My Favorite Vermont Birther Does Not Disappoint
Former Vermont Republican U.S. Senate hopeful H. Brooke Paige has appealed his “natural born citizen” case claiming Barack Obama is unqualified to be president to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Obama is not a ‘natural born citizen’ because he was not born to two U.S. citizen parents,” Paige alleged in his appeal, filed Thursday. “Hence, he is not eligible to be president.”
The state Supreme Court based its decision on the fact that Obama had won re-election the year before and by law was prevented from seeking a third term.
Paige, in the filing with the nation’s highest court said it was important for the justices to intervene in the case because the same issue could come up in a future presidential election.
If only Kepler's dream of lunar travel were truly that easy:
The island of Levania is located fifty thousand German miles high up in the air. The journey to and from this island from our Earth is very seldom open; but when it is accessible, its easy for our people. However, the transportation of men, joined as it is to the greatest danger of life, is most difficult. We do not admit sedentary, corpulent or fastidious men into this retinue.
We choose rather those who spend their time persistently riding swift horses or who frequently sail to the Indies, accustomed to subsist on twice-baked bread, garlic, dried fish, and other unsavory dishes. There are dried up old women especially suited for our purpose. The reason for this is well known. From early childhood they are accustomed to riding goats, or on mantles, and to travel through narrow passes and through the immense expanse of the Earth. Although Germans are not suitable, we do not reject the dry bodies of Spaniards.
The whole journey, far though it may be, is completed in four hours at most. Our departure time happens when we are busiest, before the Moon begins its eclipse in its eastern section. If the Moon becomes full while we are still on our way, our return journey is impossible. The occasion becomes so brief that we have few humans and not any other beings except the most helpful toward us.
Forming a column we seize any man of this kind and all of us pushing upward raise him to the heights. The initial shock is the worst part of it for him, for he is spun upward as if by an explosion of gunpowder and he flies above mountains and seas. On that account he must be drugged with narcotics and opiates prior to his flight. His limbs must be carefully protected so that they are not torn from him, body from legs, head from body and so that the recoil may not spread over into every member of his body.
Then he will face new difficulties: intense cold and impaired respiration. These circumstances which are natural to spirits are applied force to man. We go on our way placing moistened sponges to our nostrils. With first section of the voyage complete, our conveyance becomes easier. Then we expose our bodies freely to the air and withdraw our hands. All these persons are gathered into a ball within themselves, by reason of pressure, a condition which we ourselves produce almost by a mere sign of the head.
Finally, on arrival at the moon, the body is directed into its intended place by its own accord. This critical point is of little use to us spirits because it is excessively slow. Therefore, as I said, we accelerate by gravity and go in front of the man's body, lest by a very strong impact into the Moon he might suffer any harm. When the man awakes, he usually complains that all his members suffer from an ineffable lassitude, from which, however, he completely recovers when the effect of the drugs wears off, so that he can walk.
On this date in 1969, Apollo 9 was engaged in the first separation of a CSM and LM in orbit as part of the long, tedious, dangerous process of actually going to the moon. No drugs, no spells, no breezes of heaven. Just the application of Kepler's laws and others' discoveries, all put together by human ingenuity and will power.
The Breezes Of Heaven
If there are globes in the heaven similar to our earth, do we vie with them over who occupies the better portion of the universe? For if their globes are nobler, we are not the noblest of rational creatures. Then how can all things be for man's sake? How can we be the masters of God's handiwork?
- Johannes Kepler, Conversation with the Sidereal Messenger (1610)
Sigh, we hardly knew ye:
The Delta II rocket carrying NASA's Kepler spacecraft lifted off March 6, 2009 [NB: other sources say March 7, according to UTC] from Launch Complex 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Launch occurred at 10:49 p.m. EST, sending the agency's first planet-hunting spacecraft on a three-and-a-half-year mission to seek signs of other Earth-like planets.
The countdown proceeded smoothly throughout the day, and a perfect weather forecast held true, allowing an on-time liftoff on the first attempt.
The Kepler spacecraft will watch a patch of space for indications of Earth-sized planets moving around stars similar to the sun. The area that Kepler will watch contains about 100,000 stars like the sun. Using special detectors similar to those used in digital cameras, Kepler will look for a slight dimming in the stars as planets pass between the stars and Kepler. The observatory's place in space will allow it to watch the same stars constantly throughout its mission, something observatories such as NASA's Hubble Space Telescope cannot do.
The aptly named spacecraft, though now having serious operational issues, has helped us discover hundreds of exoplanets, with many more confirmations pouring in as the data already collected is analyzed. Potentially billions and billions of Earth-like planets might be out there in our galaxy alone, judging from what Kepler has taught us.
And he could just keep chugging along, helping us understand God's handiwork a little better...
Out of the blue, Sam wanted to watch Lion King today, which we haven't done in ages. He'd gotten to see it at Papa's while Sadie was being born, and he mentioned that memory, so some discussion might've triggered his renewed interest. Or maybe it's the hyenas since they make an appearance on Wild Kratts.
Whatever, the boy's King of the Non Sequitur.
And When Jesus Said To Turn The Other Cheek, He Meant Shoot First And Ask Questions Later
Paul Ryan really got what he deserved for suggesting that anyone whose kids get nutritional assistance at school doesn't care about their kids. Turns out, his story about a kid who wanted his lunch in a brown paper bag because it would prove that someone cared about him was lifted from a book written by an advocate of nutritional assistance. The story is actually true, but no one will care because Paul Ryan attributed the story to Eloise Anderson, who serves as the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. Sec. Anderson has testified falsely before Ryan's committee that she had been the one to meet this child. In fact, the real event happened a quarter century ago, and the child is now in his late 30's.
The whole point of the book is that children shouldn't go hungry. And it wound up being twisted into an argument for letting kids starve.
How shocking that these people who think pre-ghost Scrooge is a hero and twist Jesus' teachings would use a parable about not letting kids go hungry to show that we need to undermine their food security.
The Worship of Nature
The winds with hymns of praise are loud,Or low with sobs of pain,—The thunder-organ of the cloud,The dropping tears of rain.
With drooping head and branches crossedThe twilight forest grieves,Or speaks with tongues of PentecostFrom all its sunlit leaves.
The blue sky is the temple’s arch,Its transept earth and air,The music of its starry marchThe chorus of a prayer.
So Nature keeps the reverent frameWith which her years began,And all her signs and voices shameThe prayerless heart of man.
States Also Never Banned Sodomy
"There has never been a state in this country that has ever banned gay marriage," Medved said during a panel titled "Can Libertarians and Social Conservatives Ever Get Along?" after another panelist referenced historical discrimination against LGBT couples. "That is a liberal lie."
Glaring factual error aside, he's possibly not lying about or ignorant of state constitutions and statutes. Some of his ilk do think gays can get married: just to people of the opposite sex. So any definition of marriage as "one man and one woman" cannot possibly be a ban on gay marriage!
Lemieux writing at TAP:
The Republican rejection of Adegbile is of a piece with a broader anti-civil rights agenda, such as their ongoing efforts to suppress the vote of racial minorities and the poor and a bare majority of the Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act based on incoherent arguments with no basis in the text of the Constitution.
