March 21, 2009
Democrats to Rule of Law: We Still Hate You

I don't know a lot about bills of attainder -- it's not something that comes up much -- so I don't have an opinion on whether the bill to tax some bonuses of bailout receipient employees at 90 percent constitutes one.

However, if it is a bill of attainder, it's clearly unconstitutional. No question about that, of course. So I would expect that when people defend this bill against the claim that it is unconstitutional, they would argue that it is not a bill of attainder, because if is, it's illegal. Unfortunately, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) instead argued that it is legal because it's "fair":

I'm prepared to battle in the courts. Why? Because they look at issues of equity. What does equity mean? It means, who's in here with unclean hands? And if there is a situation where they are taking federal money, such as AIG, and all of a sudden they give retention bonuses, our courts will look at this legislation and say it is fair to give the money back to the American people because the circumstances have changed.

It doesn't matter if it is a bill of attainder because it is fair, you see.

This is, of course, the definition of rule of man: igoring the law and doing what individual people think is best. This is not justice. This is not law. As I've mentioned many times, it is the rule of law which protects our rights. If we don't force the government to follow the law, if we allow them to break the law when it "seems" like the right thing to do, then we cannot expect them to follow the law when it comes time to protecting our rights against a majority who would take those rights away.

Again, I take no position whether this is a bill of attainder. I simply bemoan the fact that many of the proponents of this bill don't care whether or not it is, and further, that it doesn't surprise me in the least.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

Posted by pudge at March 21, 2009 09:18 PM | Email This
Comments
1. This is a very slippery slope. Using the same logic would a Democrat argue that it was only fair if someone were to kill Bernard Madoff?

Posted by: Red on March 21, 2009 09:55 PM
2. Clearly, this bill targets a select few with the wrath of Congress. It raises the strong arm of gov't against an unpopular minority, under the pretense of a crisis.

Is this not what the Constitution was written for?

Posted by: the Sasquatch on March 21, 2009 09:56 PM
3. Do you wanna fight? I think this one was so blatantly unconstitutional that we ought to seek to recall all democratic and republican congressmen and congresswomen who voted for it. Any judge would have to validate the recall petition on grounds. And no person should be allowed to serve in Congress who so blatantly tramples on our Constitution - I mean, this isn't a trampling like Ron Paul usually is offended at, this is a complete and utter trampling that even the likes of Chris Matthews can see.

Posted by: Doug on March 21, 2009 10:54 PM
4. We've already hit that tipping point in the country. 52% of the country does not care about the rule of law, period!

Posted by: Crusader on March 21, 2009 11:02 PM
5. Yes, and this AIG bonuses kerfuffle has prompted Obama's call for "increased oversight of 'executive pay at all banks, Wall Street firms and possibly other companies". It's getting scary, folks.

Posted by: katomar on March 21, 2009 11:04 PM
6. The whole thing is just stupid. The administration okays the bonuses (if you believe Senator Dodd, depending on which time he was lying), then pretends to be "shocked, shocked" by it. Followed by this travesty. It certainly feels unconstitutional.

Posted by: Michele on March 21, 2009 11:05 PM
7. No one cares about the rule of law anymore - you guys aren't guilt free either, in at least some cases - and thus we will decline into a third world nation.

Sorry guys, but the writing is on the wall.

Posted by: Andrew Brown on March 21, 2009 11:05 PM
8. Also: While we're at it, can we just move on with our failure as a nation and pass Directive 10-289, so that we can fail and rebuild?

Posted by: Andrew Brown on March 21, 2009 11:11 PM
9. The house vote on this is a shining example why they're in politics. They haven't a clue what it takes to get employees, run a business and generate a profit. Even Reichert showed why he lived on the public dole (County) on this one.
And the fringe left taking bus tours of where the folks that got a bonus live??? Should this go to court, the judges will have that vision haunting them should they rule for law and against the mob rule we call congress.

Posted by: PC on March 21, 2009 11:18 PM
10. "Should this go to court" but will the courts do what is right or what is popular, will they follow the rule of law or the rule of the mob.

Posted by: Ron K on March 21, 2009 11:33 PM
11. According to Cummings v. Missouri (1867), a bill of attainder is:

"A bill of attainder, is a legislative act which inflicts punishment without judicial trial and includes any legislative act which takes away the life, liberty or property of a particular named or easily ascertainable person or group of persons because the legislature thinks them guilty of conduct which deserves punishment."

Now in Nixon v. Administrator of General Services (1977), a three pronged test for a bill of attainder was created:

"First, the Court denied that the clause denies the power to Congress to burden some persons or groups while not so treating all other plausible individuals or groups; even the present law's specificity in referring to the former President by name and applying only to him did not condemn the act because he ''constituted a legitimate class of one'' on whom Congress could ''fairly and rationally'' focus. 1719 Second, even if the statute's specificity did bring it within the prohibition of the clause, the lodging of Mr. Nixon's materials with the GSA did not inflict punishment within the meaning of the clause. This analysis was a three- pronged one: 1) the law imposed no punishment traditionally judged to be prohibited by the clause; 2) the law, viewed functionally in terms of the type and severity of burdens imposed, could rationally be said to further nonpunitive legislative purposes; and 3) the law had no legislative record evincing a congressional intent to punish. 1720 That is, the Court, looking ''to its terms, to the intent expressed by Members of Congress who voted its passage, and to the existence or nonexistence of legitimate explanations for its apparent effect,'' concluded that the statute served to further legitimate policies of preserving the availability of evidence for criminal trials and the functioning of the adversary legal system and in promoting the preservation of records of historical value, all in a way that did not and was not intended to punish the former President."

