an evening's entertain among the enlightened socialist intellectual elite. And should they find a racist element, ah yes, that will be savored in the same manner that Little Black Sambo is collector's item in many cities.

In any case, Obama's dream depends upon 'patriotism'. After all, no one should question his. Particularly when you realize he never learned any of the trappings of American citizenship until after he began the fifth grade. Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. Lincoln's birthday, Washington's as well and maybe even Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays... What else does an American fourth grader know? And let's not hobble this ideal common man by sticking him in a ghetto. Let's ask it in terms of the late 60's. So again, what does an American fourth grade youth in 1970 know? Whatever you answer subtract it, and add what?
10.9.2008 7:47am
Before Gore, Kneel:
Fix that: Biden's point was not that not paying taxes is unpatriotic, but that paying higher taxes if you're rich is patriotic.

__________

And consider further the impact of Obama's brown shirt thoughts wherein he lifts expanded community activism and do-gooders to an equivalent weight as military service. Adding even a bit of technical ability (surveillance say) to these internal police forces is frankly pretty scary. Stazi scary. One of Obama's critiques of American life is the esteem that military service is held. He, like most of the left, has none and never had the least intention of getting it. Lifting alternative service to an equal weight would serve him and his leftist friends well, don't you think?
10.9.2008 8:02am
Before Gore, Kneel:
Finally, the Biden/Obama patriotism model does this: it's unpatriotic for rich to not pay higher taxes. And Obama's 95% all get to make that accusation. In fact, one ought to expect that as a rallying cry among the bottom 35% who don't pay any taxes at all. Cool, eh? There's nothing like peons with burning torches to change a society. Just ask Cambodia, or China.
10.9.2008 8:10am
Chris-guest (mail):

You're implicitly saying that the actions of the government are for the well-being of the country. Why would you automatically make that assumption? This is why we elect people out of office.


The actions of government are, by definition, intended to be for the well-being of the country. If members of the government are acting otherwise, then yes, they will [in theory] be voted out of office. But the institution of "government" exists to serve and further the well-being of the country, and taxes are its lifeblood.

If you'd rather a different system of government, the other nations of the world offer plenty of alternatives...
10.9.2008 8:26am
Jerry F:
It is truly astonishing that David Post has not yet updated his post to acknowledge his mistake. Even an intelligent person can allow his anti-Christian hatred to make a blatantly flawed argument, but at this point he should just acknowledge that he misread "not patriotic" for "unpatriotic".
10.9.2008 8:57am
Amazed:
Haven't checked in for a bit here, but I couldn't believe how far the quality of posters has dropped - so much so that a guy named David Post is posting something so obviously illogical. It's essentially spin/rhetoric that may as well have come from the Obama camp.

How on earth did this guy do well enough on the LSAT to get into law school, much less actually pass any classes?

Sheez. What a no talent ashclown.
10.9.2008 9:17am
pmorem (mail):
Jerry, I'm not so sure it's anti-Christian hatred.
It seems to me more like he has a fear of strong women, or maybe it's just a fear of women who don't agree with him.

That seems to be a common problem.
10.9.2008 9:19am
Observer:
Amazed said "Haven't checked in for a bit here, but I couldn't believe how far the quality of posters has dropped - so much so that a guy named David Post is posting something so obviously illogical."

Just so that you know, this is not reflective of the quality of the posts on this site now. As has been pointed out above, David Post is the only VC blogger to make posts that are consistently illogical and this is probably his worst post so far.
10.9.2008 9:55am
ClosetLibertarian (mail):
You're as patriotic as Biden.
10.9.2008 10:01am
Joe Bingham (mail):
This seems sort of silly to me. Paying taxes is a civic duty, yes, but not patriotic. There are things I could do for the country that would do it more good; I pay taxes instead because it's the law, I don't want to cause a ruckus, and I don't want to get in trouble.

You would have to think income tax evasion is really easy to get away with, it seems like, to think that paying taxes is "patriotic" (in other words, inspired largely by a zealous love of country).

Would DP really pay his taxes even if it were optional?
10.9.2008 10:11am
JosephSlater (mail):
Mac:

While we disagree (strongly) about Obama and Palin, I will agree that you are correct about Eagleton.
10.9.2008 10:26am
DavidD:
Wow, they're really coming out of the woodwork!

From one David to another (David Post), thanks. Ms. Palin is a ninny. No amount of conservative/libertarian/republican bluster (and I say that as a c/l/r myself) will disguise that glaring fact.

Illegitimi non carborundum!
10.9.2008 10:33am
Just a thought:
Just wanted to chime in and register my unbelief at the sheer illogicality of this post. Mr. Post needs take a breath and not let his strong negative emotional response to Sarah Palin mar his reason.
10.9.2008 11:21am
Reader (mail):
This is by far the worst post ever on this site.

There is so much wrong with it, but I'll note only that I'm pretty sure Palin knows her salary comes from tax dollars. Suggesting she doesn't is really stupid, especially since it's irrelevant to the issue (on which she is totally right - paying a high rate of taxes is not patriotic, and if it's the most patriotic thing you do with your life, start your life over).
10.9.2008 11:41am
I get it:
So that's where dumb as a Post comes from.
10.9.2008 11:42am
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
This thread doesn't even make any sense. Would someone please kill it?
10.9.2008 11:43am
Brian Mac:
Wait, Sarcastro is David Post now?
10.9.2008 11:43am
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

@ David Post

You are an idiot.
10.9.2008 11:45am
Aultimer:

MarkField :

Being a patriot is what is in your heart. You might still be a Y if you are forced to do X, but being forced to do X doesn't make you Y.

I think I get it. Sarah Palin is unpatriotic because, in her heart, she resents paying the money that supports our troops. I, on the other hand, am a patriot because I gladly pay that money.


Mark Field should get David Post's spot on the conspirator list based on this (proper) argument in the face of Post's bad one.
10.9.2008 11:48am
Sagar (mail):
I think David Post gets paid by the number of "attacking" comments he elicits!

Can we have a recall petition to kick this guy of VC, or is he providing comic relief intermittently?
10.9.2008 11:59am
Nifonged:
"There is so much wrong with it"

That's why I keep reading it, its a train wreck. My favorite passage is:

"But it is really irresponsible, outrageous, and insulting to say that it's unpatriotic."

Many people have already pointed out the illogical connection of equating someone saying something isn't patriotic to saying its unpatriotic (a distinction that any person with mild grasp of the English language and reality should get), but what hasn't been mentioned as much is Post's vitriolic language. If I'm going to say someone's argument is "outrageous" or "insulting" and throw out terms like "knucklehead" I'd be a bit more careful in making certain my points are airtight.

You almost wonder if some people are trying to make the law profession (or at least law professors) a buffoon's game.
10.9.2008 12:04pm
Hoosier:
DavidD: "Illegitimi non carborundum!"

Now, now, Dave. If you're going to call someone a "ninny," at least make sure your Latin is actual Latin.
10.9.2008 12:14pm
just a country lawyer:
"There's no draft on right now."


There was one?
10.9.2008 12:50pm
MarkField (mail):

Now, now, Dave. If you're going to call someone a "ninny," at least make sure your Latin is actual Latin.


We could really use a thread all in Latin. Everyone could recite their lawyerly maxims. We could even slip quotations from Catullus past the net filters.
10.9.2008 12:55pm
CPL:
Ummm...I had been lurking here for nearly a year. Mr. Volokh and some others have shown a great deal of insight and thoughtful opinions on a variety of legal matters. This post by Mr. Post, however, belongs on DailyKos. See you later, Volokh Conspiracy. Not interested in foamy-mouths and ridiculous behavior. Your credibility suffers from res ipsa in this case...
10.9.2008 12:55pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
Hint to fellow commenters: if you think he's wrong (as I do), you're not helping your (our) cause my being a total dickwad to the poster, anymore than commenters in the threads you agree with make lefties look like fools with their own ad hom attacks.
10.9.2008 12:56pm
David Warner:
Hoosier,

"at least make sure your Latin is actual Latin."

Here's some, in answer to Mac's question:

"'There is of course the possibility that Obama considers himself more than that, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.'

What, pray tell, are you talking about?"

