Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

Mitt Romney Makes ‘Redistribution’ Argument, Bolstered by Fox News, Conservative Media


Redistribution is a fact of life. The tax code, by it’s very nature, redistributes wealth. It has to, in order “to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States“.

The real question is: What kind of redistribution works best for the country?

The republicans have embraced upward redistribution, a strategy that is decimating the middle class. In a consumption economy, this is fiscal suicide.

The Democrats embrace a strategy that funnels more money back into the economy, empowering demand and driving sustainable growth. This is a strategy that built the United States into the superpower it is today.

This image depicts the Territorial acquisition...

This image depicts the Territorial acquisitions of the United States, such as the Thirteen Colonies, the Louisiana Purchase, British and Spanish Cession, and so on. Possible Errors There is a concern that this map could have errors. For discussion, please see the talk page. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a strategy that predates either modern political party. From the Louisiana Purchase to the Alaska Purchase, tax money has been used for expansion from the very beginning. Land given to farmers and ranchers, schools and land grant colleges.

And the transcontinental railroad, much of it wasted by corporate greed.

The G.I. Bill helped create a golden age of prosperity, even as the rich were heavily taxed.

State agricultural colleges and their extension services made farmers more productive. Hydroelectric dams, the interstate highway system, NASA, DARPA…all created opportunities or entire new segments of the economy.

We would not be who we are if not for the kind of government spending that republicans are opposed to.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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September 20, 2012 Posted by | Direction, Governance | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harry Reid Will Ask Obama To Recess Appoint All Nominees If GOP Delays Continue



By rejecting their constituti­onal responsibi­lities to provide advice and consent on these nomination­s, by substituti­ng extreme obstructio­n for reasons unrelated to the qualificat­ions and merits of the individual nominee, by doing this for pure political brinksmans­hip, the republican­s have created a constituti­onal crisis.

They have defied the constituti­on to the point that the government therein defined can no longer function. President Obama took drastic action to minimize the damage, but this particular crisis will persist as long as conservati­ve extremists remain in the Senate in sufficient numbers to sustain a filibuster­.

The filibuster was never meant to be used as the republican­s are using it. It is supposed to be a lever, not a straightja­cket.

The oath to support and defend the Constituti­on carries the implied oath to support “This Constituti­on, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States”. Even the ones republican­s hate.

Without that support, we are not a nation of laws. Without that support, we do not have a constituti­onal government­.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

What I have been wondering is why Reid and the other Democrats have been going along with the pro-forma sessions in the first place. If they refused to not recess, and the House wanted to, then there would be disagreement between the two and Article II sec. 3 could be invoked. This would let the President dictate the time of recess and reconvening.

February 19, 2012 Posted by | Administration, GOP, Governance | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sen. Mike Lee Vows To Block Obama Nominees


Mike Lee went ballistic over President Obama’s recess appointments in January. This is how someone who believed in presumption of innocence might have worded it:

Senator Mike Lee formally responded to the President’s (allegedly) unconstitutional recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In a statement delivered at a Judiciary Committee business meeting, Lee outlined the (allegedly) unconstitutional nature of the appointments and criticized the justification offered by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

“President Obama used (in Lee’s opinion) deeply flawed legal reasoning to circumvent the Constitution’s clear requirement that the Senate must be in (official) recess in order to make such appointments,” said Sen. Lee. “The President’s assertion that he (the Office of Legal Counsel) may unilaterally determine for himself (the administrative branch of government) whether or not the Senate is in recess (allegedly) violates the Constitution’s fundamental separation of government powers and the Senate’s rightful prerogatives.”

“Although some Senate Democrats claim prior ‘obstruction’ of nominees during this Congress, in reality Senate Republicans have willingly allowed the overwhelming majority of the President’s nominations to pass through the Judiciary Committee with little controversy and receive an up or down vote on the floor.”

Passing a nominee out of committee does not necessarily mean that the nominee got an up-or-down vote.

Getting nominees confirmed has proved a challenge for the administration. A recent report from the Constitutional Accountability Center in Washington said the federal judiciary had had more than 750 days with at least 80 vacancies on the federal bench, which adds to the workload of an already overburdened judiciary.

“Never before has the number of vacancies risen so sharply and remained so high for so long during a president’s term,” wrote the group, which noted that all presidents come into office with a backlog that gets worked down more quickly over time.

Judicial nominations have been a source of escalating conflict since the fight over President Ronald Reagan’s attempt to nominate Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987. Over the years, fights have included refusals by Senate Republicans to hold hearings on Mr. Clinton’s nominees and Democratic senators filibustering nominees of Mr. Bush.