So Republican opposition to Adegbile was, while reprehensible, easily explicable. But Democrats control the Senate, and nominees like Adegbile can no longer be filibustered—he lost on a straight up-or-down vote. So it's worth directing particular ire at the 7 Democratic senators who joined the Republican war on civil rights. Five of these votes at least came from senators from states that voted for Romney, an explanation if not an excuse. Particularly worthy of scorn are the two blue-state senators, Pennsylvania's Bob Casey Jr. and Delaware's Chris Coons. Casey's stated justification for his nay vote was frankly embarrassing:
I respect that our system of law ensures the right of all citizens to legal representation no matter how heinous the crime. At the same time, it is important that we ensure that Pennsylvanians and citizens across the country have full confidence in their public representatives — both elected and appointed. The vicious murder of Officer Faulkner in the line of duty and the events that followed in the 30 years since his death have left open wounds for Maureen Faulkner and her family as well as the City of Philadelphia.
So defendants have a right to a defense, but a lawyer participating in this defense cannot have the "full confidence" of the public? If a teacher was trying to explain the concept of a "non-sequitur" to their students I'm not sure they could come up with a better example. And worse, it's a non-sequitur that's subversive of the rule of law.
The Greatest Deliberative Body in the world, folks. Defender of liberty. Unless it becomes inconvenient, scary, or potentially harmful to re-election.
Oh Yes, Bernie Really Needs Ralph's Advice
Sanders won’t return his calls, won’t combine forces with other progressives, and as a result, he isn’t getting as much done as he could, the frequent independent presidential candidate and consumer advocate says.
Nader detailed his grievances Thursday in a blunt two-page letter to the Vermont independent senator with the heading, “Bernie, we thought we knew ye!” Then Nader called the Burlington Free Press and shared the letter, which accuses Sanders of “speechifying” but getting nowhere, because he is a “Lone Ranger.”
“In the past year, I have called you many times at your Washington office. Your staff dutifully takes my messages, forwards them to you and you do not call back. Never,” Nader said in his letter.
Nader can sod off. For a more thoughtful analysis of Bernie's potential run--which I don't entirely disagree with--see pm carpenter.
We've Come A Long Way
It was a long walk home from school today, which made me think of how far we've come since Sam was born.
A Masquerade Full Of Harlots And Leeches
"Liberty! Liberty!" Pho! Let Mr. Webster, for decency's sake shut his lips for once and forever on this word. The word 'liberty' in the mouth of Mr. Webster sounds like the word 'love' in the mouth of a courtezan.
Daniel Webster, a fierce defender of union and liberty, gave his famous Seventh of March speech in 1850, supporting the compromise brokered by Henry Clay (Whig-KY) and Stephen Douglas (Dem-IL):
Mr. President, - I wish to speak to-day, not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a Northern man, but as an American, and a member of the Senate of the United States. It is fortunate that there is a Senate of the United States; a body not yet moved from its propriety, not lost to a just sense of its own dignity and its own high responsibilities, and a body to which the country looks, with confidence, for wise, moderate, patriotic, and healing counsels. It is not to be denied that we live in the midst of strong agitations, and are surrounded by very considerable dangers to our institutions and our government.
The imprisoned winds are let loose. The East, the North, and the stormy South combine to throw the whole sea into commotion, to toss its billows to the skies, and disclose its profoundest depths. I do not affect to regard myself, Mr. President, as holding, or as fit to hold, the helm in this combat with the political elements; but I have a duty to perform, and I mean to perform it with fidelity, not without a sense of existing dangers, but not without hope. I have a part to act, not for my own security or safety, for I am looking out for no fragment upon which to float away from the wreck, if wreck there must be, but for the good of the whole, and the preservation of all; and there is that which will keep me to my duty during this struggle, whether the sun and the stars shall appear, or shall not appear for many days.
I speak to-day for the preservation of the Union. "Hear me for my cause." I speak to-day, out of a solicitous and anxious heart for the restoration to the country of that quiet and harmonious harmony which make the blessings of this Union so rich, and so dear to us all.
Started out nicely, but in the end his three-and-a-half hour speech cost him a lot of support:
Webster immediately earned the praise of moderates throughout the country, while reaping the scorn of northern abolitionists who believed he had sold his soul to advocates of the South's "peculiar institution" in return for their support of his presidential candidacy. John Greenleaf Whittier captured the abolitionists' anger and disillusionment:
Of all we loved and honored, naught
Save power remains;
A fallen angel's pride of thought,
Still strong in chains
All else is gone; from those great eyes
The soul has fled:
When faith is lost, when honor dies,
The man is dead!
So bitter was the reaction expressed in the New England press, that none of Webster's congressional colleagues from that region was willing publicly to support the speech. Yet members of the Massachusetts legislature rejected a resolution condemning his actions, and several hundred New York businessmen sent him a letter of thanks and a gold watch. In the South, Webster's moderate tone made it easier for senators to support compromise measures.
A couple specific passages that caught my modern eye:
Mr. President, in the excited times in which we live, there is found to exist a state of crimination and recrimination between the North and South. There are lists of grievances produced by each; and those grievances, real or supposed, alienate the minds of one portion of the country from the other, exasperate the feelings, and subdue the sense of fraternal affection, patriotic love, and mutual regard.
Oh yes, both sides do it. An American tradition! And:
Then, Sir, there are the Abolition societies, of which I am unwilling to speak, but in regard to which I have very clear notions and opinions. I do not think them useful. I think their operations for the last twenty years have produced nothing good or valuable. At the same time, I believe thousands of their members to be honest and good men, perfectly well-meaning men. They have excited feelings; they think they must do something for the cause of liberty; and, in their sphere of action, they do not see what else they can do than to contribute to an Abolition press, or an Abolition society, or to pay an Abolition lecturer. I do not mean to impute gross motives even to the leaders of these societies, but I am not blind to the consequences of their proceedings. I cannot but see what mischiefs their interference with the South has produced.
Amazing that a Northerner dedicated to liberty would echo the Slavers' refrains about "outside agitators" who try to free other human beings. Small wonder that some people felt Webster threw them under the bus, particularly with regard to the Fugitive Slave Act that offended anti-slavery states like Vermont. But here's another perspective:
Possibly Southern secessionists and Northern abolitionists had some basis for thinking that the North would let the "erring sisters depart in peace " in 1850. Within the next ten years, however, there came a decisive change. The North, exasperated liy the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, the high-handed acts of Southerners in Kansas in 1856, and the Dred Scott dictum of the Supreme Court in 1857, felt that these things amounted to a repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the opening up of the territory to slavery.
In 1860 Northern conviction, backed by an effective, thorough party platform on a Union basis, swept the free states. In 1850, it was a "Constitutional Union " party that accepted the Compromise and arrested secession in the South ; and Webster, foreseeing a "remodelling of parties", had prophesied that "there must be a Union party"."'
Webster's spirit and speeches and his strengthening of federal power through — Supreme Court cases won by his arguments had helped to furnish — the conviction which underlay the Union Party of 1860 and 1864. His consistent opposition to nullification and secession, and his appeal to the Union and to the Constitution during twentv years preceding the Civil War — from his reply to Hayne to his seventh of March speech — had developed a spirit capable of making economic and political power effective.
Men inclined to sneer at Webster for his interest in manufacturing, farming, and material prosperity, may well rememljer that in his mind, and more slowly in the minds of the
North, economic progress went hand in liand with the development of union and of liberty secured by law.
Whether we look to the material progress of the North from 1850 to 1860 or to its development in "imponderables", Webster's policy and his power over men's thoughts and deeds were essential factors in the ultimate triumph of the Union, which would have been at least dubious had secession been attempted in 1850.
History is as history does, so who knows what this continent and nation would've looked like had the Compromise of 1850 not been hammered out. Webster was a significant part of that, through his force of personality, but so were other unpredictable things like the death of Zachary Taylor, and yeah, the work of those hated abolitionists, etc.