Ubi libertas, ibi patria

- Milton
10.9.2008 12:59pm
rickster (mail):
David - I've read through all these comments looking for some sort of retraction or mea culpa for so badly misconstruing Palin's comments. Take a breath next time before you go off on some idiotic rant. In my eyes, you've now lost any credibility you had on this blog.
10.9.2008 1:03pm
Observer:
The sad thing is that, why Post's poor logic stands out for a VC post (as evidenced by the 293 comments preceding mine), it is probably typical for any left-leaning blog.
10.9.2008 1:03pm
David Warner:
Splunge,

"And you're an Obama voter? Given that Jefferson would have recoiled in horror and contempt from much of that for which the modern left side of the Democratic Party stands"

I agree that he would.

a. Jefferson wasn't the only signer

b. I'm unconvinced that the Left's infatuation with Obama is requited (see the mirror image with Palin). He/she gives the purists what they crave - respect. McCain doesn't, so he's somehow unreal.

Given my own experiences working with leftists of various degrees of radicalism, and the barrenness of his efforts laboring in the fields of the left, Obama's move toward Daley and Buffet makes perfect sense.

Betting against Buffett doesn't have much to be said for it, and his reputation for frugality exceeds even, say, Palin's or McCain's. Or Jefferson's.
10.9.2008 1:09pm
David Warner:
Joe Bingham,

I guess this is the Right-wing astroturf the Jukeboxadvocate warned us about. If anything, it's less effective than the Axelrod variety.

Mac, on the other hand, offers the most cogent anti-Obama screed yet offered on these forums. If only he didn't have a bill-of-bads at least as long ready for McCain too. As Reagan showed, mere antinomy is insufficient.

"But men do not live only by fighting evils. They live by positive goals, individual and collective, a vast variety of them, seldom predictable, at times incompatible."

- Isaiah Berlin
10.9.2008 1:19pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The actions of government are, by definition, intended to be for the well-being of the country. If members of the government are acting otherwise, then yes, they will [in theory] be voted out of office. But the institution of "government" exists to serve and further the well-being of the country, and taxes are its lifeblood.
Your assumptions are incorrect, and therefore so is your conclusion.

We would like the actions of government to be for the well-being of the country. But often, they are not. Rather, they often are a result of human greed on the part of the governing.

As for voting people out of office, that is becoming less and less likely, as computer modeling is making the decennial gerrymandering ever more efficient. State legislatures typically divide up their congressional districts to maximize the number of safe districts. A significant majority in the House have never had a serious challenge in the general election after their initial election there, and probably a majority in the Senate are that way too.

While government theoretically should "exist.. to serve and further the well-being of the country", the reality is that to a great extent, that noble sentiment has been co-opted by those who wish to benefit themselves (and family). This is true of many, if not most, of the politicians in office today, as well as those voting them into office in order to take the resources of others for themselves.

Finally, your suggestion that taxes are the lifeblood of the government ignores the question of how much taxes should be collected and from whom. By your logic, you seem to be giving the government a blank check to collect in taxes whatever it wishes to spend. That ignores a lot of other issues, such as the fairness of a small percentage of the population paying most of the taxes, a large percentage paying no taxes, and that taxes act as a drag on the economy, despite the effects of the government spending the monies collected.
10.9.2008 1:39pm
~aardvark (mail):
It is simply amazing what can drive shallow minds over the edge. Particularly stunning are all the "not patriotic is not the same is unpatriotic" arguments with not one of the contributors willing to consult a dictionary to dispel his idiocy.

unpatriotic, ▸ adjective: showing lack of love for your country

Wow! Unless one has the reading comprehension of a 5 year old, that seems to say that unpatriotic literally means the same thing as not patriotic.

Whatever one may think of Post's conclusions, they are certainly not based on a misinterpretation of a key word.

Another common observation is summed up brilliantly and succinctly by "ed"

Hmmmm.

@ David Post

You are an idiot.


This is such impeccable display of logic that one has to be a fool to argue with it. When one argues with a fool, it's hard to tell who is the bigger fool.

disturbing...
10.9.2008 1:45pm
AntonK (mail):
Post is acting as an "Agent Provocateur" with this post. It's meant to generate traffic for the site, so here's my 2k worth!
10.9.2008 1:47pm
Just a thought:
~aardvark,

In logic, unpatriotic and not patriotic are not equivalent.

I case you missed it, here's a short illustration of the difference from Harwood a hundred comments above:

You confuse two kinds of statement:

1. It isn't the case that doing x is patriotic.
2. Doing x is unpatriotic.

1 doesn't entail 2.

True: It isn't the case that eating broccoli is patriotic.
False: Eating broccoli is unpatriotic.
10.9.2008 2:06pm
Ben P (mail):

Post is acting as an "Agent Provocateur" with this post. It's meant to generate traffic for the site, so here's my 2k worth!


I admit, it got me to take 15 minutes out of my day to read a bunch of silly comments.
10.9.2008 2:09pm
Anon #319:
It seems that people with Palin Derangement Syndrome don't actually listen to what she says, instead they just assume they know what she means to say. It's the whole "God has a plan for our troops" thing again.
10.9.2008 2:10pm
Aultimer:

Just a thought:

In logic, unpatriotic and not patriotic are not equivalent.


Depends on the problem space - you're assuming a non-null space outside of the "patriotic" and the "unpatriotic" - probably accurate in the real world, but highly questionable in the political blogosphere.
10.9.2008 2:14pm
Hoosier:
David Warner: You post brought back lines from my childhood for some reason:

Ubi caritas et amor . . .

(. . . Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites.) Or at least the latter in a few weeks.
10.9.2008 2:35pm
David Warner:
Aultimer,

"Depends on the problem space - you're assuming a non-null space outside of the "patriotic" and the "unpatriotic" - probably accurate in the real world, but highly questionable in the political blogosphere."

Not really. As the idea that paying taxes is anti-patriotic clearly makes no sense, the only alternative interpretation is that she's referring to your non-null space (unless we posit a logic value >3). I'd argue that her position on AGW also appeals to that space. It's the distinction between atheist and agnostic.
10.9.2008 2:42pm
Annonymous Coward:
Tom Friedman called, he wants his bullshit back.
10.9.2008 2:49pm
Sam H (mail):
Just a thought:In logic, unpatriotic and not patriotic are not equivalent.

You forget, to a person on the left, if a thing isn't mandatory, then it is forbidden.
10.9.2008 2:51pm
TA:
I pay my taxes because that is the price we pay to live in the society in which we live ...

I'd say being patriotic is realizing what a bargain this is.
10.9.2008 3:08pm
Mac (mail):
ACORN in the news again this am re fraudulent and multiple voter registrations in Ohio. (Why do these guys get tax dollars?)

So, Mr. Post, if voting once is patriotic, is it more patriotic to vote 20 times? ACORN seems to think so. Just wondering how you view it.
10.9.2008 3:18pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
Post's post does assume that "unpatriotic" and "not patriotic" mean the same thing, which is not true. Something is patriotic if done out of zeal for or a love of country. Something is unpatriotic if it shows a lack of zeal for or love of country. Something "not patriotic" is neither. That's most things.

It does seem pretty imprecise for a lawyer...
10.9.2008 3:36pm
Bandon:
This is so much fun! I haven't read all the posts above, so please forgive me if I repeat something that's already been said, but it's great to see a post from a VC blogger who supports the Obama-Biden ticket. I had been told that there were a few Obama supporters among the VC bloggers, but most of the political posts here take Obama to task for something egregious he is supposed to have done. At least David's post helps to balance things out a little bit and to get the other side riled up. Thank you, David!

As far as Palin's statement goes, I'm not sure she was making a strong case for paying taxes as being "unpatriotic." She seemed more to be saying that paying taxes wasn't necessarily a sign of patriotism. What concerned me more was her suggestion that true patriotism was the act of getting that bad thing called "government" out of everyone's way. Love for her country, if you follow her logic, involves love for the private enterprises that have thrived in the U.S. She argues for government to "get out of the way" so that the private sector can flourish. She has apparently re-defined patriotism as love of free enterprise -- very interesting.

I guess I'm old fashioned enough to think that a country that tries to create a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" is still something to be patriotic about -- even if our government often falls short of that lofty ideal. I continue to be patriotic about that imperfect private-public partnership that is America. I wouldn't separate out only the private part for praise and the public part for scorn, as Palin does. I certainly wouldn't embrace Palin's view that government is mostly a problem and needs to get out of the way, just as I don't believe that government should try to take healthy competition out of the picture. It's simply a balancing act that cycles back and forth.