Now that conflict is just one of many in a continuing battle between Congress and the president that also includes nominations to the executive branch and efforts to pass major legislation.

While Mr. Obama was relatively slow to nominate judges earlier in his term, his team has now sped up, the group said. But Congress has been slow to confirm nominees, some of whom “go through committee without any opposition and still spend months and months waiting for a vote on the Senate floor,” said Doug Kendall, the group’s founder. “That’s never happened before, and it’s a big part of the reason the judicial vacancy problem has reached crisis proportions.”

For Obama, a Record on Diversity but Delays on Judicial Confirmations

Back to Mike Lee (NO relation):

“Given this President’s (allegedly) blatant and egregious disregard both for proper constitutional procedures and the Senate’s unquestioned role in such appointments, I find myself duty-bound to (commandeer the authority of the judiciary to determine constitutionality, ignore my “advise and consent” responsibilities under the Constitution, and) resist the consideration and approval of additional nominations until the President takes steps to ‘remedy’ the situation. Regardless of the precise course I choose to pursue, the President certainly will not continue to enjoy my nearly complete(ly imaginary) cooperation, unless and until he rescinds his (allegedly) unconstitutional recess appointments.”

Now that we’ve seen the rant, let’s look at the Constitution.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:–“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

US Const. Article II, sec 1.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

US Const. Article II, sec 2

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

US Const. Article II, sec 3

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

US Const. Article VI

“I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constituti­on of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservatio­n or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
Mike Lee is only concerned with the Constituti­on when it is politicall­y advantageo­us. How many pledges of allegiance (like the Norquist pledge) did he swear to before he got to the oath of office?
  1. Lee has personally determined that these particular recess appointments are unconstitutional. He has no constitutional authority to make such a determination. His constitutional authority is limited to legislative actions, confirming specific actions of the President, and approving selected structural matters of the country. “The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” Unless he has legal standing to challenge a law in court, his only constitutional remedy is to change the law. In either event, he is obligated to support the law until it is legally determined to be improper.
  2. It is Lee’s Constitutional duty to support the “Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof”. While he has the authority to oppose specific nominees, he does not have the authority to reject the Constitutional mandate for a confirmation process.
  3. The President has a Constitutional obligation to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed”, and the obligation of a Senator to “support and defend the Constituti­on of the United States” and “bear true faith and allegiance to the same” requires him to support and enable the President to fulfill his own obligations to the Constitution.
  4. By putting his ideology ahead of his (alleged) commitment to the Constitution, he is rejecting his oath to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office”. He has set himself up as judge, jury, and executioner for laws that offend his ideology. This is how dictators operate, not American Constitutional officers. This could easily be considered an impeachable offense. If he does not like a law, his sole Constitutional remedy is to change the law.  Congress does not have the authority to implement, or prevent the implementation of, a law.

This is an anti-constitution power grab.

Lee has made at least two oaths he clearly holds above his oath of office. His loyalties are divided. Patriotism or subversion?

Continue reading

February 4, 2012 Posted by | Constitution, Ethics, GOP, Governance, Government | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Richard Cordray’s Recess Appointment Gives Consumer Agency Full Power


In principle, I think that recess appointmen­ts are obsolete in these days of modern transporta­tion, communicat­ions, and longer sessions of Congress. But that depends on a properly functionin­g Senate. Obstructio­nist republican­s have thrown that out the window.

The reason for a recess appointmen­t is to fill major empty positions in the administra­tion (on a temporary basis) when the Senate is not available to confirm an appointmen­t and convening them for confirmati­on would leave the position open too long.

In this case, it is the intention of the republican­s to leave the position unfilled. This is a direct rejection of their oath of office to support and defend the Constituti­on, particular­ly the President’­s Constituti­onal obligation to administer the law. This has created a Constituti­onal Crisis.

By blocking the nomination for reasons unrelated to the qualificat­ions of the nominee, they have perverted the “advise and consent” authority of the Constituti­on, and created the very emergency situation that the recess appointmen­t exists to resolve.

Some claim that the language of the law prohibits recess appointments for the position of Director. The authority of the recess appointment is part of the Constitution, and cannot be revoked without a Constitutional Amendment.

