Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

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

Harry Reid Will Ask Obama To Recess Appoint All Nominees If GOP Delays Continue



By rejecting their constituti­onal responsibi­lities to provide advice and consent on these nomination­s, by substituti­ng extreme obstructio­n for reasons unrelated to the qualificat­ions and merits of the individual nominee, by doing this for pure political brinksmans­hip, the republican­s have created a constituti­onal crisis.

They have defied the constituti­on to the point that the government therein defined can no longer function. President Obama took drastic action to minimize the damage, but this particular crisis will persist as long as conservati­ve extremists remain in the Senate in sufficient numbers to sustain a filibuster­.

The filibuster was never meant to be used as the republican­s are using it. It is supposed to be a lever, not a straightja­cket.

The oath to support and defend the Constituti­on carries the implied oath to support “This Constituti­on, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States”. Even the ones republican­s hate.

Without that support, we are not a nation of laws. Without that support, we do not have a constituti­onal government­.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

What I have been wondering is why Reid and the other Democrats have been going along with the pro-forma sessions in the first place. If they refused to not recess, and the House wanted to, then there would be disagreement between the two and Article II sec. 3 could be invoked. This would let the President dictate the time of recess and reconvening.

February 19, 2012 Posted by | Administration, GOP, Governance | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sen. Mike Lee Vows To Block Obama Nominees


Mike Lee went ballistic over President Obama’s recess appointments in January. This is how someone who believed in presumption of innocence might have worded it:

Senator Mike Lee formally responded to the President’s (allegedly) unconstitutional recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In a statement delivered at a Judiciary Committee business meeting, Lee outlined the (allegedly) unconstitutional nature of the appointments and criticized the justification offered by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

“President Obama used (in Lee’s opinion) deeply flawed legal reasoning to circumvent the Constitution’s clear requirement that the Senate must be in (official) recess in order to make such appointments,” said Sen. Lee. “The President’s assertion that he (the Office of Legal Counsel) may unilaterally determine for himself (the administrative branch of government) whether or not the Senate is in recess (allegedly) violates the Constitution’s fundamental separation of government powers and the Senate’s rightful prerogatives.”

“Although some Senate Democrats claim prior ‘obstruction’ of nominees during this Congress, in reality Senate Republicans have willingly allowed the overwhelming majority of the President’s nominations to pass through the Judiciary Committee with little controversy and receive an up or down vote on the floor.”

Passing a nominee out of committee does not necessarily mean that the nominee got an up-or-down vote.

Getting nominees confirmed has proved a challenge for the administration. A recent report from the Constitutional Accountability Center in Washington said the federal judiciary had had more than 750 days with at least 80 vacancies on the federal bench, which adds to the workload of an already overburdened judiciary.

“Never before has the number of vacancies risen so sharply and remained so high for so long during a president’s term,” wrote the group, which noted that all presidents come into office with a backlog that gets worked down more quickly over time.

Judicial nominations have been a source of escalating conflict since the fight over President Ronald Reagan’s attempt to nominate Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987. Over the years, fights have included refusals by Senate Republicans to hold hearings on Mr. Clinton’s nominees and Democratic senators filibustering nominees of Mr. Bush.

Now that conflict is just one of many in a continuing battle between Congress and the president that also includes nominations to the executive branch and efforts to pass major legislation.

While Mr. Obama was relatively slow to nominate judges earlier in his term, his team has now sped up, the group said. But Congress has been slow to confirm nominees, some of whom “go through committee without any opposition and still spend months and months waiting for a vote on the Senate floor,” said Doug Kendall, the group’s founder. “That’s never happened before, and it’s a big part of the reason the judicial vacancy problem has reached crisis proportions.”

For Obama, a Record on Diversity but Delays on Judicial Confirmations

Back to Mike Lee (NO relation):

“Given this President’s (allegedly) blatant and egregious disregard both for proper constitutional procedures and the Senate’s unquestioned role in such appointments, I find myself duty-bound to (commandeer the authority of the judiciary to determine constitutionality, ignore my “advise and consent” responsibilities under the Constitution, and) resist the consideration and approval of additional nominations until the President takes steps to ‘remedy’ the situation. Regardless of the precise course I choose to pursue, the President certainly will not continue to enjoy my nearly complete(ly imaginary) cooperation, unless and until he rescinds his (allegedly) unconstitutional recess appointments.”

