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Archive for June, 2014

The Fiscal Times: Report: Eric Pianin: Senator John Thune’s Thorny Political Test: Pass the Highway Bill

If Congress were under different and I would just state wiser leadership funding the Highway Trust Fund wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But since we have a Republican House of Representatives that is essentially run by the Tea Party where nothing gets funded or fixed unless their key issues are addressed and generally issues not relating to the current issue like the Highway Trust Fund and since the Tea Party House and their Republican allies in the Senate won’t fund anything that doesn’t come with budget cuts into areas they believe government shouldn’t be funding to begin with, Congress the House and Senate aren’t able to fix problems that 15-20 years ago they wouldn’t have many if any issues addressing.

Tax increases are obviously not the cure to every problem. And in a lot of cases can cause bigger problems especially when they are passed onto people who can’t afford them. Which is why I generally do not support income tax increases on anyone other than people who are doing very well. But in large part we do not fund our infrastructure through the income or payroll tax. We fund our infrastructure though the gas tax and other energy taxes. And we could fund them though mileage standards and taxing low-efficient vehicles more than high-efficient vehicles. Besides the gas tax is a fee that drivers pay to use our highways. So if that fund needs more money to pay for them it makes perfect sense to raise that tax.

But again we have a Tea Party Republican controlled House and even though we have a Democratic controlled Senate that does believe in things like infrastructure investment even paying for it and not borrowing the money there is a large enough Republican minority to block them. So we are caught in a position of what program to cut that hurts which population of people that needs that money. Or not doing one of the few things that Congress is supposed to do by law which is fund our highways.

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As far as the Republican primary elections last Tuesday, it was a great night for establishment Republicans in Congress. With none of them losing with Representative Jim Lankford winning his primary overwhelmingly. But the biggest victory would have to be for Senator Tad Cochran who has been in Congress since 1973 when he was first elected to the House. In a really bad year for Congressional incumbents with Senator Cochran being one of the biggest porkers in Congress and perhaps the biggest porker in the Senate. Winning his primary against a Tea Party favorite because African-Americans voted for a Mississippi Republican.

As far as Speaker John Boehner’s suit against President Obama. This reminds me of when the Speaker back in 2011 decided to take up the defense of the Defense of Marriage Act that the Obama Administration decided not to defend. Then the Speaker appointed some Republican representatives to defend the law in court. With a lot of people in both parties pretty much deciding that DOMA was dead because of the makeup of the Supreme Court when it came to homosexuality and privacy. And with recent Federal curt decisions going against DOMA. The Speaker’s suit is just as dead because it will probably never even be heard in court at least not while Barack Obama is still President.

As far as the missing IRS emails. The IRS already has a great person running the IRS who has a lot of respect from both political parties. (Perhaps Tea Party not included) They already have multiple investigations into this issue and the Justice Department is looking at it as well. So another House investigation into it looks like more wasted taxpayer money on the behalf of House Republicans. A skill they mastered during the Bush Administration wasting taxpayer money.

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Iraq

RAND Corporation: Opinion: Brian Michael Jenkins: Iraq Observations

I posted this a few days ago on this blog about then Senator Joe Biden proposing back in 2007-08 to partition Iraq which of course the Iraqi people would have to approve themselves. And how that may of seem radical then and even a few months ago when Iraq still look fairly stable. But now with the chaos going on in Iraq that 3-4 state solution inside of a Federal Republic of Iraq with a federalist system. Which each state having autonomy over their own domestic affairs now looks like a very reasonable approach.

It wouldn’t make much sense to propose that now especially in an ongoing civil war in Iraq. Some level of security would have to be retained first that leaves the country as one. Without the North breaking away from Baghdad and the South and West remaining part of the Federal Republic as well. But assuming the Federal Government and Iraq with their military can regain control of the country at least to the point that the country is still officially one country, then maybe the partition idea would make a lot of sense.

The partition idea would have to have a responsible government in the Province of Baghdad where Baghdad City is also located which in the Central West of the country. A responsible government in the West where the Sunnis would govern. A responsible government in the North where the Kurds would govern. And a responsible government in the South where the Shia would government. Meaning the terrorists in each of these areas would have to be defeated first. Which is no small order considering the current Federal Government in Iraq.

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U.S. Congress

The Fiscal Times: Report: Rob Garver: Senate Alums Know How to Fix Our Broken Government

There really isn’t any plan that would fix our U.S. Congress that is so unpopular that only its members, family and staff for the members and perhaps some mental patients approve of the job that it is doing. First of all which might seem foreign to Europeans and social democrats in America is that we have a bicameral Congress with a House and Senate. That is right we do not have a Congress and a Senate which some on the Left (MSNBC comes to mind and others) do not seem to understand. And they are independent of each other and have to work with each other to pass laws out of Congress.

Which means the House would have to fix itself and the Senate the same for Congress to be fixed. And in the future this blog may propose to plan to do both. But what Congress can do together is pass laws regulating how its members are elected.

