Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

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 | , , , , , | 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

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

“The Great Flabbergasting”: Rachel Maddow’s (Surprising) Blind Spot



“disingenu­ous” is the word I have been looking for. Yet I remain flabbergas­ted at the disingenuo­usness of the republican party. It shows utter contempt for the democratic process, the foundation of our national identity.

“A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation­.”
~ James Freeman Clarke, Sermon

By their own admission, republican­s have been focused on the next election since the beginning of Obama44. This has directly resulted in bad policy and bad government­.

It is hard to believe that conservati­ves care about this country. They seem to believe in something that few people would recognize as America, or want to live in.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

August 23, 2011 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Light Bulb Act: House Republicans Poised To Repeal Incandescent Light Bulb Restrictions



1) Create uncertaint­y for light bulb manufactur­ers.
2) Funnel billions more to utility companies.
3) Accelerate need to build more power plants.
4) Add a multi-bill­ion dollar negative stimulus to the recovery.
5) Encourage arrogant, self-cente­red “patriotis­m”, AKA nationalis­m.

The lives of all Americans have become far too interconne­cted and interdepen­dent for the Plantation­-era concept of liberty to function.

“Nothing is more certain than the indispensa­ble necessity of government­, and it is equally undeniable­, that whenever and however it is instituted­, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.” – John Jay, Federalist 2

As more lives interact, more conflicts arise, and more authority to resolve those conflicts is required. Otherwise, we lose liberty through the sheer weight of population growth.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

July 12, 2011 Posted by | Regulation | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lori Klein, Arizona State Senator, Pointed Loaded Gun At Reporter Richard Ruelas’s Chest


Senator Lori Klein holding her .380 Ruger handgun in the Senate members lounge.

Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic - click to read

Oh, look at my cute pink girlie-gun with the laser sights and no safety…w­ha…[bang­]..[thud!] That’s not my fault! I’ve been kinda sorta trained in gun safety, and I didn’t mean to shine the laser in his eye! I couldn’t help it if he flinched and set off the gun! That was his choice. I didn’t force it on him. I have a right to carry a loaded gun, and I’m not forcing that choice on anyone! There are even places where *blind* people can carry guns.

Well, Ms. Klein, a gun is a weapon, not a fashion statement. A gun is made to kill living things. By treating it like an accessory or a conversati­on piece, you make a mockery of the right to bear arms.

You also demonstrat­e how people should have a good reason to be carrying a gun, more than simply to make a political statement or out of paranoia. You have demonstrat­ed a complacent or careless attitude toward guns that will become more common as more people carry for impulsive or frivolous reason. This makes tragedy inevitable­.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

July 11, 2011 Posted by | Constitution, Second Amendment | , , , | 1 Comment

Marilyn Davenport’s Racist Email Denounced By OC GOP


We have seen this before. The images were different, but the intent to denigrate was the same. The “sense of humor” was the same. And the excuses were the same. The counter-ac­cusations were the same. The pursuit of the whistle-bl­ower, the refusal to consider that they may have been wrong, the refusal to consider the possibilit­y that they should resign for the good of their cause. Pride and arrogance control them.

“I only sent it to a few people–mo­stly people I didn’t think would be upset by it.”

Admitting that there are others who think like her is not going to help their efforts to build a non-racist image. Every cause attracts it’s loons, but the honorable causes do not install their loons in positions of power or responsibi­lity – and remove them when discovered­.

Defaming President Obama is hardly the only monkey business incorporat­ed by the GOP:

SD 56 GOP web video prompts call for ouster of district chair
http://min­nesotainde­pendent.co­m/64086/jo­e-salmon-s­d-56-gop-v­ideo (The “Who let the dogs out?” scandal.)

The republican party needs to show less “family values” intoleranc­e and more respect for the rights of others and the basic social necessity of respecting human dignity.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

April 17, 2011 Posted by | Ethics, GOP | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Labor Battles Heat Up In Florida Against Gov. Rick Scott


The GOP war on the middle class has reached a critical stage, where even republican­s are beginning to see direct harm from the GOP agenda.

