Archive for the ‘Legal Issues’ Category

It has been less than one month since Republicans took control of both houses of congress.  When they opened the new session, both the Speaker of the House, John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they were going to “get things done.”  Since then, they had to backtrack on bills because of an uproar in their own party.  The latest was this week.

As usual, the House does not want to vote on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill that was passed with a bi-partisan vote in the Senate almost 2 years ago.  No, they want to do their piece-meal bills instead.  The first that was to come up for a vote this week is called the “Secure Our Border First Act.”

The first thing this Act does is throw a whole bunch of money at “finally completing that darn fence.”  This Berlin Wall style fence is supposed to stop those damn illegals from simply walking across the border.  That is nothing new for Republicans.  They have wanted that fence completed for years.

But, here is where it all gets just a little tricky.  According to the Bi-Partisan bill that passed the Senate, the goal is to arrest about 90% of those trying to cross illegally.  This bill makes that number 100%.  Of course anyone with only half of a brain knows that 100% is impossible.  The bill gives the Department of Homeland Security 2 years to gain control of the heavily traveled areas and 5 years to gain control of the entire Southwest border.

Besides being unrealistic in its number of defining “gain control”, the bill takes another twist with the penalties that the Department of Homeland Security will face.

The border bill would require DHS to have the southwest border under “operational control” in five years. If the department fails at that objective, the legislation dictates that political appointees at the agency cannot travel in government vehicles, be reimbursed for nonessential travel, or receive pay increases or bonuses.

Rep. Mike McCaul, the Homeland Security Committee Chairman, calls it the “the toughest border security bill ever before Congress.”

So far, so good for the Republicans.  But there is an oops!  The right flank is upset with the bill.  They think it is too namby-pamby for them.  Sen. Jeff Sessions, the most ardent anti-immigration member of the Senate thinks the bill leaves too much “wiggle room” for the President to release apprehended undocumented immigrants.  In response the National Journal said “Such objections have Republicans and Democrats alike privately musing that this is the exact reason leaders had sought to rework the immigration system in a comprehensive manner.”

Other conservatives think this bill is a “trap.”  They see it as a tool that Boehner will use to get them to vote for full funding for the Department of Homeland Security next month when its money runs out.  But the real secret agenda, according to these fine people is that this bill is the first step in granting that evil “amnesty” to illegals.

Conservative critics don’t trust GOP leaders and fear the border security bill would be used as an excuse to move other legislation allowing more immigrants into the country to work and providing legal status for those already here.

“Consider the title: Secure Our Border First. First before what?” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. “Before we move on to the amnesty and expansion of guest worker programs that appears to be the real priority for top congressional Republican leaders?”

In their own words, “God forbid we let more immigrants into the country!”

As a result of this ongoing infighting in the GOP, the Secure Our Border First Act has been put on hold.  That also means that the funding the Department of Homeland Security needs by the end of the month may also be put on hold.  It makes so much sense to shut down the one Department in our government that is responsible to stop undocumented immigrants from entering the country.  I guess that would really show those “deportables”, as Rep. Steve King calls them, that we mean business.

I expect that at some point they will be able to pass this absurd bill.  I doubt that anything else will be done about immigration reform.  Plus, as I said before, what about all of those “socialist” Canadians who can cross the border and try to impose their “single payer” health insurance plan on us?  Shouldn’t we put a wall up between them and us too?  Remember, almost all of the terrorists we have caught came to us through Canada not Mexico.

I don’t know.  I believe that these “hiccups” the GOP has been facing just proves that they are incapable of governing in any way.  How in the hell to they expect the Democrats or the President to agree to anything they come up with if they can’t even come up with something they can get past their own caucus?

If this is the Republican definition of “governing” we are in deep doo-doo.


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Five years ago, The Supreme Court of the United States made one of its most outrageous decisions on campaign financing.  They ruled in favor of Citizens United.  Basically, as we know, they ruled that corporations were “people” and should not be kept from donating whatever amount they wanted to campaigns.