Palin seems to be in tune with the feelings of many that taxes are too high and that we get too little for our money. That's an easy argument to sell to most people, but it's not much of a stretch to see that this kind of focus on individual need is not much removed from the focus on individual greed that has gotten us into so much trouble recently. Much of our current financial crisis could have been prevented if our government had exercised smarter and more committed oversight early on, but some people seem to have more trust than I do in the ability (or motivation) of the "free" market to self-regulate. Again, it's just a balancing act, and we're constantly arguing about how best to re-balance it.
10.9.2008 3:56pm
MarkField (mail):

Something is patriotic if done out of zeal for or a love of country.


This has been the aspect of this thread which strikes me the most (well, other than the knee-jerk condemnation of David Post). I'm inclined to agree with it, but I'm surprised to find the conservatives/libertarians insisting on it. It's they who, for years now, have insisted on the outward and visible signs of the inward and spiritual patriot. Think flag pins or even just waving the flag. All the while, liberals have been claiming that they need not, say, wear a flag pin, because patriotism was in their hearts not on their lapels.

One other point. People have mentioned that patriotism can't involve something which is coerced. I'm not sure if that's limited to government coercion or social coercion. If it includes the latter, though, then social coercion to wear a flag pin is, by the new definition, renders that act NOT patriotic.

Interesting times.
10.9.2008 4:06pm
Chris Brower:
Seriously, I am surprised that Mr. Post hasn't commented or updated his post after reflecting on just how poor an argument he made.
10.9.2008 4:12pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
I'm inclined to agree with it, but I'm surprised to find the conservatives/libertarians insisting on it. It's they who, for years now, have insisted on the outward and visible signs of the inward and spiritual patriot.

I was unaware that other libertarians had broadly insisted show outward signs of patriotism. I thought most of us were creeped out by things like the pledge of allegiance.

The disagreement in this thread has been very unpleasant and abrasive. Though I'm embarrassed by the other right-leaning posters, I'm pleased to see that several people with whom I probably disagree on most issues noticed the fallacy in the original post.
10.9.2008 4:22pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
I am also surprised by the lack of an update or correction by Prof. Post.

Prof. Bernstein sometimes seems to post a bit too quickly, but he usually responds to commentors and often corrects himself if he's made a mistake.

He rarely makes mistakes this egregious.
10.9.2008 4:23pm
JosephSlater (mail):
In other news, I guess Troopergate was really all TODD's fault. . . .
10.9.2008 4:33pm
SG:
If it includes the latter, though, then social coercion to wear a flag pin is, by the new definition, renders that act NOT patriotic.

Absolutely. If you're only wearing a flag pin because you feel compelled to by social pressure, the pin does not provide any evidence of patriotism.

Which doesn't mean that there aren't patriots wearing flag pins, only that social conformity has made wearing a flag pin cease to be evidence of patriotism.
10.9.2008 4:34pm
~aardvark (mail):
ACORN in the news again this am re fraudulent and multiple voter registrations in Ohio. (Why do these guys get tax dollars?)

So, Mr. Post, if voting once is patriotic, is it more patriotic to vote 20 times? ACORN seems to think so. Just wondering how you view it.


This is a very interesting observation. It does, however, lack context.

ACORN, much like any organization collecting voter registrations by hiring randoms (e.g., Sproul &Associates), is vulnerable to the overzealous (and greedy) employees faking registration forms. Although this is clearly fraud--on someone's part--it is not "voter fraud". There is not one documented case of anyone ever voting under a fake voter registration. The registrations are a way of scamming ACORN, not a way for ACORN to steal elections.

But, forget reality. Nothing in the world will ever convince you that the voter fraud charges themselves are fraudulent. You need to be angry at the opposition for stealing elections, just like they were angry over the questionable charges in 2004. What that suggests, however, is that the Republican Party (and, no, I am not referring to anyone here as a Republican) is prepping its audience and supporters for the loss with excuses, because facts are not a very convenient explanation.

I am not defending ACORN--they are certainly liable for the fraud because their "business" model easily lends itself to such fraud. They've had ample warning and have done nothing to change. But the problem is more like mail fraud than like stealing elections. I will not shed any tears over ACORN voter registration arm being disbanded. But that's not a good reason to jump off the cliff while suspending reality.
10.9.2008 4:41pm
David Warner:
Bandon,

Where does Drucker's Civic Sector fit into your public/private dichotomy (again with the two-valued logic)? The importance of institutions like families, churches, group blogs, et. al. which are neither individual nor state?

In fact, Palin herself makes this distinction. Why not her critics?
10.9.2008 4:44pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm

@ ~aardvark


"ACORN, much like any organization collecting voter registrations by hiring randoms (e.g., Sproul &Associates), is vulnerable to the overzealous (and greedy) employees faking registration forms. Although this is clearly fraud--on someone's part--it is not "voter fraud". There is not one documented case of anyone ever voting under a fake voter registration. The registrations are a way of scamming ACORN, not a way for ACORN to steal elections."


Really? I wasn't aware that voter registrations record -who- helped register that voter. And since voter fraud happens long after voter registration, is there actually any mechanism in place anywhere to link a fraudulent voter, and vote, back to the registering organization or individual?

If there isn't then your argument fails in many ways.

And might I point out that a lack of incarceration does not imply innocence.
10.9.2008 4:54pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm

@ JosephSlater

"In other news, I guess Troopergate was really all TODD's fault. . . ."

Yeah because private individuals cannot register complaints about state troopers to public officials.

That would be so ... wrong.

sarcasm off
10.9.2008 4:56pm
Brian K (mail):
Mac,

Brian K, why don't you try it sometime either the Military or sending care packages. Lots of civilians do, you know. It's a lot of work and the Gov, makes it as hard as possible with the Custom's Form etc. Let me know when you've put a few together and mailed them off, OK? Too much work? You can go to Soldier's Angels and volunteer to write letters to servicemen. Again, let me know.

glad to see you're not even trying to sound intelligent anymore. although i really can't say i'm surprised that someone who thinks filling out a custom form is "hard" thinks that spending $20 to buy some random guy a salami is patriotic. i guess remembering that the salami goes inside the box and tape goes outside the box is about all you're mentally capable of.

you want to be patriotic? why don't you make an actual sacrifice and fight in the war that you think is such a great idea? or am i expecting too much from someone like you?

nice of you to assume i haven't sent any care packages off. by the way, how long have you been beating your wife now?
10.9.2008 4:59pm
richard cabeza:
Brian K, how do you know he hasn't served?
10.9.2008 5:04pm
Brian K (mail):
it's not a definition of patriotism, it's an example of a patriotic act.

mailing some (most likely male) soldier a long hard piece of meat is a "patriotic act"? it's official, the conservatives on this board have lost all sense of reality. but it's about what i expected from the same people who said obama was unamerican for not wearing a flag pin.
10.9.2008 5:04pm
Hoosier:
When I lived in Chicagoland, two ACORN workers asked me to sign a petition. When I said that I didn't live in the city, one of them told me "It doesn't matter. Just make up a name and address."

I thought this sounded funny, in more ways than one.

Somewhere out there, there is an ACORN petition signed by 'Rev. L. D. Trotsky, N. Vanguard Dr. (Bucktown)'

(I don't recall the street number of my apartment. But I guess I could use Google maps to find it now. I mean, if I hadn't made it up, of course.)
10.9.2008 5:07pm
Hoosier:
mailing some (most likely male) soldier a long hard piece of meat

Would you lefties get your minds out of the gutter for a minute? This is serious stuff we're debating.
10.9.2008 5:08pm
MarkField (mail):

I was unaware that other libertarians had broadly insisted show outward signs of patriotism. I thought most of us were creeped out by things like the pledge of allegiance.


I may be painting with too broad a brush, but my memory is that when there was controversy over Obama's lack of a flag pin, none of the libertarians rushed to his defense.


Which doesn't mean that there aren't patriots wearing flag pins, only that social conformity has made wearing a flag pin cease to be evidence of patriotism.


Agreed on both counts.
10.9.2008 5:09pm
Brian K (mail):
Brian K, how do you know he hasn't served?

from his previous comments to this site.
10.9.2008 5:10pm
Brian K (mail):
Would you lefties get your minds out of the gutter for a minute?

you righties brought salami into the debate.
10.9.2008 5:11pm
Hoosier:
Sometimes a salami is just a salami
--Freud's butcher
10.9.2008 5:12pm
Brian K (mail):
don't blame me for your inability to recognize a phallic symbol. i had nothing to do with that. perhaps you should have watched more married with children?
10.9.2008 5:18pm
Hoosier:
perhaps you should have watched more married with children?