Now that we’ve seen the rant, let’s look at the Constitution.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:–“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

US Const. Article II, sec 1.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

US Const. Article II, sec 2

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

US Const. Article II, sec 3

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

US Const. Article VI

“I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constituti­on of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservatio­n or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
Mike Lee is only concerned with the Constituti­on when it is politicall­y advantageo­us. How many pledges of allegiance (like the Norquist pledge) did he swear to before he got to the oath of office?
  1. Lee has personally determined that these particular recess appointments are unconstitutional. He has no constitutional authority to make such a determination. His constitutional authority is limited to legislative actions, confirming specific actions of the President, and approving selected structural matters of the country. “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.” Unless he has legal standing to challenge a law in court, his only constitutional remedy is to change the law. In either event, he is obligated to support the law until it is legally determined to be improper.
  2. It is Lee’s Constitutional duty to support the “Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof”. While he has the authority to oppose specific nominees, he does not have the authority to reject the Constitutional mandate for a confirmation process.
  3. The President has a Constitutional obligation to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed”, and the obligation of a Senator to “support and defend the Constituti­on of the United States” and “bear true faith and allegiance to the same” requires him to support and enable the President to fulfill his own obligations to the Constitution.
  4. By putting his ideology ahead of his (alleged) commitment to the Constitution, he is rejecting his oath to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office”. He has set himself up as judge, jury, and executioner for laws that offend his ideology. This is how dictators operate, not American Constitutional officers. This could easily be considered an impeachable offense. If he does not like a law, his sole Constitutional remedy is to change the law.  Congress does not have the authority to implement, or prevent the implementation of, a law.

This is an anti-constitution power grab.

Lee has made at least two oaths he clearly holds above his oath of office. His loyalties are divided. Patriotism or subversion?

Continue reading

February 4, 2012 Posted by | Constitution, Ethics, GOP, Governance, Government | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Allen West, Eat My Shorts


English: Official portrait of US Rep Allen West.My freshman year at college, I lived in the West Quad. When I moved in, the returning residents were displeased with Leon West, who ran the Quad. In defiance, they had hung this big banner from the windows (facing the center of the quad) of one of the houses that said “Leon West, Eat My Shorts!”It was the first thing I ever saw of campus life.

Nearly 40 years later I have long forgotten what the dispute was over, but the memory of that protest banner still remains.

In honor of Allen West, his despicable lies, his deep prejudices, his extremely divisive assertion that liberals should “get the hell out of the United States of America”, and the eternal spirit of protest, I reprise that old cry of defiance:

Allen West, Eat My Shorts!

January 31, 2012 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jan Brewer, Arizona Governor, Announces Plan To Buy Back State Capitol Complex


Jan Brewer sold the heart and soul of the Arizona government­, the pride of the state, to the private sector. She sold out the people of Arizona. Now, a month before the 100th anniversar­y of Arizona statehood, it occurs to her that the people are going to need the cornerston­e of statehood back in their possession­. I am sure that Arizonians do not like to feel like tenants sold out to carpetbagg­ers.

There is more to being a state than having a shelf full of laws and a spreadshee­t full of numbers. Maybe she realizes that she sold the state’s identity and its pride. Probably not.

On the 100th anniversar­y of Arizona’s statehood, the citizens will not have a Capital to call their own. At best, they will spend that historic day listening to a republican explaining why their Capital is owned by persons unknown, and how committed she is to buying it back.

I doubt that they will hear from her just how many taxpayer dollars she wasted on this debacle, or that this incident will tarnish Arizona history to the last generation­.

Such will be the legacy of the modern republican party.

“There’s just one problem, most of our Capitol Complex, including the building we gather in today, is not ours,” Brewer said in the speech to the Arizona Legislature.

In my defense, I assumed that if Brewer was giving a speech to the state legislature, she was doing it in the state capital. According to MyFoxPhoenix, the capital building itself was not sold. On the other hand, the capital building is not used for constitutional business – it is a museum. Literally. The state legislature moved to a new building in 1960, and the administration moved in 1974. So the Capital that was built to help prove that the Arizona Territory was ready for statehood was put to pasture decades ago.

No wonder Arizona politics is so whack-a-doodle.

She sold for $81M, wants to buy back at $105M. As I understand it, they do not save any money by buying the buildings back early. What they lose is the use of the money over the life of the bonds that are redeemed early but at full price.

Buy high, sell low, and make up the difference in BS.

January 9, 2012 Posted by | Administration, GOP, Governance | , , | Leave a comment

NH-HB1580 – New Hampshire Republicans seek to Embrace Foreign Law


Because moving forward to the 1950s is not wacky enough, state republicans in New Hampshire are considering traveling back to 1297AD for their justification for the legal basis of individual rights and liberties within new law.