Today some people compare Obamacare to slavery, whilst liberal purists condemn it as not being good enough. I wonder what history will be written about that imperfect compromise and the people who shepherded it through.
The Lost Treasure Of The Fraggles
So much rage. So much anger. So much disappointment. Newsweek’s Leah McGrath Goodman stunned the Internet on Thursday with a report that, for the first time, identified the man who created Bitcoin, the world’s most successful, and infamous, crypto-currency. In a twist worthy of Thomas Pynchon, the pseudonymous mastermind “Satoshi Nakamoto” turned out to be a 64-year-old Japanese American named — incredibly — Satoshi Nakamoto.
This bombshell caused enthusiasts to explode in fury.
Goodman was attacked as a bad journalist: All her evidence — declared scores of angry tweetsand posts on Reddit – was circumstantial. (And it is true, Goodman’s case, while persuasive and fascinating, is not definitive. After the Newsweek story, in which he seemed to tacitly acknowledge involvement with Bitcoin, Nakamoto would go on to deny to an AP reporter that he was actually its creator.) Goodman was also flagellated for invading Nakamoto’s privacy, for“doxxing” him by publishing photos of his house and license plate that betrayed his anonymity. She was put on notice that she would be responsible if anything untoward happened to Nakamoto, who is believed to own a fortune in Bitcoin, and could now be the target of violent thieves.
To people who live in the real world, the sound and fury seems mostly absurd (although the horde of media chasing Nakamoto through L.A. on Thursday afternoon definitely wasn’tjournalism’s finest hour). If you invent a multibillion-dollar digital currency explicitly designed to remake the global financial system that gains serious traction, people will want to know who you are. If you mastermind an anarcho-libertarian project to break the hold of governments over money, history will demand answers — and good reporters will find them.
These people condemn the Fed for not being transparent, yet melt down when transparency's brought to their little playground? Typical libertarian childishness.
Death By Powerpoint
I fucking hate Powerpoint, especially in an academic setting. That's why I'll tend to chalk talk and speak extemporaneously in class rather than rely on slides, even if they exist. I try to get my students to do other, more creative and educational things for presentations rather than falling back on that Microsoft crutch--slide animations and sound effects in particular are banned, under penalty of failure.
Because it's stultifying. Horrifically stultifying.
"After this, what is left for us to write?"
O Lord! Ooh, you are so big! So absolutely huge.
Gosh, we're all really impressed down here, I can tell you. Even if the moon were only 1 pixel...
Who Lost Crimea?
Although really when you get down to it, we should blame John Quincy Adams. He coddled Russia when he was Ambassador, and showed Americans have no resolve by signing the Treaty of Ghent, which returned everything to status quo ante even though the British burned Washington.
WASHINGTON WAS BURNED! And we got NOTHING!
From then on, nobody respected America. Fucking Whigs, man.
Freedom From Fear
By the power of Greyskull!
This is the Best Gun Industry ad EVAH:
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre on Thursday told a group of conservatives that the “greatest freedom” was the ability to have “all the rifles, shotguns and handguns we want.”
LaPierre took the stage at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference late in the afternoon to give what was the most fearful speech of the day.
“I’ve never been worried about his country until now,” he said. “We fear for the safety of our families. It’s why neighborhood streets that were once filled with bicycles and skateboards and laughter in the air, now sit empty and silent.”
“That’s why more Americans are buying firearms and ammunition,” LaPierre asserted. “Not to cause trouble, but because that America is already in trouble.”
I'm not sure more Americans are buying that stuff. I think the same ones are buying more. And I'm really not sure that's freedom, so much as consumerism fueled by fear, which is the opposite of freedom.
But hey, I like Red Dawn and Hot Fuzz fantasies as much as the next NRA member...
Somebody Emboldened Putin
Putin knew that Republicans and Conservatives will side with America's Enemies against President Obama everytime. Listening to the 18 months worth of lies, which Republicans continue to spew forth about Benghazi, emboldened Putin. He knew that his actions would be defended by Republicans who would seek to blame Putin's actions on President Obama.
Because siding with America's Enemies is what Republicans and conservatives do.
Full Bellies Are The Path To Hell
We’re getting reports about Paul Ryan’s performance at CPAC, the big conservative gathering — and they’re actually kind of awesome, in the worst way.
I mean, the caricature of Ryan and people like him is that they treat the hardships of poverty as if they were merely psychological, that they talk big about dignity while ignoring the difficulty of getting essentials like food and health care. Well, it’s not a caricature: Ryan says never mind having enough to eat, it’s about spirituality:“The left is making a big mistake,” Ryan predicted. “What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul. People don’t just want a life of comfort. They want a life of dignity, they want a life of self determination.”
Um, yes, but how dignified can you be on an empty stomach? How much self-determination do you have?
So much for that Third Freedom. So much for child development. So much for democracy. It's easy to dismiss all that when you have a full belly, innit?
C'mon, You're Not Politico
This hed at The Hill is a bit of a puzzle:
Jonathan Easley - 03/06/14 05:01 PM EST
Only 27 percent of the enrollees didn’t previously have coverage, a consulting firm found.
The article is a bit confusing, with numbers all over the map, little context and some unclear language. Regardless, I'm fairly sure that more of the enrollees were uninsured previously (up from 11%) and maybe more of the Medicaid enrollees are as well.
Are we getting everybody covered? Nope. Are uninsured people getting covered now? Yup. Is the situation improving? Clearly. Thus, Obamacare IS reaching the uninsured.
So I'm not entirely sure why The Hill says it isn't. A more accurate, honest hed would say, "Obamacare not reaching enough uninsured," or better yet, "Obamacare reaching more uninsured," or something like that, right?
"They are weeping in the playtime of the others..."
And well may the children weep before you ;They are weary ere they run ;They have never seen the sunshine, nor the gloryWhich is brighter than the sun :They know the grief of man, without its wisdom ;They sink in the despair, without its calm —Are slaves, without the liberty in Christdom, —Are martyrs, by the pang without the palm, —Are worn, as if with age, yet unretrievinglyNo dear remembrance keep,—Are orphans of the earthly love and heavenly :Let them weep ! let them weep !
“We finally got them back,” said Leith Mayor Ryan Schock. “It was definitely a huge relief when [Grant County Sheriff] Steve Bay stopped me and showed me that he had the deeds. I’ve got them here in my possession.”
Grant County State Attorney Todd Schwarz told The Bismark Tribune that returning the deeds was not part of a plea agreement that spared Cobb further jail time on the misdemeanor and felony charges of terrorizing. He did acknowledge, however, that the gesture did not go unnoticed.
Sheriff Bay concurred, telling the Tribune that “Cobb thought [the re-deeding] was in his best interest. He has no intention of coming to Leith anymore.”
That's good. Hope they can be rid of the other dude, too.
I actually have no problem with white supremacists forming an enclave to keep them all in one place. They just need to do it without taking over like Hitler annexing Sudetenland. Maybe buy an island or something. Assholes.
The Senate's Lowest Point
Tom Harkin calls out the Senate's racist double standard on justice. Let's impeach the Chief Justice!
Sorry, having trouble with the C-SPAN embed code, but you must see.
