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

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

Charles Jaco, Todd Akin Interviewer: I ‘Screwed Up’



The first amendment gives specific protection to the press because it is intended to be the watchdog of the country, exposing problems in both the government and the private sector.

The commercialization of the news has nearly eliminated the watchdog role of the press, pushing it more toward schmoozing the audience instead of informing them.

Jaco dropped the ball because intellectual incuriousity has become the new normal. Fact checking has been drowned in the bathtub for economic and political reasons. It is no surprise that conservatives want to go after PBS as the last bastion of the fourth estate not corrupted by commercial interests.

If Newsweek is not fact-checking their articles before publishing, then they are more of a news kiosk than a reliable news outlet.

The decline of journalism represents a tangible threat to the survival of democracy in America.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

August 21, 2012 Posted by | Ethics, Journalism | , , , , , | 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

Allen West, Eat My Shorts


English: Official portrait of US Rep Allen West.My freshman year at college, I lived in the West Quad. When I moved in, the returning residents were displeased with Leon West, who ran the Quad. In defiance, they had hung this big banner from the windows (facing the center of the quad) of one of the houses that said “Leon West, Eat My Shorts!”It was the first thing I ever saw of campus life.

Nearly 40 years later I have long forgotten what the dispute was over, but the memory of that protest banner still remains.

In honor of Allen West, his despicable lies, his deep prejudices, his extremely divisive assertion that liberals should “get the hell out of the United States of America”, and the eternal spirit of protest, I reprise that old cry of defiance:

Allen West, Eat My Shorts!

January 31, 2012 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , | 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

Wall Street Occupation — a Cry to End Corporate Influence in Elections?


TAKE OUT THE TRASH #occupywallstreet

Image by otromundoesposible_com via Flickr

Corporate influence has robbed us of our sovereignt­y. Getting corporate money out of politics is key to restoring government by consent of the governed. I see two courses of action, both of which involve amending the Constituti­on. This poses a significan­t problem due to the appropriat­ely high bar to change imposed by the amendment process and the absolute devotion of republican­s to the corporatio­ns.

Option 1: Completely revoke recognitio­n of “personhoo­d” for corporatio­ns; and restore only the rights necessary to engage in contractua­l obligation­s and other basic functions of business, through changes to the law. Trying to end “personhoo­d” before developing an alternativ­e would create legal chaos that would be economical­ly disastrous­. Legislatin­g an alternativ­e while “personhoo­d” was still in effect would let corporatio­ns design the alternativ­e, rendering the effort expensive and self-defea­ting.

Option 2: Restrict corporate free-speec­h rights. This is doable, but a very slippery slope.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

October 8, 2011 Posted by | Citizens United vs FEC | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eric Cantor Admits That Fair Tax Act Is Based On A Fraud


Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia

Image via Wikipedia

The FAA shut down over House Republicans’ insistence on including anti-union provisions in the agency’s re-authorization bill and the airlines are poised to collect $1.3 billion or more of extra profits in forgone taxes. With the FAA unable to collect the $28.6 million a day in aviation taxes it usually takes in, some of the […]

This has become a most interesting situation.

CANTOR: And what airlines have done is have stepped in and said, well, if we’re not going to pay that money to the federal government, we’re going to keep it towards our own bottom line. And I guess that’s what business does.

This is not just an admission that businesses are predatory, but that conservatives approve of it. But where does the Fair Tax Act come in? Because the Fair Tax is based partly on the premise that 23% of the price of a product is due to business taxes, and if the business is relieved of that tax burden it will reduce the price 23%. Cantor has just admitted that businesses won’t do that, because keeping the money (or as much as they can get away with) is how business works.

via Eric Cantor Defends Airlines Pocketing Taxes During FAA Shutdown: ‘That’s What Business Does’.

September 3, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, GOP | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Great Flabbergasting”: Rachel Maddow’s (Surprising) Blind Spot



“disingenu­ous” is the word I have been looking for. Yet I remain flabbergas­ted at the disingenuo­usness of the republican party. It shows utter contempt for the democratic process, the foundation of our national identity.

“A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation­.”
~ James Freeman Clarke, Sermon

By their own admission, republican­s have been focused on the next election since the beginning of Obama44. This has directly resulted in bad policy and bad government­.

It is hard to believe that conservati­ves care about this country. They seem to believe in something that few people would recognize as America, or want to live in.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

August 23, 2011 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

112th Congress HR1116 – Respect for Marriage Act


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

The Bill:


[Congressional Bills 112th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 1116 Introduced in House (IH)]

112th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 1116

  To repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure respect for State 
                        regulation of marriage.

_______________________________________________________________________

                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             March 16, 2011
_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL

  To repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure respect for State 
                        regulation of marriage.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Respect for Marriage Act''.

SEC. 2. REPEAL OF SECTION ADDED TO TITLE 28, UNITED STATES CODE, BY 
              SECTION 2 OF THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT.