As more people realize that driving down working class wages is part of the GOP plan for job-creati­on, they will also realize that the GOP is attacking the financial resources of the vast majority of consumers – and attacking them from all sides. This will cripple 70% of the economy and kill millions of jobs. Republicans never have been very good at creating jobs.

As we can no longer borrow enough money to bail out conservati­ve failures, this will lead to far more than defaulting on our debts and driving the world into another depression­.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

“Moreover, fiscal consolidation programs that decrease the number and compensation of government workers increase the availability and reduce the cost of skilled labor to private firms. The combination of improved expectations about taxes and lower labor costs increases the expected after-tax rate of return on new business investment in non-residential fixed assets in the short term.” (page7)

http://www.speaker.gov/UploadedFiles/JEC_Jobs_Study.pdf

April 13, 2011 Posted by | Economics, Labor | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

112th Congress HR1255 – Government Shutdown Prevention Act of 2011


HR1255 provides a learning moment in the annals of American civics, for those who would learn…

It certainly leaves the tea party republicans no incentive to seek compromise or negotiate in good faith. In fact, it also gives them incentive NOT to raise the debt ceiling.

The Bill:

[Congressional Bills 112th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 1255 Introduced in House (IH)]

112th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 1255

To prevent a shutdown of the government of the United States, and for
other purposes.

_______________________________________________________________________

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 30, 2011

Mr. Womack (for himself and Mr. Woodall) introduced the following bill;
which was referred to the Committee on Appropriations, and in addition

to the Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, House
Administration, and the Budget, for a period to be subsequently
determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such
provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

_______________________________________________________________________

A BILL

To prevent a shutdown of the government of the United States, and for
other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “Government Shutdown Prevention Act
of 2011”.

SEC. 2. FUNDING THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE REMAINDER OF FISCAL YEAR 2011.

(a) Deadline for Consideration of Legislation Funding the
Government for the Remainder of Fiscal Year 2011.–If the House has not
received a message from the Senate before April 6, 2011, stating that
it has passed a measure providing for the appropriations for the
departments and agencies of the Government for the remainder of fiscal
year 2011, the provisions of H.R. 1, as passed by the House on February
19, 2011, are hereby enacted into law.

(b) Publication of Act.–In publishing this Act in slip form and in
the United States Statutes at Large pursuant to section 112 of title 1,
United States Code, the Archivist of the United States shall include
after the date of approval, if applicable, an appendix setting forth
the text of the bill referred to in subsection (a).

SEC. 3. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN PAYMENTS TO MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT.

(a) Treatment of Members During a Government Shutdown.–The
Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Administrative Officer of the
House, respectively, shall not disburse to each Member or Delegate the
amount of his or her salary for each day that

(1) there is more than a 24-hour lapse in appropriations
for any Federal agency or department as a result of a failure
to enact a regular appropriations bill or continuing
resolution; or

(2) the Federal Government is unable to make payments or
meet obligations because the public debt limit under section
3101 of title 31, United States Code, has been reached.

(b) Treatment of the President During a Government Shutdown.–The
President shall not receive a disbursement of basic pay for any period
in which–

(1) there is more than a 24-hour lapse in appropriations
for any Federal agency or department as a result of a failure
to enact a regular appropriations bill or continuing
resolution; or

(2) the Federal Government is unable to make payments or
meet obligations because the public debt limit under section
3101 of title 31, United States Code, has been reached.

<all>

Analysis

First of all, it appears to be assigned to no less than 4 committees simultaneously. I’ve always understood that bills have to go from committee to committee sequentially. Otherwise, amendments could leave you with multiple versions of a bill – which cannot be. Unless, of course, no amendments are to be allowed – which in turn means that all discussion and debate is aimed not at the legislation, but at persuasion.

UPDATE: H. Res. 194 blocked any path for Democrats to alter the bill.

“All points of order against consideration of the bill are waived. The bill shall be considered as read. All points of order against provisions in the bill are waived.”

The “hear no evil, speak no evil” resolution.

UPDATE: H. R. 1255 has been passed by the House, making the number of simultaneous committees a rhetorical question.

“and for other purposes.”

Always a warning flag. It means that there is more to the bill than is reflected in the title.