Speaking Of Racist Injustice
Missouri was admitted to the Union as a slave state on March 6, 1820 (Maine, the other side of the Compromise coin became a free state three days earlier). Unfortunately, in the wisdom of Robert Taney, Congress' ban on slavery above latitude 36°30′ was found unconstitutional exactly 37 years later:
[T]he rights of property are united with the rights of person, and placed on the same ground by the fifth amendment to the Constitution, which provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, and property, without due process of law. And an act of Congress which deprives a citizen of the United States of his liberty or property merely because he came himself or brought his property into a particular Territory of the United States, and who had committed no offence against the laws, could hardly be dignified with the name of due process of law.
Taney also shamelessly quoted the Declaration of Independence to make his point:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights..."
[I]t is too clear for dispute that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration, for if the language, as understood in that day, would embrace them, the conduct of the distinguished men who framed the Declaration of Independence would have been utterly and flagrantly inconsistent with the principles they asserted, and instead of the sympathy of mankind to which they so confidently appealed, they would have deserved and received universal rebuke and reprobation.
As dictum I'll just note that the decision is a boon to birthers, but they prefer Justice Wayne's concurrence because VATTEL! Anyway, the political process never stops. As Lincoln said after the ruling:
We believe, as much as Judge Douglas, (perhaps more) in obedience to, and respect for the judicial department of government. We think its decisions on Constitutional questions, when fully settled, should control, not only the particular cases decided, but the general policy of the country, subject to be disturbed only by amendments of the Constitution as provided in that instrument itself. More than this would be revolution. But we think the Dred Scott decision is erroneous. We know the court that made it, has often over-ruled its own decisions, and we shall do what we can to have it to over-rule this. We offer no resistance to it.
One way to overcome a decision is for the Court rule differently in a subsequent case, as the future president reasonably observed. But Republicans viewed the meat of Dred Scott as mere obiter dictum, in essence saying the Taney Court merely made a passing comment about the constitutionality of the MIssouri Compromise and did not lay down the law. For example, Congressman Perry of Maine said on March 7, 1860:
The obiter dictum of the court in the Dred Scott case, relative to congressional sovereignty over the Territories, has been caught up by the South, and an attempt made by Democratic politicians to give it the authority of law. This is an assumption against right; a demand set up against the people of the North without authority. The people of the North were neither parties nor privies in the Dred Scott case, and hence they are not estopped from contesting the usurpations set up against them by the court.
The sequence growing out of these premises cannot be misunderstood. This attempt to plant slavery upon free soil, and spread it over every foot of territory outside of State lines, merely because five men have undertaken to say so, in a matter not legally before them, is a most unwarrantable aggression against the people of the free Stales.
It is such an unjustifiable encroachment upon the rights of the free laboring millions of this country as they never will submit to. It is a narrow-minded sectional policy, which can never be made national in the Union or out of it. It is a demand made by less than half a million slaveholders to monopolize more than one million square miles of territory, to the exclusion of twenty-six million freemen, who have no interest in slave property.
It is a monstrous aggression, and one that should be met and repelled at every hazard, and without regard to consequences.
So during the Civil War, Lincoln's State Department issued a passport to an African-American (1861) and Congress forbade slavery in Federal territories (1862) in "defiance" of the ruling. But it still took years or bloodshed and the Reconstruction Amendments to undo the damage Dred Scott caused to justice in America.
And now here we are, punishing somebody who worked for justice and civil rights precisely because he worked for justice and civil rights, thus making it more difficult for anybody to work for justice and civil rights. Robert Taney would be proud.
Oh God Of Mercy, When?
PS--I still prefer the 1971 stage version musically, but the movie has grown on me a bit. And the kids enjoy it.
The Senate's Shame Is Racist Injustice
[L]awyers, more than most, take the principle that anyone who faces conviction deserves a competent defense very seriously. If representing someone who did terrible things becomes a professional liability, that principle becomes endangered.
That’s why the current chief justice of the Supreme Court was confirmed overwhelmingly in 2005 despite having defended a man who was recently executed for murdering several people. If this ad hominem principle didn’t exist, Americans Fore Prosperitee would’ve run misleading 30-second ads in 1860 attacking Abraham Lincoln for getting Duff Armstrong acquitted of murder just two years earlier.
But that all changed on Wednesday when a handful of Senate Democrats joined the entire Republican Party and rejected Debo Adegbile’s nomination to run the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Not because his policy views are troubling or because he lacks qualification, but because he participated in the legal defense of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. Specifically, he headed an NAACP Legal Defense Fund team that successfully kept Abu-Jamal off death row, and, along with other LDF lawyers, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court alleging bias and racial discrimination in Abu-Jamal’s jury selection process.
If you’re a talented young lawyer with lofty public-service ambitions the lesson here is don’t affiliate yourself with advocacy groups, don’t take pro bono cases, keep your nose buried in corporate work. If you honor your juridical duty to ensure that even monstrous criminals deserve fair hearings you will be accused of coddling them.
[A]n inescapable difference between the Adegbile and Roberts confirmation battles is that Adegbile, like his former client, is black, and Roberts is not. Legal conservatives (whose true objections to Adegbile are probably a bit more nuanced) advanced the cause of denying Adegbile confirmation by stoking white racial panic. The stories they planted in the conservative press were often infused with paranoid assertions and innuendo. Adegbile, we were told, “would bring a radical record on racial issues to his new job, which is responsible for enforcing federal discrimination statutes.”
Adegbile was not himself a cop-killer. He didn’t help a cop-killer get off and roam free with false claims of innocence. What he did do—which fits pretty readily within the historic mandate of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund—was to help ensure that the American criminal justice system, and especially the death penalty, is administered fairly and constitutionally. As a representative of anorganization that is institutionally dedicated to ensuring that justice is administered fairly, he fought for fairness and (totally unfair!) judges agreed that unfairness occurred.
Once upon a time in America this was called advocating for justice. But in today’s America, it’s deemed a miscarriage of justice. And so the fact that Adegbile has long been one of the most skilled and principled civil rights attorneys in the country is cast by Senate Republicans as a kind of catastrophic public scam.
It’s not hard to imagine the scorching Fox News headlines, under the new standards set forth by the Judiciary Committee today: “John Adams Frees Vicious Patriot-Killer in Boston Massacre.” “John Roberts Unsuccessfully Defends Serial Killer in Florida!” “Anarchist-Loving Felix Frankfurter Advocates for Sacco and Vanzetti!” Clarence Darrow! Lover of Killers, Monkeys, and Commies; Disgrace to Legal Profession!.” “Murderer-Coddler John Paul Stevens disqualified from Supreme Court at 80!”
Remember a few years ago there was a brief and disgraceful campaign to boycott law firms engaged in pro bono representation of Guantanamo detainees? Remember the bipartisan outcry from lawyers across the spectrum who understood what it means to defend unpopular defendants and ideas, even when—especially when—they are guilty and unpopular? That notion died today in the U.S. Senate. Forget the presumption of innocence for criminals. It doesn’t even exist for their lawyers.
The Shameful Seven are guilty of aiding and abetting the Republicans in undermining American justice.
Ours To Fight For
The third [freedom] is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "Four Freedoms" Speech, January 6, 1941
With our friends at Fox News decrying the rampant abuse of fish purchased with SNAP, it seems fitting to mark this anniversary. Rockwell's Freedom from Want appeared in the Saturday Evening Post on March 6, 1943. Carlos Bulosan once again wrote an accompanying essay:
It is only when we have plenty to eat—plenty of everything— that we begin to understand what freedom means. To us, freedom is not an intangible thing. When we have enough to eat, then we are healthy enough to enjoy what we eat. Then we have the time and ability to read and think and discuss things. Then we are not merely living but also becoming a creative part of life. It is only then that we become a growing part of democracy.