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/article01/47.html

So is this a bill of attainder? I'm not an attorney, so I can't say, but it sure gets into an area where a legitimate Supreme Court challenge seems reasonable.

Posted by: Marc on March 22, 2009 03:24 AM
12. The Democrats could start by demanding that their President prove once and for all to see, his status as a natural born citizen, as REQUIRED by the US Constitution.

Until then, they will have no credibility when speaking about any law.

Posted by: joebandmember on March 22, 2009 05:22 AM
13. Not sure what the reason for surprise is about Democrats voting for HR 1586.

Seems to me the issue is the Republicans voting for it. In Washington State only one Republican voted against it. Reichert and McMorris-Rodgers both voted for it.

Where is the party of loyal opposition? How long can conservatives support the party of big spending, unprincipled Republicans?

At least with the Dems you know what you are getting. Republicans are wolves in sheep's clothing.

Does anyone really believe that Darcy Burner's vote would be less principled than Dave Reichert's?

It's high time conservatives spend less time being outraged at liberal Dems and more being OUTRAGED at power hungry fellow traveling pinko Republicans.

Can anyone believe that the party of George Bush and Dave Reichert, the party that brought us nationalization of AIG and TARP, is significantly different than the Dems? One word ---- Steele.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 22, 2009 08:07 AM
14. I called Reichert's office and let 'em have it. I told them that it was Democrats who used taxes as a weapon, not Republicans.

There is no way the financial/industrial institutions will revive under this climate because they have *zero* idea how to plan for the future when Congress can legislate the *past*.

I will hoard every dollar for I cannot know when Congress will retroactively increase my taxes.

This government is a disaster. The press is even starting to figure this out.

Posted by: Gary on March 22, 2009 08:35 AM
15. PowerLine had a great post on this mob action of our government. It was titled "Are We a Banana Republic". A great warning against those who would like to identify a particular class of unpopular people and penalize them with taxes. Clearly evil demagogues like Lee would not ever heed that warning. She, like all Democrat leaders, believe firmly in the "one man, one vote, one time" method of government.

As others have pointed out, this confiscatory tax will also target low-paid bank workers at places like Wells Fargo whose spouses' earnings put the family over $250K. So a $10K bonus will be taxed at 90%.

The GOP is clearly missing in action on this one (like so many other issues). Conservatives and (real) liberals need to beat the GOP up on this issue. Maybe they will look around and find their balls somewhere...

Posted by: iconoclast on March 22, 2009 08:53 AM
16. Someone mentioned today that if you held 90% stock in a company, would you go out and trash it publically every day? That's what Congress is doing to the company (AIG) that we now own. It's trashing it, and ensuring that no valuable people will ever work there for fear of being targeted by mobs urged on by Congress itself.

Congress kills everything it touches. The very fact that it gave money to AIG ensures AIG's demise. It could have collapsed *without* our money months ago.

Posted by: Gary on March 22, 2009 08:58 AM
17. How about her blatant lie that "it is fair to give the money back to the American people?"

If the shareholders of a failing public insurance company were to vote to assess themselves to raise $160 million to shore up the company's investments to cover insured losses, and then the CEO were to direct the money to be paid out in bonuses instead, the shareholders could, in addition to voting the CEO out of a job, pursue damages in court.

In this case, AIG is 80% owned by the US Government (which ought to be unconstitutional, and therefore illuminates a flaw in the document that needs correcting), and the allegation is that the payment of contractually guaranteed bonuses with money intended to shore up the company's investments is unfair to the taxpayers. I agree. Better to have earmarked the money somehow so that it cold be spent only on shoring up the company's investments or paying out claims of the company's client financial institutions.

But the typically stupid Democrat (and unprincipled Republican) response is to tax the bonus payments so the recipients don't get the money. That doesn't return the money to the taxpayers (fat chance), but rather enhances the power of government. It doesn't shore up the company's investments - the money will be poured down some other government rat hole. And it doesn't even allow the recipients to spend or invest that money so that it can "stimulate" the economy.

So this Democrat moron Shiela Jackson argues that the law, a law that looks like an unconstitutional bill of attainder, and may also violate the equal protection clause, is never-the-less good because SHE thinks it is "fair" and because it "gives the money back TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE?" I'd laugh if it wasn't so damn sad.

Posted by: srogers on March 22, 2009 09:05 AM
18. Calling the offices of Reichert and McMorris-Rodgers accomplishes nothing but soothing one's feelings.

Reichert has his hands in you pocket for the next 2 years, and he knows damn well he can do whatever he wants, because conservatives will vote for Republicans no matter what.

Until conservatives with hold their money and their votes from Republicans they'll continue to play us for saps. because we are.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 22, 2009 09:11 AM
19. Oh yeah, facts. Ignore the blatantly unconstitutional confiscation of property because you don't like them. You, like that race-baiting demagogue Lee, are down with that howling mob in the US House of Representatives. "String 'em up!".

There is no excusing this bill because you have some half-assed idea of blame elsewhere. Nothing excuses this bill. Even if the entire ***&$&*(# financial industry had illegally traded in credit swaps, this bill targeting innocent Americans would be wrong. It shits on the Constitution and on anyone the mob can be whipped up to hate.


If the courts don't find this pos bill unconstitutional, we run the risk of becoming just another banana republic--or maybe a Russian Federation. Whomsoever the politically powerful deem unpopular can be financially ruined and made targets for violence.

Posted by: iconoclast on March 22, 2009 09:15 AM
20. SHUT UP already with your constant "8 years of Bush and Cheney". THIS THREAD IS NOT ABOUT BUSH AND CHENEY. JUST GO AWAY!