Section 2:

“Deadline for Consideration of Legislation Funding the
Government for the Remainder of Fiscal Year 2011.–If the House has not
received a message from the Senate before April 6, 2011, stating that
it has passed a measure providing for the appropriations for the
departments and agencies of the Government for the remainder of fiscal
year 2011, the provisions of H.R. 1, as passed by the House on February
19, 2011, are hereby enacted into law.”

There are two issues here:

  1. “the provisions of” is not terribly explicit. If they had at least stated “DIVISIONS A through C”, it would have shown at least a little legislative skill. I seriously doubt the legitimacy of a law that references or attempts to enact the language of another bill, which never became law in it’s own right.
  2. This is the same sort of back-door legislative legerdemain that the republicans cried foul over, but without the cover of House/Senate rules. This is not the “deem and to pass” procedure despite the apparent similarities. The self-executing rule is a House rule that can only effect the authority of the House. It cannot speak for the Senate. The Senate already said no to the language of H. R. 1, so trying to enact it through the back door carries a decidedly anti-constitution stigma.

“(b) Publication of Act.–In publishing this Act in slip form and in
the United States Statutes at Large pursuant to section 112 of title 1,
United States Code, the Archivist of the United States shall include
after the date of approval, if applicable, an appendix setting forth
the text of the bill referred to in subsection (a).”

This is a sure sign that they know they are not doing this right, and need to tell the Archivist how to clean up their mess.

Section 3 has it’s problems as well:

shall not disburse to each Member or Delegate the amount of his or her salary for each day that”

Let’s check the Constitution:

“No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.”

U.S. Const., Amend. XXVII

Oops, those “Read the Bill”/”Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does.” people just gave themselves an egg facial.

UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

“The President shall not receive a disbursement of basic pay for any period in which”

Another trip to the Constitution:

“The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”

U.S. Const. Art. II, sec. 1

The republicans aren’t even bringing their “C” game. If this is their best effort at “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution”, then they need classes from non-conservatives. Whatever they learned from the conservatives does not pass muster. Or maybe they just do not understand the meaning of “shall”.

shall (merriam-webster)

“used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory”

UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

“the Federal Government is unable to make payments or meet obligations because the public debt limit under section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, has been reached.”

This is the most insidious part of all. Even if an appropriations bill is passed into law, they could still shove H.R.1 down our throats just by thwarting efforts to raise the debt ceiling.

What is their justification?

By Mr. WOMACK:
H.R. 1255.
Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant to the following:
Section 2 is enacted pursuant to the rulemaking powers provided in clause 2 of section 5 of article I of the United States Constitution in furtherance of the appropriation power provided in clause 7 of section 9 of article I of the Constitution and spending power provided in clause 1 of section 8 of article I of the Constitution.
Section 3(a) is enacted pursuant to the rulemaking powers provided in clause 2 of section 5 of article I of the United States Constitution. Section 3(a) is consistent with article XXVII in that it does not vary the compensation of Members and Senators but only seeks to regulate its disbursement during certain periods.
Section 3(b) is enacted pursuant to clause 18 of section 8 of article I of the United States Constitution. Section 3(b) is consistent with clause 7 of section 1 of article II of the United States Constitution in that it does not vary the compensation of the President but only seeks to regulate its disbursement during certain periods.

And what do those clauses say?

“Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.”

U.S. Const, Art I, sec 5 – second clause

This clause has no applicability to section 2 of H.R. 1255. Law cannot be enacted by House rules. If H.R. 1 had been incorporated into H.R. 1255, then this would be a stand-alone bill. As it is, I do not see any “deemed to pass”  type language here. This is of particular concern because the Senate has already rejected the language of H.R. 1.

“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.”

U.S. Const, Art I, sec 9 – seventh clause

No problem here.

“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;”

U.S. Const, Art I, sec 8 – first clause

No problem here either.

Personal Note: The preamble states promote the general Welfare while this clause states provide for the general Welfare – interesting variation in language.

Concerning section 3 of H.R. 1255:

The rules made by each House to proscribe the punishment of it’s Members do not withstand provisions in the Constitution.

It is not clear that “punish its Members” includes economic actions. Furthermore, “punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour” applies only when there is – DISORDERLY BEHAVIOR. Burning a budget on the House floor would be disorderly behavior, failing to pass one is not.