They further went with Citizens United that non-profit PACs could also donate to whomever they want at whatever amount they want.  This included unions as well a corporate non-profits.  The result has been that corporations have a bigger voice in our politics.  It has also triggered the biggest income inequality in our history.

The President has been on a crusade, recently, to change the rules that Citizens United forced in our elections.  As we might expect, the right-wing is against any changes to Citizens United.  They argue that the decision has “made our elections more competitive.”

Another thing that the Supreme Court took into consideration was that these contributions would naturally be transparent.  Yet, there are no formal rules requiring “transparency” in donating to these organizations.  Thereby, opening up the flood gates of “dark money” into our elections.  The President has stated that Citizens United has opened the door to foreign corporations or individuals being able to effect our elections.

Over at Fox News, Hans A. von Spakovsky argues that he is not telling the truth.  He states, rightly so, that rules in the federal election laws forbid foreign nationals or foreign corporations from directly, or indirectly influencing our elections.  Therefore, the claim of foreign influence is just not possible.

He fails to mention that the “confidentiality” of the donor lists of these non-profits keeps the names of donors secret.  Therefore, it is impossible to say how many foreign corporations or individuals are contributing, and therefore, influencing our elections.  Why must these lists be kept secret?

He further goes on to say, again rightfully, that the decision affected unions as well as corporations.  However, he fails to mention that unions must show “transparency” in their donations, while corporations and PACs do not.  As a matter of fact, unions must follow an “opt-out” for union members if they don’t agree with whom the union is supporting.

On the other hand, corporations are not forced to follow similar “opt-out” rules for any shareholders who do not agree with the candidates the corporations support.  As a result, if you own shares in a corporation and they support a specific candidate, you cannot tell them not to use your money to support that candidate.

Once a corporation or non-profit PAC supplies a candidate with millions of dollars, they expect a return on their investment.  Let’s take Americans For Prosperity as an example.  Yes, other PACs have similar sway over elected officials.

Americans For Prosperity is a PAC that was founded by the Koch Brothers, Charles and David.  They own Koch Industries — the petrochemical, manufacturing and commodity speculating conglomerate.  That is important to remember when you read further.

At the National Press Club yesterday, AFP president Tim Phillips and several officers with the group laid out their agenda. The group is calling for legalizing crude oil exports, a repeal of the estate tax, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, blocking any hike in the gas tax, a tax holiday on corporate profits earned overseas, blocking the EPA’s new rules on carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants, and a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, along with a specific focus on the medical device tax.

If you are wondering, the AFP agenda is exactly the same as the Koch Industries lobbying efforts in Washington.  When everyone is screaming about “energy independence” why are the Koch Brothers asking for legalizing crude oil exports?  The only answer can be to further line their pockets.

The estate tax they are against, they call the death tax, only affects .15% of the population.  This tax only affects those who stand to inherit from family members with $5.43 million in wealth.  That takes in a very small portion of the population.

Their support for the Keystone XL Pipeline is due to the fact that Koch Industries owns a large chunk of Canadian Oil Sands.  Without the pipeline it will be difficult for them to get their dirty oil to the Gulf Coast to be refined and shipped overseas.

The Federal Transportation Highway Fund is about to go broke.  This fund comes from gasoline taxes.  With more efficient vehicles, and Americans driving less, this fund is about to dry up.  There is work being done in congress to fix this problem, or thousands of road projects will come to a halt and tens of thousands will lose their jobs.  That is why this tax is mentioned in the agenda of both Koch Industries and AFP.

The coincidence about all of this is that the Republican Right Wing agenda is also exactly the same.  Since AFP and Koch Industries spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an off-year election, I see a direct correlation.  As I said, they are not alone in this either.  In the 2012 election, Sheldon Adelson spent an estimated $150 million, $98 million through dark money channels.

In my opinion, there has been a direct correlation between what I have called “corporate socialism” on the right to the Citizens United Ruling.  The Supreme Court has swung the outcome of elections in favor of corporations and taken it out of the hands of the electorate.

The worst part of the decision is that “corporate agendas” have become public agendas that do not favor the working people of America.  Unless the rules are changed, we may be looking at renaming our country to the United Corporations Of America.  That is not a principle I served to protect.

