The latest internet fear: signing with 20

A meme has been going around warning people not to sign their documents with “20” as the year because someone might change it on them.

I thought that was kind of ridiculous, and said so on my Facebook page.

NBC’s Today Show thought my comments were interesting, and quoted me in their article about it.  Click here for a link to the article below:

A Maine police department passed along a warning from a law office to avoid abbreviating 2020 on checks and legal documents.
By Scott Stump

A Maine police department is warning against abbreviating the year 2020 on checks and legal documents for precautionary reasons and to avoid potential fraud.

The East Millinocket Police Department shared a message on Facebook from the George E. Moore Law Office in Ohio that advises people to write out 2020 instead of an example like 3/3/20 because it could allow people to write a different year at the end by adding two digits after 20.

“This is sound advice and should be considered when signing any legal or professional document,” the department wrote on Facebook. “It could potentially save you some trouble down the road.”

The department later edited the post after receiving some criticism to say that it was intended as a warning, not strict legal advice.

“Of course we understand that all dates can be altered, however I believe that most here would agree that if a document of any kind, either legal or professional, is brought to our attention as being forged or fraudulent, it would likely raise far more red flags, depending on the circumstances, if it had a date of 1999 as opposed to 2019 or 2021.

A Maine police department passed along a warning from a law office to avoid abbreviating 2020 on checks and legal documents.

“Again, we shared this meme with a simple cautionary post, giving the citizens of our small community information to consider. Criminals are always looking for ways to take advantage of people. This meme provided a tip that we felt has some validity so this is why we shared it. It is not intended as legal advise or a warning, only as a cautionary tip to consider.”

So is this a legitimate concern as we start the new year?

“The chances of someone trying to pull that kind of fraud on you are pretty slim, especially since it is so easy to prove that it was done,” Pennsylvania attorney Michael Ventrella told TODAY in an email.

“If someone changes the date on a check or a contract, that’s fraud. It’s easy to prove and no court will hold you responsible for a contract that was changed like that. Even a simple mistake can be easily corrected.”

Contract law is not so strict as to hold people to whatever is written down if that was not their intent, Ventrella added.

“You’d also have to ask why someone would do this,” he said. “If you change the date on a check to 2019, for instance, then a check dated Jan. 3, 2019 would never be honored by a bank because it’s so old. Who would do that? What benefit would it have?

“If you want to play it safe, then sure, write out the entire date. But you’d be better off to prepare for being hit by lightning, because that’s probably more likely.”

 

Christmas Laughs

“I bought my brother some gift wrap for Christmas. I took it to the Gift Wrap department and told them to wrap it, but in a different print so he would know when to stop unwrapping.” – Steven Wright

“What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.” – Phyllis Diller

“I played Santa Claus many times, and if you don’t believe it, check out the divorce settlements awarded my wives.” – Groucho Marxgroucho claus

“In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!’” — Dave Barry

“The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.” – Jay Leno

“The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.” – Dennis Miller

“Christmas is the only religious holiday that is also a federal holiday. That way, Christians can go to their services, and everyone else can sit at home and reflect on the true meaning of the separation of church and state.” – Samantha Bee 

“Christmas at my house is always at least six or seven times more pleasant than anywhere else. We start drinking early. And while everyone else is seeing only one Santa Claus, we’ll be seeing six or seven.” – W. C. Fields

“This holiday season, no matter what your religion is, please take a moment to reflect on why it’s better than all the other ones.” Guy Endore Kaiser

“Ever wonder what people got Jesus for Christmas? It’s like, ‘Oh great, socks. You know I’m dying for your sins right? Yeah, but thanks for the socks! They’ll go great with my sandals. What am I, German?’” – Jim Gaffigan

“My grandmother passed away at Christmas time. So now I have this built in sadness every holiday beause I’m plagued with the thought of what she would have given me.” – Laura Knightlinger

“The one thing women don’t want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husband.” – Joan Rivers

“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph.” – Shirley Temple

“Let me see if I’ve got this Santa business straight. You say he wears a beard, has no discernible source of income and flies to cities all over the world under cover of darkness? You sure this guy isn’t laundering illegal drug money?” – Tom Armstrong

“Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people once a year.” – Victor Borge

“Santa Claus wears a Red Suit, he must be a communist. And a beard and long hair, must be a pacifist. What’s in that pipe that he’s smoking?” Arlo Guthrie

“The office Christmas party is a great opportunity to catch up with people you haven’t seen for 20 minutes.” — Julius Sharpe

“Roses are reddish, Violets are bluish, If it weren’t for Christmas, We’d all be Jewish.” – Benny Hill

“Aren’t we forgetting the true meaning of Christmas. You know, the birth of Santa?” – Matt Groening

“Be careful with drinking this Christmas. I got so drunk last night I found myself dancing in a cheesy bar… or, as you like to call it, delicatessen.” Sean Hughes

“Christmas is a baby shower that went way overboard.” – Andy Borowitz

“There are 17 more shopping days until Christmas. So guys, that means 16 more days until we start shopping, right?” – Conan O’Brien

“One thing I learned from drinking is that if you ever go Christmas caroling, you should go with a group of people. And also go in mid-December.” – Louis C.K.

“Let’s be naughty and save Santa the trip.” – Gary Allan

“My mother-in-law has come round to our house at Christmas seven years running. This year we’re having a change. We’re going to let her in.” – Leslie “Les” Dawson, Jr.

