The Aeration Zone: A liberal breath of fresh air

Contributors (otherwise known as "The Aerheads"):

Walldon in New Jersey ---- Marketingace in Pennsylvania ---- Simoneyezd in Ontario
ChiTom in Illinois -- KISSweb in Illinois -- HoundDog in Kansas City -- The Binger in Ohio

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Founding Fathers

I'm copying verbatim here portions of a post by Andrew Tobias:

As Jefferson was not big on paragraph breaks, and the modern mind (or at least mine) tends toward a shorter attention span, I’ve taken the liberty of punching it up a bit with bold face.

Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, October 28, 1785

Seven o'clock, and retired to my fireside, I have determined to enter into conversation with you; this [Fontainebleau] is a village of about 5,000 inhabitants when the court is not here and 20,000 when they are, occupying a valley thro' which runs a brook, and on each side of it a ridge of small mountains most of which are naked rock. The king comes here in the fall always, to hunt. His court attend him, as do also the foreign diplomatic corps. But as this is not indispensably required, and my finances do not admit the expence of a continued residence here, I propose to come occasionally to attend the king's levees, returning again to Paris, distant 40 miles. This being the first trip, I set out yesterday morning to take a view of the place. For this purpose I shaped my course towards the highest of the mountains in sight, to the top of which was about a league. As soon as I had got clear of the town I fell in with a poor woman walking at the same rate with myself and going the same course. Wishing to know the condition of the labouring poor I entered into conversation with her, which I began by enquiries for the path which would lead me into the mountain: and thence proceeded to enquiries into her vocation, condition and circumstance. She told me she was a day labourer, at 8. sous or 4 d. sterling the day; that she had two children to maintain, and to pay a rent of 30 livres for her house (which would consume the hire of 75 days), that often she could get no emploiment, and of course was without bread. As we had walked together near a mile and she had so far served me as a guide, I gave her, on parting 24 sous. She burst into tears of a gratitude which I could perceive was unfeigned, because she was unable to utter a word. She had probably never before received so great an aid. This little attendrissement, with the solitude of my walk led me into a train of reflections on that unequal division of property which occasions the numberless instances of wretchedness which I had observed in this country and is to be observed all over Europe. The property of this country is absolutely concentered in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of guineas a year downwards. These employ the flower of the country as servants, some of them having as many as 200 domestics, not labouring. They employ also a great number of manufacturers, and tradesmen, and lastly the class of labouring husbandmen. But after all these comes the most numerous of all the classes, that is, the poor who cannot find work. I asked myself what could be the reason that so many should be permitted to beg who are willing to work, in a country where there is a very considerable proportion of uncultivated lands? These lands are kept idle mostly for the aske of game. It should seem then that it must be because of the enormous wealth of the proprietors which places them above attention to the increase of their revenues by permitting these lands to be laboured. I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable. But the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. The descent of property of every kind therefore to all the children, or to all the brothers and sisters, or other relations in equal degree is a politic measure, and a practicable one. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labour and live on. If, for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be furnished to those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not the fundamental right to labour the earth returns to the unemployed. It is too soon yet in our country to say that every man who cannot find employment but who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty to cultivate it, paying a moderate rent. But it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders [which today might be rephrased: successful working-class families] are the most precious part of a state.

☞ Seven years later, Madison mused on the same theme:

James Madison, January 23, 1792

. . . The great object should be to combat the evil: 1. By establishing a political equality among all. 2. By withholding unnecessary opportunities from a few, to increase the inequality of property, by an immoderate, and especially an unmerited, accumulation of riches. 3. By the silent operation of laws, which, without violating the rights of property, reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity, and raise extreme indigence towards a state of comfort. . . .

Unconstitutional revisited

Kevin Drum caught up to us.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Hmmm. So, a District Court Judge has ruled the Health Care law unconstitutional because the Government cannot force private citizens to buy anything from private companies.

The Republicans, of course, are dancing in the streets.

But, correct me if I'm wrong. Doesn't this mean that the Republicans' pet project (privatizing Social Security) would also be unconstitutional. If you can't force people to buy health care, why should you be able to force them to buy social security?


I'm putting Kissweb's comment into the post:

Bingo. That's the endgame. First you get privatization, and then libertarians start agitating: "It's wrong (and unconstitutional) to force people to save for their retirement." So everything becomes a voluntary 401 K.

The fault line there is between the purist libertarians -- no compulsion -- and the financial people who benefit from being given management of the forced savings.
They've never liked Social Security from the start. Now, probably, they've found a way to get rid of it altogether.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

NYT's addendum to tax cut failure

That blog was by Maureen Dowd, NYT 12/8/10


The Republicans think they have hurt their quarry on the tax-cut deal, making him look weak and at odds with his party. There’s an argument to be made for what the president did, but he doesn’t look good doing it.

When all the Democrats are complaining and all the Republicans are happy, it just can’t be a good deal for Democrats.