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Senator Rand Paul wants to be President.  We all know that.  The Senator decided to give a “rebuttal” to the President’s State of the Union address.  Before we get into this little discussion, we must remember that the Senator is trying to walk in two different camps.  First, he claims to be a Libertarian like his father.  On the other hand, he is trying to walk in the camp of the far right-wing to ensure he gets enough primary votes to get the nomination.

The other thing to remember about the Senator is that he is a doctor.  Which is why he was glad to include that training in his rebuttal.  However, the “prescription” he is recommending as a cure, would collapse the economy and bring down the country as we know it.

Just after the President announced that the economy is recovering strongly, Rand Paul said  “I wish I had better news for you, but all is not well in America.”  He really never said what was “not well in America” but went on anyway.

He started by explaining how his medical training will help cure the problems he sees.  “As a physician, I was taught first, do no harm. To think before you act. To analyze the unintended consequences of your actions. I think America would be better off if all of our politicians took the same approach. First, do no harm.”

Hooray, finally a Republican who wants to “do no harm.”  So, Senator what is your prescription to make sure the country does no harm?

“It’s self-evident that the president and Congress are unable to do what every family in America must do: balance their budget. If Congress cannot, or will not, balance the budget, then we should amend the Constitution to make it mandatory.”

I do have one small question for everyone.  Do American families really “balance their budgets?”  I would think that if American families truly “balanced” their budgets, there wouldn’t be as much personal debt as there is.  I thought balancing your budget meant you only purchased things you could “pay for” when you buy it.  I believe that racking up credit card debt is not “balancing” your budget.  Or is that it just me?

Hmmm.  Still, the far right-wing of the Republican Party has been calling for a Balanced Budget Amendment for years.  It hasn’t happened, even when they had control of both Congress and the White House.  I wonder why it has been so hard to get something like this passed?

Well, reasonable people know that if we had a Balanced Budget Amendment it would handcuff the Federal Government when economic conditions shift.  Right now the economy is getting stronger.  Revenues to the government are rising.  But, just a few short years ago things were much different.

In 2011 the right-wing, including Paul, were clamoring for a Balanced Budget Amendment.  Then the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said:

When the economy slows, federal revenues decline or grow more slowly and spending on unemployment insurance and other social programs increases, causing deficits to rise. Rather than allowing the “automatic stabilizers” of lower tax collections and higher unemployment and other benefits to cushion a weak economy, the amendment would force policymakers to cut spending, raise taxes, or both. That would launch a vicious spiral of bad economic and fiscal policy: a weak economy would lead to higher deficits, which would force policymakers to cut spending or raise taxes more, which would weaken the economy further.

Okay, so the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities is considered one of those leftist groups who just want to make socialism part of our society.  But  the American Enterprise Institute’s Jim Pethokoukis seems to think that a balanced budget amendment is “not a great idea.”

Again, why do we need to actually balance the budget at all, much less ASAP? Ryan’s original “Roadmap” plan, for instance, lowered the debt-to-GDP ratio by 30 points over two decades without a single year in the black. Of course, running surpluses would accelerate the process. But keep in mind how difficult America’s aging population will make it to cut spending.

Finally, National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru chimed in with:

The senators’ amendment would make the federal government a smaller share of the economy than it has been since the 1950s. The chief economic argument against it is that it would make recessions worse. When recessions hit, they increase deficits: Revenue falls while spending on unemployment benefits (among other things) goes up. A strict balanced-budget rule would force spending cuts or tax increases at times of economic weakness. The Federal Reserve could theoretically offset these effects, but you’d want to be pretty confident beforehand that it would do the right thing.

So, there you have it.  Everyone, left, right, center all seem to think that having a Balanced Budget Amendment is a bad idea.

It really boils down to this.  When the economy is booming, a balanced budget is probably a good thing and very achievable.  However, when the economy is bad, a balanced budget amendment would hurt the economy even more.  See when revenues fall because more people are out of work, the government will have a harder time balancing the budget.  That means one of three things will have to happen.

