The Watering Hole, Wednesday, March 21, 2012 Sin Tax Syntax

Is it over, yet?

The good ol’ U.S.of A. has long had sin taxes – taxes on things that are “bad” for you like cigarettes and alcohol.

But in a new twist to an old theme, Republicans are now saying we should not have to pay for things we morally disapprove. Things like abortion or birth control.

Well…ok. I’m “pro-life” insofar as I don’t believe in waging war for regime change, or the death penalty. So, my taxes should not pay for wars, nor killing people. Right?

Should we allow each individual tax payer the right to pick and choose what his or her taxes pay for, based on their individual moral beliefs?

If a small segment of our population can block taxes from paying for abortions and womens’ health care based on their moral beliefs, what other programs can we defund, based on your moral beliefs?

THIS BE THE OPEN THREAD OF THE DAY. FEEL FREE TO EXPRESS YOUR MORAL OUTRAGE!

‘Tis the Season forGiving

They shoplift for Christmas gifts, they steal for themselves, for their family”

From the article:

During the four weeks leading up to Christmas this year, an estimated $1.8 billion in merchandise will be shoplifted from U.S. retailers, according to The Global Retail Theft Barometer, a survey of retailers worldwide.

So, people steal items to give away in honor of celebrating their God’s birth. And they’ll go to Church on Christmas morning, eat their symbolic human sacrifice, partake of drinking His blood, and go about their daily lives absolved of their sins. No wonder Christianity is so popular.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A friend sent this to me in an email, and I’d like to share it:

Some who see this will see a work of art, others simply eye candy. And some will see this as nothing but crass commercialism.

Whatever your view, Capitalism made this possible. The ability to amass Capital to form a business venture beyond the scope of the family farm or business transformed industry and commerce, and, eventually, the balance of power globally. When Capitalism was in its infancy, Kings and Emperors still ruled significant populations. Now Capitalists do.

Historically, when the imbalance of wealth and power grew too great, an upswelling of the masses forced a change. That upswelling has begun anew.

Capitalism propelled mankind to its greatest achievements. Unregulated Capitalism will be its own downfall. The question is, when the Ruling Class realize they must accept a redistribution of wealth and power; before, or after an armed uprising?

This is our Open Thread. Exercise your First Amendment Rights while you still can!

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, September 28, 2011: It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere!

It’s nearly 11:00 p.m. and I’m finally wrapping up work for the day. But, what the heck, it’s five o’clock somewhere!

In my profession, it’s always “places to go, people to sue.” Some of us wear the white hats, some wear the black hats. Some change hats as circumstances dictate. For me, I slay dragons…with the pen. ‘Tis mighter than the sword, after all.

Of course, slaying dragons is just a figure of speech. Those who believe in Dragon Magick aren’t exactly into seeing those magnificent beasties killed.

“I read the news today, oh boy…about a lucky man who made the grade.” Nothing’s changed much in the past 50 or so years since that song came out. Gotten uglier on the political scene, that’s for sure. But I wonder, is it really uglier? What about the castle intrigues of Medieval times? Those machinations that inspired Machieavelli to write “The Prince”…a primer on how to rule and keep one’s head for as long as possible, always knowing that someone, sooner or latter, would be plotting to remove it for you. Are things uglier now, or are we just seeing those machinations…all that dirty laundry…aired in public?

Actually, I think it’s both. And I think as ugly as things are, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

The other morning, I stepped outside at dawn, and a mockingbird flew to a nearby tree and began to serenade me. Soon a hummingbird approached and lit on a branch near the mockingbird, listening. A hummingbird…busy as those little birds are, always flitting from flower to flower, stopped, just to listen to the music for awhile.

There’s a lesson in that for all of us.

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD. CARE TO SHARE ANY LIFE’S LESSONS YOU’VE LEARNED?

The Debt Ceiling and the Line-Item Veto

As we approach financial doomsday with the current clash of ideologies regarding whether or not the debt ceiling should be raised, revenues increased and/or programs cut, one thing stands out that, to my knowledge has not been addressed:

The Line Item Veto.

There was an experiment with the line-item veto a few decades ago, I believe, wherein the President could simply cross out expenditures he did not approve of, and then sign the budget. It’s not constitutional.

But…

When the debt ceiling fecal matter hits the fiscal fan, the Executive Branch will be forced into a situation where it can only pay out as much as it takes in: i.e. we will have, by default (no pun intended), a balanced budget. WITH ONE HUGE CAVEAT:

THE PRESIDENT WILL GET TO CHOOSE WHICH BILLS GET PAID AND WHICH DON’T. Republicans will have essentially handed President Obama a line-item veto on a silver platter.

This author humbly suggests that all federal funding that flows to Republican districts have their funding stopped. After all, discrimination based on political affiliation does not violate the Constitution. The voters in those districts elected Republicans. Why not make them pay the price of their choice?