“This past Christmas, I told my girlfriend for months in advance that all I wanted was an Xbox. That’s it. Beginning and end of list, Xbox. You know what she got me? A homemade frame with a picture of us from our first date together. Which was fine. Because I got her an Xbox.” – Anthony Jeselnik

“Merry Christmas, Nearly Everybody!” – Ogden Nash

The 7th Annual War on Christmas Contest

Merry War on Christmas, everybody!

Anger drives ratings, as Fox News is well aware. And that’s why they created the War on Christmas. Those poor Christians, being attacked and persecuted and treated terribly — how awful it must be to be a discriminated against majority. All those laws requiring people to never say “Merry Christmas” …  oh wait.

war on christmas

cartoon by Pat Bagley

Every example Fox News gives for a “War on Christmas” always boils down to something like “They won’t let us force kids to sing our religious songs!” or “They say ‘Happy Holidays’ which acknowledges that not everyone is a Christian and therefore they are attacking us!” or “They are refusing to allow us to use their money (taxpayer dollars) for a religious display.”

So for seven years now, I have challenged anyone to give me an example of a real “attack on Christmas,” because every one of these examples is, in reality, fought in defense. You wouldn’t even hear about them if these particular Christians weren’t trying to require everyone to obey their beliefs.

Or else they’ll point out one misguided grinch who complains about a decoration or something as if that was evidence of a vast, coordinated attack. Last year, they trotted out an elementary school principal who, in an effort to avoid controversy, banned even secular representations of Christmas such as Santa Claus and Christmas trees. She changed her position once people complained, but that was hardly a “war on Christmas” as much as it was someone who understood that religion does not belong in a public school but mistakenly went too far.

And this in no way prevented any family from celebrating their religion in any way they wanted to on their own.

So there’s my yearly challenge: find me one example of anyone trying to prevent people from celebrating a religious Christmas. Just one.

I have a feeling I know what the result will once again be.

(And yes, of course, just to clarify: #notallChristians)

Discussing the Constitution

My interview with Rob Kall, editor of Op Ed News, will be published on his blog soon, but here it is early. We discuss the Constitution and some of the most important issues discussed in my book HOW TO ARGUE THE CONSTITUTION WITH A CONSERVATIVE.

 

Hey! Fellow Democrats!

Please

1. Stop bashing other Democrats. You’re just helping the Republicans. Discuss the differences between the candidates, say why you support one or the other, but please stop treating someone you disagree with 20% of the time as if they’re your enemy. We’re going to end up with one of them and any are better than any Republican. Let’s not give them an already destroyed candidate to begin the campaign with.

2. Stop saying we should not be impeaching based on your belief that it is politically a bad thing to do and may hurt us. Refusing to do the right thing simply because it may hurt you politically is what Republicans do. Let’s be better than that.

Impeachment testimony talking points

“You Democrats only called witnesses who attacked Trump! Not one defense witness testified!”

“We subpoenaed them…we asked them to testify.”

“They’re not going to participate in your sham inquiry! Besides, all our witnesses have said it never happened!”

“All the witnesses under oath said it did. Why not have your defense witnesses testify under oath?”

“They’re not going to particip–”

“Yes, right, we know.”

 

No, a wealth tax is not unconstitutional

In response to a discussion about Elizabeth Warren’s so-called “wealth tax,” I recently had someone ask “How exactly does a wealth tax (which is not income) conform to the sixteenth amendment?”  (“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”)

Well, first let’s discuss the 16th and why it was passed. I will quote from this wonderful new book called “How to Argue the Constitution with a Conservative”:

You’d think it would be obvious that a country can ask its citizens for an income tax, right? Well, the United States had an income tax, too, ever since the Civil War. But when Congress tried to tax income from rental properties, well, that was the last straw. The 1% flew into a rage and a majority of the Supreme Court agreed that some income wasn’t really income. (It’s actually a lot more complicated than that, but let’s not write an essay here.) The only way to overturn a Supreme Court decision is to amend the Constitution, so that’s what we did, while pointing to the 1% and giving a Nelson laugh.

Chico: Taxes? I got an uncle living in Taxes.
Groucho: No, taxes … money, dollars …
Chico: That’s where he lives! Dollars, Taxes

The passage of the 16th amendment doesn’t mean all other forms of taxes are unconstitutional. After all, there are tariffs and capital gains taxes and inheritance taxes and property taxes and so on, and there were before and after the 16th amendment.

And, after all, a wealth tax is an income tax, which is perfectly constitutional under the 16th amendment. It just means that the progressive tax we now have (where the % you pay goes up the more you have) gets to be like it was back when Eisenhower was President.

One problem is that many people don’t understand is how progressive tax works. When you hear that the top tax rate under Eisenhower was 94% you think, “Wow! Millionaires only got to keep 6% of their income?”

But that’s not how it works. You pay a certain percentage up to a specific amount. For instance, our current tax rates look something like this:

10% on taxable income from $0 to $8,700, plus
15% on taxable income over $8,700 to $35,350, plus
25% on taxable income over $35,350 to $85,650, plus
28% on taxable income over $85,650 to $178,650, plus
33% on taxable income over $178,650 to $388,350, plus
35% on taxable income over $388,350, plus
40% on taxable income over $400,000

If you earn more than $400,000, it doesn’t mean the government gets 40% of your $400,000. It means they get 10% of your income under $8,700 and then 15% on your income between $8,700 and $35,350, and so on. The highest rate is only for whatever income you have over $400,000. That’s how we were able to have tax rates in the 90% range on the very very wealthy without bankrupting them (while at the same time providing for budget surpluses). It’s also how we were able to have a balanced budget, pay for infrastructure like highways and roads, have very cheap public colleges, and otherwise do the sorts of things that make America great.