Posted by: Bill H on March 22, 2009 09:46 AM
21. Facts

You are a complete moron. Even if the GOP was one step down from Stalin, it wouldn't make this bill constitutional. Even if Bush were the devil, this bill would still be a piece of shit. You aren't bright enough to see the problem with "Wrangel broke the law, so let's confiscate someone else's property and expose them to violence".

Typical lefty scumbag--only has excuses, no real defense. And the excuse doesn't even rise to the level of sophistry--it is just thoughtless emotions justified by a rationale that a 5th grader would reject.

No wonder even real socialists despise the Left in America. Cowards and fools the lot of them.

Posted by: iconoclast on March 22, 2009 09:51 AM
22. "Even if the GOP was one step down from Stalin, it wouldn't make this bill constitutional."

EXACTLY!! And 2/3rds of the GOP reps in this state voted for the unconstitutional HR 1586!

What are conservatives going to do? Yell at socialists and liberals for acting like liberals?

Berate the Democrats all you want, but we know what they are about.

Many so-called conservative REPUPLICANS voted for this bill, and the MAJORITY OF WASHINGTON REPUBLICANs voted for this bill.

A REPUBLICAN administration brought us to this point, and the power hungry fellow traveling pinko Republicans of this state go merrily along - AGAIN!

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 22, 2009 10:05 AM
23. Dear AFSMP(LOL),

Give me just one example of an unconstitutional action of "Bush and Cheney" (or either one, for that matter).

Largest tax increase in history? Study the presidency of FDR, you moron.

Corporations are organizations of people. Bad people lie, cheat, steal, rape, and pillage, independently or in organizations. Bad people have done these things since the beginning of civilization, probably will until the end of civilization. Its not a partisan issue, and the constitution wasn't written to address this problem. If you knew anything about the Constitution, you would know that it was written to limit the power of government, for when governmental power is put in the hands of bad people, history shows us that the result is often mass murder or genocide, tyrannical oppression, confiscation of property, and persecution of various groups of minorities.

This ultimate human tragedy has never happened in a capitalist nation based on an overarching principle of individual liberty. It has always happened in nations where power has been taken by government to either own or direct the "means of production" (meaning the business enterprises owned individually in Capitalist nations) so that the products of industry can be distributed equally and, to the extent possible, all citizens can be forced to live, act, and consume equally. Historically, mass destruction and murder have been the result of leftist policies, yet you consistently ignore this fact, which doesn't support your position, and instead rant and rave and lie and slander and make up "facts" that only appear to support your unsupportable positions.

Posted by: srogers on March 22, 2009 10:07 AM
24. @srogers

What's your point? Bush/Cheney/Paulson/Reichert are to be lauded for adhering to a small constitutional government?

EVERY REPUBLICAN past,present has, and in the future shall, continue to erode the conservative principles of liberty and freedom as long as conservatives continue to lend financial, political and rhetorical support to REPUBLICANS.

This post would not even exist if a REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATION had not given tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to their corporate pay masters at AIG. What do conservatives think was going to happen? The crooks that brought us here would lead us back?

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 22, 2009 10:22 AM
25. @FSMP,

We neither need nor want someone to protect us.
We need to protect ourselves.
We need to hold so-called conservative REPUBLICANS accountable in the State of Washington.

If Reichert and McMorris-Rodgers receive money or a vote from you;
if you don't support a primary challenge against Reichert and McMorris-Rodgers,
then you are not part of a conservative solution, you are part of the socialist problem.

Nothing changes until we change it. All the rest is just whining.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 22, 2009 10:53 AM
26. Mike

Your notion is intriguing. Republicans have been playing the "I am not as bad as [fill in the blank]" card for as long as Democrats have been playing the race card. And, when I think about it, I feel a little like we are to the GOP what the blacks are to the Democrats: taken for granted and lied to constantly because they presume they own us.

So take the mind experiment a little further. If conservatives had sat out the last Reichert election, then Darcy Burner would have been elected. Certainly Darcy would have been in the forefront of House supporters for every piece of crap Pelosi and Obama put before her. And the Seattle Times would have covered for her, letting her appear much more moderate than her voting record would demonstrate.

And what next? Do you think the GOP would come back to at least some conservative/classically liberal principles in order to return to power? Do you think a third party will be created? One that wouldn't immediately be marginalized as much as the Greens?

Not trying to contentious. Just curious.

Posted by: iconoclast on March 22, 2009 11:18 AM
27. @iconoclast,

The only thing either Reichert or McMorris-Rodgers offer is "I'm not a Democrat". And that goes for a large segment of the GOP as evidenced by the vote on HR 1586.

Continuing to support the GOP as-is means that conservatives and conservative principles are forever marginalized.

I have no easy solutions to offer. But it is as clear as the egg on every conservative's face who supported Reichert or McMorris-Rodgers that they will throw the constitution under the bus to feather their own nests.

Until such time as conservatives hold the REPUBLICAN party accountable, they will continue to play us for saps; taking our money, our freedoms and our country down a rat hole.

For any right thinking conservative to support the REPUBLICAN party is to consign conservative thought to the dust bin of history.

How on earth shall we ever obtain the support and effort of the young people of the 8th and 5th districts with the likes of these two?

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 22, 2009 11:44 AM
28. Screw ideological purity. It's a pipe dream. It only insures socialists like Burner and Obama get elected. Reichert's district has alot of Democrats in it, and you are never going to get a paleoconservative elected there.

As for this law, I think it is unconstitutional and I think it will stand. The Supreme Court rarely gets involved in taxation issues, and I think they will refuse the case.