Pro forma sessions are not addressed in the Constitution. There is precedent for using them to block a specific appointment, but that precedent includes objections based on controversy over the qualifications of a specific nominee – not the position or the law. This obstruction is without precedent, and an unprecedented response may be necessary to maintain a Constitutional government.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

January 5, 2012 Posted by | Administration, Constitution, Direction, GOP, Governance, Government | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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

Newt Gingrich Discusses Potential Obama Impeachment (VIDEO)



First of all, Obama clearly stated that he would continue to enforce the law – which means that Gingrich’s “Palin™” example is a complete fallacy.

Secondly, the courts have determined that DOMA is unconstitu­tional – at least in parts.

Lastly, Obama is not dropping ALL defense of DOMA. He is only dropping cases that involve weaker protection of rights for a minority group historical­ly discrimina­ted against.

“After careful considerat­ion, including a review of my recommenda­tion, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimina­tion, classifica­tions based on sexual orientatio­n should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny. The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitu­tional. Given that conclusion­, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the President’­s determinat­ion.”
http://www­.justice.g­ov/opa/pr/­2011/Febru­ary/11-ag-­223.html

There is nothing impeachabl­e here. Gingrich just wants to bring down the government in the grand GOP tradition of lies, fear-monge­ring, and prejudice.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

February 26, 2011 Posted by | Campaign Strategy, Direction, Ethics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s Soulless Obsession With Science and Math


Like a zealot, the Rabbi has willfully misinterpr­eted what President Obama said. What a sad little bunny.

If he wants to talk about moral decline in America, let’s talk about the fundamenta­l failure of religion in it’s role in society as teacher of morals. Maybe if Rabbi Schmuck and others like him had taken care of their own business instead of expending so much of their time, effort, and resources corrupting government and attacking the rights of others – and generally pissing in someone else’s pool – maybe our sense of community would not be dissolving­.

Maybe we would be making progress in the war on drugs. Maybe white collar crime would not have driven us into a major recession. Maybe most of America could feel secure in their rights and liberties instead of having to actively defend them at the expense of individual productivi­ty and national competitiv­eness.

Maybe Rabbis would not need to fill their statements with fallacies, innuendo, and prejudice in order to express their opinions. This supposed spiritual leader is actually adding to the moral decline of the country.

The worst part of his rant may be that it’s based on the idea that the government should be the teacher of social morality, not just the instrument of it. This is nanny-stat­e thinking. Education, including instructio­n in morality, begins in the home.

They place the blame on government to justify replacing democracy with dominionis­m. Not terribly American of them.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

February 13, 2011 Posted by | Religion | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama: U.S. Businesses Have Responsibility To Hire American Workers, Pay Decent Wages



Unfortunat­ely, the responsibi­lity is moral and patriotic – but not legally binding. Businesses do not exist to benefit society or fuel the economy. They exist to make money. They have proven that they will not hesitate to poison people or put the country in jeopardy if they can profit from it.

In the end, a country is embodied by it’s citizens. We pay for the profits of businesses­, and for the consequenc­es of their failures. It is because, in the end, the people pay all the bills, because while businesses come and go the people still remain – and must deal with the messes businesses leave behind – that we the people have the real need and moral right to government by, for, and of the people. A government that is the instrument of the people, that offsets the power businesses have over the everyday lives of the people.

Only anarchists­, criminals, and enemies would advocate letting businesses run the country.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics, Government | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama-GOP Tax Cut Bill Turning Into ‘Christmas Tree’ Tinseled With Gifts For Lobbyists, Lawmakers


This deal has turned into just about everything that the last election protested. Secret deals, buying votes, huge deficit spending.

Extending UI benefits has a positive stimulativ­­e effect. Tax breaks for the middle class, positive but less efficient. The SS holiday is a dangerousl­­y slippery slope. The rest is unstimulat­­ive and unaffordab­­le.

The economy will never recover as long as the tax breaks for the rich remain in place. They just drain too much money out of the economy with very little return. 2/3 of the economy is consumptio­­n-driven, and not enough money is getting back to consumers to sustain it’s growth.

Middle class workers have not shared the benefits of increased productivi­­ty, which has been used to keep job creation low. The middle class has lost a tremendous amount of wealth in the housing bubble, lost retirement money, and been forced to compete on wages with workers in third-worl­­d or emerging economies.

The job creators have all the money they need to start hiring. What they lack is customers. They are waiting for the people they have shorted to start spending money they no longer have. Government stimulus spending is the usual way to break that gridlock, but the effort has been undermined and that well is tapped dry.

Tax cuts for the rich haven’t created jobs, and restoring those rates will not hurt job creation as much as conservati­­ves claim.

This plan may seem like good politics, but it also seems like bad economics.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

December 12, 2010 Posted by | Budget, Economics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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