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Friday, July 31, 2015

The Stand In The Women's Health Clinic Door

Huckster would use Federal troops to deny women their reproductive rights.  Is this when 2nd Amendment Solutions are supposed to kick in?


July 31, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Happy Birthday, NASA!

The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 established NASA to meet the following objectives:

  1. The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;
  2. The improvement of the usefulness, performance, speed, safety, and efficiency of aeronautical and space vehicles;
  3. The development and operation of vehicles capable of carrying instruments, equipment, supplies and living organisms through space;
  4. The establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from, the opportunities for, and the problems involved in the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes.
  5. The preservation of the role of the United States as a leader in aeronautical and space science and technology and in the application thereof to the conduct of peaceful activities within and outside the atmosphere.
  6. The making available to agencies directly concerned with national defenses of discoveries that have military value or significance, and the furnishing by such agencies, to the civilian agency established to direct and control nonmilitary aeronautical and space activities, of information as to discoveries which have value or significance to that agency;
  7. Cooperation by the United States with other nations and groups of nations in work done pursuant to this Act and in the peaceful application of the results, thereof; and
  8. The most effective utilization of the scientific and engineering resources of the United States, with close cooperation among all interested agencies of the United States in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, facilities, and equipment.

Good Ole NACA was absorbed by the new agency on October 1.  And our Constitution doesn't say a damned thing about either...


July 29, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Copyright The Law?

At first blush, this seems ludicrous, but I'm not sure outrage is proper here:

The state of Georgia claims an open records activist broke copyright law — and maybe even committed a terrorist act — by posting the full, annotated versions of the state’s legal code online.

State officials claim in a lawsuit filed last week that Carl Malamud had engaged in an 18-year “crusade to control the accessibility of U.S. government documents” by scanning and reposting the annotated version of the Georgia legal code, which courts often rely on to make decisions on the law, on his website Public.Resource.org.

The state also “points directly to the annotated version as the official laws of the state,” reported Techdirt.

The basic legal code is readily available for free online and in print, but the state claims in its suit that information in the annotated legal code is copyrighted.

The annotated legal code is currently available for $378 through legal publisher Lexis Nexis or through a complicated series of steps through the Georgia General Assembly website.

Malamud argues that public laws should not be subject to any form of copyright protection — and he says the courts have generally upheld that view.

Lemme grab the low hanging fruit: The annotated legal code is currently available...through a complicated series of steps through the Georgia General Assembly website.

Being the investigative journalist blogger dude that I am, I journalistically investigated the complicated steps involved:

  1. Find the Georgia General Assembly website through obcure high tech methods such as teh Google.
  2. Very carefully click on the "Georgia Code" link under "Georgia Government" heading in left nav bar.
  3. On the resulting "Code of Georgia - Free Public Access" page, click on the "I agree" button after thoroughly perusing the Terms & Conditions.

After following that complicated series of steps, only then may the user search or browse through the annotated code for free.  Clearly a  barrier to the average citizen who has neither the time nor money to invest in such a process.

Anyway, this is where you will find important information such as § 1-1-1. Enactment of Code:

Copyright 2015 by The State of Georgia
All rights reserved.

*** Current Through the 2015 Regular Session ***


O.C.G.A. § 1-1-1  (2015)

§ 1-1-1.  Enactment of Code 

   The statutory portion of the codification of Georgia laws prepared by the Code Revision Commission and the Michie Company pursuant to a contract entered into on June 19, 1978, is enacted and shall have the effect of statutes enacted by the General Assembly of Georgia. The statutory portion of such codification shall be merged with annotations, captions, catchlines, history lines, editorial notes, cross-references, indices, title and chapter analyses, and other materials pursuant to the contract and shall be published by authority of the state pursuant to such contract and when so published shall be known and may be cited as the "Official Code of Georgia Annotated."

HISTORY: Ga. L. 1982, p. 3, § 1.

Let's ignore the assertion of copyright for now.  Notice that History line at the bottom?  That's an annotation.  It's not the law, it's a essentially a footnote.  As this first section spells out, the statutes have been merged with the annotations--legislative history, editorial notes and analysis, etc--prepared by a non-public entity under contract.

The LAW is not copyrighted.  The packaging of Georgia's statutes that includes privately done work is.  Malamud could get his own free copy of the code and put together his own copyrighted annotations if he wanted.

Public.Resource.org appears to rely heavily on the conflation of statute and annotated code.  F'rinstance, they cite Banks v. Manchester (1888): the authentic exposition and interpretation of the law, which, binding every citizen, is free for publication to all, whether it is a declaration of unwritten law or an interpretation of a constitution or a statute.