Posted by: Palouse on March 22, 2009 11:56 AM
29. Pudge, why do you care whether "many proponents" of the bill care about its constitutionaility? The courts will determine that. As long as there is a reasonable chance it's constitutional, I want Congress to do what it thinks is fair.

Is this bill fair? That depends largely on the employees' contracts with AIG, which I don't believe have been shared with the public.

Posted by: Bruce on March 22, 2009 11:57 AM
30. Factless,

Excuse me, dude, but your ignorance is glaring. Fact: I haven't listened to Rush for 8 or 9 years, and I don't watch TV news or talking head shows. Ever. You couldn't know that, but you are willing to write as if you knew I did. Sums you up in a nutshell.

Fact: I minored in History, and I've actually seen two of the four contemporary copies of Magna Carta, the one in the British Museum and the one at Salisbury cathedral.

Fact: Magna Carta was a charter between King John and the Earls and Dukes who held land in his name (lands held by the nobility could be seized by the crown with an attainder for treason; treason was defined so broadly that the land could almost be seized on the King's whim). It did not establish a Republican government with a Capitalist economic system and a general guarantee of liberty for the nation's citizens. It simply described the conditions upon which the Nobility would be obligated to provide armies, taxes, and other goods to the Crown, when parliament would be called, and provided that members of the Nobility could only be tried for treason before a tribunal of their peers, ie, the Lords Temporal and Spiritual. Feudalism continued unabated. Magna Carta is irrelevant to this conversation; I describe it to prove to you that I have heard of it, and in fact know more about it, and history in general, than you ever will.

And once again, you failed to answer my question: give me just one actual constitutional provision that "Bush and Cheney" violated, and what the circumstances were. Just don't spout off more empty leftist propaganda that you get from your leftist sources.

BoyScout - I made no point regarding Bush/Cheney/Paulson/Reichert. As you know, they are not proponents of strictly limited government, and Bush did sign bills originating in both Democrat and Republican controlled chambers of the legislature that grossly increased government spending and government control of individual lives. I don't disagree with you at all that unprincipled and historically ignorant politicians of both parties are now and have been eroding our freedom, destroying property rights, and mishandling government affairs for some time. But while there is almost nothing redeeming about Democrat political philosophy, at least the roots of the Republican party are in liberty, limited government, and free enterprise, and hence there is a chance that the party can someday return to these roots. I suppose if the Democrat party could return to its roots in Jeffersonian liberty and individualism, it too, could someday shake off its corruption and propensity to misrepresent history, and lie about its motivations and end goals. But it is so invested in Socialism that I believe such an awakening is impossible.

Posted by: srogers on March 22, 2009 11:59 AM
31. @Palouse,

It certainly is not about idealogical purity nor paleoconservatives. It is about integrity.

Reichert has no integrity.
In addition to the HR 1586 outrage, how about the little gem last year of “$1,000,000 to Outdoor Research for Extended Cold Weather Clothing System Hand Protection System”?

http://earmarkwatch.org/earmark/40722/

Burner v Reichert is a distinction without a difference.

socialist is what socialist does.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 22, 2009 12:07 PM
32. I'm not a lawyer, but I can see some good arguments for this bill's constitutionality. This bill does not punish people for their actions; it merely taxes income that is judged less meritorious at a higher rate. Taxes already include value judgments; for example, long-term capital gains are taxed less than short-term gains and ordinary income, some college savings are untaxed, some income used to pay for a house or given to a charity is untaxed. And taxes are already changed retroactively; for example, rates are often raised or lowered after income is earned (and years after capital grows) but before the taxes are due.

Perhaps the unusually high tax rate in this bill crosses the line from tweaking tax policy to punishment. But you can also argue that it's reasonable for the tax system to give special treatment for bonuses paid, essentially, by American taxpayers without their knowledge or consent.

Posted by: Bruce on March 22, 2009 12:10 PM
33. If we don't support the rule of law with regard to contracts, then a fundamental pillar of America is destroyed. No matter how unpopular any particular contract is, if you start going down this path then no contract is safe from the government.

Posted by: Crusader on March 22, 2009 12:19 PM
34. Scenarios:

A: John Derivativesofficer works for AIG, making $175,000 per year and gets a bonus of $50,000 for a "job well done". John's wife is a stay-at-home Mom. The total puts them at $225,000, so the bonus does not breach the $250,000 threshhold and is not taxed at 90%. John gets to keep his bonus (at least above normal taxes).

B: Jane Secretary works for Well Fargo (this was one of the companies that didn't WANT the TARP money but the government "made them an offer they couldn't refuse"), making $50,000 per year and gets a bonus of $10,000 for a job well done. Her husband has his own business and makes $200,000 per year. In total, they make $250,000 before the bonus. Since the bonus puts them over $250,000, Jane is taxed at 90% on that bonus. So much for Jane's "job well done".

The courts will decide whether this bill is constitutional, but "fair?". You decide...

Posted by: Bill H on March 22, 2009 12:27 PM
35. Crusader@37, have you seen any AIG contracts that required bonuses of these amounts to be paid under any circumstances? If not, your concern for contract law is totally speculative.

BillH@38, this sort of interaction between couples' finances is not unique to the bailout situation. It exists for every couple filing jointly, and is an inevitable consequence of allowing people to file jointly. That said, this bill could be improved to affect only bonuses above a certain amount.