We do not take democracy for granted. We feel it grow in our working together—many millions of us working toward a common purpose. If it took us several decades of sacrifice to arrive at this faith, it is because it took us that long to know what part of America is ours.
Our faith has been shaken many times, and now it is put to question. Our faith is a living thing, and it can be crippled or chained. It can be killed by denying us enough food or clothing, by blasting away our personalities and keeping us in constant fear. Unless we are properly prepared the powers of darkness will have good reason to catch us unaware and trample our lives.
Sounds about right to me. Wish more people with full bellies could think about that for just a moment...
My Mind Is Clearer Now
Let Us Avail Ourselves Of Our Reason And Experience
Since I've seen lots of folks talking about constitution this and constitution that about guns and such...here's Jefferson writing to Samuel Kercheval on July 12, 1816:
Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment.
I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead.
I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.
As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
Oh, that Tommy and his dead hand. Whatever, I have no larger point than to quote a dead Founder. Carry on.
Sorry, BTV, But The Dog...She Probably Won't Hunt
Burlington’s freshly passed gun control charter changes conflict with state law, House Speaker Shap Smith said Wednesday.
Burlington’s city attorney, however, said the charter change simply asks for an exception.
Meanwhile, lawmakers who must approve the changes made it clear they are bracing for an all-out gun debate in the Statehouse, though it will likely have to wait until next year.
As I've indicated, I'm generally sympathetic to what BTV's trying to do and would rather that deference is shown to the popular will in a community (given that I don't find their modest gun measures to be offensive or conflicting with Vermont's constitution or statute). That said, the efforts to get our General Assembly to approve their proposed charter changes have a snowball's chance in Al Gore's fat ass at this point.
I figured my gun-stroking fetishist friends would most likely succeed in lobbying even before Shap said anything, and now my gun-grabbing fascist friends will almost assuredly be disappointed. And you know what, no matter how it plays out our little republic will survive, and I'm glad everybody put their asses out there for what they believed in.
And the political process will march on...
I was struck by a reader email to Andrew Sullivan's site in which the reader notes the striking contrast not just between German and US press reaction but the different historical metaphors they're employing. Here, as we know, everything is World War II, appeasement and containment, if not necessarily explicitly reference to the Nazis and Hitler. In Germany, however, they're focused on 1914 and the onset of the World War I, a relatively minor crisis pushing the great powers of the day to stumble into a cataclysmic war that destroyed virtually all the losing states and debilitated the survivors.
As it happens, this popular memory on the beginning of World War I is almost certainly wrong. It was the historical consensus in the early decades after the war and it was crystallized and fashioned into a cliche for English-speaking audiences in Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August. But a group of revisionist historians writing in the 1960s and 1970s, mainly in Germany, have shown this was certainly not the case. In brief, Germany, feeling its strength was high but in relative decline and worried about the fragility of its key ally Austria-Hungary, intentionally steered the crisis to war. A splendid short book detailing this version of the story is Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?
The difference in emphasis is striking: less on the impact of Putin's move - undermining norms about how states do and don't deal with each other - and more on the risk of escalation leading to needless conflict.
I've been thinking a lot about Serbia in '14, but obviously that historical analogy is as flawed as Munich and any other. Anyway, this is an interesting juxtaposition in coverage and perspective.
To The Many
I -- am your voice, the warmth of your breath,
I -- am the reflection of your face,
The futile trembling of futile wings,
I am with you to the end, in any case.
That's why you so fervently love
Me in my weakness and in my sin;
That's why you impulsively gave
Me the best of your sons;
That's why you never even asked
Me for any word of him
And blackened my forever-deserted home
With fumes of praise.
And they say -- it's impossible to fuse more closely,
Impossible to love more abandonedly. . .
As the shadow from the body wants to part,
As the flesh from the soul wants to separate,
So I want now -- to be forgotten.
September 1922, translated by Judith Hemschemeyer.
John Adams Would Be Appalled
The idea that a qualified nominee for the Civil Rights Division in our Department of Justice was denied confirmation because of who he once represented is absolutely reprehensible. John Adams explained it as well as it can be explained when he defended the British soldiers accused of murdering Crispus Attucks...
I had no hesitation in answering that Council ought to be the very last thing that an accused Person should want in a free Country.
But since the Founders never intended black people to be free, guess it's okay...
I Blame McCain
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday drew from a new source in arguing that President Barack Obama has been too 'soft' on Russia: An article Obama wrote back when he was in college.
In a blistering speech on the Senate floor, McCain blamed Obama in part for Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression amid the Ukraine crisis, days after Russian forces moved in on the Crimean peninsula.
I think the real cause is McCain's crashing planes, showing Americans can't defend us against foreign air forces, then getting elected, showing Americans will vote for losers who can't defends us against foreign air forces. We are weak because of YOU, Senator Crashy.
I Predict Someday Cleveland Will Return To The World Series
What happened next would vindicate Palin the same way a small spike in the price of gold six years from now will vindicate Glenn Beck. Obama beat John McCain in a landslide and Russia didn’t invade Ukraine. Russia continued to not invade Ukraine through Obama’s first term, during which it ratified a new bilateral treaty with the U.S. committing to a dramatic reduction in the size of its nuclear arsenal. After Obama’s re-election, Russia, again, didn’t invade Ukraine, and proceeded to not invade Ukraine for over a year, until internal developments (which Palin somehow omitted from her 2008 warning) gave Putin a pretext and incentive to invade Ukraine, at which point he ordered troops into Crimea.
The Right To Defense
If, by supporting the Rights of Mankind, and of invincible Truth, I shall contribute to save from the Agonies of Death one unfortunate Victim of Tyranny, or of Ignorance, equally fatal; his Blessing and Tears of Transport, will be a sufficient Consolation to me, for the Contempt of all Mankind.
- John Adams, quoting Cesare, Marchese di Beccaria in his diary (June 28, 1770)
So today's the Boston Massacre anniversary. John Adams recalled years later:
Endeavors had been systematically pursued for many months, by certain busy characters, to excite quarrels, rencounters, and combats, single or compound, in the night, between the inhabitants of the lower class and the soldiers, and at all risks to enkindle an immortal hatred between them. I suspected that this was the explosion which had been intentionally wrought up by designing men, who knew what they were aiming at better than the instruments employed.
If these poor tools should be prosecuted for any of their illegal conduct, they must be punished. If the soldiers in self-defence should kill any of them, they must be tried, and, if truth was respected and the law prevailed, must be acquitted. To depend upon the perversion of law, and the corruption or partiality of juries, would insensibly disgrace the jurisprudence of the country and corrupt the morals of the people. It would be better for the whole people to rise in their majesty, and insist on the removal of the army, and take upon themselves the consequences, than to excite such passions between the people and the soldiers as would expose both to continual prosecution, civil or criminal, and keep the town boiling in a continual fermentation. The real and full intentions of the British government and nation were not yet developed; and we knew not whether the town would be supported by the country; whether the Province would be supported by even our neighboring States of New England; nor whether New England would be supported by the continent. These were my meditations in the night.
I'm sure he at least had the case of Ebenezer Richardson in the back of his mind when writing that first graf. And perhaps that's part of the reason why Adams took on the defense of British soldiers.
