Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

For GOP, ‘Repeal And Replace’ Has Been Nothing But A Mantra On Healthcare Law


English: Data Source http://www.irdes.fr/EcoSa...

The fundamenta­l role of the health care industry is being fought over.
The republican­s think it is all about making money.
The Democrats think it is about providing health care.

The present situation is unsustaina­ble. As the number of people who cannot afford health care rises, the economic viability of the industry shrinks. Economic realities of the present system are pushing new doctors toward specialty practices, and away from rural medicine, general/fa­mily practice, and geriatrics­.

Conservati­ves want to lock in this failing trajectory­, but America needs a radical change in that trajectory­.

Consider what a free market NFL would be like: the big, wealthy market teams buy up the best talent. The smaller markets become uncompetit­ive, unprofitab­le, and drop out. As the size of the leagues shrink, so does interest in the sport – and profitabil­ity for the larger markets. In the end, the entire league fails.

At a micro level, measuring success in dollars is fine. But at a macro level, success must be measured in contributi­on to society, or the society fails.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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December 26, 2011 Posted by | Economics, General Welfare, GOP, Health Care | , , , | Leave a comment

With Newt in Virginia


Cover of "With Lee In Virginia: A Story O...

Cover via Amazon

In response to Newt Gingrich‘s allusion to Pearl Harbor as a parallel to his campaign failure in Virginia, I offer the preface to a book called “With Lee in Virginia (A story of the American civil war)”, written by G. A. Henty. Published by Hurst and Company, New York, it does not identify a publication date or claim a copyright. The inscription indicates that this copy has been in the family since January, 1901. Antiques Roadshow type stuff. It doesn’t look anything like the cover from Amazon.

I found Gingrich’s comparison to an infamous attack to be arrogantly dismissive of the tragedy and horror of war. His scapegoating was an insult to the courage and sacrifice of our citizen soldiers and their families, as well as a testament to the empty rhetoric of “personal responsibility” that is fundamental to the conservative desire to re-engineer America. He also demonstrated ignorance of relevant laws and outright contempt for rules that hinder his agenda in any way.

His failure in Virginia, and his response to it demonstrate conclusively that he should only enter the White House with a visitor’s pass and a Secret Service escort.

On a more personal note, I have called the present ideological battles a political civil war. I thought it would be appropriate to momentarily revisit that point in our history.

Yes, it really is all one paragraph in the book…

“My Dear Lads:
The Great War between the Northern and Southern States of America possesses a peculiar interest to us, not only because it was a struggle between two sections of a people akin to us in race and language, but because of the heroic courage with which the weaker party, with ill-fed, ill-clad, ill-equipped regiments, for four years sustained the contest with an adversary not only possessed of immense numerical superiority, but having the command of the sea, and being able to draw its arms and munitions of war from all the manufactories of Europe. Authorities still differ as to the rights of the case. The Confederates firmly believed that the States, having voluntarily united, retained the right of withdrawing from the Union when they considered it for their advantage to do so. The Northerners took the opposite point of view, and an appeal to arms became inevitable. During the first two years of the war the struggle was conducted without inflicting unnecessary hardship upon the general population. But later on the character of the war changed, and the Federal armies carried widespread destruction wherever they marched. Upon the other hand, the moment the struggle was over the conduct of the conquerors was marked by a clemency and generosity altogether unexampled in history, a complete amnesty being granted, and none, whether soldiers or civilians, being made to suffer for their share in the rebellion. The credit of this magnanimous conduct was to a great extent due to Generals Grant and Sherman, the former of whom took upon himself the responsibility granting terms which, although they were finally ratified by his government, were at the time received with anger and indignation in the North. It was impossible, in the course of a single volume, to give even a sketch of the numerous and complicated operations of the war, and I have therefore confined myself to the central point of the great struggle – the attempts of the Northern armies to force their way to Richmond, the capital of Virginia and the heart of the Confederacy. Even in recounting the leading events in these campaigns, I have burdened my story with as few details as possible, it being my object now, as always, to amuse, as well as to give instruction in the facts of history.
Yours sincerely,
G. A. Henty.”