First, congress will have to raise taxes on everyone to fill the gap.  Republicans have already sold their soul to Grover Nordquist by signing his ridiculous “no tax hike” pledge.  So, the chances of raising taxes would be slim to none, especially under a Republican controlled congress.  Besides, taking away spending money from the populace would just make matters worse.  Demand would plummet, and the economy would tank completely.

Second, congress will be forced to slash spending.  But what would be slashed?  Recent history shows that unemployment would be capped.  Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid would be cut.  Federal Pensions would be cut.  Food Stamps would be cut or eliminated.  The problem is that taking this money away from unemployed or hurting people would only make the economy even worse and not get better.  If people don’t have money to spend, the economy busts.

Third, congress would have to do both.  They would have to slash spending and raise taxes.  Since both of these are bad ideas on their own merits in a bad economy, we would be looking at the 1929 crash all over again.

That is why a Balanced Budget Amendment really has never gained steam.  Still, Senator, Doctor, Rand Paul thinks that is the prescription for what ails America.  It seems to me that he has failed to follow the third thing he was taught in medical school:  “To analyze the unintended consequences of your actions.”  Either that, or he doesn’t really care about any “unintended consequences of his actions” that he is just pandering to the far-right wing for votes.

In either case, based on his prescriptions, if my wife were seeing him as a doctor, I would make her change doctors.  I wouldn’t put my wife’s health in the hands of a doctor who doesn’t follow these three things taught in medical school.  I am not interested in putting the economic health of our country in such hands either.

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So, what do you think about the Presidents State Of The Union speech last night?  All of the pundits on both the left and the right have their take on what was said.  But, the real important people who need to digest what was said is the American People.  I can only give you my view of it, you will have to decide for yourself what you think.

There were some very interesting items he brought up.  This is the first time I really believe that the President threw down the gauntlet towards the Republicans.  Whether or not you liked his ideas, at least he laid out a plan to move the country forward.  For the last six years, the Republicans have done nothing.  Our economy has grown in spite of the Republicans not because of them.

They have been proven wrong time and again.  They say that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs.  Yet in areas that did raise the minimum wage, jobs are growing faster than next door where it wasn’t raised.  They said the ACA would cause health care costs to skyrocket.  Yet, the cost of health care has gone up at its lowest rate ever.  They claimed that allowing same-sex marriage would “destroy traditional” marriage.  It hasn’t.

So, now that our economy is getting better, the President offered some ideas that would actually “help” the middle-class.  Things like increasing the EITC, tax credits for child care, and free Community College education.  Not being a Republican, he actually laid out a plan to “pay” for his middle-class tax cuts.  But, we all knew what the Republican response would be to that plan since it calls for raising the capital gains tax and closing some inheritance loopholes.

According to the Republicans and their propaganda machine, the speech was nothing more than the “redistribution of wealth.”  After the speech I heard a Republican Representative from Illinois say something I have never heard a Republican say.  He said that the idea to raise capital gains taxes in order to pay for tax breaks for the middle-class was “redistribution of wealth.”  When was the last time you heard a Republican say tax cuts were “redistribution of wealth?”

To be honest, he is such an important figure I cannot remember his name.  But, when the President said “if you really believe you can work full-time and raise a family on less than $15,000 per year, try it.”  This gentleman tweeted, “it is just as hard raising a family at 10.10 per hour”.  See he is against having a minimum wage at all.  He also claimed in the interview, that those people who are making minimum wage are teens who are getting their first job.  Of course, statistics prove him wrong, but what is a lie between friends.

This is at the real heart of the matter on the tax proposals the President is making.  If taxes are cut for the top 1%, especially the top 0.1%, it is a good thing for America and it is being fair.  If taxes are cut for the other 99% paid for by capital gains taxes, it is “redistribution of wealth.” I think that more than anything else the Republicans have said over the years shows exactly what their economic plan is all about.

Here is something else that the right doesn’t want to talk about.  That 28% capital gains tax rate the President wants, is exactly the same capital gains tax rate under the sainted Ronald Reagan.  The rest of the money comes from closing loopholes in inheritance taxes.  See, rich people leave their portfolios to their children.  The children then use a loophole to not pay any taxes on those portfolios that they did nothing to earn.