Obama gave up on a big principle, and Democrats showed — again — they can’t win the message war. Republicans proved that, while they don’t have the House (for now), the Senate or the White House, they’re still running things.

Obama used to play poker in the Illinois Legislature, but it’s hard to believe. First, he cried uncle to Republicans standing in the corner, holding their breath and turning blue. Then, in his White House press conference, he was defensive, a martyr for the middle class.

He said he must compromise at times as he follows “a North Star.” It was odd, given that Palin uses North Star as a code name, her own “city on the hill” reference, and an allusion to God.

The president said he couldn’t stick to his guns, even though most Americans agreed with him, because Republicans feel that this is their holy grail: “the single most important thing that they have to fight for as a party.” But isn’t helping those in need rather than gilding the rich a holy grail for Democrats? Does he think for a second that the Republicans will relent and be more reasonable in two years? If he believes he can go out in 2012 and attack the Republicans when the political stakes are much higher, why couldn’t he do it now?

Failure to stop renewing tax cuts for the rich

Pres. Obama in NYT, 12/7/10 (another day of infamy?) tried to justify his failure to stop renewing tax cuts for the rich:

“I’ve said before that I felt that the middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts,” Mr. Obama said. “I think it’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage-takers, unless the hostage gets harmed. Then people will question the wisdom of that strategy. In this case, the hostage was the American people, and I was not willing to see them get harmed.”

Facing questions about his “core principles,” Mr. Obama referred to the health care debate, in which liberals accused him of abandoning Democratic ideals when he gave up on a government-backed “public option” health care plan.

"This is the public-option debate all over again,” Mr. Obama complained, adding: “Now, if that’s the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then, let’s face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are, and in the meantime, the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of pre-existing condition, or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out.”

“I’ve got a whole bunch of lines in the sand,” he insisted, adding: “Take a tally — look at what I promised during the campaign. There’s not a single thing that I have said that I would do that I have not done or tried to do. And if I haven’t gotten it done yet, I’m still trying.”

Sorry, I'm not buying it. Failure to stop renewing tax cuts for the rich is a symbolic as well as a policy failure which might lose Obama the 2012 nomination. It compounds exponentially with his failure to put anyone from Wall Street in jail who were involved with the fraudent CDO's and CDS's and to stop the bank bonuses. The excuse (made by Summers and Geitner) that the bank bonuses are contracts is bogus because contracts based on fraud are non-binding at minimum and void at maximum. The bonuses should be put in escrow and a Special Prosecutor appointed to investigate. If that happens, Dems may have more of a chance to win if Obama runs. Obama does not listen to anyone. The parallel to Jimmy Carter made by Walter Mondale in the New Yorker is ringing truer by the day.


I see that one of my idols, Noam Chomsky, has come out in praise of Assange. Frankly, I'm on the fence on this one. First, he's been arrested on rape charges. Now, I don't know whether Swedish rape laws are too liberal (they may well be from what little I do know). Nor do I know whether these two girls are plants of the CIA (as some suggest). But, if the man is truly guilty of rape, then he certainly should be severely punished, quite apart from his activities at Wikileaks.

As to Wikileaks, I'm no fan of releasing state secrets that truly endanger the lives of loyal Americans and loyal friends of America. However, these secrets were out there for the getting. Had Wikileaks not gotten them, who knows whether the Russians, the Chinese, or even al Qaeda might have gotten them. Frankly, I'd rather they be out in the public domain, published by Wikileaks, than be secretly known only by our enemies. So, while I don't necessarily applaud Wikileaks, I'm not altogether against them either.

If there were

If there were anything that might induce me to rethink my opposition to the Obama tax deal with the GOP (which there isn't), it would be that Jim DeMint was opposed to it.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Utterly baffled

I am utterly baffled by those who say the President won something in this last round of "negotiations" with the Republicans. What did they get? Answer, 1) their top priority, a 2 year extension of the Bush tax cuts for millionaires, etc., 2) a better than Bush deal for rich millionaires who die, as the cuts to the estate tax are even larger than Bush proposed, 3) a deal where the tax cut for the middle class is made temporary, to be re-negotiated in two years along with the tax cuts for the millionaires, just as the economy will be tanking and the president losing, 4), a cut in the Social Security tax so as to bring the Social Security system to a ruin it didn't need to face and promote privatizing it, and 5) a President with a collar around his neck and his leash held by McConnell for 2 more years before he goes down to ignominious defeat by Sarah. What did the Prez get? A short-term temporary extension of unemployment benefits.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Utter incompetence

The Democrats are proving themselves to be utterly incompetent. First, they pass a health care bill but fail to take the usual precaution of adding a clause saying that if any portion of the bill is found unconstitutional, the remainder of the bill will still be in force. Having failed to do so, the Republicans may be able to get the courts to void the entire bill if any single portion is found unconstitutional.

Now, they have passed a food safety bill (in the Senate), but have failed again to follow usual procedure, so the whole thing is unconstitutional.

With such utter incompetence, it's no wonder that the public elected the loonies to run the asylum.