As a bonus for those who were curious enough to slog through this post, I shall include an excerpt from the last page of the book (covering reconstruction):

“For the next three or four years times were very hard in Virginia, and Mrs. Wingfield had to draw upon her savings to keep up the house in its former state; while the great majority of the planters were utterly ruined. The negroes, however, for the most part remained steadily working on the estate. A few wandered away, but their places were easily filled; for the majority of the freed slaves very soon discovered that their lot was a far harder one than it had been before, and that freedom so suddenly given was a curse rather than a blessing to them.

Thus, while so many went down, the Wingfields weathered the storm, and the step that had been taken in preparing their hands for the general abolition of slavery was a complete success.

With the gradual return of prosperity to the South the prices of produce improved, and ten years after the conclusion of the rebellion the income of the Orangery was nearly as large as it had been previous to its outbreak.”

I found it an interesting glimpse into the past, but with points that still resonate today. It would be interesting to explore just how closely the book parallels the plantation-era ideology of the modern republican party, if I had the time. What is one of the most surprising things for me was to find that the book is still in print, on tape, and even Kindle.

[UPDATE 12/26/2011]

Paul Goldman helps Newt Gingrich with Virginia ballot
Now that Slacker Newt has failed to meet the minimum requirements for getting on the Virginia primary ballot, he has decided that it would violate someone else’s rights if they did not get to vote for him. How modest.

All he needed was 10,000 valid signatures. Signatures vetted by his own party. That’s less than half of the population of the suburb I live in. In WI, Democrats are collecting an average of about 25,000 signatures/day to recall Walker. Even a minor politician should be able to collect 10,000 signatures in their own home state.

Basically, he is embracing every derogatory mis-characterization conservatives have aimed at liberals, and justifying liberal cynicism toward conservatives at the same time. IOKIYAR.

“According to press reports over the weekend,” continued Pascoe, “the Chairman of the Virginia Republican Party, per Section 24.2-545 of the Code of Virginia, has indicated that he will be certifying only two candidates for inclusion on the 2012 GOP presidential primary ballot. Based on our collective knowledge and understanding of the state’s election laws – including a previous successful legal action by Mr. Goldman as concerns a Democratic Party nomination process – we intend to formally challenge such certification for specific reasons to be detailed at the appropriate time.

Yet once again, the law should not apply to a republican. It’s just not fair. The dog ate his petition.

“Our mutual goal is to ensure that the voting rights of the citizens of Virginia are fully protected.”

So they have turned against the GOP voter suppression agenda?

“As with everything we do in the field of public policy, CFTR’s goal is to empower the individual, in the belief that a free choice in the marketplace of ideas is what Virginians want to have their leaders achieve in time for 2012 presidential primary.”

Whatever they are trying to say seems to have gotten lost in the confusion of ill-fitting catch-phrases. This is just meaningless BS.

If he had been applying for a job (which he was), and he failed to fill out the application before showing up for the initial interview, they would have shown him the door without wasting any more time on someone who had already failed key tasks and started making excuses.

Cirque du GOP is coming to Virginia. Enjoy the show, folks.

December 26, 2011 Posted by | 2012 Candidates, 2012 Election, Candidates, Elections | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

South Carolina Voter ID Law: Justice Department Blocks Controversial Legislation


"Certificate of Election of John Jay as G...

John Jay election certificate

At the beginning of our country, all you had to do to prove you were a citizen was to swear to it. Word of honor was enough. Neither the states nor the central government recorded or tracked births. Then it required an oath. Then a court. And a witness. Then it went too far, with intelligen­ce tests and poll taxes. Rules and laws were used to manipulate elections instead of protecting our suffrage rights. In the past year, we have seen a major return to such voter suppressio­n.

Protecting rights is a trade-off. Rights are not absolute, or free. In Federalist 2, John Jay said:

“Nothing is more certain than the indispensa­ble necessity of government­, and it is equally undeniable­, that whenever and however it is instituted­, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.”