The biggest reason that inheritance taxes were invented in this country was to make sure that America did not gain an aristocracy class.  It was determined that the “old money” of England was not good for society and that it would not happen here.  Problem is that Republicans believe they are the “old money” in America and America’s aristocracy.  Therefore, they shouldn’t have to pay any taxes on money they inherit.

The Republicans seem to think that we can lower tax rates across the board and not have to pay for it.  They like their voodoo budget tricks to show they are balancing the budget.  But, under Ronald Reagan, the budget deficit grew.  Under Bill Clinton, the budget was balanced.  Then, under George W. Bush, the budget deficit grew exponentially and the economy collapsed.  As a result of two unpaid wars and the collapse of the economy, our deficit grew to about 18 Trillion Dollars.  All of this from a budget that was a surplus when Bush took office.

Funny thing, both Reagan and Bush gave massive tax cuts to the rich and did not pay for them.  They may not like it, but at least the President said how he would pay for his middle-class tax cuts.  But, instead of looking at the proposal and working out a compromise, Mitch McConnell said it is “just another tax and spend plan” that the President has been proposing all along.

Look, we all know that “redistribution of wealth” has been going on for the last 40 years, at least.  The problem is that this redistribution of wealth has been going to the wealthiest people, not the working class people.  95% of all the wealth in this latest recovery has gone to the top 1% earners while the working-class pay has gone down.

The Republicans have brought up the cry that the middle-class is still struggling due to wage stagnation.  I agree.  But, whose fault is that?  Is it the worker’s fault?  No, it is the wealthy who own companies and pay out wages who is at fault.  While they line their pockets without paying taxes on the money, the rest of us are forced to struggle.

While the wealthiest get richer, Republicans across the nation have voted to take away the workers right to unionize.  They have made it impossible for workers to negotiate pay raises through union representation.  They have basically rigged the system against the 99 percent of the people they are supposed to represent!

That is why the Republicans are against any tax hikes.  They want the 99 percent to continue to redistribute their money to the top 1% earners.  They want the 99 percent to struggle just to make ends meet so the rich can get richer.  You cannot keep taking money out of the Treasury and expect to “balance the budget” as Republicans like to say.  Without revenue, the budget cannot be balanced.

As you can see, it isn’t necessarily what the President said in his speech last night.  It is what Republicans are saying in response.  These past Republican plans were “exceptional” ideas but are now socialist plans.  And, yes, the President’s plans are taken straight out of Republican ideas.  David Camp, a Republican was the first to suggest taxing financial institution stock transactions.  Ronald Reagan believed that 28% was a “fair” tax rate on capital gains.

While they wail against the President’s speech last night, they are mute about their plans.  We are still waiting for the Republicans to publicly state their economic agenda to ensure the middle-class gets pay raises.  They keep telling us they want to “repeal and replace Obamacare” but refuse to tell us what their plan to replace it is.  They keep saying they want a ‘fair flat tax plan” yet keep trotting out a plan that will save tens of thousands of dollars for the top 1%, and raise taxes for the 99%.

The next two years will be interesting at best.  They will be dangerous at worst.  The only thing we have to protect us from the continuing Republican’s radical wealth redistribution to the top 1% is the President’s veto pen.  Hopefully the 99% will wake up during these two years.  Otherwise, the future will be very bleak.

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Today the President will give his State of The Union Address.  During the speech, it is expected he will announce his plan to raise taxes on the top 1% earners.  These taxes mostly come in Capital Gains Taxes and inheritance taxes.  According to reports, he plans to use these extra taxes to help pay for tax breaks on the middle-class.  Yet, the Republicans are already wailing that these proposals will hurt jobs.

The Democratic leadership in the Senate has introduced a plan to tax financial transactions.  They are proposing a 0.1% tax on stock trades.  The intent is to help reduce the type of “speculative” trading that caused the 2008 economic collapse.  Additionally, it will generate anywhere between 70 and 90 billion dollars per year.  Since the financial industry will be almost entirely responsible to pay these new transaction taxes, you know they are against them.