His co-counsel, Josiah Quincy, Jr, argued on December 3, 1770 (from which the HBO miniseries appears to have taken Adams' court speeches):
[T]he law has planted fences and barriers around every individual; it is a castle round every man's person, as well as his house. As the love of God and our neighbor comprehends the whole duty of man, so self-love and social comprehend all the duties we owe to mankind, and the first branch is self-love, which is not only our indisputable right, but our clearest duty; by the laws of nature, this is interwoven in the heart of every individual; God Almighty, whose laws we cannot alter, has implanted it there, and we can annihilate ourselves, as easily as root out this affection for ourselves. It is the first and strongest principle in our nature; Blackstone calls it "the primary canon in the law of nature."
That precept of our holy religion, which commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves, doth not command us to love our neighbor better than ourselves, or so well; no christian divine hath given this interpretation. The precept enjoins, that our benevolence to our fellow men should be as real and sincere as our affections to ourselves, not that it should be as great in degree.
A man is authorized, therefore, by common sense, and the laws of England, as well as those of nature, to love himself better than his fellow subject; if two persons are cast away at sea, and get on a plank (a case put by Sir Francis Bacon), and the plank is insufficient to hold them both, the one hath a right to push the other off to save himself. The rules of the common law, therefore, which authorize a man to preserve his own life at the expense of another's are not contradicted by any divine or moral law.
We talk of liberty and property, but, if we cut up the law of self-defense, we cut up the foundation of both, and if we give up this, the rest is of very little value; and, therefore, this principle must be strictly attended to, for whatsoever the law pronounces in the case of these eight soldiers will be the law to other persons and after ages. It would have been better if all the persons that have slain mankind in this country, from the beginning to this day, had been acquitted, than that a wrong rule and precedent should be established.
An Englishmans dwelling House is his Castle. The Law has erected a Fortification round it—and as every Man is Party to the Law, i.e. the Law is a Covenant of every Member of society with every other Member, therefore every Member of Society has entered into a solemn Covenant with every other that he shall enjoy in his own dwelling House as compleat a security, safety and Peace and Tranquility as if it was surrounded with Walls of Brass, with Ramparts and Palisadoes and defended with a Garrison and Artillery.—This covenant has been broken in a most outragious manner. We are all bound then to make good to the Plaintiff his Damages.Every English[man] values himself exceedingly, he takes a Pride and he glories justly in that strong Protection, that sweet Security, that delightfull Tranquillity which the Laws have thus secured to him in his own House, especially in the Night. Now to deprive a Man of this Protection, this quiet and Security in the dead of Night, when himself and Family confiding in it are asleep, is treat[ing] him not like an Englishman not like a Freeman but like a Slave—like a miserable Turk, or Tartar. Is not this a base Affront? No Man who has a Soul, who has the Spirit of a Man in him can ever after during his whole Life, ever forget such an Indignity, tho he may forgive it. He can never think of it without Pain of Mind, without Impatience, Anger, Resentment, Shame and Grief.
Anyway, back to the Massacre. Adams wrote of a commemoration on March 5, 1773:
Heard an oration, at Mr. Hunt’s meeting-house, by Dr. Benjamin Church, in commemoration of the massacre in King Street three years ago. That large church was filled and crowded in every pew, seat, alley, and gallery, by an audience of several thousands of people, of all ages and characters, and of both sexes.
I have reason to remember that fatal night. The part I took in defence of Captain Preston and the soldiers procured me anxiety and obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly, and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country. Judgment of death against those soldiers would have been as foul a stain upon this country as the executions of the quakers or witches anciently. As the evidence was, the verdict of the jury was exactly right.
This, however, is no reason why the town should not call the action of that night a massacre; nor is it any argument in favor of the Governor or Minister who caused them to be sent here. But it is the strongest of proofs of the danger of standing armies.
Naturally, they held these events annually as reminders of British perfidy and rally the People. The scene when the powder keg was really ready to explode, just weeks before Lexington and Concord:
On the morning of March 6, 1775, Joseph Warren, a physician-turned-revolutionary leader, stopped his one-chair carriage in front of Boston's Old South Church. Warren climbed down from the carriage, followed by a servant holding a small bundle. The two men crossed the street and entered an apothecary's shop. When Warren came out of the store he wore a Roman toga. He now crossed the street once more and burst into the swarming Old South to deliver the fourth annual Boston Massacre oration.
Revolutionary oratory was about much more than spoken words; it was also about a delicately formulated theatrical apparatus whose purpose was to transform mere speech into moving performance. For if there was one thing Revolutionary orators knew, it was that if you wanted to move people to action, you had to touch something deep within them. Taking their cues from the tradition of great Roman orators such as Cicero, they thus deployed a range of imagery designed to excite listeners' passions. Only in doing so, these orators came to believe, could the disagreement with Britain be transformed from a legal and constitutional matter to a matter for the passions—a matter of injustice, of dishonor, and of familial disgrace. As the reception of his oration suggests, Warren was a master of these techniques.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to know just what Warren's oratorical arsenal consisted of. Even though thousands attended the massacre oration, and we have several accounts of Warren's performance, reconstructing the event remains difficult. Nonetheless, there is much to be learned about Boston's mobilization for revolution from the events surrounding this singular act of public speaking.
"This day," the Boston Evening Post informed its readers on March 6, 1775, "an Oration will be delivered by Joseph Warren Esq., in commemoration of the bloody tragedy on the 5th of March 1770." But observant Bostonians recognized that this would not be just another commemorative address. The British forces now stationed in the city, Samuel Adams noted, were likely to resent any insinuation that their actions had been barbaric and would surely "take the occasion to beat up a Breeze." A later account reported that there was a "threat uttered by some of the British officers, that they would take the life of any man who should dare to speak of the massacre on that anniversary."
In his diary, Massachusetts royal governor Thomas Hutchinson recalled a larger assassination plot during Warren's oration. An English officer, according to Hutchinson, reported that if during the meeting Warren would say "anything against the King, etc., an officer was prepared, who stood near with an egg, to have thrown in his face; and that it was to have been a signal to draw swords; and that they would have massacred Hancock, Adams, and hundreds more." The Virginia Gazette, reprinting a report in a London newspaper, elaborated on the awkward egg episode, claiming that "this scheme was rendered abortive in the most whimsical manner, for he who was deputed to throw the egg fell in going to church . . . and broke the egg." Tensions clearly ran high as March 6 approached.
The presence of a large crowd, including British soldiers, seems one of the few undisputed facts regarding the oration's unfolding. A nineteenth-century biographer of Warren recalled that "many people came to town from the country to take part in the commemoration," and Frederick MacKenzie, a British officer, reported at the time that an "immense concourse of people" assembled at the Old South building for the occasion. Both patriots and loyalists acknowledged the presence of redcoats in the crowd, and both confirmed the obvious point that for them this was a most offensive and most disrespectful occasion. Samuel Adams claimed to treat the "many . . . officers present" with civility as he showed them to their seats, so "that they might have no pretence to behave ill."
The Boston Gazette, a radical patriot publication, labeled the "party of soldiers" at the Old South "perpetrators," claiming they came to harass the congregating Bostonians. Frederick MacKenzie claimed that "the troops conceived it was a great insult under the present circumstances, to deliver an oration on the occasion." Thus "a great number of officers," which Hutchinson estimated at three hundred, "assembled in the church and seemed determined to take notice of, and resent any expressions made use of by the Orator, reflecting on the Military." The hall was overcrowded, the audience filling the aisles, while the soldiers occupied the stairs, perhaps hoping to scare Warren into silence. Whether they were "many," a "party," or "a great number," as different accounts claimed, the presence of fuming British redcoats among the packed patriot crowd must have added an ominous sense to the impending drama.
