Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

Brian Sims, Pennsylvania Lawmaker, Silenced On DOMA By Colleagues Citing ‘God’s Law’



This was a stunningly tyrannic move by Metcalfe and other unnamed republicans.

“The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man, and every citizen may freely speak, write and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.” – Pennsylvania Constitution

Not only was this suppression of a constitutional right, but by silencing an elected representative of the citizenry they silenced all the people represented by those who were silenced directly.

Furthermore, the republicans refused to allow the public record to identify them. They don’t want to be held responsible for their assault on free speech and representational government. They don’t want people to know.

This would be bad enough if it was an isolated incident, but it’s not. All around the country, republicans are putting their ideology ahead of their constituency and the country.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Georgia Legislators Want To Change 17th Amendment, End U.S. Senate Elections



In 2012, republicans controlled both chambers of the Minnesota state legislature and Amy Klobuchar, arguably the most popular Senator in Congress, was up for re-election.

She won by a 2-1 margin, a landslide by any measure.

The Democrats took back both chambers of the state legislature.

If the 17th Amendment had been repealed, Sen. Klobuchar would have been replaced by a far-right no-name they pulled off the republican bus.

This is NOT about “original intent”, but it could be about state control – though not citizen control.

Republicans control a majority of the state legislatures. This would automatically give them control of the Senate on an indefinite basis.

Just as strategic gerrymandering may have given them indefinite control of the House.

Just as strategic redefinition of how Electors are assigned could give them indefinite control of the White House.

Just as voter ID laws give them an advantage in the voting booth.

It is about creating minority rule.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

February 21, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

Bobby Jindal Appeals Ruling On Bernette Johnson, Black Supreme Court Justice


In a statement released by one of his lawyers, Jindal said the matter should be settled by the Louisiana Supreme Court and the federal government should not be involved.

“The issue on appeal is not who should serve as the next Chief Justice, but whether the Louisiana Supreme Court should be prohibited by a federal court from interpreting the state’s constitution,” he said in the statement.

 

Jindal is such a republican! Who should serve as the next Chief Justice is exactly the issue at hand. The Question is whether or not the Louisiana Supreme Court can be fair and impartial in this particular case. The question of whether or not the Louisiana Supreme Court should interpret the state constitution is a red herring. A fallacy of broad generalization. It’s dishonest.

“Johnson was initially appointed to the Supreme Court, not elected”

Let’s test that against the LA Constitution:

“Section 6. The judge oldest in point of service on the supreme court shall be chief justice. He is the chief administrative officer of the judicial system of the state, subject to rules adopted by the court.”

LA State Constitution, 6. Supreme Court; Chief Justice

Point of service, without regard to how that service started.

“Jindal said the matter should be settled by the Louisiana Supreme Court”

“The issue on appeal is not who should serve as the next Chief Justice, but whether the Louisiana Supreme Court should be prohibited by a federal court from interpreting the state’s constitution,” he said in the statement.

There are two huge, Huge, HUGE problems with that line of thinking.

First up:

“The other members of the current court, who are all white, contend that Johnson does not have the seniority to be the next chief justice.”

The rest of the LA Supreme Court are the PLAINTIFFS in the case. Establishing the plaintiffs as judge and jury (literally) would be spitting in the eye of blind justice. It would be a complete farce.

Secondly:

“Johnson’s colleagues on the court say that her first six years as an appointed justice should not count toward her seniority.”

The other justices have already pre-judged the case, which further disqualifies them – over and above the obvious conflict of interest.

I would say that Jindal’s call for such a travesty of justice must surely violate his oath of office. Funny thing is – the LA Constitution does not require an oath of office.

Jindal is such a republican!

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

September 9, 2012 Posted by | Administration, Constitution | , , , | 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

The overlooked part of AZ-SB1070


When the law first hit the news, I took a look at it to see just what was going on in it. What I found were a few things that never made it into the news.

No commercial value, I suppose.

There are what I consider to be serious flaws in the law that go beyond the partisan problems, though they are certainly partisan in origin. Flaws that are just plain bad law.