Yeah. Riiiight. As if that was possible.
10.9.2008 5:39pm
Brian K (mail):
Yeah. Riiiight. As if that was possible.

HAHAHA!!
10.9.2008 5:42pm
~aardvark (mail):
Another brilliant observation from "ed":

Really? I wasn't aware that voter registrations record -who- helped register that voter. And since voter fraud happens long after voter registration, is there actually any mechanism in place anywhere to link a fraudulent voter, and vote, back to the registering organization or individual?

This is funny. It's funny because ACORN submits processed records to the state clearly identifying themselves as the organization that performed the registration. It's also funny because if one wanted to really catch these alleged fraudsters in the act, they could simply let the registrations go through with a flag and catch the perpetrators in the act of voting. Never happened. Not likely to, either--for the same reason that no Republican political consultant would ever want Roe v Wade overturned. The issue is far too important to give up for a one-time victory. Patriots all, no doubt.
10.9.2008 5:52pm
Bandon:
David Warner,

Your comments below are definitely worth considering:

"Where does Drucker's Civic Sector fit into your public/private dichotomy (again with the two-valued logic)? The importance of institutions like families, churches, group blogs, et. al. which are neither individual nor state?

In fact, Palin herself makes this distinction. Why not her critics?"


The first question is an appropriate one (although I'm not specifically familiar with Drucker's Civic Sector). Families and societal institutions should play a role in American life and should be things about America to be patriotic about. My "private-public" distinction was a way to keep the argument simple and was not intended to exclude families and churches. If it helps to clarify what I intended, feel free to group things as "governmental" vs. "non-governmental," with families and churches (and blogs) falling in the non-governmental category.

On the other point you made, I think you're giving Palin too much credit for making a thoughtful, nuanced statement. Palin's statement quoted in the original post is focused on taxes and getting government out of the way of the economy. If she had been talking about churches and religion, she might have defined a different role for government -- such as prohibiting abortion or allowing creationism to be taught as science.
10.9.2008 5:57pm
Mac (mail):

JosephSlater (mail):
In other news, I guess Troopergate was really all TODD's fault. . . .



Go on, Joseph. Defend not firing a guy who tasered his 10 year old step son, threatened to shoot his sister-in-law before and after she became Governor and threatened to shoot his father-in-law as well.

He was censured instead of fired for drinking beer in his patrol car while he was on duty.

Sounds just like the kind of cop we want out there wearing a badge, no?

Shall we wait until he kills someone? As he is still in the force, I guess they will. He was doing stuff anyone else would be arrested for, Including shooting a moose on his wife's permit.

I love Democrats criticizing the Governor for wanting this guy off the force. Ok to wear a badge and abuse your family, now, is it and threaten others if it gets the Dem's a political advantage?

I think this cop is lucky Todd didn't drop him off his fishing boat into the Bearing Sea.
10.9.2008 5:59pm
MarkField (mail):

I love Democrats criticizing the Governor for wanting this guy off the force.


This would be a good argument except for one simple fact: the Palins deny that they pressured Monegan to fire Wooten. Perhaps they should have done so, but they say they didn't.
10.9.2008 6:11pm
wfjag:
What I find most amazing about this post -- and the over 300 comments it generated -- is that it traces back to a statement by Joe Biden, and that anyone, anywhere could give any serious consideration to what he says.

A recent example of Bidenism from the VP debate. In responding to Palin's folksy comment about talking to Soccer Moms to find out about economic hard times, Biden said:

"All you have to do is to go down Union Street with me in Wilmington and go to Katie's restaurant..."

The problem is that there is no "Katie's" restaurant in Wilmington, DE. It closed about 20 years ago. Now a "Wings to Go" franchise is located there. See "Biden's Restaurant to Nowhere" Oct. 3, 2008 on www.delawareonline.com

So, while I don't mind that Joe thinks that President FDR addressed the nation on TV in 1929, or that he either has never read or doesn't understand the US Constitution, or that he thinks that US and French Troops defeated Hezbollah in Lebanon, or even that he believes that it may be OK to snitch a Labor Party leader's speech, he fails to understand that you don't snitch their life history at the same time. But, it does concern me that a potential V.P. is walking the streets to go to non-existant places to talk to imaginary people to get his information.
10.9.2008 6:26pm
Mac (mail):

I love Democrats criticizing the Governor for wanting this guy off the force.



I doubt they wanted him to stay on the force. Would you if you were his brother-in-law and he were threatening to shoot you and your Father?

It is tricky to criticize the Gov, don't you think? You have to defend a cop's boss who had closed the blue line around his guy, if I have my metaphor correct (and I may not), but you get my meaning, I think.

At any rate, she could legally fire the guy because she does not like the color of his eyes.

That she may have fired the boss vwanted him fired because he is unstable and violent and is using something else as an excuse, is still hard to
10.9.2008 6:35pm
Mac (mail):
Whoops, itchy mouse finger.

It is still hard to be in your position of having to defend either the cop or his boss, is it not?
10.9.2008 6:36pm
davod (mail):
Methinks David Post wrote this after a long liquid lunch.
10.9.2008 6:47pm
SG:
I may be painting with too broad a brush, but my memory is that when there was controversy over Obama's lack of a flag pin, none of the libertarians rushed to his defense.

Well, that's a somewhat different issue. The situations are not symmetric. While social conformity has sucked all patriotic value out of wearing a flag pin, that same social conformity has made the refusal to wear one a considered act. Obama's pointed refusal to wear one made a statement. His subsequent backtracking made another statement.

I don't recall anyone claiming (libertarian or otherwise) claiming Obama should be forced to wear a flag pin, but I don't think it would be illegitimate to read something into his refusal to wear one either. I also think it's legitimate to infer something about him by his backing down. Much like Jeremiah Wright and FISA reformed showed, Obama's leans toward the negative version of American exceptionalism, but when the political price of those leanings grows, Obama will back down.
10.9.2008 7:13pm
MarkField (mail):

Well, that's a somewhat different issue. The situations are not symmetric. While social conformity has sucked all patriotic value out of wearing a flag pin, that same social conformity has made the refusal to wear one a considered act. Obama's pointed refusal to wear one made a statement. His subsequent backtracking made another statement.


Perhaps. And perhaps his original statement was "social coercion has deprived the flag pin of any patriotic meaning, so there's no need for me to wear one." And perhaps his subsequent backtracking made the statement that "when one is running for political office, one must conform to social expectations even when they have no meaning."
10.9.2008 7:26pm
SG:
If the flag pin were the only example, I'd be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. But I assert that Jeremiah Wright fits the same pattern and is far harder (20 years and tens of thousands of dollars in donations) to hand-wave away.
10.9.2008 7:29pm
MarkField (mail):

But I assert that Jeremiah Wright fits the same pattern and is far harder (20 years and tens of thousands of dollars in donations) to hand-wave away.


Since I think lots of these preachers, on both right and left, are pretty much nut-cases, I just shake my head at the lot of them.

If you want to make your point with Obama's behavior on the FISA bill, I'll be right there with you.
10.9.2008 8:11pm
Ken Arromdee:
Now David Post tries to justify his original post by claiming that the difference between "unpatriotic" and "not patriotic" is a "fine distinction". It's not a fine distinction. One is a negative term and the other is a neutral term. We should avoid negative things, but we need not avoid neutral things, so it becomes a big difference--since Palin places taxes in the latter category, her position doesn't oblige her to avoid tax money.

I would think this would be fairly straightforward, but apparently it's not.

(And the reason why "un" in words like unbearable and uniltelligent means the same thing as "not" is that they refer to dichotomies. There are better examples; "immoral" doesn't mean the same thing as "amoral".)
Kind and unkind? Some things are kind. Some are unkind. And some are neither kind nor unkind. Just like "patriotic." "Unkind" and "not kind" are used most of the time as synonyms. "You did an act that was unkind" and "you did an act that was not kind" are [virtually] interchangeable. David
10.9.2008 8:15pm
Pat C (mail):
Wow, lot of comments for a basically facetious original post. I also would like to weigh in on "unpatriotic" and "not patriotic".

This morning I tied my shoes. That action was not patriotic. That action was not unpatriotic.