But here's the full context:

Judges, as is well understood, receive from the public treasury a stated annual salary, fixed by law, and can themselves have no pecuniary interest or proprietorship, as against the public at large, in the fruits of their judicial labors. This extends to whatever work they perform in their capacity as judges, and as well to the statements of cases and headnotes prepared by them as such, as to the opinions and decisions themselves. The question is one of public policy, and there has always been a judicial consensus, from the time of the decision in the case of Wheaton v. Peters, 8 Pet. 591, that no copyright could, under the statutes passed by Congress, be secured in the products of the labor done by judicial officers in the discharge of their judicial duties. The whole work done by the judges constitutes the authentic exposition and interpretation of the law, which, binding every citizen, is free for publication to all, whether it is a declaration of unwritten law or an interpretation of a constitution or a statute.

Sure, the concept can be extended from the Judiciary to any Legislative work.  But that's not what is at issue here.  Malamud and friends aren't just publishing unannotated law, they are publishing additional information not created by the State.  That extra content is copyrightable, and what these folks are doing is a violation just as it would be if they scanned a book on Supreme Court opinions that included the author's own interpretations of history, law, etc.

What's particularly funny about this, Malamud's disingenuous arguments aside, is that the underlying concern about information wanting to be free is mooted by the fact that the information is actually freely available online.  So what value is his middle man website offering, exactly?


PS--Reminds me of people freaking out about patents.

July 28, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, July 27, 2015

State Constitutions And Laws Are Messy

In the wake of Obergefell, there's quite a bit of editorial work that probably won't be done any time soon.  Still, marriage equality is the law of land, no matter what Huckster thinks.


July 27, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Sunday, July 26, 2015


Scott Lemieux:

Yes, impeaching Obama on absolutely ludicrous grounds and have removal fail massively in the Senate would be the risk-averse and intelligent gamble.

The fever is catching!


July 26, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Happy Birthday, USPS 1.0!

Yes, my favorite deparment, the Post Office, has been around since before we were an independent nation.  On this date in 1775:

[T]he Congress resumed the consideration of the report of the Committee on the post office; which being debated by paragraphs, was agreed to as follows:

That a postmaster General be appointed for the United Colonies, who shall hold his office at Philada, and shall be allowed a salary of 1000 dollars per an: for himself, and 340 dollars per an: for a secretary and Comptroller, with power to appoint such, and so many deputies as to him may seem proper and necessary.

That a line of posts be appointed under the direction of the Postmaster general, from Falmouth in New England to Savannah in Georgia, with as many cross posts as he shall think fit.
That the several deputies account quarterly with the general post office, and the postmaster general annually with the continental treasurers, when he shall pay into the rect of the Sd Treasurers, the profits of the Post Office; and if the necessary expence of this establishment should exceed the produce of it, the deficiency shall be made good by the United Colonies, and paid to the postmaster general by the continental Treasr.
The Congress then proceeded to the election of a postmaster general for one year, and until another is appointed by a future Congress, when Benjamin Franklin, Esqr. was unanimously chosen.

It has carried through the Articles to the very Constitution that still operates more or less today.  

Anyway, as I have often mused about such milestones on our historical continuum, as well as the conflation of said markers, I dug up an excerpt from The Lovers' Quarrel: The Two Foundings and American Political Development I used in a post during last year' mid-term cycle:

If the Federalists and their disciples have specialized in creative syntheses and resyntheses, and layering new meanings on old ones, the Anti-Federalists and their descendants have always responded with historical revisionism. Since the First Founding came first, their followers never felt obligated to engage in any reconciliation with the innovators of their age. As Jefferson took it as a badge of honor that he would “never turn an inch out of my way to reconcile them [the Federalists’ leaders],” today’s Anti-Federalists are similarly unflinching in their commitment to (what they believe to be and indeed fittingly call) “first principles.” If Grover Norquist is uncompromising and inflexible, he is no more so than another earlier neo-Anti-Federalist, John C. Calhoun, who was so rigid he was called the “cast iron man.” Meckler and Martin were only doing what Madison, Jefferson, and Calhoun did, when they first insinuated Anti-Federalist meanings out of Federalist words, in the debate about the First Bank in 1791, the Revolution of 1800, and the Nullification crisis, respectively. Theirs was the same strategy Herman Cain deployed, if less wittingly, when the latter alleged, in a speech announcing his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in May 2011, “For the benefit for those that are not going to read it because they don’t want us to go by the Constitution, there’s a little section in there that talks about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That section is actually in the Declaration of Independence. Here was another disciple of the First Founding who could not think of the Second Founding as legitimate on its own terms, but who believed that it needed to piggyback on the legitimacy of the First. Consider, also, the web page articulating the “Core Principles” of the John Birch Society, where the Declaration of Independence is twice cited and the Constitution not at all. Consider, finally, Governor Mike Huckabee’s anti-federalization of Federalism at the Republican National Convention in 2012:

So fearful were they [the Second Founders] that government would grow beyond their intention that even after crafting our magnificent Constitution, they said, “We can do even better.” They added amendments that we call the Bill of Rights that limit what the government can do and guarantee what “We the people” have the unimpeded right to do—whether to speak, assemble, worship, pray, publish, or even refuse intrusions into our homes.