Republicans are handing over immense power to the President. Companies that contribute heavily to Republicans and right-wing PACs could suddenly see their federal contracts dry up on August 3. And there’s not a damn thing Republicans can do about it…except vote to extend the debt ceiling – on a clean, stand-alone bill.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, July 13, 2011: Hump Day: The Supreme Court

Guess what? There is no Supreme Court in the American Constitution. Newt Gingrich said it, so it must be so. Right?

Well, let’s take a look at Article III:

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.

Ok. The Constitution does establish a Supreme Court. But what about what else Gingrich said, “the fact is the Congress can pass a law and can limit the Court’s jurisdiction.” Is that true? Can Congress simply pass a law and limit what the Court can hear?

In a word, Yes.

In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.

So, only in cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, does the Supreme Court have original jurisdiction. That means one can file a claim directly to the Supreme Court. IN ALL OTHER CASES, the Supreme Court acts as a Court of Appeals…the matter has to be heard by a lower court first.

Therein lies the rub. Congress has the power to “ordain and establish” lower courts. Without lower courts, there cannot be appeals to the Supreme Court. If Congress abolishes the lower courts, the only cases the Supreme Court can hear are those involving ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party.

By eliminating the lower federal courts, Congress can eliminate the ability of the people to obtain relief if their Constitutional Rights have been violated. This is what Gingrich is advocating: Go to jail, go directly to jail. Do not pass Go; do not collect $200. And forget about the Bill of Rights.

This is our daily open thread. Freedom of speech on this thread has been upheld by a 5-4 vote. That means one vote the other way, and we censor the hell out of you!

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, July 6, 2011: Harrumph Day

An argument has been put forth that the 14th Amendment allows the President to continue to pay the country’s bills even after the debt limit has been reached. The relevant portion of the 14th Amendment states:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

This was, in the context of the Civil War, an affirmation of the debts incurred by the North, and a repudiation of the debts incurred by the South. It was saying to the countries and businesses that backed the South that they backed the wrong horse, and would not be reimbursed. It also told those that previously owned slaves that they would not be compensated for their loss of “property.”

But does this grant the President the power to continue issueing checks when Congress has prohibited the government from borrowing funds to cover the checks?

No.

Article I, Section 8 states the Congress shall have the power to borrow money on the credit of the United States. The Congress. Not the President. So, when the government has borrowed all that Congress has allowed, it can borrow no more. Government spending is automatically capped at the same level of government income. The President lacks the authority to incurr any additional debt.

Thus the 14th Amendment’s reaffirmation of the validity of the debts of the United States is not in conflict with the Article I, Section 8’s granting of authorty to Congress to create the debt in the first place.

This is our Open Thread. If you have an ox to gore, an ax to grind, a beef of any sort, or just want to gripe about he tripe in the lame-stream media, you’ve found the right place. If you have words of wit and wisdom, love and beauty, prose or poetry you wish to share, you’ve found the right place. During the day there may be other tidbits appearing below this thread. Just go see, or you might miss it.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 29, 2011: Hump Day

Hot coffee. The lawsuit that became the poster child of the “Tort Reform” movement. And by “Tort Reform” I mean “Protect the Culprit” movement.

For that is what “Tort Reform” is all about. It is about preventing a jury from awarding full damages to the victim of someone else’s wrong-doing. It is about limiting the damages insurance companies have to pay, with absolutly no requirement they pass any savings on to their policyholders.

We, the people, have voted in favor of “Tort Reform.” In California, the voters passed an initiative capping medical malpractice claims. In various states, voters have elected representatives committed to capping damages.

Capping damages. Limiting the amount the wrong-doer has to pay, regardless of the harm s/he causes. Their victims are left without sufficient means to pay for needed medical care and necessary services. Victims are forced to turn to Medicaid, placing the burden on taxpayers. On taxpayers – not on the person who caused the harm.

Why? Because corporations spend millions to convince us to vote the way they want us to. And they succeed.

Watch “Hot Coffee.” Be informed. Spread the word.

This is our Open Thread. Feel free to comment on this, or anything else that’s on your mind. And be advised, there may be brand new threads below this one during the day. You’ll miss them if you don’t go look.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, 5-25-11: Hump Day

 

The man who decided to climb a mountain.
A modern parable by Briseadh na Faire

There once was a man who decided to climb a mountain. He started off on his journey and quickly ascended the first few small hills on the way to the mountain. Then he entered a valley. He followed the trail through the valley, winding and turning as it went. After awhile, he began to get discouraged. He could still see the mountain, but he was not getting any higher as he walked along.

Then, around the next bend in the trail, he chanced upon a fellow traveler who was sitting in the shade eating some fruit. The man shared his discontent with the fellow traveler.

The traveler looked at him with a gleam in his eye. “So,” said the Traveler, “right now you’re not getting any higher, but you are getting closer to the mountain.”

The man looked at the mountain ahead. It was true. As long as he stayed his path, he would climb the mountain.

© 2005 Briseadh na Faire

This is our Open Thread. What mountains have you chosen to climb?