The Republicans have been against taxes for generations.  They are also against pensions, social security, health care, and other social projects that help those who are not part of the top 1% earners.  During the 2008 collapse, pensions funds were almost entirely wiped out for the middle-class.  Now, the Republicans have set their sights on Social Security, again!

So, let’s take a look at how Republicans are really “fighting” budget problems.  We shall take a look at what most Republicans call a “moderate” Governor.  That Governor is Chris Christie in New Jersey.  Christie was on national TV yesterday defending his $32.5 Billion budget by touting his veto of Democratic tax hikes  and railing against public employee benefits he says threaten to bankrupt the state.

Christie said he had to fight against those “crazy things” Democrats are trying to push through, like an increase in state income taxes for those making more than 1 million dollars per year to help fill an unexpected hole in his budget.  Rather than approve that tax increase, Christie has decided to instead delay contributions to the public employees’ pension fund to fill the gap, which his administration estimated at $2.75 billion over the current and previous fiscal year. The contributions had been part of a 2011 deal forged in exchange for higher pension and health care contributions.

On CNBC’S “Squawk Box” when explaining the need for drastic pension cutbacks and savings in health care he said: “What you’re going to see me do all summer is to be out across the state of New Jersey making the argument that we need to fix this system or it will eat us alive,” he said. “We need to speak in stark, plain, understandable terms to people.”

He further promised to release his plan later this summer, expecting it will cause an outcry.  But, not to be held back, he said:  “Whenever it’s released, it will be universally criticized. And the reason it will is because it will inflict pain, because there is no other way to fix a severe problem like this but with pain.”

At a town hall gathering yesterday, he said that health benefit costs for public workers are “completely out of control.” He warned the state “is heading towards catastrophe” and could be driven to bankruptcy if entitlement spending isn’t reined in.

This is the kind of rhetoric that Republican donors love to hear.  First slash taxes for the rich, and then cut the pensions and health care coverage of the working class.  This is also another attempt to make the unions representing state workers the scapegoat in budget fights.  It is the unions who wish to protect their members future, not the wealthy who just want more money.

There are a lot of states that are facing problems with their pensions.  But, the problem is not the fault of the workers.  It is that states are slashing taxes, thus reducing revenue, and failing to properly contribute to their pensions.  It is the state governments’ fault that these pensions and health coverages are in trouble financially.  Not to mention that most states are also paying exorbitant fees to the financial industry who “manages” these funds.

New Jersey isn’t alone in their attack against the workers of the state.  Many states are cutting back on pensions and health coverage.  These are benefits that the people “earned” through their dedication and hard work.  But, because the big donors are looking for more tax breaks, that “pain” the Governor is talking about, is always forced on the working people.  Never on the wealthy of this country.

It is a simple math problem.  You cannot recklessly slash tax revenue without causing budget problems.  We have lived through “trick-down” economy.  We have witnessed how reckless and out-of-control banks and financial institutions can wreck the economy.  We have seen income inequality grow by leaps and bounds.  During this recovery, over 95% of all gains have gone to the top 1% of the earners.

These budget crises at the state level can, and probably will, have a very negative impact on the overall economy.  Especially when the seniors who are expected to live on minimum fixed income see that income cut because Governors like Christie believe they are far less worthy of protection than wealthy donors.

That is the big Republican “Economic Lie” that America better wake up to.  If not, our children and grandchildren will suffer the consequences.  This s all part of the Republican plan to establish a feudal system in America.

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The Republican Party is still insisting that the middle-class has a clear pathway to success.  They claim that hard work will lift you up from poverty and move you into the middle-class.  Once there, more hard work will lift you even higher and allow you to be successful and become rich.

They are not telling you the truth.  As a matter of fact, they have done everything in their power to make sure that the middle-class goes away, and we end up with the very rich and the very poor.  That is precisely why they haven’t voted on a “jobs creating” bill in over six years.  They don’t want you to have a way to get to the top.