Posted by: Bruce on March 22, 2009 12:39 PM
36. SCENARIO

- Conservatives don't simply throw their support to REPUBLICAN corporate hacks because there is not a (D) next to their name.
- Bush/Cheney/Reichert don't get re-elected in 2004. McMorris-Rodgers does not get re-elected in 2006.
- Paulson & Bernanke don't give away hundreds of billions of tax payer dollars to bankrupt thieving companies.
- AIG pays no bonuses because they are broke.
- No frankenstein legislation to tax the hell out of people as punishment ever gets introduced in Congress.
- A conservative opinion means something more than REPUBLICAN PROPAGANDA talking points.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 22, 2009 12:51 PM
37. "this bill could be improved to affect only bonuses above a certain amount"

No, the bill could be improved by letting it just die a natural death and by getting government OUT of private enterprise. A 90% tax is not "fair" REGARDLESS of the circumstances. It could be called confiscatory or punitive, but never "fair".

"this sort of interaction between couples' finances is not unique to the bailout situation"

But an "unfairness" that taxes at 33% instead of 28% is not quite in the same ballpark as one that taxes at 90% rather than at 33%.

Face it, this "tax" is not something that was thought through as part of a considered "tax policy". It was strictly as part of populist outrage to distract the public from the piss-poor job Congress did in the first place, and to keep the public from focusing on all of the $billions being passed through AIG at 100 cents on the dollar to their counterparties both foreign and domestic.

Posted by: Bill H on March 22, 2009 12:57 PM
38. - 85 House REPUBLICANS voted for HR 1586.
- 2/3rds of the Washington State REPUBLICAN delegation voted for HR 1586 (Reichert and McMorris-Rodgers)

REPUBLICANS play small constitutional government conservatives for saps! Michael STEELE

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 22, 2009 01:05 PM
39. Bruce... can you say AIG.. Then Chris Dodd and White House.
Because they all are in their mess and have said so... Well expect Obama who is to busy picking on kids with problems,

Yeah that's a hero alright!

Posted by: Medic/Vet on March 22, 2009 01:06 PM
40.
I don't think fair comes into the picture at all. Fairness as Lee and Bruce see it is merely the mob's envy at anyone doing better than themselves.

If we want to maximize our investment in AIG, we will probably have to find the very best folks to work out from under the toxic assets and wind the company down. This is a very difficult job. Done right and the results will save hundreds of billions. Does anyone really believe it wouldn't be worth spending a 160 million to get nearly a billion in return? That is how much these executives allegedly reduced in liabilities.

Lee would oppose spending bonus money because she doesn't care how much she ruins our economy and burdens our children. Like all Democrats and too many Republicans, all she cares about is her power right now and stirring up the mob is a good way to keep power. Bruce--a proud member of said mob-- would oppose bonuses because he would rather lose more money as long as no one got more than their "fair share", whatever that is.

Finally, the real crime here happened in Congress. Assuming these were legal bonuses (all evidence indicates they were) and actually approved by language specifically inserted by Dodd in the TARP bill. Suddenly Congress wishes to target these executives because they are unhappy with the results of their own legislation. That sounds more like something a banana republic like Chavez's Venezuala would do than a legislative body presumably operating under a written Constitution. What next? Shall Congress decide to confiscate 90% of bonuses of registered Republican salaries? How about registered Democrats? Rush listeners?

Posted by: iconoclast on March 22, 2009 02:09 PM
41. @35 MBS, if you cannot see a distinction between Reichert and Burner, you are not worth anyone here's time. You're a troll like your predecessor, CnR.

Posted by: Palouse on March 22, 2009 02:30 PM
42. The whole idea about the bonuses even being mentioned in the Stimulus package was totally idiotic. If anything that bill should have forbidden any bonuses being by the Government money being supplied to help AIG. What should been stated was that when and if AIG or any other company successfully recuperates from the economic malady and the stimulus money is paid back to the government, then that company can ask their stockholders for approval of a bonus for key people that did the job successfully to include all levels of workers.

Don't use my tax dollars for idiotic things like bonuses that would never be repaid. The 'buck' stops at the presidential level and in this case it only shows that Obama is continuing to act like an idiot.

Posted by: Tim on March 22, 2009 02:58 PM
43. Factless:

After 8 years of Bush and Cheney ...

Tu quoque fallacy.


conservatives are now "concerned" about the constitution...

It's well-known that I criticized Bush policies that I believed violated the Constitution, including warrantless wiretapping, No Child Left Behind, and so on. So this is both a red herring AND a straw man fallacy.


Nowhere in the constitution does it call for corporations to be able to ...

Red herring fallacy.


Bruce:

Pudge, why do you care whether "many proponents" of the bill care about its constitutionaility? The courts will determine that.

No, Bruce, as it is the responsibility of the federal legislator to uphold the Constitution, it is therefore necessarily their responsibility to evaluate the constitutionality of all provisions they support.


As long as there is a reasonable chance it's constitutional, I want Congress to do what it thinks is fair.

It's one thing to say, "I think it is fair, and I am not convinced it is unconstitutional, so I support it." I can live with that; I know more about the Constitution than most of the members of the House, and I am not convinced it is unconstituional.

But that is beside the point, because Jackson-Lee said it does not matter whether it is unconstitutional, that it should be upheld because it is fair. That is the problem I identified. She hates the rule of law. Disagreeing about the law is one thing; asserting (even through implication) that the law doesn't matter is another.

The court actually should not care whether this bill is "fair" at all. All the court should care about is whether it violates the Constitution, unenumerated rights of the people, or some other law. Whether it is "fair" has no bearing on any case brought regarding this bill.


Also, as others have pointed out, this also goes beyond the letter of the law. Overturning contracts explicitly or implicitly sends a very negative message to all of society about the importance of law.