Like taking the responsibility away from state legislatures in how House districts are drawn. Not taking the power away from the states or the legislatures completely. But giving state elections commissions to the authority to draw up districts. And not draw them up to favor any political party. But draw them up that represents the state . So Republicans or Democrats wouldn’t have more House districts because their party controls the state house and the legislature. Because now those seats would be drawn based on party membership of the state. Not based on which party currently controls the state. These commissions would make their suggestions. The legislature and governor would have to approve them to become law. And then the Federal Election Commission would have to approve them as well to make sure they are consistent with party registration of the states.

Another idea would be full-disclosure that would cover all political contributions. Whether they are given to incumbents, candidates or third-party groups. All contributions would have to be fully disclosed the amount of money that is given, plus by which individual or group gave the money.

These are some of the things that Congress the House and Senate could do working together could do to fix Congress. Because their members would be less willing to take money from groups that are controversial and feel the need to hide. But also less willing to be associated with them in third-party groups like when one of these groups runs an ad against their opponent. But House districts would now be drawn in a way where they are less partisan. And where the representative would be representing a more diverse population without the ability to take such partisan stances on issues. Because it could cost them politically.

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Wealthy Democrat

Politico: Opinion: Kenneth Vogel & Tarini Parti: The Existential Crisis of the Liberal Millionaire

Just so we are clear that Liberals and Democrats (and I mean real Liberal Democrats) aren’t against millionaires and wealth. How I know that because the Democratic Party if anything may have more wealthy millionaire individual donors than the Republican Party. It was Barack Obama who had the most contributions from Wall Street in 2012. Not Mitt Romney in case anyone wasn’t familiar with that. Wall Street doesn’t back incumbents and candidates they believe are against them, or trying to put them out of business, or being wealthy.

There are plenty of Liberal Democrats who are multi-millionaires and if anything worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Hollywood is a perfect example of that and Democrats always get more contributions from Hollywood than Republicans. And the Hollywood types who are all in favor of being economically successful and being wealthy. But tend to be very liberal if not libertarian on the social issues. As well as tend to like liberal economic policies as it relates to education and infrastructure investment.

And these liberal donors back Democrats that they like who tend not to be on the Far-Left. They back center-left Liberal Democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry in 2004. And are very friendly with the Bill Clinton’s in the Democratic Party. So when you hear things that “Liberal Democrats are against wealth and being rich”, you should look at the Democratic donor list and where Democratic politicians get their political contributions. You’ll see a lot of union contributions, but you’ll also see a lot of contributions from very wealthy Liberals as well.

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National Post: Staff: An Historical Look at How Iraq Was Formed

Back in 2006-07 then U.S. Senator Joe Biden as he was then Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee in 2006 and then when Democrats won back Congress in 2006 he became Chairman of that committee proposed a radical idea about Iraq which was beaten down by both Republicans and Democrats in the last few years. His idea was that Iraq would remain a one independent country, but that three new states would be created inside of Iraq. Kurdistan in the North. A Sunnistan or Sunni-Arab state in Western Iraq. And a Shiastan or Shia-Arab state in the South.

Well since Iraq reached a certain level of sustainability and competence under the Maliki Administration the last seven years or so with a real federal united republic being formed there. So Senator Biden’s idea about breaking up Iraq into these three ethnic and religious states or divisions similar to Britain looked well cooky if not radical. Since Iraq seemed to have reached some level of legitimacy and sustainability as a united federal republic.

Well over the last few weeks thanks to the ISIS now in control of parts of Iraq, ISIS being the Islāmic terrorist group Iraq’s future as an independent united nation looks at best up in the air. With the idea of Northern Iraq breaking away from the rest of the country now seems to look credible if not definite. And Senator Biden’s idea about a three state Iraq not only looking less radical, but a strong proposal that had it gone through in 2007-08 maybe Iraq is a unified country now not looking at a civil war. With all the competing factions having the power and responsibility over their own domestic affairs.

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8b4f6-5064997286_6e0e24fb0d_oSource: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

William F. Buckley’s basic position on the War on Drugs was that it was a failure. That he wasn’t in favor of legalizing illegal narcotics which is really what the War on Drugs is. And that is just one problem with the War on Drugs. It is simply not real and not a real war for multiple reasons. And two of them being wars are fought between militaries and armed forces. Not between law enforcement, prosecutors and drug addicts just looking to get high who wouldn’t hurt innocent people intentionally at any point. But the other reason is that even the title War on Drugs is fake because it is not a War on Drugs. But a war on drugs that the U.S. Government views inappropriate for private use.

Bill Buckley didn’t favor legalizing narcotics because he liked them and wanted to consume them and other Americans to consume them. But that he disliked the War on Drugs even more and believed the War on Drugs with all the people it arrest’s and in many cases good people who are again just looking to get high and need to be in drug rehab, prison and lives that the War on Drugs ruins. That the War on Drugs is worst than illegal narcotics itself.

I tend to agree with that myself, but I’m not in a position where I believe we should legalize all illegal narcotics. I support marijuana legalization and even would go as far decriminalizing all the other illegal narcotics to prevent more good Americans from having criminal records and filling up our prisons even more. And getting them in drug rehab. But the War on Drugs is worst than illegal narcotics and we need an approach to illegal narcotics that is better than legalization versus continuing to fight the bogus War on Drugs.

Liberty Pen: William F. Buckley- Drug Legalization

 

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