A person who is a legal resident of this state may bring an action in superior court to challenge any official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state that adopts or implements a policy or practice that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law. If there is a judicial finding that an entity has violated this section, the court shall order that the entity pay a civil penalty of not less than one thousand dollars and not more than five thousand dollars for each day that the policy has remained in effect after the filing of an action pursuant to this subsection.
11-1051(G)

Public employees and officials are given a degree of immunity (“Governmental Tort Immunity“) from prosecution so they can do their jobs in good faith without constantly worrying about lawsuits and liabilities. It protects the ability of government to function, and taxpayers from potentially large legal and penalty costs.

I see three problems with this section:

  1. This gives standing for unaffected third parties to sue “any official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state”. It gives any angry vigilante the right to sue any political subdivision, whether he/she lives in the jurisdiction of that subdivision or not. Whether or not he/she is personally harmed or merely irritated.
  2. At a minimum, every lawsuit would cost the taxpayers in legal expenses. If convicted, the taxpayers would be on the hook for the civil penalties. Further, the penalties begin at the time of accusation, not conviction. This complicates things because there is no clear understanding of what might be penalized until and unless there is a conviction. By the nature of the law, this is more likely to be an error of omission rather than commission – which means that inaction, or insufficient action, is what would be penalized. How do you quantify an non-event?

    A bill of attainder (also known as an act of attainder or writ of attainder) is an act of a legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without benefit of a judicial trial.

    Not quite, but not far off.

  3. Revoking governmental tort immunity cannot help but distort how governmental units function. The threat of potential lawsuits would require new and costly insurance. A case under this law could take months to litigate, even without appeals. It could financially ruin a small unit of government like a small town police department that can’t keep police on the streets in the first place, even if the lawsuit failed.

The costs may be recovered if the lawsuit fails:

The court may award court costs and reasonable attorney fees to any person or any official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state that prevails by an adjudication on the merits in a proceeding brought pursuant to this section.
11-1051(I)

This has problems of its own:
a) The costs are up-front. A small unit of government could go bankrupt defending itself before it could recover the costs of a bad lawsuit.

b) Recovery depends on the ability of the accuser to pay. It could take months, years, or forever.

c) Recovery depends on “an adjudication on the merits”. That sounds to me like the taxpayers would eat the legal costs of cases resolved by negotiation or on technical grounds.

This overrides:

Continue reading

June 28, 2012 Posted by | Legislation, Strangelove | , , , | Leave a comment

Becoming Aware of Civic Unawareness


education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

The United States was founded on the premise that the people could rule themselves without theocracy or aristocracy. Government of, by, and for the masses – int the rich and powerful. It is called The Great Experiment, and its success depends on a well-educated electorate. Sufficiently educated to understand not only  the system that we have, but why we have it and how it works. And how it doesn’t.

The preparation of the voter so that he might express his opinion by means of the ballot, thus insuring political liberty, was one of the main goals of Jefferson’s plan for education which asserted four basic principles:

  • that democracy cannot long exist without enlightenment.
  • that it cannot function without wise and honest officials.
  • that talent and virtue, needed in a free society, should be educated regardless of wealth, birth or other accidental condition.
  • that the children of the poor must be thus educated at common expense.

http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/winter96/jefferson.html

Jefferson believed the elementary school was more important than the university in the plan because, as he said, it was “safer to have the whole people respectfully enlightened than a few in a high state of science and many in ignorance as in Europe” (as cited in Peterson, 1960, p. 241). He had six objectives for primary education to bring about this enlightenment and which highlighted what he hoped would make every person into a productive and informed voter:

  • To give every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business;
  • To enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts, and accounts, in writing;
  • To improve, by reading, his morals and faculties;
  • To understand his duties to his neighbors and country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either;
  • To know his rights; to exercize with order and justice those he retains; to choose with discretion the fiduciary of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence, with candor, and judgment;
  • And, in general, to observe with intelligence and faithfulness all the social relations under which he shall be placed.

The state of Jeffersonian enlightenment in the realm of civic responsibility and the promotion of a healthy democracy is deplorable. The country is full of jingoists and poser patriots, passionate to defend what they do not understand – and are therefore easily mislead.