Posted by: pudge on March 22, 2009 03:24 PM
44. Pudge,
The problem, of course, is that by taxing the bonuses, the law does not actually "impair the obligation of contracts." The bonuses were paid as required by an employment contract (I assume) - the obligation of AIG to pay was fulfilled. The taxation comes after the fact. That's why I think the equal protection clause should be invoked to challenge the law. If a small class of employees - those who work for several specific entities and who earn more than a threshold amount - can be singled out for punitive taxation, it seems to me their equal protection rights have been violated. And as you point out, there is an explicit Constitutional prohibition of ex post facto laws and bills of attainder. If I was a recipient of one of these bonuses, I'd have already be retained my lawyer . . .

Posted by: srogers on March 22, 2009 04:11 PM
45. I don't know a lot about bills of attainder -- it's not something that comes up much -- so I don't have an opinion on whether the bill to tax some bonuses of bailout receipient employees at 90 percent constitutes one.

"I haven't even begun the task of determining the constitutionality of this law, so I'll just post an inflammatory headline attacking an entire political party -- past AND present -- on my unproven assumption that this law might be invalid."

Now we know why all Republicans have to bow to Mr. Limbaugh. He's their god-king of intellectual integrity.

Posted by: tensor on March 22, 2009 08:05 PM
46. @Palouse
you said
"if you cannot see a distinction between Reichert and Burner, you are not worth anyone here's time."

I'm sorry the truth offends you.
Can you identify the distinction between Reichert and Burner?

Would Burner vote for wild deficit spending at the behest of her party and her president if they were the party in control?

Would Burner lie about her academic credentials during an election?

BS-ing no-good REPUBLICANS claim to be political conservatives and turn around voting for everything but conservative principles.

You can slander me any way you want, but you cannot deny that 85 REPUBLICANS voted for HR 1586 and that REICHERT THE REPUBLICAN voted for this frankenstein POS.

REPUBLICANS to Conservative Voters: We Still Hate You

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 22, 2009 08:27 PM
47. Pudge@47 invents, "Jackson-Lee said it does not matter whether it is unconstitutional"

No, she didn't say that. True, she implied, perhaps incorrectly, that courts might approve the law because it's fair. But she might well be thinking that fairness is a factor in whether the law is constitutional. Whether that's right or wrong, she didn't say what you say she said.

"Overturning contracts explicitly or implicitly sends a very negative message to all of society about the importance of law."

Yes. But do you have a clue what the contracts said? I didn't think so.


Posted by: Bruce on March 22, 2009 09:31 PM
48. tensor:

... I'll just post an inflammatory headline attacking an entire political party -- past AND present ...

I did not do that. "Democrats" does not mean "all Democrats," it means "some Democrats." In this case -- obviously -- I am referring to Rep. Jackson-Lee and the people who agree with her reasoning, most of whom are Democrats.


... on my unproven assumption that this law might be invalid.

I did not do that. My criticism is valid even if the bill is legitimate. You lack understanding, either because you didn't read what i wrote, or because you're incapable of comprehending it.

What I criticized -- very clearly -- is NOT the bill itself, or anyone's support of it, but the argument that it is legally valid because it is "fair." "Fairness" is irrelevant to its legality.

If Jackson-Lee had said, "I believe this will be upheld because I think this is not a bill of attainder," then I'd not have levelled the criticism I did. My criticism is solely based on the fact that her argument for why the law should be upheld disregarded the constitutional question.


Bruce:

No, she didn't say that. True, she implied, perhaps incorrectly, that courts might approve the law because it's fair.

She advocated for that. She did not merely predict it. And this necessarily implies that whether it is unconstitutional -- which was the question before them -- is irrelevant. That is what she said. I didn't put in quotes: I didn't say it was the words she used. But the meaning was clear.


But do you have a clue what the contracts said?

Yes, I do. Why don't you? I don't know exactly what was in them, but I know -- because the CEO of AIG said so -- that they included the right to at least some of this bonus money.

Posted by: pudge on March 22, 2009 09:41 PM
49. I would like to take this moment to point out that Obama himself said tonight that he believes this bill is unconstitutional.

+10 respect, although there's still quite a deficit to work on.

Posted by: Andrew Brown on March 22, 2009 10:03 PM
50. "Democrats" does not mean "all Democrats," it means "some Democrats." In this case -- obviously -- I am referring to Rep. Jackson-Lee and the people who agree with her reasoning, most of whom are Democrats.

You 'still' haven't explained why "Some" Democrats (why was the qualifier left out of the title?) STILL "hate" the rule of law. You've described ONE Democrat's supposedly fuzzy thinking on this issue, claimed (without citation) that other Democrats agree with her fuzzy reasoning, and this imperfect reasoning equates to "hate" -- past and present -- for the rule of law. (Never mind that the quote you give is a very thin support for your criticism anyway.) As other commenters here have observed, "Many Republicans and Democrats to Rule of Law: We Still Hate You" would be even more accurate; or, rather, less ludicrously inaccurate.

Furthermore, it's not difficult to show why Bills of Attainder were excluded from our laws: they're fundamentally UNfair. She could have been arguing from that understanding, for all your one thin quote shows. Congrats again on not exceeding Mr. Limbaugh's level of intellectual argument.

Posted by: tensor on March 22, 2009 10:04 PM
51. Andrew Brown: Obama also said he believes in an individual right to keep and bear arms ... while favoring a law that banned handguns. I do not trust what he SAYS. If he actually declines to sign it should it get to his desk, then that will earn some respect.


tensor: You 'still' haven't explained why "Some" Democrats ... STILL "hate" the rule of law.