This section is intended to impair the people who would have to take action to start funding the government again. While most of them have their own funds to live on, not all have that kind of personal reserves. Just ask Sean Duffy. Not paying Congress or the President while they are working to fund the government could impair that effort. These are the people who MUST be on the job when nobody else is, if we are to have a government – and a country.

Also, there is no language to make up the missed payments. The bill explicitly states “shall not disburse” – which means that, contrary to Mr. Womack’s assertion, this does indeed “vary the compensation”.

There is no “article XXVII” in the Constitution. I presume this constitutional scholar means U.S. Const, amend XXVII. (Amendment 27)

Nit Pick: “Members and Senators” should be “Members of each House” if they want to be consistent with the clauses they reference. Otherwise, it should be “Senators and Members of the House” or some such. This is just mixing titles and designations.

“To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

U.S. Const, sec 8, eighteenth clause

This is a curious citation because the only application relevant to (3)(b) would be in support of paying the Debt, yet (3)(b) is about NOT paying a debt.

Again, there is no language to make up the missed payments. The bill explicitly states “shall not receive a disbursement” – which means that, contrary to Mr. Womack’s assertion, the President’s Compensation would indeed be “diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected.

Lastly, the bill would have to be passed in both the House and Senate, and signed into law, on or before 8 April 2011, or it could not be anything but an unconstitutional ex post facto (retroactive) law.

“No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.”

U.S. Const, art I, sec 9, third clause

That would be a third strike on constitutionality alone.

Conclusion

With legislative sleight-of-hand, two unconstitutional provisions, a poison pill, and two ticking time bombs, this cannot be seen as a serious bill written by responsible people. It can only be seen as a propaganda tool to be used against the unwary. The most nefarious aspect is that it leaves republicans, especially the Tea Party caucus, NO reason to compromise or even negotiate in good faith. Further, it provides considerable reason NOT to raise the debt ceiling and let the government go broke. The negative consequences of this would be enormous.

You have been warned!

You have Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) and Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) to thank for wasting your time, my time, and the limited time of the House of Representatives.

UPDATE: H. R. 1255 was passed by the House with 15 Republicans and all Democrats voting against it.

UPDATE: The republicans are still pushing this through the Senate.

UPDATE: With the passing of another continuing resolution, and particularly with passage of the pending budget bill, this bill would come into conflict with the deals already brokered. This bill is now beyond repair.

112th Congress H.R. 1255

March 31, 2011 Posted by | Constitution, Government, Legislation, Strangelove | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nobody Should Need A Driver’s License – Or Civilization


Bobby Franklin and driver's licenseRepublican Georgia state legislator Bobby Franklin thinks that driver’s licenses impose undue restrictions on the right of citizens to travel. So he’s proposed legislation to stop the state from issuing them.

That’s not the only eyebrow raising legislation Franklin has introduced: he’s also proposed bills requiring the exclusive use of gold and silver as tender in payment of debts by or to the state; a bill seeking to eliminate crop management regulations; another bill banning forced vaccinations; a bill to stop the collection of the Georgia income tax; another to stop all property taxes and yet another to end eminent domain.

He has also sought to abolish the State Road and Tollway Authority, the Department of Health and Human Services and any social services Georgia provides.

In one bill that reads as his philosophical statement on the roots of government, Franklin laments the fall of religious and family authority. The bill — called the “Life, Liberty, and Property Restoration Act” — begins by acknowledging the existence of “an almighty, everlasting, creator God, the God of the Bible, the only God there is.” The bill then notes that God created “four, not one spheres of government”: self-government, family government, church government, and finally “the fourth, and least” — civil government.

I think that the last election may have brought batshit conservatism to critical mass.

This guy is in desperate need of deprogramming. He seems to have lost all understanding of how society works. It takes a real conservative to elect someone who has completely abandoned the Constitution even though he had to have sworn allegiance to it before taking his elected office.

His legislation is an insult to the dreams and hard work of the founding fathers, and the sacrifice of all those who gave their lives in the creation and defense if this country.
Georgia Republican: Nobody Should Need A Driver’s License

February 3, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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