We have been encouraged to value wealth over community, and the accumulation of wealth over patriotism. Citizenship has ceased to be a code of honor and is now reduced to simply a legal status.

The problem of civic illiteracy is not something new, but it is finally getting periodic bursts of recognition.

Asserting that democracy is not inherited at birth but rather learned in school, O’Connor founded the educational nonprofit group iCivics in 2009 to secure America’s governance and prepare the next generation of citizens and leaders.
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor seeks to reverse America’s decline in civics

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Plans are being developed to “address the problem”. I say that with a hint of sarcasm because they are still treating it as a mere lesson to be learned. I think the solution will need to stress participation as much as scholarship.

May 29, 2012 Posted by | Education, Elections, Governance | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Federal Government Disagrees With Ann Romney: Raising Children Not ‘Work’



We are seeing the fallacy of multiple definitions at work. Pun intended ;-)

Pushing a weight up an inclined plane is work, scientifically speaking.

Raising children takes effort. A form of work that used to be called a labor of love. [sarcasm] Now that conservatives seek to demonize the word “labor”, we don’t hear that expression anymore. Maybe they’ll call giving birth “workforce expansion” instead of “labor”. [/sarcasm]

Ann Romney has worked at being a mother, but that is not the same thing as being a working mother. She may have made the effort and spent the money, but she has not worked for a paycheck. She did not have to earn the money she spent to raise her kids. She made a lifestyle choice that is available to fewer and fewer women every year. It is rapidly becoming elitist in the full meaning of the word.

Hilary Rosen leaving out the phrase “for a paycheck” does not grant Ann Romney license to claim to understand the plight of women who must be both mother and breadwinner. She has never been in that position, and never will be.

Conservatives have made hay out of substituting their choice of definitions for the meaning intended by Hilary Rosen. This is not honest debate, it is propaganda.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

April 23, 2012 Posted by | 2012 Election, Elections, Women | , , , | Leave a comment

Eric Cantor’s Small-Business Tax Cut Faces Threat Of Presidential Veto


And a well-deserved veto it would be.

Holy Crap, Batman! Look at the numbers!

$46B added to the deficit in order to create 100K jobs. That’s $460,000/job. That’s likely 10 to 15 times the salary of the jobs created. There is no possibility that this would generate enough new revenues to pay for the cuts, even if the new jobs were taxed at 100%.

Cutting taxes for 22M “small” businesses to create 100K jobs means only 1 job would be created for every 220 businesses getting a tax cut – and that’s if the republican best-case scenario proves true.

Official portrait of Congressman .

Official portrait of Congressman . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think that Eric Cantor and I have radically different definitions of “potent economic stimulus”. This is designed to be incredibly inefficient, ineffective, and wasteful as a “jobs” program.

Could the lies be any more blatant? Promoting this as a “jobs” bill is an insult to the intelligence of every American, and a clear demonstration that republicans are fiscally irresponsible in ideology and practice. After all, they can blame President Obama for not signing it, or the Senate Democrats for not passing it, and never face responsibility for passing it. I expect them to accuse the Democrats of playing politics in stopping this moment of insanity.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

April 19, 2012 Posted by | 2012 Election, Budget, Economics, Ethics, GOP, Legislation | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

John Carter of Mars


You never know when a moment of inspiration will come along and distract you right when you were minding your own business. I had such a moment in the past week.

It has been a long time since I read Edgar Rice Burroughs, and with the pending release of the “John Carter” movie I thought I would go back and re-read the books the movie was based on.

No, this isn’t going to be a book report. I went through my ERB phase many years ago. This reading was just to refresh my memory, but it got me thinking…

One of the fundamental themes of the story is the unimpeachable honor of the protagonists. It is, perhaps, a caricature or an idealistic representation of an age when a man’s word was his bond, when a handshake was as good as a signed contract.

When I read the John Carter and Tarzan books back in the 80’s, the willingness of the characters to accept calamity and even death rather than betray their honor seemed, at times, frustrating in its absoluteness. Yet its idealistic view of humanity had its appeal.