But Warren would not be intimidated. In fact, if contemporary accounts are correct, his chosen attire—the plain white Roman toga—established a dramatic contrast between the speaker and his redcoat antagonists. It was almost as if Warren knew they would be there and chose the garment precisely to antagonize them. As they sat stiffly in their heavy red wool coats—the sartorial definition of Britishness—he would hold forth, in the flowing freedom of his billowing white garment—the sartorial definition of ancient, primordial virtue. Of course the garment's color was not its only distinctive quality. Indeed, one would be hard pressed to find clothing more unlike that of these British soldiers.
So you see, "politicizing tragedy" is a long-standing tradition. As is self-defense, and the right of everybody to have legal representation. Liberty can be messy.
Burlington's Full Of Gun Grabbing Sheeple!
The language of Article 16 does not suggest that the right to bear arms is unlimited and undefinable.
Yeah, and people have differing views of the limits and definitions. Freep:
The gun-related charter-change proposals — which still must win approval by the Legislature to become law, no sure thing — would allow police officers to confiscate guns or other weapons in the immediate control or possession of suspected domestic abusers; prohibit guns at Burlington bars and other establishments with a liquor license; and require guns to be stored in locked containers or with locks.
All three measures passed by significant margins: The domestic-abuse-related item passed 5,579 to 2,066, and the prohibition on guns in bars and other restaurants with a liquor license was approved 5,194 to 2,517. The gun-storage item passed by the narrowest margin but still was strongly endorsed, with a 4,351 to 2,971 tally.
“Those were pretty substantial majorities in general, particularly for a controversial issue,” Mayor Miro Weinberger said Tuesday night at a party hosted by his political action committee, Partnership for Burlington’s Future, at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. “I take them as a sign that Burlingtonians think that there needs to be some common-sense reforms. And that’s where the council and the administration has been for some time. I appreciate seeing that we were in line with the feelings of the people of Burlington.”
All seven city wards approved the ballot items about guns in establishments with a liquor license and police confiscation of weapons in suspected domestic-abuse situations. The item about gun storage passed everywhere except the two wards of the New North End.
I understand some of my friends who are a bit more passionate about gun ownership and resisting all regulatory limits (that's not a strawman, BTW) are dismayed and their resolve to fight in Mount Peculiar is stiffened. I naturally wasn't invested in the BTV charter changes since I'm not a resident or voter (though does Ericka work in town and friends live there), and while I am a firm supporter of an individual's right to keep and bear arms, I also acknowledge that reasonable people can disagree on the boundaries of that right without being jackbooted thugs, helpless sheeple, child killers or gun fetishists.
The approved regs do not appear to be repugnant to the US or VT constitutions from where I sit, though one must tread lightly even in these rather modest measures. I tend to support removing guns from domestic abuse situations--for the sake of all involved and even on the periphery--though I am sympathetic to due process concerns. Banning guns where there's liquor just strikes me as a no-brainer, but only because I think the usual "armed society is a polite society" trope is bullshit and becomes more bullshitter when you add booze to the mix.
Now, safe storage might also seem like a no-brainer--don't want kids playing or unauthorized people obtaining weapons--but you also have to balance the right to self-defense, since it doesn't do me much good to have a gun if I can't readily use it (see Heller). That said, I hear from responsible gun owners that they always store their guns safely, so I'm not sure this is a huge burden on the right to self-defense. If I have guns at home to protect my kids, I necessarily have to limit their access, which means limiting mine, so the requirement doesn't bother me, but there are some people more absolutist than I. It's interesting that this reg had the smallest margin, though it was still significant.
Anyway, the anti-regulation folks are mobilizing to massively resist the decisions made by Burlingtonians. These are changes to the municipal charter, so you can expect hundreds if not a couple thousand passionate Vermonters from all over the state to descend upon the Leg in hopes of preventing their approval.
I find it a little irritating that some people who don't live and work in the City will take it upon themselves to override popular measures. Yet I understand that this does have an impact on everybody who might visit the city and feel like their rights will be violated, and it also sets a precedent they view as dangerous.
Anyway, the gun battles continue.
I Predicted This Would Happen
Palin said she predicted that Obama’s response to Russian military action in Georgia in 2008 would encourage Russia one day to invade Ukraine. The outside experts we reached did not find her words in 2008 to be a clear prediction, but they give her credit for accurately highlighting a place where a crisis in fact emerged.
They did not agree with the logic behind her claim, however, and said there's a lot more to the story -- namely a history of America avoiding confrontation with Russia in its direct spheres of influence. Ultimately, whether Obama's actions somehow encouraged Putin and Russia to invade Ukraine is something Palin cannot prove.
Her claim is partially accurate but takes things out of context. We rate it Half True.
It's easy to predict things. You make a lot of statements, and the law of averages will give you a hit or two, then you crow about that and ignore the other million that never came true. I rate Politifact's rating Half-assed.
Slavery Is As Slavery Does
Terrible reactionary arguments never die; they just get recycled to justify different forms of illegitimate privilege.
Yeah, pretty much. The impetus for his remark:
[A]rguments against Title II were framed in terms of the Thirteenth Amendment. The argument was not the one we might have expected from the Civil Rights Cases—that discrimination in public accommodations was not a badge and incident of slavery that Congress had Thirteenth Amendment power to target. Instead, it was the rather stunning argument that prohibiting businesses from discriminating on the basis of race conscripted the business owners into involuntary servitude.
Strom Thurmond made this argument in his separate views attached to the Senate Report on the proposed Civil Rights Act. Senator Thurmond described the Thirteenth Amendment as “an insurmountable constitutional barrier” to Title II, because, by forcing businesses to serve customers their owners desired not to, the bill would impose “involuntary servitude” on them. As Christopher Schmidt explains, “in the early 1960s, this unusual Thirteenth Amendment argument figured prominently in the debate over the appropriate line between antidiscrimination policy and personal liberties.”
Everybody making those horrible arguments today needs to be reminded what SCOTUS said:
It is doubtful if in the long run appellant will suffer economic loss as a result of the Act. Experience is to the contrary where discrimination is completely obliterated as to all public accommodations. But whether this be true or not is of no consequence since this Court has specifically held that the fact that a "member of the class which is regulated may suffer economic losses not shared by others . . . has never been a barrier" to such legislation...Likewise in a long line of cases this Court has rejected the claim that the prohibition of racial discrimination in public accommodations interferes with personal liberty...Neither do we find any merit in the claim that the Act is a taking of property without just compensation. The cases are to the contrary...
We find no merit in the remainder of appellant's contentions, including that of "involuntary servitude." As we have seen, 32 States prohibit racial discrimination in public accommodations. These laws but codify the common-law innkeeper rule which long predated the Thirteenth Amendment. It is difficult to believe that the Amendment was intended to abrogate this principle. Indeed, the opinion of the Court in the Civil Rights Cases is to the contrary as we have seen, it having noted with approval the laws of "all the States" prohibiting discrimination. We could not say that the requirements of the Act in this regard are in any way "akin to African slavery."
Ain't It Sad?
Stepping Over A Dollar To Pick Up A Penny
A few moments at Town Meeting in Fletcher today irritated me. Things were said that I thought kinda exemplified the shortsightedness and selfishness we as a nation demonstrate on a regular basis.
First, in the Selectboard's proposed budget we wanted to provide 4% raises for the handful of people who work for the Town fulltime. For several years those good folks have only gotten cost-of-living increases, despite the good work they do on vital services for our community. To be sure, some people in this economy don't even get COLAs or aren't even lucky enough to have jobs, but that isn't a compelling argument to not give other people what they deserve.