Their policies are despicable at best.  They are all in favor of letting student rates soar, making it impossible for less than the wealthy to attend college.  They are all in favor of cutting taxes on the wealthy while slashing social safety nets like Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Welfare and Food Stamps.  They are against raising the minimum wage.  In fact, they would rather eliminate the minimum wage all together.  They are against equal pay for equal work regardless of sex.

So, on Saturday, when the White House announced that the President will be seeking a tax increase on the very wealthy in order to help pay for a middle-class tax cut, and possibly make community college tuition free, the Republicans had a fit.  Marco Rubio said:  “Raising taxes on people that are successful is not going to make people that are struggling more successful. … It would also be counter-productive.”

Remember, Republicans always say that increasing taxes on the wealthy will cost jobs.  They have always been wrong on this matter, but they keep trumpeting the lie.  That is what “It would also be counter-productive” represents.  It is a veiled threat that jobs will be lost.

He also said:  “I’m all for reforming our higher education system.  In the 21st century, to have the skills you need for a middle-class job, you need higher education of some form or fashion. It may not be a four-year degree. The problem is he just wants to pour that additional money into the broken, existing system.”  The only thing that is broken in the existing system, is that the average person cannot afford to attend these schools.

The wages for the middle-class has stagnated for the last forty years!  The middle-class struggles did not start with the last great recession in 2008.  They have been struggling for years beginning with Nixon who went after the unions.  Once “right-to-work” laws were passed in several states, wages stagnated.  Since companies did not have to bargain with their workers anymore for raises, they all but dried up.

Today, it is becoming more and more difficult to find meaningful work.  Especially if you are looking for full-time employment.  Just take a look at job sites.  The vast majority of jobs available are at or just above minimum wage.  They are also “part-time” jobs.  It seems that companies would rather fill up on part-time employees rather than full-time.  Of course that is because it just about eliminates overtime and thus cuts wages.  It is also nearly impossible to move from a part-time job to “moving up to the middle-class through hard work” as Republicans say.

So, when Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-UT says:“We’re not just one good tax increase away from prosperity in this nation,”  he’s right.  We are several pay raises for everyone except the top 1% from prosperity in this nation.

In all honesty, the economy is getting better.  Confidence is beginning to rise quickly.  The real problem is that the middle-class and the working-poor are still working for wages that were set in the 1970s.  While the top 1 percent reap all of the rewards of the new upswing in the economy.   Remember, demand drives an economy, not supply.  If people are not making enough money to create demand, there can be no prosperity.

The President rightly pointed out that the tax rates he is asking for are no higher than they were under St. Reagan.  But, Republicans don’t want the 1 percent to be taxed at all.  They are still calling for a “flat tax” code.  They claim that is the fairest way to tax.  Unfortunately, all of the flat taxes they have introduced will cut the top 1 percent’s taxes by tens of thousands of dollars while the taxes for the middle-class and working-poor will increase by thousands of dollars.

Lowering the taxes on the wealthy and raising taxes on the rest of us is their idea of a “fair” tax code.  Remember, the Koch Brothers, Mitt Romney, Karl Rove, et.al., all pay a smaller percentage of their income to taxes than their Personal Assistants do.  Would you please explain to me how that is “fair?”

The time for a wreath laying at the grave of the middle-class is getting closer.  When Nixon laid the wreath at the grave of the unions, the middle-class went on life-support.  Ever since then, the Republicans have been trying to pull the plug on that life-support.  Republicans believe they are the American Aristocracy.  You can’t laud it over a middle-class that is thriving, so you have to get rid of it.

If anyone tells you the Feudal System is dead, just take a look at Republican Policies and you will discover it is alive and kicking in America.


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The far right is still howling about the attack on Charlie Hebdo and that “free speech” is at the heart of the matter.  They are arguing that the President did not go to Paris for their march because he “hates free speech.”  They argue that blasphemous cartoons and art are a form of “free speech.”  They also forget about all of their cries for “censorship” against art they deemed to be blasphemous towards Christianity like “Black Jesus” and “Dung Virgin Mary”.  But, we shall leave that for another time.