"Unpatriotic" is a subset of all the possible "not patriotic" actions/thoughts.
10.9.2008 8:23pm
richard cabeza:
Pat C, in Post's update (in italics under the original), he doesn't seem to indicate that it was done facetiously. In fact, he stands by his original point and intent even to wrongly disagree with the un- and anti- distinction.
10.9.2008 8:46pm
Pat C (mail):
Richard: I think I used the word "facetious" because I don't believe David Post is really going to stop paying taxes if McCain and Palin are elected.
That is correct. I realize that my original posting confused a lot of people as to its tone, and that's in part responsible for the resulting brouhaha. I was trying to be both facetious and outraged, and didn't quite pull it off. DavidP
10.9.2008 9:02pm
richard cabeza:
Ok... but that's just the last line in the post, which is a bit of snark that adds to the impression that he thinks the meat of the post is above reproach. That is, tt doesn't set the tone of the post; it rather sarcastically mirrors it.

I realize far too much has been said about it already, but I have a duty.
10.9.2008 9:22pm
Nifonged:
WOW.

Here's a conversation I had with my wife, for real--no joke.

Wife: [walks into our kitchen from work]

Me: [Have my computer on a counter, turn to her with my diet ginger ale in hand] "hey hon, how was your day? BTW how sexy am I drinking my diet ginger ale here in the kitchen? Darn sexy if you ask me!

Wife: [laughing, possibly thinking I'm insane or at least drunk] "What on earth are you talking about? Sexy? What are you doing that's sexy?

Me: [trying to emulate Jon Lovitz from his golden years] "What? My enjoyment of diet ginger ale is unsexy to you? I'm devastasted! I don't want to appear unsexy to you, my wife, I will NEVER drink diet ginger ale in the kitchen again. [ACTING! Thank you]

Wife: "Seriously, what's wrong with you?"

Me: [show her this post, and Post's lame-ass retort.

Wife: "Well, that's why I went to business school."

Who doesn't understand the difference between being "un"-something and being "not"-(including NOT RELEVANT)something? Apparently weirdos like David Post.
10.9.2008 9:24pm
Careless:
300+ quotes and no appearances from Sarcastro or Jukebox?
10.9.2008 9:52pm
Careless:
posts, not quotes
10.9.2008 9:52pm
epeeist:
Hmm, if David Post doesn't like any of the responses to his post, HE CAN STOP READING THEM. That's the advantage of volokh.com, there are lots of other responses one can read...[evil grin]

Eating and watching TV are "not patriotic" because they're neutral. Most activities are not patriotic, they're nothing/neutral. That is NOT the same as "unpatriotic".

Seriously, look at a dictionary definition of "unpatriotic" (or more generally, the prefix "un-") means to do the opposite of or reverse. Burning an American flag at the funeral of a WW2 veteran while shouting "sieg heil" is probably unpatriotic, while choosing some forms of public service may be patriotic (I agree with others, it depends on the motivation). The examples you chose to use were binary examples; to make an analogy to electrical charge (hey, I did engineering before law) something can be positive (patriotic), negative (unpatriotic) or neutral (not patriotic and not unpatriotic).

Don't push that analogy too far by asking what "uncharged" means...

Make whatever points you want about Gov. Palin or Sen. Biden (or Sen. McCain or Sen. Obama) but if you want to be persuasive, don't mangle the clear meaning of words while you're at it, unless you provide us with a custom dictionary defining the terms of art...

Incidentally, your "explanation" was tantamount to one of the things that annoys me about politicians generally, but particularly about Sen. Obama, he's never wrong, he "explains" how one should "correctly interpret" what he "actually meant".
10.9.2008 10:15pm
Hoosier:
Sarah Palin--Sexy

Meryl Streep--Not sexy

Rosie O'Donnell--Un-sexy

(Any questions?)
10.9.2008 10:25pm
LM (mail):

Who is this David Post fool? (Splunge)

To quote Lt. Col. Frank Slade: "Uh oh, we have a moron here." (Francis Marion)

You, David Post, are a self-confirmed imbecile. Go play with the small kids. Enjoy the milk and cookies, and the finger painting. (p. rich)

Over the last few weeks, I've become less impressed with Palin, but my God, Post is an absolute embarassment. (Nifonged)

Last week, I was uncertain that Post is a fool. But that suspicion is now confirmed. (Before Gore, Kneel)

So that's where dumb as a Post comes from. (I get it)

oh, I forgot to ask, are you a real law professor? which school? (Sagar)

How on earth did this guy do well enough on the LSAT to get into law school, much less actually pass any classes?

Sheez. What a no talent ashclown.
(Amazed)

See David Post fall off the wagon. (Sam Draper)

You need to get back on your meds before they let you post again. (DiverDan)

DAVID "NO BRAIN" POST SHOULD STOP POSTING UNTIL HE TAKES LOGIC 101!!!! (Pon Raul)

@ David Post

You are an idiot.
(ed)


As Joe Bingham points out, comments like these are wonderfully helpful to Barack Obama. Thank you.
10.9.2008 10:32pm
LM (mail):
Hoosier:

"Sarah Palin--Sexy"

Yet another left-right Rorschach Test.
10.9.2008 10:37pm
Nifonged:
"comments like these are wonderfully helpful to Barack Obama. Thank you.

Care to say why, or is it just because you say it is?

Do you have a point? That a law professor getting called out on a huge logical fallacy means something about the election?

What's your point? I really want to know.
10.9.2008 10:38pm
Hoosier:
LM :
Hoosier:


"Sarah Palin--Sexy"


Yet another left-right Rorschach Test.


Don't you mean "gay-straight"?
10.9.2008 10:45pm
MarkField (mail):

Don't you mean "gay-straight"?


Sarah Palin is gay?
10.9.2008 11:26pm
LM (mail):
Nifonged:

comments like these are wonderfully helpful to Barack Obama. Thank you.

Care to say why, or is it just because you say it is?

Did you read Joe Bingham's "Hint to fellow commenters" which I linked to in the part of my comment you conveniently omitted from your response?
10.9.2008 11:29pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Alternatively, if that many people think you said something stupid, David, maybe you actually said something stupid.
10.9.2008 11:35pm
Bandon:
Speaking of Sarah Palin, I heard Sarah Silverman describe Palin in this way (and I'm paraphrasing):

The only difference between Sarah Palin and other beauty pageant contestants is that she's not for world peace.
10.9.2008 11:37pm
Hoosier:
Sarah Palin is gay?

If only there were a website like that . . .
10.9.2008 11:42pm
LM (mail):

Don't you mean "gay-straight"?

Yes, some gays and lesbians are turned on by Palin, but it breaks from there. After all, even I admit there are some straight man who find her sexy -- they just happen to be on the right. I assume Todd thinks she's sexy, and the AIP is right of center, no?

Sarah Palin is gay?

OK, that might be hot.
10.9.2008 11:50pm
LM (mail):

If only there were a website like that . . .

Well, you beat me to it. Serves me right for wasting the time to come up with the link to gays and lesbians for Palin.
10.9.2008 11:53pm
David Warner:
Well, I think Palin and Streep are both sexy, so perhaps that means I'm spending too much time on the VC.

Bandon,

"On the other point you made, I think you're giving Palin too much credit for making a thoughtful, nuanced statement."

Not so much. She said she wanted taxes reduced for the benefit of businesses (private, by your formulation) and families (the third category I highlighted. BTW, unions also fit here). Your original (and thoughtful) post went straight from private to free enterprise.

Public/private is doubly problematic. First, the public is (literally) the people. It refers to that which we do collectively on a variety of scales and a variety of ways, including investing is publicly-owned corporations via our pension/mutual funds. Second, our recent experiences with public/private partnerships such as Fannie Mae and Obama/Rezko illustrate the dangers of blurring the very different roles of the governmental and non-governmental. When Roberts' umpire throws his hat in the ring, things get messy.

The governmental/non-governmental distinction is much better, but doesn't get you quite where you originally wanted to go, I don't think. I do agree with you (and Palin, and Obama) that we as citizens should be more constructively engaged with our government.
10.10.2008 12:17am
David Warner:
Prof. Post,

One good point, one not so good. Palin's labelling a policy preference (lower taxes) as patriotic is indeed weak. Her criticism of Biden is apt, however. Contrary to your mishearing, she's not criticizing Biden's policy preference (higher taxes). She's criticizing his claim that the act of paying (more) taxes itself is patriotic.

To make this criticism requires no fine distinctions whatsoever. Whether its anti-patriotic or non-patriotic, both contradict Biden's claim.

