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Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Gay Marriage Survives, Initiative Process Does Not!
The United States Supreme Court nullified the vote and voice of the people of this State and our State Supreme Court in its ruling on Prop. 8, the Constitutional Amendment that reserved marriage as an institution reserved for one man and one woman.  Gay marriage supporters are celebrating a victory but if you study the decision of the court, you will realize this is not a victory worth celebrating.  Why?  Because what the court did was completely eviscerate the power of the people to control their own government. 
 
In essence, this Supreme Court case wasn’t about gay marriage!  It was about the ability of the people to defend a constitutional amendment.  It all started when Prop. 8 was challenged in court and Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown at the time refused to defend the will of the voters.  In essence, the court has now given veto power over the will of the people in the initiative process.  Here is what the dissenting judges of the Supreme Court had to say about this:
 
The Court’s reasoning does not take into account the fundamental principles or the practical dynamics of the initiative system in California, which uses this mechanism to control and to bypass public officials- the same officials who would not defend the initiative, an injury the Court now leaves unremedied.
 
The right to adopt initiatives has been described by the California courts as one of the most precious rights of the State’s democratic process . That historic role for the initiative system grew out of dissatisfaction with the then governing public officials and a widespread belief that the people had lost control of the political process. The initiative’s primary purpose then, was to afford the people the ability to propose and to adopt constitutional amendments or statutory provisions that their elected public officials had refused or declined to adopt.  The California Supreme Court has determined that this purpose is undermined if the very officials the initiative process seeks to circumvent are the only parties who can defend an enacted initiative when it is challenged in a legal proceeding.
 
In the end, what the Court fails to grasp or accept is the basic premise of the initiative process. And it is this.  The essence of democracy is that the right to make law rests in the people and flows to the government, not the other way around.  Freedom resides first in the people without need of a grant from government.  The California initiative process embodies these principles and has done so for over  century.  Through the structure of its government, and the character of those who exercise government authority, a State defines itself as sovereign.  In California and the 26 other States that permit initiatives and popular referendums, the people have exercised their own inherent sovereign right to govern themselves.  The Court today frustrates that choice by nullifying, for failure to comply with the Restatement of Agency, a State Supreme Court decision holding that state law authorizes an enacted initiative’s proponents to defend the law if and when the State’s usual legal advocates decline to do so. The Court’s opinion fails to abide by precedent and misapplies basic principles of justiciability. Those errors necessitate this respectful dissent.
 
Andy Caldwell
Posted at 09:37 AM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)



Friday, June 14, 2013
America By The Numbers
OPINIONFEST
Opinion Commentaries by Harris Sherline
 
America By The Numbers
 
The June issue of the California CPA magazine highlights an interesting feature, “the numbers,” which presents a numbers eye-view of America:
 
27: the “Number of states requiring retailers to collect sales tax on the full value of an item purchased using a social media coupon if the coupon does not disclose the discounted price (Source: Bloomberg)
 
2,634: the “Number of IRS criminal investigation convictions (Source: IRS)
 
$216M: “Amount collected from the FTB’s (Franchise Tax Board) top debtor collection program since October 2007 (Source: Franchise Tax Board)
 
18%: the “Number of employees who feel financially prepared for retirement (Source: Financial Finesse Inc.)
 
815: the “Number of Americans who believe that knowing how to spend your money well is a far greater indicator of leading a successful life.” (Source Amex)
 
There were 7,301 first-time applicants approved to take the Uniform CPA Exam in California.
 
“There were 3,510 newly licenses CPAs in California and 38,629 CPA licenses renewed in California (in 2012).”
 
“As of Dec. 31, 2012, there were 86,088 California-licensed CPAs (in California).
 
“Also as of Dec. 31, 2012, there were 1,426 California licensed (CPA) partnerships and 3,782 California licensed (CPA) corporations (in the state).”
 
Here are some additional statistics that help put the foregoing numbers in perspective
(Source: Californians For Population Stabilization, September 2010):
 
“In 1970, high birth rates and interstate migration drove California’s population growth. Today, immigration is responsible for the growth.”
 
“With the increase in the human population has come an inevitable decline in other species. Land used for housing, roads, businesses, schools and other forms of human activity has displaced land in its natural state. California has already lost 99 percent of its native grasslands, 80 peercent of its coastal wetlands, and 94 percent of its interior wetlands.”
 
“In 1970, California had the seventh most educated work force among the 50 states as measured by the share of its workers who had completed high school. By 2008, it had plummeted to 50th, making it the least-educated state in the nations – a startling transformation for a state once iconic as the center of technological innovation. One in six workers in the state has not graduated from high school…The reason? Immigration. The percentage of California’s population comprised of immigrants grew from nine percent in 1970 to 27 percent in 2008. Immigrants in the state are six times more likely than natives to have dropped out of high school, and one-third of the adult immigrants who settled in the state in 2007 and 2008 had not completed high school. Educational levels are especially low among illegal aliens where over half of adults have not finished high school. Due to this lack of education, adult illegal aliens have double the poverty rate of adult native-born Americans, 27 percent versus 13 percent.”
 