The goal is to protect the most rights while ceding the least. Given the scarcity of fraud and the large number of disenfranc­hised, the voter ID laws are the embodiment of bad government­.

Promoted as a way to protect the integrity of the election process, they accomplish the opposite. They are designed and intended to disenfranchise voters who are not likely to vote for conservatives.

In short, voter ID laws create the very problem they profess to fix – the manipulation of elections – and they do it deliberately. And with extreme partisanship.

December 24, 2011 Posted by | Elections, Legislation, Voter ID | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Payroll Tax Cut Fight: ‘Wall Street Journal’ Editorial Rips Boehner, McConnell


The Wall Street Journal opinion piece passes out the business-c­entric blinders.

“No employer is going to hire a worker based on such a small and temporary decrease in employment costs, as this year’s tax holiday has demonstrat­ed. The entire exercise is political, but Republican­s have thoroughly botched the politics.”

True, but not the point of the exercise. Employers will hire when they see customers with money coming their way – which is the point of the tax holiday: Putting more money in consumer pockets. Wasn’t it the republican­s who said that people know best how to spend their own money? Conservatives consistently devalue the necessity of funding the demand side of supply and demand. Instead, they are aggressively working to weaken the economic foundation of the middle class.

“Their first mistake was adopting the President’­s language that he is proposing a tax cut rather than calling it a temporary tax holiday. People will understand the difference­—and discount the benefit.”

So people will understand when it comes time to end the Bush “tax holiday” for the rich?

“Republica­ns have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-y­ear tax cutter, although he’s spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible­.”

Except that Obama44 has been cutting taxes. The “tax holiday” in question is only one example. Conservati­ves keep changing the definition­s. Either the House republican­s have voted for a middle-cla­ss tax increase, or we need to end one of the largest unfunded tax holidays ever.

Conservatives are nibbling at the edges of doublethink. The Obama44 cuts to payroll taxes and the Bush43 income tax cuts to income taxes are both temporary cuts. There is one notable difference between the two though. The Obama cuts are being paid for – how is a major point of contention. The Bush43 cuts went straight to the national debt.

The President and the Democrats want the rich to pay for extending the payroll tax cuts, and put some of that idle money back in circulation as an economic stimulus. The republicans want the middle class and poor to pay for it, which would negate the simulative effect and hurt the economy in the long term. Redistribution of wealth at its most ineffective.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

December 21, 2011 Posted by | 2012 Election, Campaign Strategy, Economics, Legislation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

House Republicans Pushing Bill To Shift Regulation Authority To Congress


The purpose of having regulatory authority within the administra­tion is that the legislatur­e does not have the time or expertise to do it. The legislatur­e writes broad policy into law, and the administra­tion works out and implements the details.

Putting the administra­tion on a short leash rejects the separation of powers, cripples the regulatory function, inflates hyper-part­isanship, and increases the cost while decreasing the effectiven­ess of government­. This, of course, is what the GOP wants. By crippling the government’s ability to protect the lives and rights of living people, they give a free hand to the predators and polluter who support them. The anarchy they seek favors the powerful and the dangerous.

This is deeply damaging to the country.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

December 10, 2011 Posted by | GOP, Governance, Regulation | , , , , | Leave a comment

House Republicans Stepping Up Anti-Regulation Effort


Regulation is as necessary as traffic law. While I have seen some silly traffic laws, I don’t think that any responsibl­e person would propose getting rid of all traffic law as a consequenc­e.

Every regulation is a reminder that businesses bear no responsibi­lity toward the public good. That responsibi­lity lies with the people, through their official instrument­: the government­.

A bad regulation is a regulation that fails to protect the public interest. A regulation is not properly measured by if or how much it impedes commerce, but whether or not that impediment promotes or fails to promote the general welfare.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

December 3, 2011 Posted by | GOP, Regulation | , , , | 1 Comment

Russell Pearce, Recalled Arizona Senate President, Could Get State Reimbursement For Campaign


Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, standing i...At least one Arizona state senator thinks that an obscure provision in the state constitution could entitle recalled state Senate President (R) to money from the state.