    Section 1738C of title 28, United States Code, is repealed, and the 
table of sections at the beginning of chapter 115 of title 28, United 
States Code, is amended by striking the item relating to that section.

SEC. 3. MARRIAGE RECOGNITION.

    Section 7 of title 1, United States Code, is amended to read as 
follows:
``Sec. 7. Marriage
    ``(a) For the purposes of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling,
regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus 
and agencies of the United States in which marital status 
is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that 
individual's marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was 
entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any 
State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the 
marriage could have been entered into in a State.
    ``(b) In this section, the term `State' means a State, the District 
of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any other territory or 
possession of the United States.''.
                                 <all>

Analysis

Section 1:

This Act is about general marriage equality, but I like the term “Respect” too. Technical accuracy is rarely inspirational or engaging.

Section 2:

This raises a question I have wondered about before: is it enough to say that a section is repealed, or should the bill also include instructions to delete the section from existing code?

Section 3:

I am concerned with the difference in wording between DOMA and RMA.

Constitutional Authority Statement:

By Mr. NADLER:
H.R. 1116.
Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant
to the following:
Clause 18 of Section 8 of Article I of the Constitution,
and Section 5 of Amendment XIV to the Constitution.

Art. 1, Sec. 8, Clause 18:

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

I do not see anything in section 8 that applies to marriage. FAIL

Amend XIV, Sec. 5:

The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

I do not see anything in the 14th amendment that applies to marriage. FAIL

Amend XIV, Sec. 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

This refers to state law and state restrictions, where the Bill refers to federal law and federal recognition. This Amendment is irrelevant to the Bill. FAIL

These are prove-nothing vague citations that fail to specify any particular power or authority. Mr. Nadler needs to be more thorough:

Article IV, section 1:

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Article IV, section 2:

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

Article IV, section 3, Clause 2:

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Related Bills:

From DOMA:

SEC. 3. DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Chapter 1 of title 1, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

`Sec. 7. Definition of `marriage’ and `spouse’

    `In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word `marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word `spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.’.

    (b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 1 of title 1, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 6 the following new item:

        `7. Definition of `marriage’ and `spouse’.’.

To properly generalize the definitions, it seems to me that the starting point should be the original language.

If I had written the Bill:

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL

  To repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure respect for State 
                        regulation of marriage.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Respect for Marriage Act''.

SEC. 2. REPEAL OF SECTION ADDED TO TITLE 28, UNITED STATES CODE, BY 
              SECTION 2 OF THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT.

    Section 1738C of title 28, United States Code, is repealed and stricken,
and the table of sections at the beginning of chapter 115 of title 28, United 
States Code, is amended by striking the item relating to that section.

SEC. 3. MARRIAGE AND SPOUSE RECOGNITION.

    Section 7 of title 1, United States Code, is amended to read as 
follows:
``Sec. 7. Marriage and Spouses
    ``(a) For the purposes of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation,
or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the
United States in which marital status is a factor,
          (1) an individual shall be considered married if
              (A) that individual's marriage is valid in the State
     where the marriage was entered into or,
              (B) in the case of a marriage entered into outside any
     State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into
     and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.
          (2) the person an individual is married to is considered to
     be the spouse of that individual, irrespective of gender.
    ``(b) In this section, the term `State' means a State, the District 
of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any other territory or 
possession of the United States.''.
                                 <all>

Constitutional Authority Statement:

By Author:
H.R. 1116.
Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant
to the following:
U.S. Const., art. IV, sec. 1,
U.S. Const., art. IV, sec. 2,
U.S. Const., art. IV, sec. 3, cl. 2
14th Amendment, sec. 1

Conclusion

This Bill applies to federal laws, contracts, policies, and programs. It does not apply to State laws, etc. with the possible exception where the two interact. Such a situation would be best resolved case by case rather than attempting a catch-all set of laws or policies.

The republicans will never accept equal rights or freedom of religion for beliefs they do not agree with. The majority of people, however, believe it is time to end this discrimination.

Obviously, I am not impressed with the wording or the authority citation, and I hope they fix it before it does get passed – someday.

July 21, 2011 Posted by | Gay Rights, Legislation | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Michele Bachmann Talks Evolution, Intelligent Design At Republican Leadership Conference 2011


“I support intelligen­t design,” Bachmann told reporters in New Orleans following her speech to the Republican Leadership Conference­. “What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide. I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides.”

I wonder if her class on the Constituti­on made it as far as the First Amendment. She simply does not believe in Separation of Church and State. This tells us, in turn, that she does not comprehend the reason for Separation – or, for that matter, the demands and limitations of democracy.

As far as scientific issues go, she’s wrong on that point too. A federal court ruled that intelligen­t design is NOT science, but religion presented as science. I guess that law degree from a faith-base­d “universit­y” isn’t really working for her. One would think that her time at William & Mary School of Law would have straightened her out on the law.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

June 18, 2011 Posted by | Candidates, Constitution, First Amendment | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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