That's easy: because they prefer the rule of men. This is one of the fundamental disagreements between liberals and conservatives. It's why liberals hate Scalia and Thomas and why conservatives hate Ginsburg and Stevens: the former believe in the rule of law, the latter in the rule of men. Remember, one of Obama's favorite justices, Stephen Breyer, wrote a book describing why he ignores the Constitution. I suppose you could argue that Obama doesn't know much about constitutional law and therefore didn't understand the argument Breyer was making in his book ...


You've described ONE Democrat's ... thinking

Oh please. She represents many of her colleagues, and many of them echoed her comments.


Never mind that the quote you give is a very thin support for your criticism anyway

Only if you pretend she didn't mean what she clearly said.


As other commenters here have observed... would be even more accurate

No, it really wouldn't be. This affliction is systemic among Democrats. Yes, it afflicts many Republicans, but it is not systemic among them.


Furthermore, it's not difficult to show why Bills of Attainder were excluded from our laws: they're fundamentally UNfair. She could have been arguing from that understanding

You're grasping at straws, and doing it very poorly. Bills of Attainder may be "fair," and are unconstitutional regardless. So even if she was arguing that, my criticism stands: she would have to argue that it IS NOT a Bill of Attainder, and instead she chose to argue something else.

Posted by: pudge on March 22, 2009 10:28 PM
52. Pudge writes, "I don't know exactly what was in [the AIG employee contracts], but I know -- because the CEO of AIG said so -- that they included the right to at least some of this bonus money.

Liddy's statements give us no idea what part of the bonus money was required (.001% of it? more? less?), let alone proof. Until there's proof that the bonuses were mandatory and/or good business, the owners of this foundering company (the American taxpayers) have a right to be outraged.

Posted by: Bruce on March 22, 2009 11:55 PM
53. Bruce: Liddy's statements give us no idea what part of the bonus money was required

Irrelevant to anything I've said.

... let alone proof.

We also don't have proof AIG even EXISTS, man. Cogito ergo sum.


the American taxpayers ... have a right to be outraged.

I never implied they didn't.

Posted by: pudge on March 23, 2009 07:33 AM
54. Can you identify the distinction between Reichert and Burner?

Reichert voted against the porkulus. That's plenty enough of a difference, but there's plenty more if you chose to research it. You are a troll and not worth my time.

Posted by: Palouse on March 23, 2009 08:24 AM
55. Until there's proof that the bonuses were mandatory and/or good business, the owners of this foundering company (the American taxpayers) have a right to be outraged

Outraged, yes. But at our representatives who thoughtlessly allowed such unexamined compensation. Not at the recipients, who DID NOT negotiate the deal with the government.

You want blood? Fine. Go after anyone who believes that the government is capable of managing a private business or a distressed asset purchase. But don't persecute someone else--and be indifferent as the the constitutionality of the action--because you refuse to recognize who is truly responsible for your outrage.


Posted by: iconoclast on March 23, 2009 09:05 AM
56. Oh please. She represents many of her colleagues, and many of them echoed her comments.

No, she represents exactly one Congressional district. You haven't quoted a single Democrat agreeing with even this one quote, and that quote in no way proves your argument.

"... his affliction is systemic among Democrats. Yes, it afflicts many Republicans, but it is not systemic among them."

Ha, ha, ha. Gitmo, illegal wiretapping, invading Iraq on lies, Abu Ghraib, illegal renditions, Bagram, "Unitary Executive" (AND "Fourth Branch"!) -- all of this meekly accepted by a Republican Congress which took Jack Abramoff's bribes -- and it's not "systemic". (Which White House sold weapons to Iranian mullahs, cravenly groveling before hostage-takers, and illegally diverted the proceeds to the Contras? Which party organized the burglary of Watergate?)

Oh, and please give an example of a Bill of Attainder which you would consider to be "fair". This oughta be good!

Once more, Mr. Limbaugh would be proud. Now, get offa his lawn!

Posted by: tensor on March 23, 2009 10:52 AM
57. No, she represents exactly one Congressional district

No, she also represents her colleagues in the Democratic Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus, where she serves in leadership roles (Senior Whip and Whip, respectively).


You haven't quoted a single Democrat agreeing with even this one quote

Shrug. Fine. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) said in the HR 1586 debate, "Now the other side is talking about the Constitution and wrapping themselves in the flag right now saying that, 'oh, my goodness, we are shredding the Constitution.' Well, that's the pot calling the kettle black, as far as I am concerned." Once again, a Democrat saying that whether it is constitutional is irrelevant.


that quote in no way proves your argument.

False, as clearly demonstrated.


Gitmo, illegal wiretapping, invading Iraq on lies, Abu Ghraib, illegal renditions, Bagram, "Unitary Executive" (AND "Fourth Branch"!)

The first is not illegal. The second, I and many other Republicans said was illegal. The third didn't happen. The fourth was not sanctioned by any Republican officials and the guilty parties were prosecuted. The fifth is not illegal. The sixth is not not illegal.

If by "Gitmo" and "Bagram" you mean "illegal torture that may have occured there," then I, and many Republicans, said it was wrong, just like I said all along the warrantless wiretapping was likely illegal.

If by "Unitary Executive" you mean "the President can do anything he wants to," then you are using it in a way that NO ONE who actually agrees with "Unitary Executive" uses it. It actually means, simply, that all power that belongs to the Executive Branch, belongs to the President, which is what the Constitution explicitly says in the opening words to Article II.


all of this meekly accepted by a Republican Congress which took Jack Abramoff's bribes

I hope you don't really believe this. Only a few people were found to have accepted "bribes" from Abramoff, and they have been punished severely for it, as the rule of law demands. Many more Republicans did get money connected to Abramoff, and so too did many Democrats.


and it's not "systemic"

Correct. Because even if you can prove the Republican Party elected officials in Washington systemically don't follow the rule of law, you can't demonstrate that Republicans in general support it, whereas ignoring the rule of law is an integral part of what it means to be a Democrat, especially a liberal one: the entire liberal Democrat method of interpreting the Constitution, and the basis therefore of selecting judges, is based on a hatred for the rule of law and love of rule of men. Whether it's Lily Ledbetter or Idaho's Payroll Protection or DC v. Heller ... the law takes a backseat to "fairness." This is the Democratic way.