HB 1580 – AS INTRODUCED

2012 SESSION

12-2335
08/03
HOUSE BILL 1580
AN ACT requiring a reference to the Magna Carta on certain legislation.
SPONSORS: Rep. Kingsbury, Belk 4; Rep. Twombly, Hills 25; Rep. L. Vita, Straf 3
COMMITTEE: Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification

ANALYSIS

This bill requires a reference to the Magna Carta on certain legislation.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
12-2335
08/03

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twelve

AN ACT requiring a reference to the Magna Carta on certain legislation.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 New Section; Magna Carta References. Amend RSA 14 by inserting after section 39-a the following new section:

14:39-b Magna Carta Reference. All members of the general court proposing bills and resolutions addressing individual rights or liberties shall include a direct quote from the Magna Carta which sets forth the article from which the individual right or liberty is derived.

2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect November 1, 2012.

What kind of restriction does this place on the recognition of individual rights and liberties? The first problem with this law is that there is more than one version of the Magna Carta. Lets look at the Magna Carta (1297):

Continue reading

January 7, 2012 Posted by | GOP, Legislation, Strangelove | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Richard Cordray’s Recess Appointment Gives Consumer Agency Full Power


In principle, I think that recess appointmen­ts are obsolete in these days of modern transporta­tion, communicat­ions, and longer sessions of Congress. But that depends on a properly functionin­g Senate. Obstructio­nist republican­s have thrown that out the window.

The reason for a recess appointmen­t is to fill major empty positions in the administra­tion (on a temporary basis) when the Senate is not available to confirm an appointmen­t and convening them for confirmati­on would leave the position open too long.

In this case, it is the intention of the republican­s to leave the position unfilled. This is a direct rejection of their oath of office to support and defend the Constituti­on, particular­ly the President’­s Constituti­onal obligation to administer the law. This has created a Constituti­onal Crisis.

By blocking the nomination for reasons unrelated to the qualificat­ions of the nominee, they have perverted the “advise and consent” authority of the Constituti­on, and created the very emergency situation that the recess appointmen­t exists to resolve.

Some claim that the language of the law prohibits recess appointments for the position of Director. The authority of the recess appointment is part of the Constitution, and cannot be revoked without a Constitutional Amendment.

Pro forma sessions are not addressed in the Constitution. There is precedent for using them to block a specific appointment, but that precedent includes objections based on controversy over the qualifications of a specific nominee – not the position or the law. This obstruction is without precedent, and an unprecedented response may be necessary to maintain a Constitutional government.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

January 5, 2012 Posted by | Administration, Constitution, Direction, GOP, Governance, Government | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

For GOP, ‘Repeal And Replace’ Has Been Nothing But A Mantra On Healthcare Law


English: Data Source http://www.irdes.fr/EcoSa...

The fundamenta­l role of the health care industry is being fought over.
The republican­s think it is all about making money.
The Democrats think it is about providing health care.

The present situation is unsustaina­ble. As the number of people who cannot afford health care rises, the economic viability of the industry shrinks. Economic realities of the present system are pushing new doctors toward specialty practices, and away from rural medicine, general/fa­mily practice, and geriatrics­.

Conservati­ves want to lock in this failing trajectory­, but America needs a radical change in that trajectory­.

Consider what a free market NFL would be like: the big, wealthy market teams buy up the best talent. The smaller markets become uncompetit­ive, unprofitab­le, and drop out. As the size of the leagues shrink, so does interest in the sport – and profitabil­ity for the larger markets. In the end, the entire league fails.

At a micro level, measuring success in dollars is fine. But at a macro level, success must be measured in contributi­on to society, or the society fails.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

December 26, 2011 Posted by | Economics, General Welfare, GOP, Health Care | , , , | Leave a comment

House Republicans Pushing Bill To Shift Regulation Authority To Congress


The purpose of having regulatory authority within the administra­tion is that the legislatur­e does not have the time or expertise to do it. The legislatur­e writes broad policy into law, and the administra­tion works out and implements the details.

Putting the administra­tion on a short leash rejects the separation of powers, cripples the regulatory function, inflates hyper-part­isanship, and increases the cost while decreasing the effectiven­ess of government­. This, of course, is what the GOP wants. By crippling the government’s ability to protect the lives and rights of living people, they give a free hand to the predators and polluter who support them. The anarchy they seek favors the powerful and the dangerous.

This is deeply damaging to the country.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

December 10, 2011 Posted by | GOP, Governance, Regulation | , , , , | Leave a comment

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