Adherence to a code of honor is what made the heroes, heroes; and the failure to live up to such a code made the villains, villains. Redemption was often achieved through a return to a code of honor. A century ago, the stories were popular and the ideals respected. John Carter of Mars Pictures, Images and Photos

To set a time reference, the tale of John Carter began as a serialized story entitled “Under the Moons of Mars” published from February to July, 1912. Five years later, that story was published in book form under the title “A Princess of Mars”. There are eleven books in the series. They are all in my library.

These stories thrived through two World Wars and the Great Depression. Times when hope was in high demand. Perhaps John Carter, and Tarzan, paved the way for the golden age of westerns. The age of John Wayne, Zorro, The Lone Ranger, Bonanza, and many others.

I’ve been watching reruns of The Rifleman on MeTV lately, and the stories seem like they were from a different age. This was a show that I watched as a kid, but I see things in it now that I don’t remember from the past. Maybe I took the whole “code of honor” thing for granted back then, and maybe I absorbed it as an impressionable child. But in this day and age, it seems out of place. Cities, and people, have changed.

It also seems like the environment that conservatives want to herd us toward.

A time when almost everyone carried guns, and the rule of law hung by a thread. A hair trigger. The next shootout. Funny how things get broken or shot up each week, but nobody goes broke from the cost of the damage. Somebody gets shot, and they are either recovered or written out to the script by the next episode. Lukas McCain spends almost no time working his ranch. Personal responsibility. Self reliance. Nice and clean. How Utopian. All honor and community – and no consequences. The government is not giving away free homestead land anymore. People’s lives are too interconnected – with other people and with businesses. We are no longer an agrarian culture, and there is no going back.John Carter of Mars Pictures, Images and Photos

ERB called his fictitious version of Mars “Barsoom”. It was a dying world where where life was both cheap and precious because the resources that supported life were scarce and dwindling – and fought over. We wouldn’t do that, would we?

He was well ahead of the environmentalists that conservatives denigrate. We are heading for such a world ourselves as the world population goes up even as our water and food supplies becomes more strained and vulnerable.

Big Oil brags about having 100 years of supply, if only we would exploit it. They use the promise of cheap and plentiful oil and natural gas to encourage us to burn through it as quickly as possible with no thought to the future. Barsoom paints an image of what happens when that oil and gas runs out, when the drinking water runs out, and we are not prepared for it because it was not profitable to pursue alternatives. It is a buggy-whip economy on steroids. I am sure the movie will be a special-effects extravaganza.

“Safely develop” supplies. “Millions of jobs” created.

There is no honor in perpetuating lies.

Where is the demonstration of honor? Is it in all the pledges that republicans require before they are let anywhere near the oath of office?

  • The Grover Norquist pledge
  • The Susan B. Anthony pledge
  • Contract with America
  • The Balanced Budget Amendment pledge
  • Family Leader
  • NOM
  • NRA
  • Personhood USA
  • and how many others?

Each pledge narrowing the constituency base they are committed to serve, until they are committed to serve only a small fraction of America. That…is a crime against representational government. The party that wants to radically re-engineer America around the towering code of honor represented by John Carter never fails to prove that they do not, themselves, embrace such a code to any meaningful degree.

Lee Atwater, Rush Limbaugh, James O’Keefe, and FOX News.

Watergate, the PATRIOT Act, the Iraq war, ALEC, sowing distrust of science, education, the free press, Congress, the Presidency, and the Judiciary.

The 2012 GOP primary season, and the death of the “eleventh commandment”.

The republican party is a living testament to the fatal flaws in their own ideology, living proof that they are committed to fantasy and failure – and dishonor.

They might as well be living on Mars.

John Carter of Mars Pictures, Images and Photos

As for me, I am presently in my Harry Potter/Honor Harrington phase. I still believe in honor, and am still drawn by its appeal.

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Now that’s a pledge to believe in.

March 8, 2012 Posted by | 2012 Election, Campaign Strategy, Elections, GOP, Personal Notes | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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