For what its worth, I believe that burdening future generations or going in hock to China are the least patriotic options of all.
10.10.2008 12:18am
sagar (mail):
LM,

No matter whom you say my comment benefits, I really wanted to know if Post is a real law prof, and if so, where.

In another post, he stated he has been 'teaching copy right law for 10 yrs' ... so part of my Q is answered. Now I just want to know 'where'.
Actually, you don't want to know 'where' I teach law, because if you actually wanted to know that, you would spend the 1.5 seconds it takes to go onto Google and find that out. [Georgetown & Temple, with stints at George Mason and NY Law School ...] No, you think you are being clever! Nice try! (Oh, and just for the record, it's "copyright," not "copy right"). DavidP
10.10.2008 1:03am
David Warner:
Hoosier,

Forgot to thank you for:

"Ubi caritas et amor . . ."

Monteverdi's sublime arrangement makes much better background music than that clacking old projector as I'm hearing each word I read...


Sagar,

There's this crazy new invention called Google. Now will you please step away from the firearm...
10.10.2008 1:24am
Bill O'Hara (mail) (www):
I feel David Warner hit it on the head, looking at it from a couple angles:

1. The central issue I see (the heart of what she was getting at) is simply that paying higher taxes is not patriotic. There's really no need for literary jibber-jabber on this point. She feels that patriotism and paying higher taxes are uncorrelated.

2. The second point, which I feel she made weakly, is that it is patriotic to fight against unreasonable taxes (such as the current ones on the middle/upper classes).

3. Looking at the big picture, perhaps it could be construed that paying higher taxes is in fact correlated to patriotism because it may (assuming we don't continue to be ambivalent to government excesses) prevent us from becoming further indebted to other countries.
10.10.2008 1:49am
LM (mail):
David Warner:

Contrary to your mishearing, she's not criticizing Biden's policy preference (higher taxes). She's criticizing his claim that the act of paying (more) taxes itself is patriotic.

Isn't she implicitly doing both? At least when she adds:

"Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. In fact, too often you're the problem so, government, lessen the tax burden and on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper."


As for your tweaks to Bandon's comment, I agree. However, for the purposes of these threads, where the discourse is mostly low altitude manicheanism, I think the word Bandon introduced that bears repeating is "balance." It's a nice word that repels ideologues equally in their common aversion to learning empirically.
10.10.2008 1:56am
~aardvark (mail):
The problem is that there is no "Katie's" restaurant in Wilmington, DE. It closed about 20 years ago. Now a "Wings to Go" franchise is located there. See "Biden's Restaurant to Nowhere" Oct. 3, 2008 on www.delawareonline.com

So Biden used the same line for 29 years and never checked if the joint ws still there. Fine. He's careless.

But Sarah Palin seems to lie every time she opens her mouth. Canceling the Bridge-to-Nowhere? Never happened (Congress pulled back the funds before she became governor and she campaigned for it, claiming that calling it the "Bridge-to-Nowhere" was insulting to Alaskans) Selling the jet on eBay? Never happened (and wasn't even her idea). Yeah, the jet was sold--but not on eBay and to one of her contributors. The list just goes on. Palin said no to Stevens and Young (two most corrupt politicians still in Congress)? Not until after Stevens was indicted (and she collected money and endorsements from both and was supporting both prior to being picked by McCain) Palin cut her salary as mayor? Well, yes, for a couple of months, then the salary went up and stayed up (higher than it was before the cut) There are now at least five different explanations for firing Monegan, including a claim that he was not fired but rather resigned. All have been demonstrably false, but repeated nonetheless. Now the campaign put out its own "exoneration" of the Palins in Troopergate that includes all of the excuses. The lies are completely out of control.

There is really no point to keep going. Don't know if she was always like that or if it's the corrupting influence of the lobbyists running the McCain campaign, but she's toast. Should McCain lose the election, we'll never hear from Palin again. Not even in Alaska. It's like a boxing contender who is brought up too early--he loses the title fight badly and never gets another chance.

I thought Dan Quayle was the vice-presidency low point. I was wrong.
10.10.2008 2:06am
LM (mail):
sagar,

Below "Contact" at the top right hand corner of every page is a list of VC bloggers linked to their academic websites. Since that would tell you where he teaches in about two seconds, I took your remark as sarcastic. If I misconstrued it I apologize.
10.10.2008 2:08am
David Warner:
~aardvark,

"But Sarah Palin seems to lie every time she opens her mouth."

It's amazing what one can construe when one already knows what one wants to hear. Am I giving her too much of the benefit of the doubt? You betcha! Liberals are funny that way. Amazing the things I hear from Obama.

LM,

"Isn't she implicitly doing both?"

I think so. Eventually. Which is where her argument gets (comparatively) weak. She was trying to get to Reagan and didn't quite make it. Like the community organizer thing, though, context matters, and here the context was calling Biden on his claim that paying (higher) taxes is patriotic. Which is (very) sound. Good instincts, not so hot delivery. I sense a pattern.
10.10.2008 2:45am
David Warner:
LM,

"the discourse is mostly low altitude manicheanism, I think the word Bandon introduced that bears repeating is "balance." It's a nice word that repels ideologues equally in their common aversion to learning empirically."

When has progress ever been achieved but by rising above low-altitude manicheanism?* Which is why I'm not so hot on Bandon's balance, implying bipolarity. Bipolarity is what has gotten us into this mess. We've been divided. It remains to be seen whether we'll be conquered.

* - the Battle of Britain, of course, being won at high altitude
10.10.2008 2:52am
courtwatcher:
I'm convinced David P is correct here. Palin said:
In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not patriotic. Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution.

Try replacing "patriotic" with any of the words David suggests. In these cases, the context and usage make clear that in those cases, "unX" = "not X":

In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not reasonable. Reasonable is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution.
In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not intelligent. Intelligent is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution.
etc.

In all these cases, it's clear from the context and usage that "not X" means the same as the compound word "unX" would mean. (Go ahead and explain why this is wrong - all 300+ of you. :-) )
I can see situations in which "unX" would not mean "not X," and commenters have correctly identified some of them. But this isn't one of them, and certainly it isn't obviously one of them. This part of David's post is completely reasonable even if some here disagree with it. To say it's obviously "wrong" or a failure of logic is just incorrect. It's stunning to see how unwilling people are to even imagine that someone might have a different view.
10.10.2008 4:03am
~aardvark (mail):
First, ACORN appears to have released a statement in its own defense. Mark Kleiman paraphrases the points:

1. ACORN doesn't pay per registration, but per hour. There's no incentive to pad the numbers.
2. ACORN does careful quality control and turns cases of fraud over to election officials and law enforcement.
3. In most states, once a voter registration card has been filled out, the collector is required by law to submit it to elections officials. [You can see where that law comes from: otherwise our GOP friends would just run phony registration drives and throw away Democratic applications.]
4. ACORN flags dubious registration forms, but some local registrars ignore the flags and then complain about the bad forms.
5. ACORN (as opposed to individual ACORN employees) has never been charged with voter fraud.

This confirms most of the comments that have been made in opposition to the voter-fraud meme. There is one caveat that should be noted, however. Although ACORN does not pay per registration, they do have quotas and pressure their employees to fill them. Kleiman correctly draws the parallel between these and NCLB--pressure of meeting artificial quotas is likely to result in unreliable data.

To David Warner:
Am I giving her too much of the benefit of the doubt? You betcha!

Giving someone the benefit of a doubt when they make self-serving proclamations is courteous. Giving the benefit of a doubt when the claims have been thoroughly debunked is either stupid or malevolent.

To courtwatcher:
I can see situations in which "unX" would not mean "not X," and commenters have correctly identified some of them. But this isn't one of them, and certainly it isn't obviously one of them.

Exactly! Consider the dictionary definition of "unpatriotic" I listed earlier. There is no doubt that the meaning in that definition is literally the same as "not patriotic". To claim otherwise is simply disingenuous.
10.10.2008 4:24am
richard cabeza:
courtwatcher: Not quite. See David Warner's post (10.9.2008 3:44pm) and Nifonged's (10.9.2008 8:24pm) -- there are more than two options.
10.10.2008 5:01am
LM (mail):
David Warner,

Bipolarity is what has gotten us into this mess. We've been divided. It remains to be seen whether we'll be conquered.

Yes, yes and I hope not.

