Celebrating Tax Day

As you no doubt know, your tax return must be filed by April 15. When that due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the filing deadline is delayed until the next business day. If you’re wondering why tax day is the 17th in 2018, you’re probably not familiar with Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in Washington D.C. Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act on April 16, 1862. This Act freed the more than 3,000 slaves in the District of Columbia. (Slavery was outlawed in the rest of the nation by constitutional amendment in 1865, after the end of Civil War. Mississippi ratified the amendment in 1995.) Emancipation Day became an official D.C. holiday in 2005.

War is expensive. Also in 1862, President Lincoln created the position of Commissioner of Internal Revenue and enacted an income tax to pay for the war. The tax was abolished ten years later. Income tax was legislated again in 1894, but the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. The 16th Amendment, providing for a tax on income was ratified in 1913. The rate was 1% and increased to 7% on incomes above $500,000. (The equivalent of $12.6 million in 2018.) With the onset of the Great War a couple years later, the rates doubled.

And here we are. One wonders about Donald Trump’s tax returns. Is money laundering taxed as ordinary income or does the more favorable “carried interest” rate apply?

WTFJHT

A fair – and slightly unbalanced – news aggregator, WTFJHT will put a summary of the day’s (mostly political) news in your electronic mailbox every afternoon. Or you can check in for an update at any time. The JHT part of the name represents “Just Happened Today.” It’s free, but you can help support it with any amount you choose. (I did.)

Flying United

Many years ago, trying to get home from a business conference somewhere, I missed my United Airlines connecting flight in Denver because of inclement weather. (Snow in Denver – who’da guessed?) A nice United person helped me get re-booked. She also pointed to a nearby counter telling me I could go there and receive a voucher for some food because of the delay. I patiently waited in line. When my turn came, the United Airlines representative spoke to me as if I was a schoolboy disrupting class, telling me they had no control over the weather and were not required to give me anything. When I explained the person who re-booked my flight sent me over, she emphatically repeated they weren’t going to feed me and I should not have expected they would. That was my last flight on United Airlines; I have been able to avoid their friendly skies since that experience.

You may have seen United Airlines in the news recently when they dragged a passenger off a plane after he refused to give up his seat for an airline employee. (Read here why travel writer Joe Brancatelli consistently calls United the “Worst Airline Ever.”) Or the demise of a French Bulldog whose owners were ordered by a flight attendant to be put in an overhead bin. (But don’t get me started about animals on airplanes.)

The trade group Airlines for America and the Trump administration are now doing their best to roll back regulations that made air travel a little less unpleasant, such as:

  • Prohibiting airlines keeping passengers on the plane sitting for hours on the tarmac without food, water or access to rest rooms
  • Quoted fares must disclose additional fees and taxes
  • A refund without penalty if a reservation is canceled within 24 hours
  • et cetera

According to United, “Many of the regulations/initiatives adopted or issued at the end of the previous administration are extremely costly, will be unduly burdensome on the airline industry, and should be repealed or permanently terminated.”

Happy flying.

Fair and Balanced

Remember our previous President Barack Obama? He went on record that he would be willing to meet “not just with our friends but our enemies,” including North Korea. The reaction from Fox News was predictable. Fox talking heads were outraged about “bowing and scraping before dictators” because there’s no “discussing issues with Kim Jong-un.”

Our current President has impressive diplomatic and negotiating skills. When he announced that he will meet with the North Korean leader. According to Sean Hannity, “The world will probably be a little bit safer. The media should be giving President Trump credit for that.”

Watch it here.

American Skin

Sacramento Kings (Paul Kitagaki Jr./Sacramento Bee/TNS via Getty Images)

Sacramento police officers, no doubt well trained in the use of deadly force, fired twenty shots at Stephon Clark after they chased him into his grandparents’ back yard. Eight of the twenty bullets hit Clark.

If armed – and well trained – classroom teachers hit 40 percent of their shots intended for a school intruder, what or whom will the other 60 percent of the bullets hit?

Is it a gun, is it a knife
Is it a wallet, this is your life
It ain’t no secret …
No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living in your American skin

Plus ça change … Anita Hill edition

Anita Hill, a professor at Brandeis University, grew up in Lone Tree, Oklahoma, a speck on the map, about a hundred miles east of Oklahoma City, and thirty-some miles west of Muskogee. She graduated as valedictorian from her local high school and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree with honors from Oklahoma State University. She earned her law degree with honors from Yale Law School in 1980. In 1989, she became the first tenured black professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Anita Hill – 2015

Three years later, after a nationwide fundraising campaign initiated by a feminist group, and matching state funds, the Anita F. Hill professorship was endowed at the University of Oklahoma Law School. Oklahoma legislators promptly demanded Ms. Hill’s resignation and introduced a bill to prohibit the university from accepting out-of-state donations and even attempted to close the law school. School officials attempted to revoke her tenure. After five years of this, Hill resigned. The law school defunded the professorship in 1999, the position having never been filled.

Clarence “Long Dong” Thomas

What could a person have done to provoke such reaction in her home state? Anita Hill had the temerity to testify before the 1991 Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Joseph Biden, considering Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, for whom she had worked when Thomas was in charge of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The FBI had previously questioned Hill. When that interview was leaked, the Senate committee called her to testify. She told the committee that Thomas had asked her out several times and she had always refused. His work conversations regularly addressed such topics as women having sex with animals, pornographic movies about group sex and rape, and “his own sexual prowess,” referring to himself as “Long Dong Silver,” an homage to a contemporary porn star. She also famously related his examining a can of soda on his desk and asking, “Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?”

The invective directed at her came quickly and forcefully. Thomas, of course denied it and went further, saying it was “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves.” Republican Senator Orrin Hatch said , “Hill was working in tandem with ‘slick lawyers’ and interest groups bent on destroying Thomas’ chances to join the court.” Contemporaneous opinion polls showed most people believed Thomas.

Ms. Hill took and passed, a polygraph test; Thomas refused to take a test. Four other women were waiting to testify but the committee chose not to hear them. Thomas, with all of one year’s experience as a federal judge, was confirmed. He has since distinguished himself as the least-inquisitive justice, often going months without asking a question or making a comment, and its most predictably conservative voter, including his dissent against affirmative action, something from which he benefited during his education.

A documentary film, “Anita,” about her experiences was released in 2014. HBO presented a dramatic film, “Confirmation,” starring Kerry Washington, in 2016.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. (The more things change, the more they stay the same.)