“A number of studies have found that illegal immigration imposes a severe fiscal strain on governments and taxpayers. A report from the Federal for American Immigration Reform estimated the annual costs of illegal immigration to federal, state and local governments at about $113 billion – nearly $29 billion at the federal level and $84 billion at the state and local level…At the federal level tax revenue from illegal aliens covers only one-third of the expenditures. At the state and local level, an average of less than five percent of the public costs associated with illegal immigration is recouped through taxes collected from illegal aliens. The annual outlay that illegal aliens cost U.S. taxpayers is an average amount per native-headed household of $1,117.”
 
“Rapid population growth and large-scale immigration no longer serve the interests of America or Americans. Special interest groups, each demanding an increase in some segment of immigration to serve narrow interest, have combined to create the unwieldy morass that constitutes current immigration policy. But, as the Jordan Commission noted, ‘It is both a right and a responsibility of a democratic society to manage immigration so that it serves the national interest.’”
 
Immigration numbers have not changed much since 2010, except to increase, and “we must realize that not everyone can come here. Our first duty is to those in need among our own citizenry. Congress must be cognizant of the strain that unconstrained population growth place on society and the environment, and must set limits so that we may have a more sustainable America.”
 
© 2013 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
 
Posted at 06:56 AM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)



Friday, June 14, 2013
Is Impeachment An Option?
OPINIONFEST
Opinion Commentaries by Harris Sherline
 
Is Impeachment An Option?
 
Recommendations from various pundits and politicians about President Obama’s tax and health care initiatives have recently turned to the notion of impeachment. As tempting as that may be to Obama’s critics, my own reaction is
that they should be careful what they wish for.
 
Impeaching a sitting President is not a simple matter.
 
A May 2013 USA Today article headlined, “No, Obama won’t be impeached,” discusses the reasons why:
 
“First, a reality check: The Republicans currently control only 45 seats in the U.S. Senate and would therefore need to persuade 22 members of the Democratic caucus to vote to oust a president of their own party in order to reach
the two-thirds majority the Constitution requires.
 
“In fact, all three of the serious impeachment drives (against Andrew Johnson in 1868, Richard Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1998-99 occurred when the president’s opponents controlled both houses of Congress by hefty margins.”
 
“Given the virtual impossibility of winning an impeachment fight, any Republican efforts would be suicidal. A failed attempt at removing the president would only confirm the negative image of the GOP as hyperpartisan radicals more
interested in scoring political points than working to address the nation’s problems.”
 
“A Republican attempt at terminating the Obama presidency would also enable Hillary Clinton to reprise her role as the loyal, long-suffering help-mate working to protect a political partner unjustly persecuted by ‘a vast right-wing conspiracy.’”
 
“…in addition to letting Clinton off by aiming squarely at her boss, any impeachment drive could also boost the stock of another potential Democratic candidate, Vice President Biden.”
 
“…with no chance of success, even conjecture about impeachment ultimately serves to boost Obama. A series of scandals that looks increasing dire – on Benghazi, the IRS improperly seized phone records from reporters and assorted
prevarications with the press and public – would still allow Obama a sense of victory and exoneration when he inevitably survives. Serious talk of impeachment makes any outcome less than that look like vindication.”
 
It’s important to understand what’s involved in impeaching a sitting President. Here’s how it works:
 
1. “The President…may be impeached and removed (from office) only for ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors…Several commentators have suggested that Congress alone may decide for itself what constitutes a
‘high crime or misdemeanor’…In 1970, then House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford defined the criterion as he saw it: ‘An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.’”
 
2. “The impeachment process is a two-step procedure: The House of Representatives must first pass, by a simple majority of those present and voting, articles of impeachment, which constitute the formal allegation or allegations. 
Upon their passage, the defendant has been ‘impeached.’ Next the Senate tries the accused.”
 
3. “To convict the accused, a two-thirds majority of the senators present is required. Conviction automatically removes the defendant from office.”
 
Although the process seems fairly straightforward, if Obama were to be “impeached,” it’s important to consider who’s next in line to assume the office. 
 
First would be Vice-President Biden. Does anyone think he is capable of leading the nation? Many observers view him as a “clown,” given to shooting from the lip with statements that are not only embarrassing but might be
demeaning to the office of President.
 
After Biden, the leader of the House of Representatives would be next in line. During Obama’s first tem that would have been Nancy Pelosi. Enough said.
 
The current leader of the House is Representative John Boehner (R-OH), whom the Democrats surely would not support.
 
So, all the talk about impeaching the president notwithstanding, it’s clear that it’s not going to happen.
 
As they often say in police stories, “There’s nothing happening here, move on.”
 
Like it or not, the nation is stuck with Obama until after the next Presidential election in November 2014, after which he will remain in office until January 9, 2015, when the next President assumes the office.
 
Obama will then be in what is generally termed “lame duck” status, and he will probably issue a series of “Executive Orders” to lock his agenda in for the foreseeable future. 
Congress might attempt to overturn an Executive Order by passing legislation to reverse it, but the President can also veto such a bill.
 
© 2013 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
 
Posted at 06:53 AM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)



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