(Which White House sold weapons to Iranian mullahs, cravenly groveling before hostage-takers, and illegally diverted the proceeds to the Contras? Which party organized the burglary of Watergate?)

Since I am not arguing that Republicans never break the law, your argument here is fallacious.

Posted by: pudge on March 23, 2009 11:24 AM
58.
"'Can you identify the distinction between Reichert and Burner?'

Reichert voted against the porkulus. That's plenty enough of a difference, but there's plenty more if you chose to research it. You are a troll and not worth my time."
Posted by Palouse

Plenty? Hey brainiac, Burner didn't vote for it either. His vote, her non-vote, the result is the same.

Reichert may have voted against porkulus in 2009 [because neither is his party in the majority in the House or in the Whitehouse], but what did he do when his vote counted in 2005? 2006?

REPUBLICAN Reichert voted for the PORK.

How did Reichert the REPUBLICAN vote on HR 1586?
Yep, as this post leads REPUBLICAN Reichert still hates the rule of law.

Cripes!! even Obama and Lawrence Tribe are to the right of Riechert on this issue.

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system." -- George Bush, REPUBLICAN!!!

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 23, 2009 03:17 PM
59. MikeBoyScout: Plenty? Hey brainiac, Burner didn't vote for it either. His vote, her non-vote, the result is the same.

OK, I've not been participating in this particular discussion, but that's just about the weakest argument I've seen. Come on.

I know you hate Reichert, but YOU said he is the same as her, and Palouse gave you a clear example of something he voted against that she would obviously have voted for. Don't ruin whatever good argument you have by failing to concede that obviously true point.

Posted by: pudge on March 23, 2009 03:36 PM
60. @pudge,

no i didn't say Reichert was the same as Burner. I say that there is no discernible difference between them.

Who knows what Burner would or would not have done. We know that Reichert voted for Pork. We know that he speaks out of both sides of his mouth on earmarks. We know that Reichert tried to BS us claiming he had a degree he doesn't have.

My argument is that conservatives who simply throw their support to REPUBLICANS are saps.

Palouse gave us a hypothetical. I provided facts - Reichert voted against porkulus and Burner didn't vote for it, the result is the same.

I'm listening for an argument that shows Reichert is a principled conservative. I contend his record clearly shows Reichert is a self-serving opportunist.

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system." -- George Bush, REPUBLICAN!!!

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 23, 2009 04:21 PM
61. no i didn't say Reichert was the same as Burner. I say that there is no discernible difference between them.

And Palouse just proved to you there WAS a discernible difference.


Who knows what Burner would or would not have done.

Everyone here, except for, apparently, you. And I have my doubts about that.

Seriously, if you can't even admit that OF COURSE Burner would have supported the stimulus bill, then you're not worth discussing this with.

Posted by: pudge on March 23, 2009 04:30 PM
62. @pudge,

no i didn't say Reichert was the same as Burner. I say that there is no discernible difference between them.

Who knows what Burner would or would not have done. We know that Reichert voted for Pork. We know that he speaks out of both sides of his mouth on earmarks. We know that Reichert tried to BS us claiming he had a degree he doesn't have.

My argument is that conservatives who simply throw their support to REPUBLICANS are saps.

Palouse gave us a hypothetical. I provided facts - Reichert voted against porkulus and Burner didn't vote for it, the result is the same.

I'm listening for an argument that shows Reichert is a principled conservative. I contend his record clearly shows Reichert is a self-serving opportunist.

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system." -- George Bush, REPUBLICAN!!!

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 23, 2009 04:31 PM
63. By your ridiculous argument MBS, you could say there's 'no discernible difference' between Burner and Dana Rohrabacher, or Tom Tancredo, or Mickey Mouse because she didn't vote for anything they did, ever. I don't know why I bother to respond to trolls, it's useless.

Posted by: Palouse on March 24, 2009 07:35 AM
64. @ Palouse,

i don't know why you bother to respond either, because you can't seem to stay on topic or present facts to support your suppositions.
Dave 'I SPONSOR MILLION DOLLAR EARMARKS' for glove research, is a REPUBLICAN representing WA's 8th district. This so-called conservative REPUBLICAN voted for HR 1586.

Burner ran for the 8th district seat. She also would have voted for HR 1586.
Again, what is the difference between having a socialist democrat in the 8th and having a REPUBLICAN who votes with them?

Calling people names is just another left wing, pinko, fellow traveler response when there is no substance.

2/3rds of the Washington REPUBLICAN delegation voted for an unconstitutional bill of attainder.

If conservatives support these REPUBLICANS, please explain why, and what principles these REPUBLICANS operate under.

It's high time conservatives spend less time being outraged at liberal Dems and more being OUTRAGED at power hungry fellow traveling pinko REPUBLICANS.

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system." -- George Bush, REPUBLICAN!!!

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 24, 2009 09:12 AM
65. MikeBoyScout:

Calling people names is just another left wing, pinko, fellow traveler response when there is no substance.

Did you mean that ironically? Because ... um ...

Posted by: pudge on March 24, 2009 09:20 AM
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