Archive for April 3rd, 2012

Who’s Your Abu?

Comes this report from Palestinian Media Watch, that a lecturer at Al-Najah University in Nablus is claiming that Moses led the Muslims out of Egypt.  (No jokes about how if this is true, he’s the last Egyptian to have successfully led his people across Sinai.)

“We must make clear to the world that David in the Hebrew Bible is not connected to David in the Quran, Solomon in the Hebrew Bible is not connected to Solomon in the Quran, and neither is Saul or Joshua son of Nun [of the Bible].  We have a great leader, Saul, [in the Quran] who defeated the nation of giants and killed Goliath. This is a great Muslim victory. The Muslims of the Children of Israel went out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses, and unfortunately, many researchers deny the Exodus of those oppressed people who were liberated by a great leader, like Moses the Muslim, the believing leader, the great Muslim, who was succeeded by Saul, the leader of these Muslims in liberating Palestine.  This was the first Palestinian liberation through armed struggle to liberate Palestine from the nation of giants led by Goliath. This is our logic and this is our culture.”

The Palestinians have a national obsession with delegitimizing not only Israel, but Jews and Judaism, in their effort to uproot Zionism, but you can’t help but laugh at this one.  After all, they’ve tried being descended from Canannites and Jebusites in their efforts to ante-date Jewish claims.  Back in his pre-Camp David days, Anwar Sadat wanted to avenge the killing of Palestinians like Goliath at the hands of shepherds like David.  So it was only a matter of time before one of them decided that Louis Farrakhan had the right idea and that the Jews were actually Palestinians, or the Palestinians were actually Jews, or something.  The Palestinian narrative has been so incoherent for so long, it’s surprising it took them until now to come out with this one.  (I suppose this ancestral confusion was transplanted to my 2008 primary opponent, who was variously born in Jordan, Saudi, Jerusalem, and recently claimed in a interview to be a child of the Levant, which must have come as quite a shock to him.)

Ultimately, of course, none of this matters.  If the Palestinians would leave the Israelis alone long enough to celebrate the Exodus peacefully, the Israelis would by and large be willing to leave the Palestinians alone to their genealogy.  But as long as “this is their logic (sic) and this is their culture,” there’s not much hope for that, I’m afraid.

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Amazon Tax Bites The Dust

In 2010, the Democrats in Colorado, in violation of the state Taxpayers Bill of Rights, passed a variety of tax increases known as the Dirty Dozen.  The state’s highly politicized Supreme Court gave the tax increases a pass around TABOR’s requirement for a citizen vote, but the federal courts are frequently a different matter, and so it has proved with one of the measures, the so-called, “Amazon Tax.”  That tax applied the state sales tax to sales by Amazon affiliates in the state, on the dubious proposition that the presence of a person who either owns a website (which could be hosted anywhere in the world) or who sells web ads constitutes a significant physical presence in the state.

Now, a federal court has decided that the tax violates the US Constitution:

On Friday, the federal court in Denver declared the 2.9 percent tax on purchases unconstitutional on the ground it was tilted unfairly against out-of-state retailers, and that it put an undue burden on retailers to either collect the tax owed by consumers or report consumer purchases to the state.

Judge Robert Blackburn’s ruling noted the legal language of the tax didn’t distinguish between in-state and out-of-state businesses, but the practical effect of the tax did.

“I conclude that the veil provided by the words … is too thin to support the conclusion that the Act and the Regulations regulate in-state and out-of-state retailers even-handedly,” Blackburn wrote.

The court applied what is known as the “negative Commerce Clause,” the notion that if regulation of interstate commerce is explicitly delegated to the Federal government, then it cannot be exercised by state governments.  As Ramesh Ponnuru says in his review of Michael Greve’s The Upside-Down Constitution

Chief among the Court’s stratagems was its deployment of what has come to be known as the “dormant” or “negative” commerce clause: the inference that since the Constitution vests Congress with the power to regulate commerce among the states, it denies that power to states. That inference has long been controversial, not least among originalists, but Greve points out that without it the states would have at hand a ready means to circumvent the specific prohibitions on them that the Constitution spells out.

Ponnuru also notes that, “Several provisions of the Constitution block state governments from taxing economic activity outside their borders.”  Greve makes the case that since the 30s, courts have increasingly presumed that states can regulation out-of-state commerce, rather than placing the burden of proof on the states.  Today’s ruling is a small step back in the other direction.

Now, it remains to be seen if Amazon will restore its Colorado affiliates.

UPDATE: On the likelihood of an appeal, someone involved in the fight against the original measure comments:

The judge ruled that the state had violated the US constitution in two seperate and distinct ways- by violating the dormant commerce clause in discriminating against out of state retailers, and in imposing an undue burden on out of state retailers with the reporting requirements in the bill. Highly unlikely the state would appeal, as they would have to overcome both violations.

Attorney General John Suthers declined to defend the State on this case (which is his prerogative) and the Department of Revenue had to hire their own legal counsel. As such, it would have to be the Governor/ED of the Dept of Revenue that would decide to appeal. Hickenlooper was almost convinced last year to support the repeal bill after the judge had granted a temporary injunction. That failed when the State Senate killed off a bunch of Republican bills in the last few days of the session. Just don’t see Hick taking up this fight – remember this all happened under former Governor Bill Ritter, mainly as a ploy to raise a few dollars to ballance the budget. With the preliminary injunction, the state has never collected a dime on this law. The permanent injunction doesnt mean the state will lose any revenue they counted on-they just simply won’t be able to gain revenue they didnt plan on.

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