State Sen. Jack Harper (R-Surprise) said that his reading of Article 8, Part 1, Section 6 of the state constitution would allow Pearce to ask the state to reimburse the cost of his unsuccessful campaign to fight being recalled from office this week.

According to records on the Arizona secretary of state’s office website, Pearce raised $230,282 for the recall campaign and spent $159,587. Pearce, the architect of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, lost the recall election in his Maricopa County district to fellow Republican Jerry Lewis.

This raises an interestin­g question of constituti­onal law.

Article VIII

Section 6. The general election laws shall apply to recall elections in so far as applicable­. Laws necessary to facilitate the operation of the provisions of this article shall be enacted, including provision for payment by the public treasury of the reasonable special election campaign expenses of such officer.

But looking further (figurativ­ely) – Article VIII again: Continue reading

November 11, 2011 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Constitution | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

112th Congress HJRes78 – A Citizens United Amendment


Ii I analyze any more Democrat Bills, I will have to come up with a new category for them.

The Joint Resolution:


[Congressional Bills 112th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.J. Res. 78 Introduced in House (IH)]

112th CONGRESS
  1st Session
H. J. RES. 78

  Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to 
   clarify the authority of Congress and the States to regulate the 
      expenditure of funds for political activity by corporations.
_______________________________________________________________________

                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                           September 12, 2011

  Ms. Edwards (for herself and Mr. Conyers) introduced the following 
 joint resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
_______________________________________________________________________

                            JOINT RESOLUTION

  Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to 
   clarify the authority of Congress and the States to regulate the 
      expenditure of funds for political activity by corporations.

    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United 
States of America in Congress assembled   (two-thirds of each House 
concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an 
amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be 
valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when 
ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:

                              ``Article--

    ``Section 1. Nothing in this Constitution shall prohibit Congress 
and the States from imposing content-neutral regulations and 
restrictions on the expenditure of funds for political activity by any 
corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity, 
including but not limited to contributions in support of, or in 
opposition to, a candidate for public office.

    ``Section 2. Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed 
to abridge the freedom of the press.''.

                                 <all>

Analysis

Section 1:

This is similar to my second proposed amendment in that it works to deny Constitutional protection to corporate political spending. This is probably the least disruptive method from a legal standpoint, but it retains the “regulating the hand that feeds” conflict of interest problem.

It does not include organized religion, which should not be engaging in political campaigns but do anyway.

To be fair, it does not include unions either. On the other hand, unions are associations of actual people, not “artificial persons”. They do not pose the same threat to our sovereignty as corporations. Perhaps someday an adjustment will need to be made, but that becomes a slippery slope problem.

Section 2:

The freedom of the press must be maintained, though the corporate media undermines the Fourth Estate through the corrupt use of ownership powers.

Constitutional Authority Statement:

[Congressional Record Volume 157, Number 134 (Monday, September 12, 2011)]
[House]
[Pages H6097-H6098]

From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

 By Ms. EDWARDS:
 H.J. Res. 78.

[[Page H6098]]

 Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant
 to the following:
 Article V of the Constitution.

Article V:

    • The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution,
    • or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments,
  • which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when
    • ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States,
    • or by Conventions in three fourths thereof,

    as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;

  • Provided
    • that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article;
    • and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Related Bills:


Conclusion

This is a simple and straightforward answer to Citizens United. Without a mandate, I think that there would be many partisan battles over regulation. Especially when one party confuses corporations with living people.

I also think it needs an enacting clause. Other than that, I like it.

November 8, 2011 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Citizens United vs FEC, Constitution, Legislation | , , , , | 1 Comment

112th Congress SJRes29 – A Citizens United Amendment


I usually reserve my analysis for the republican clunkers. This is the second time I have analyzed a Democrat Bill.