Which is why I'm not so hot on Bandon's balance, implying bipolarity.

In a vacuum (or at least at high altitude) I agree. But in a thread of 400 comments that mostly revel in bi-polarity of the worst kind, it's a step in the right direction.

When has progress ever been achieved but by rising above low-altitude manicheanism?

Since I doubt Lincoln could get himself elected dog-catcher nowadays, that's not encouraging.
10.10.2008 5:15am
Just a thought:
We're spoiled here at the Volokh Conspiracy. The VC is an extremely rare oasis in the desert of inanity called the blogosphere. VC posts are almost always thoughtful and well-reasoned, even on volatile topics like abortion and free speech. I disagree fundamentally with several of the VC posters on some issues, but I still appreciate the thoughtfulness with which they make their points. VC posters generally display intellectual honesty in admitting weaknesses in the arguments made by their respective "sides" on certain issues. The high quality of posts then leads, for the most part, to a surprisingly civil and thoughtful set of comments when compared to comments in the rest of blogosphere.

So we're spoiled here at the VC. And then comes a post which does not stand up to the thoughtfulness that is expected at the VC. That explains the torrent of criticism for this post.

I suspect that people on both sides of the Palin issue would agree that this is a weak post, a visceral and emotional post supported by poor reasoning. Now, we've probably all written like that before on other blogs, where we're in the heat of the moment. But since there is such a high standard at the VC, I think there is an expectation that posts like this don't get written, or that if they do, that the poster is able to admit later that it was written a little too hastily.
10.10.2008 8:48am
LM (mail):
Just a thought,

I suspect that people on both sides of the Palin issue would agree that this is a weak post, a visceral and emotional post supported by poor reasoning.

Sorry, but for an unapologetically partisan post, this isn't beyond the pale, either logically or in tone. Some of the VC bloggers never blog in this style. Others do. All that distinguishes this post from many others in the latter category is which side it's on.
10.10.2008 10:02am
Ken Arromdee:
Try replacing "patriotic" with any of the words David suggests. In these cases, the context and usage make clear that in those cases, "unX" = "not X":

"Those cases" don't include the word "patriotic", which doesn't negate like any of those other cases do.

"Un" can sometimes be the same as "lacking the quality of"; it can also sometimes be the same as "opposed to". "Un-American" is another example; sushi is not American, but we wouldn't call it "un-American". For a more frivolous example, Dracula is "the Un-dead". Normal people aren't "Un-dead", they're not dead.
10.10.2008 10:44am
Ken Arromdee:
David, here's question. Chewing gum isn't patriotic. Would you therefore think that Sarah Palin has to avoid chewing gum?
I get the point -- if you ask the question that way, the answer is: No, Sarah Palin does not have to avoid chewing gum. So you've made it clear; context and the actual words being used matter. Saying things in different ways can change meaning. Now, please, look at what she said.It is patriotic to ask for lower taxes. It is not patriotic to ask for higher taxes. That is what she said. It is absurd and embarrassing. If you don't see it, well, you don't see it. DavidP
10.10.2008 10:50am
Just a thought:
Ken Arromdee has it right: " "Un" can sometimes be the same as "lacking the quality of"; it can also sometimes be the same as "opposed to". "

Now Prof. Post and courtwatcher said:

I'm convinced David P is correct here. Palin said:
In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not patriotic. Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution.

Try replacing "patriotic" with any of the words David suggests. In these cases, the context and usage make clear that in those cases, "unX" = "not X":

Prof. Post and courtwatcher then use the terms "reasonable" and "intelligent". The problem is that "un/patriotic" is not the same contrast as "un/reasonable" and "un/intelligent".

If something lacks the quality of reasonableness, it is necessarily opposed to reasonableness. If something lacks the quality of patriotism, it is not necessarily opposed to patriotism.
10.10.2008 11:11am
ChuckB (mail):
I am not pursuaded. If I claim that mowing my lawn is patriotic, am I to conclude that those who disagree with me believe that it is unpatriotic? Perhaps, but then to call an act or person 'unpatriotic' is about as neutral and politically uncharged as ascribing to my lawn the property of having the color green.

The initial post certainly does not take a neutral stance on the word, but the clarification does. Not sure what the proper Latin is for the logical fallacy embodied here and too lazy to dig it up, but logical fallacy it is.

I will continue to read the authors posts and, for the large part, not like them very much.
10.10.2008 11:40am
Elliot123 (mail):
Would it be OK to be a patriot by not paying for the Bridge to Nowhere, or Obama's $3 million overhead projector, or the $50 million rain forest exhibit for Idaho?

It it patriootic to pay more taxes for these things? Why? Perhaps some law professor can tell us why?
10.10.2008 12:02pm
Just a thought:
One last point: Perhaps the biggest reason for the torrent of criticism of Prof. Post was because of the tone of his post. If Prof. Post had made his point in a measured tone, people still would have said he was wrong on the logic, but the torrent of criticism would not have occurred. It was when Prof. Post took the tone of over-the-top outrage and ridicule regarding a point that was at best debatable, that he invited the possibility that people disagreeing would exhibit outrage in return.
10.10.2008 12:07pm
LM (mail):
Just a thought,

It may explain the outrage, but it doesn't excuse the rude, personal nature of the attacks.
10.10.2008 1:15pm
David Warner:
LM,

"It may explain the outrage, but it doesn't excuse the rude, personal nature of the attacks"

Many didn't rise to that level, but were one-line sockpuppets or drivebys intended to create a shaming environment (I guess? Axelrod's better at this stuff - poor David Bernstein). Are there any metrics on whether any of that stuff works?

"Since I doubt Lincoln could get himself elected dog-catcher nowadays, that's not encouraging."

I wouldn't be so sure. There's a nonzero probability that we're about to elect his successor.
10.10.2008 1:40pm
Bad English:
"It's patriotic to say "lessen the tax burden," but it's not patriotic (oops!! I almost said "unpatriotic") to say "raise taxes to pay for the things you're buying." That's what she's saying, folks."

She's saying that it is not patriotic to pay more taxes. And she's correct: There is nothing inherently patriotic about forking over increasing amounts of money to the state.

She is clearly making no statement about speech.
10.10.2008 1:44pm
Just a thought:

It may explain the outrage, but it doesn't excuse the rude, personal nature of the attacks.

I agree. But I wonder whether Prof. Post stepped over the line of rudeness himself.
10.10.2008 1:49pm
Just a thought:
(Even the best of us gets a little heated on the Internet, I'll be the first to admit.)
10.10.2008 1:54pm
David Warner:
Just,

"Prof. Post stepped over the line of rudeness himself."

But it's Palin. What would be rude treatment of a normal person is not rude in regards to her.

Does that make Prof. Post kind to her?

Hmmm...
10.10.2008 2:58pm
Amazed:
Post has still not conceded this basic point, which is what led to this overly long string of comments:

Saying that "X" is not patriotic is not the same as saying "X" is unpatriotic.

He instead tries to bend Palin's words to fit into what he initially posted.

If Joe Biden said, "Eating 3 square meals a day is patriotic" and Palin said "eating 3 square meals a day is not patriotic," she's certainly far from having said that "eating 3 square meals a day is unpatriotic."

That she does on to define the act of advocating/demanding for less government intervention/taxation as patriotic, again, does not change the meaning of her initial statement, which was merely to say that she disagrees that "X" is patriotic.

If Biden had replied to her statement in the same manner that she did to his (and I think given his politics, he certainly wouldn't pause to say that, in his view, "advocating for less government is not patriotic"), he too wouldn't be calling all small government advocates unpatriotic.

I guess some people just can't step back, admit they were wrong, and move on. Unfortunately, given who it is, it's badly damaging the reputation of the VC bloggers as a whole to be associated with this type of blogger.
10.10.2008 3:32pm
Sagar (mail):
Prof. Post,

Thanks for your answer! With all the people 'demanding' you retract or correct or issue some sort of clarification, it was my comment that got you to respond:)

"ask and you shall receive" - I asked and you answered. Appreciate it!

I stand by my criticism of your post, but when I asked the question above I was not "being clever". You may choose to believe it or not.
10.10.2008 4:46pm
Sagar (mail):
LM,

Thanks for the pointer. I was not aware of the personal info available under Contact: .... just assumed they would (upon clicking) open an email to those conspirators ...
10.10.2008 4:51pm
Sagar (mail):
David Warner,

I do not own a firearm, yet. May be when I think of running for office and have to court the vote of hunters ...
10.10.2008 4:56pm
Pat C (mail):
Those of you who still insist that "not patriotic" and "unpatriotic" are identical, help me out.