So anyway, somebody made a motion to reduce that raise to a mere 1.5% for cost-of-living (another motion put it at a less-stingy 2% to "compromise"). People who supported amending the budget essentially boiled it down to "I'm skilled and valuable, too, but only got a 1% raise." It's certainly understandable that folks would find another person getting a larger raise to be unfair, particularly since any monies we pay out comes from their tax dollars.
But let's put that all into perspective for a moment. We're talking about roughly $7500 amongst a few people in a $950k budget. That's 0.7% of the budget, and is fractions of a penny in a person's property tax bill.
We're also talking about our long-serving Town Clerk/Treasurer, who has been on the job for almost three decades, is extremely efficient and makes sure the Town runs smoothly. Her job includes doing all the necessary recording for legal property transfers that people rely on, and meeting payroll for our other valued employees who plow, salt and sand, and otherwise maintain the roads at all hours of the day and night, all year long, so the rest of us can safely get to our jobs and support our families.
Fortunately, after 40 minutes of debate, the 2% proposal was shot down 69-41, and the 1.5% proposal was loudly rejected in a voice vote. I'm still a bit surprised that so many people were willing to deny a trifle to somebody they rely upon.
I'll note that there was a time I actually took a 20% pay cut when our company wasn't doing to so great, but I still didn't resent somebody somewhere else getting a raise. Isn't that the kind of "socialist" thinking that the wealthy decry: "don't try to take away my money just because you don't make more"? I wonder what it would be like if more people realized we're all worth more, and celebrate those who get what they deserve as a good starting point. We won't get anywhere without prosperity bubbling up.
The other thing is related in that people were concerned about the school budget and how much money we might have to spend to address a serious space and facilities problem as our student population grows. A couple people felt that pre-K was unnecessary (one also suggested it's not mandatory from a legal POV, but the State will likely be changing that soon), so why are we spending money on that when we need it for the older kids and it's the parents' and/or grandparents' responsibility anyway. Oy.
Obviously that hits home since we have one child in pre-K right now--he'll be there for another year before hitting kindergarten--and another who will be enrolled in 2015. Just from my personal perspective, I'm rather insulted that members of our community see no value in our children getting public education as early as possible.
But beyond that, they are completely missing just how important it is for all of us:
Nobel prize-winning economist James Heckman supports the investment of public dollars in early childhood education out of urgent concern about the low skills of the U.S. workforce. He fears a continuing decline in skill level in the coming decades, with a disastrous loss of U.S. productivity and economic competitiveness. He concludes that it makes “sound business sense to invest in young children from disadvantaged environments,” since quality pre-Kindergarten programs “generate substantial savings to society and…promote higher economic growth by improving the skills of the workforce.”
Heckman argues that remediation in schools and for young adults who have failed in school, like GED certification and public job training, are both more costly and less effective than quality early learning programs. Therefore, money invested in early learning for at-risk children is more cost effective than money spent later to compensate for earlier disadvantages.
In its influential 2002 report, Preschool for All: Investing in a Productive and Just Society, the Committee for Economic Development (CED), an independent research and policy organization ofsome 250 business leaders and educators, presented a business case for federal and state governments “to undertake a new national compact to make early education available to all children age 3 and over.” Education should be viewed, says the CED report, as an investment, not an expense, which will increase economic productivity and tax revenues, while diminishing crime. CED also argues that it is both morally and ethically unacceptable to fail to safeguard the health and well- being of all young children.
Indeed, it has been suggested that:
Effective pre-k programs reduce costly grade retention and special education services
Better-prepared pre-k graduates make kindergarten teachers more effective, which reduces costs
- Early childhood programs stimulate the local economy
Studies have shown that every dollar we invest in early education ultimately gets us a return if anywhere between 4 and 17 dollars. That makes the nickel and diming some people find so seductive really look like chump change.
We had a lot of good questions and comments today, and it was great to see so many people attend Town Meeting and run for school board this year. I'm just a little disappointed that we heard so much about tinkering in the margins whilst alienating people, to very little positive effect for our community.
I hope that we can eventually impress upon everybody the need to make the necessary investments in our children, as well as the people who serve us all so well. I think the two boards are trustworthy stewards of our community resources and do very well to avoid any profligate tendencies. But it's also a pretty intuitive business maxim that you have to spend money to make money. We ought to do more of that locally, not to mention at the state and national level.
I'll Take Public Accountability For A Thousand, Alex
Westford residents voted overwhelmingly, 67-37, to approve a non-binding resolution asking Treasurer Charlotte Vincent to resign Monday night at town meeting.
Selectboard Chairman John Quinn introduced the resolution, saying Vincent had failed to execute her duties as treasurer.
“We have a town report without financial statements because they were not submitted on time,” Quinn said. “She is not performing her duties and it’s impacting the Selectboard and town auditors.”
Quinn called the situation with Vincent a “14-year problem” that had to be resolved. The treasurer’s cash statement summary for the general fund for fiscal year 2012 was left blank in Westford’s annual report, with the message, “Statement not prepared and approved by the established Town Report submission deadline.”
“I feel sorry for her, but when I ask her where the numbers are, she says, ‘Sorry, I got behind,’” Quinn said of Vincent. “We have a business to run here. We need financial statements on time.”
Some town residents felt Quinn was being unfairly harsh toward Vincent and objected to his bringing up her failure to complete the financial statement on time in such a public forum as the town meeting. One resident compared Quinn’s call for a non-binding resolution asking Vincent to resign to a “public flogging,” labeling it “bullying.”
You know what's a public flogging? Being flogged in public. You know what's bullying? Being actually pushed around and stuff. Being called out is none of that, and a necessary part of open government.
The Treasurer is an elected official and has duties to perform. The position is not only extremely important to the town, but is also one that is ripe for abuse. Elections are one way to provide oversight, but if the person is moderately clever at hiding things--say, by not providing timely information--there is little the Selectboard can do under Vermont statute during the Treasurer's term.
I don't know the details about how the Board has addressed concerns in the past. But I completely understand why the Chair might feel compelled to put this on the floor to highlight problems so at the very least the next time voters have to choose they will be informed. All part of the political process, and shows the value of having Town Meeting as opposed to merely casting an Australian ballot. People should appreciate it since the Board is trying to make sure the town's finances are transparent.
Sometimes that stuff is uncomfortable. Who said democracy was easy?
Direct Democracy Accomplished!
Just in case anybody's interested in what happened during our Town Meeting today, I've posted some brief highlights on the town website. Not so contentious as a nearby town's, but there were some items with significant debate. I'll be saying some stuff about a couple things that bothered me later...
The Best School Of Political Liberty The World Ever Saw
Heading out across the woods in just a bit to engage in some of that direct democracy Thomas Jefferson loved so much. Everybody try to keep your shit wired tight until I get back.
Three To Make Ready
Without Apollo 9's launch to test Spider on March 3, 1969, you don't get 10's flying the LM in lunar orbit, you don't get 11's landing, etc.
What's The Magic Word?
“There’s no way [12 Years a Slave] was not going to win! If it was the only thing that movie won, it was going to win Best Picture. There was no way — it didn’t matter if it’s good or bad; I haven’t seen it — it had the magic word in the title: Slave.”
Spielberg really blew it in '97 with Amistad. Shoulda called it Ship Full Of Slaves. And Lincoln? What about Abraham Lincoln: Slavery Slayer?