The Joint Resolution:


[Congressional Bills 112th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[S.J. Res. 29 Introduced in Senate (IS)]

112th CONGRESS
  1st Session
S. J. RES. 29

    Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States 
     relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect 
                               elections.
_______________________________________________________________________

                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                            November 1, 2011

   Mr. Udall of New Mexico (for himself, Mr. Bennet, Mr. Harkin, Mr. 
Durbin, Mr. Schumer, Mr. Merkley, Mr. Whitehouse, Mr. Begich, and Mrs. 
  Shaheen) introduced the following joint resolution; which was read 
          twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
_______________________________________________________________________

                            JOINT RESOLUTION

    Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States 
     relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect 
                               elections.

    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United 
States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House 
concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an 
amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be 
valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when 
ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States 
within seven years after the date of its submission by the Congress:

                              ``Article--

    ``Section 1. Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and 
spending of money and in kind equivalents with respect to Federal 
elections, including through setting limits on--
            ``(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for 
        nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; 
        and
            ``(2) the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in 
        support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

    ``Section 2. A State shall have power to regulate the raising and 
spending of money and in kind equivalents with respect to State 
elections, including through setting limits on--
            ``(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for 
        nomination for election to, or for election to, State office; 
        and
            ``(2) the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in 
        support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

    ``Section 3. Congress shall have power to implement and enforce 
this article by appropriate legislation.''.

                                 <all>

Analysis

Section 1:

I see three problems with this section:

  1. It does not cover issues. While issues are not directly on the ballot, they are still an integral part of a political campaign.
  2. It does not cover Constitutional Amendments.
  3. The politicians setting the regulations, without direction or mandate, are the ones who benefit from the current state of campaign financing. This leaves plenty of room for continued influence peddling.

Section 2:

There are similar problems with this section:

  1. It does not cover issues.
  2. It does not cover Constitutional Amendments.
  3. It does not cover referenda.
  4. It does not cover local elections.
  5. It does not cover other Questions put to the voters, such as millage.
  6. It does not cover cross-state interference in local politics. The sovereignty of the individual states is being challenged by out-of-state money.

Constitutional Authority Statement:

None given (yet), but Article V of the Constitution covers it.

Article V:

    • The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution,
    • or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments,
  • which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when
    • ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States,
    • or by Conventions in three fourths thereof,

    as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;

  • Provided
    • that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article;
    • and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Related Bills:


Conclusion

I do not believe that this proposed amendment goes far enough to protect our democratic process from the influence of non-citizens or the excessive influence of the very rich.

November 6, 2011 Posted by | Citizens United vs FEC, Constitution, Legislation | , , , | 1 Comment

U.S. Drug Policy Would Be Imposed Globally By New House Bill


Three things to keep in mind, people:

First, the bill does not call for law enforcemen­t on foreign soil. It extends the jurisdicti­on of our laws into the sovereignt­y of other countries, but arrests would occur within the borders of the United States. The law would apply regardless of citizenshi­p, residency, visa, or other status.

Second, this defines a primary offense, a crime of thought. No other actual crime, in any jurisdicti­on, need occur for arrest and conviction under this bill. This criminalizes a conspiracy to commit a hypothetic­al crime.

Third, the bill makes no mention of drugs. It covers anything from new drugs that have not been approved for use in the US to sanitation laws. This is the very definition of overly broad legislatio­n.

Third, I am having trouble finding “section 406” of 21 U.S.C. 846 (Title 21, Chapter 13, Subchapter I, Part D, Section 846 of the US Code) – Can’t tell exactly which crimes this applies to.

The most disturbing thing may be that it was passed out of the judiciary committee by a 20-7 margin. It makes me think that the House Judiciary Committee is completely incompeten­t.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

“Whoever, within the United States, conspires with one or more persons, or aids or abets one or more persons, regardless of where such other persons are located, to engage in conduct at any place outside the United States that would constitute a violation of this title if committed within the United States, shall be subject to the same penalties that would apply to such conduct if it were to occur within the United States.”

October 9, 2011 Posted by | Private, Rewrite | Leave a comment

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