Is tying my shoes patriotic or unpatriotic?
Let me try to answer this. It is, of course, neither patriotic nor unpatriotic. That, however, doesn't resolve the problem we're discussing here. Let me try to explain why.

Actions can be kind, unkind, or neither kind nor unkind.
Remarks can be fair, unfair, or neither.
It's an interesting semantic point. It all depends on context.
If you're friend says to you: "You are not kind," do you hear her to be saying "You are neither kind nor unkind," or "You are unkind." I believe, in most cases, the latter.
"John is not dressed." does that mean John is undressed, or neither dressed nor undressed?
"Adam's position is not reasonable." Unreasonable,or neither reasonable nor unreasonable?
In all of these cases, I think, most people will here "NOT-X" to mean "UN-X." Gov. Palin said: it is patriotic to suggest that taxes be lowered, and it is not patriotic to suggest that taxes be raised. You make the call. DavidP
10.10.2008 5:50pm
courtwatcher:
"Now you [Biden] said recently that tying Pat C's shoes or asking for the tying of Pat C's shoes or paying more for the tying of Pat C's shoes is patriotic. In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not patriotic. Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. In fact, too often you're the problem so, government, lessen the shoe-tying burden and on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper."

Is that helpful? :-)
10.10.2008 6:33pm
richard cabeza:
courtwatcher, I thought you were arguing against Pat C. That quote works.
10.10.2008 6:37pm
courtwatcher:
Ken Arromdee, Richard Cabeza, Just a Thought, etc:
if you really think the point of Palin's statement was to suggest that advocating higher taxes is orthogonal to, or irrelevant to, patriotism, we'll have to agree to disagree. I think it's not only a reasonable interpretation, but the more reasonable interpretation, of her remarks that she meant to contrast her belief that favoring less government = patriotism with the view she attributes to Biden that favoring higher taxes (or more government) = patriotism, and to say that her view is the patriotic one and his is the unpatriotic one. I can't see what the point of her remark would have been otherwise. You may disagree with this interpretation, but none of us has any way to know what was her intention was when she said it. But there is no logical reason to prefer yours over mine and Post's.
10.10.2008 6:42pm
courtwatcher:
Richard Cabeza, I do disagree with you and Pat C - but that doesn't mean I can't try to inject some humor here. I really don't see the substitution of "tying shoes" as supporting either position, as her comment is just absurd then. But I'm sure we could both construct arguments why it would support our view!
10.10.2008 6:44pm
richard cabeza:
It's only absurd because the government hasn't involved itself in tying shoes. Try "paying for medical care" or "buying property to build on it a business" or "blocking drilling off the coast."
10.10.2008 7:08pm
courtwatcher:
But I don't think any of those examples show that my interpretation is incorrect, or even shed light on the "un" vs. "not" question. I think if Palin had substituted any of those phrases, it would be completely reasonable to interpret her comment as questioning the patriotism of those who think the government shouldn't be taking on those tasks. (And I'm sure you disagree.)
10.10.2008 7:22pm
courtwatcher:
(Of course, I meant " . . .should be taking on those tasks" in the post above.)
10.10.2008 7:24pm
richard cabeza:
I'm understanding the deranged "they're questioning my candidate's patriotism" argument now.
10.10.2008 7:37pm
Nifonged:
"You may disagree with this interpretation, but none of us has any way to know what was her intention was when she said it."

David (the almighty) Post apparently does. It was outrageous and part of "knucklehead conservatism."

I don't understand Post's second update, he virtually admits he couldn't think of a proper defense of his ridiculous logic, and quotes someone in his defense who claims "none of us has any way to know her intention." Some defense for his flying off the handle with his assmumptions.
10.10.2008 7:46pm
Pat C (mail):
I accept the statement that David added as a reply in my comment

It's an interesting semantic point. It all depends on context.

So there are many possible contexts where "not patriotic" does not automatically mean "unpatriotic".

In the context of paying taxes, I will accept that a person saying "not patriotic" may well be implying "unpatriotic". I do not take a position as to what Palin and Biden meant.
10.10.2008 7:51pm
Nifonged:
"I will accept that a person saying "not patriotic" may well be implying "unpatriotic"

Look at it this way:

If I stand on my porch and burn the American flag publicly whilst denouncing my citizenship, and if I hand out a questionnaire to my neighbors asking if they thought my actions were either (i) patriotic, (ii) unpatriotic or (iii) not patriotic, I think most people would claim (ii) as the best description, and given the neighborhood we live in I wouldn't be surprised if more people claimed (i) than (iii). Who says not patriotic when they mean unpatriotic? Again, weirdos like David Post.
10.10.2008 8:01pm
LM (mail):
David Warner:

Many didn't rise to that level,

Agreed

but were one-line sockpuppets or drivebys intended to create a shaming environment

I'd like to think so, but too many of the names are familiar.
10.10.2008 8:24pm
Nifonged:
BTW I should let this go, but good grief reading Post's first update, it makes even less sense than his initial post, or his half-assed explanations later.

"raise taxes to pay for the things you're buying." That's what she's saying, folks. Her words, not mine.

What are you quoting? Where did Palin say what you've attributed? Its not her words, its words you projected to her, i.e. the opposite of your proclamation. Do you not understand the difference between quoting a speech, paraphrasing a speech and interpreting a speech in your own viewpoint?

Does Post just use quotes correctly or incorrectly at his whim (reading his post again, yes)? Is this the most intellectual and academic bankrupt post ever on the Conspiracy?
10.10.2008 8:36pm
LM (mail):
David Warner:

I wouldn't be so sure. There's a nonzero probability that we're about to elect his successor.

But only a fool would admit he thought that probability was significant, so I'll just say I've never voted for anyone I considered more likely. (And those votes included John Anderson.) Seriously, dyed-in-the-wool KoolAid drinking Obamaniac that I am, even I don't believe the chances are more than trivial. Messiah, maybe... but Lincoln? Highly unlikely.

Still, if there's one thing you have to concede about nonzero -- it's definitely not zero.
10.10.2008 8:41pm
David Warner:
LM,

Call me a fool, then. Wouldn't be the first time.

But I'm feelin' it.
10.10.2008 8:51pm
LM (mail):
Just a thought:

It may explain the outrage, but it doesn't excuse the rude, personal nature of the attacks.

I agree. But I wonder whether Prof. Post stepped over the line of rudeness himself.

(Even the best of us gets a little heated on the Internet, I'll be the first to admit.)


And I'll be the second. As for the OP, he didn't exactly bend over backwards with courtesy, but that doesn't mean he was rude. For reasons I tried (clumsily) to explain in another thread, I think civility necessarily means something different for bloggers than it does for us in the cheap seats. Which is to say, they need leeway that we don't.
10.10.2008 9:17pm
LM (mail):
David Warner:

Call me a fool, then. Wouldn't be the first time.

I'd rather pray you're right, for all our sakes.

But I'm feelin' it.

I'm too superstitious to admit such things. I'm glad you're not.
10.10.2008 9:22pm
Nifonged:
"As for the OP, he didn't exactly bend over backwards with courtesy"

He got his proverbial butt handed to him and responds with: "A few of you have tried the interesting strategy of actually reading what I wrote and thinking about it." That's been one of the more charitable examples of his decorum.

Note he never began to address his [majority] critics who may have thought about it but came to a different, and possibly, if not probably, a more logical conclusio. He just hid behind courtwatcher's (transparent) skirt.

I see no way how Post isn't an intellectual fraud.
10.10.2008 9:54pm
David Warner:
LM,

Those wacky framers made the President not only head of government, but also head of state.

On the former, who the hell knows what's going to happen?

On the latter, he's got the goods.
10.11.2008 12:27am
Greg Q (mail) (www):
"In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not patriotic. Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution."

Try replacing "patriotic" with any of the words David suggests. In these cases, the context and usage make clear that in those cases, "unX" = "not X":



Hmm, ok, I'll take that challenge:

"In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not charitable. Charitable is something you chose to do, not something you're required to do."

If DP were correct, then the above would be saying that it's "uncharitable" to pay your taxes. Which would be a ludicrous interpretation.

But that's an entirely reasonable re-writing of what Palin said, as Observer pointed out in the very first comment on this post.
10.14.2008 3:01am