But, is “free speech” especially as defined by the French really at the heart of the matter?  France has a problem that they don’t like to talk about.  They surrendered to Nazi Germany during WWII.  As a result, they were collaborators in the Holocaust.  After the war, they had to do something to make sure they were on the right side.  As a result, they passed laws that made it illegal to deny the holocaust and/or make anti-Semitic comments.

As we discuss these laws deeper, you have to wonder if we had similar laws concerning “free speech” would people like Rep. Steve King, Sen. Ted Cruz, David Duke, all of the KKK, all of the Aryan Nation, and many others be in jail right now?  As you will see, they have all used “hate speech” and/or “incited violence” according to French Law.

These laws have been in existence for years.  They limit the “hate” speech that is allowed in French society.  Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks, they have started enforcing these laws harshly.  As a matter of fact, in November they added harsh penalties for anyone invoking or supporting violence.  They added prison sentences up to seven years for backing terrorism.

But, what does “backing terrorism” really mean?  Well, the French are answering that question.  Since the attack, up to 100 people are under investigation for “backing terrorism.”  One is a 28-year-old man of French-Tunisian background who was sentenced to six months in prison after he was found guilty of shouting support for the attackers as he passed a police station in Bourgoin-Jalieu on Sunday.

Another, a 34-year-old man who on Saturday hit a car while drunk, injured the other driver and subsequently praised the acts of the gunmen when the police detained him was sentenced Monday to four years in prison.   This is after, on Wednesday, the Minister of Justice told Prosecutors to fight and prosecute “words or acts of hatred” with “utmost vigor.”

That utmost vigor has resulted in several people being arrested, charged, tried, and sentenced to prison in as little as three days!  The anti-terrorism law that is being used has some very harsh provisions.  It targets “hate speech” and is more severe if the words are posted on the internet.  If the offense is spoken, the law allows a sentence of five years and a fine of almost $90,000. If it is on the Internet, it allows sentencing up to seven years and a fine of nearly $120,000.

But, what is spoken “hate speech?”  Well, it is clear that the accused did not have to threaten actual violence to run afoul of the law.  According to the actions of Mr. Cabut, the prosecutor who brought the case of the man who shouted as he passed a police station: “They killed Charlie and I had a good laugh. In the past they killed Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Mohammed Merah and many brothers. If I didn’t have a father or mother, I would train in Syria,” that is enough.

But Mr. Cabut also says that there were limits as to how far prosecutors would go.   He is sure that no one would be prosecuted for refusing to stand during a moment of silence.  Maybe not prosecuted, but maybe suspended or fired.  Thursday a parking attendant in Paris was suspended by the police prefecture for refusing to observe a silent tribute to the victims.  It must be pointed out here, that to date, no one who has called for violence against Muslims in France has been arrested or prosecuted for their “hate” crime under these laws.

As you can see, “free speech” in France is not the same as “free speech” in America.  If it were, thousands of people would be in prison for invoking violence and/or using hate speech.  Under these laws, the simple act of speaking at a white supremacist group might have landed Mr. Scalise in prison under these “free speech” laws.  Instead he is the number three person in power in the House of Representatives.

I know that conservatives and the Cult don’t care about the obvious double-standards and hypocrisy.  Just remember, when they cry about the attack on Charlie Hebdo being an attack on “free speech”, they don’t mean “real free speech.”  That is why no conservative in this country is complaining about all of these arrests of people “exercising free speech.”  Conservatives, I am sure would love to have similar laws, with a few tweaks of course, in this country.

Other European countries have similar laws.  The laws themselves infringe upon what we in America consider “free speech.”  Let’s be honest, if you are going to have laws that restrict “hate speech” you cannot allow the type of cartoons that Charlie Hebdo prints.  Many people around the world, not just Muslims since they also attack other religions, would consider those cartoons as “hate speech.”

No, the attack on Charlie Hebdo was an act of terrorism.  The cartoons may have been used as the excuse, but terrorism knows no religion, race, or ethnicity.  It is simply acts of violence against society by evil people who want to control us.  That is the point that is lost on conservatives, and why incidents like this will continue.  George W. Bush proved that when you don’t recognize the real enemy, you fight the wrong wars.  Conservatives still don’t recognize the real enemy!

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