Only an Anti-Federalist, original or modern, would see the Bill of Rights, which Publius had argued vigorously against, as an improvement on the Constitution. The frequency and predictability of the foregoing faux pas tell a deeper story, especially now that we have seen the pattern of revisionism that (the post-ratification) Madison, Jefferson, Calhoun, Van Buren, and others in the Anti-Federalist tradition had pioneered. The modern Tea Party and the conservatives who share the movement’s views are Anti-Federalists in their newest guise; their conflation of principles from the Declaration with words from the Constitution is merely the most recent attempt to do a makeover on the 1787 revolution in favor of government, which, as Gordon Wood rightly noted, had done no less than “shattered the classical Whig view of 1776”—the view espoused by the Anti-Federalists.

Just as the Lost Causers haven't given up their fruitless struggle, it would appear that Anti-Federalists haven't, either.  But I repeat myself...


July 26, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Alito Would Be The First Eaten On The Lifeboat


"There’s no limit," Alito said, arguing that the Rehnquist court had tried limit such legal definitions of liberty to be "deeply rooted in the traditions of the country."

"But the Obergefell decision threw that out," Alito said, as the Daily Beast noted. "It did not claim that there was a strong tradition of protecting the right to same-sex marriage. This would have been impossible to find."

Without these legal limits on the definition of liberty, Alito speculated that future justices could grant constitutional rights on the basis of their ideological whims, and practically, the nomination of judges will become more like a political election.

"So we are at sea, I think. I don't know what the limits of substantive liberty protection under the 14th Amendment are at this point," he said.

Whereas the very clear reading of the 15th Amendment, say...doesn't mean Congress can renew voting rights laws that work, so we're not at sea there.  Nor are we at see wrt the RFRA granting unlimited religious rights to ignore generally-applicable laws.  Yes, I can see his concerns.


July 21, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (3)

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Friday, July 17, 2015

"This covenant has been broken in a most outragious manner."

Digby (July, 2015):

This story of police bursting into a woman's home and manhandling her naked for no good reason is the sort of incident which inevitably evokes the response that the citizen was asking for it by disrespecting the police.

She was summoned out of the shower by her daughter, threw a towel around herself and then left the officers at the door to get her cell phone to record the interaction. This apparently inflamed the officers, who entered the house and manhandled her resulting in her losing the towel and winding up handcuffed naked on the floor as the officer told her to look him in the eye as he lectured her for 20 minutes...

I guess I just don't understand how we can believe we live in a free country when the rule is that you must submit to any police officer's orders, regardless of what it is, because you can file a complaint after the fact. Liberty. 

The problem here is obviously not that this citizen had the wrong attitude. It's that the police officer had the wrong attitude. And yet most people just shrug their shoulders and say the citizen was the one looking for trouble by disrespecting the police. That may be true in practical terms --- you probably shouldn't mouth off to an armed gang member either. But for some reason people persist in thinking that you shouldn't have to act toward a cop the same way you would act toward a dangerous criminal. Don't kid yourself --- you do. Freedom.

John Adams (July, 1774):

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...

Hey, if you can't do the time, don't take a shower.  This is America, not England.


July 17, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Speaking Of Ignorant Assholes Who Don't Understand Constitutional Shit

Oh, LePew, you pierce me with the ack-ack of love:

A standoff between Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) and state legislators came to a head Thursday, when leaders in the statehouse refused to consider 65 pieces of legislation he attempted to return with vetoes. Democrats and Republicans alike say they consider those bills already to be law, as LePage missed the 10-day deadline to properly veto the legislation.

The offices of Maine House Speaker Mark Eves (D) and Maine Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason (R) confirmed to TPM that the legislation had been sent to the revisor of statutes to be chaptered as law.

The best argument against First Past The Post voting...


July 16, 2015 in And Fuck..., Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Supremacy, Schmupremacy

Nothing smarter than penalizing somebody for following the rule of law:

Rep. Rick Womick (R-Murfreesboro), bashed Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for “bowing down” to the Supreme Court’s ruling that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. According to the Times Free Press, Haslam stated he doesn’t agree with the ruling but has ordered Tennessee civil employees to comply with the law.

“And where is Tennessee’s leadership…oh that’s right…our Governor bowed down to the five self appointed gods in black robes just minutes after they issued their ‘opinion!'” Womick ranted on his Facebook page. “He changed Tennessee state law and our State Constitution without ever consulting with the General Assembly.  [I think it's time to give serious consideration to impeachment hearings against Gov. Haslam...]”

Do any Republicans actually understand our constitutional system?


PS--Womick's a copycat.

July 15, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015



Even with the world powers in agreement, Obama now must sell the virtues of the deal to skeptical lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Congress has 60 days to assess the accord and decide whether to pursue legislation imposing new sanctions on Iran or prevent Obama from suspending existing ones.

The president renewed his vow to veto any such legislation and urged lawmakers to consider the repercussions of their actions. He painted a grim scenario in which the rest of the world struck its own nuclear deals with Iran, leaving the U.S. isolated. And without the limitations and verifications included in the deal announced Tuesday, Obama said he or a future U.S. president would be more likely to face a decision about using U.S. military action to prevent Iran from building a bomb.

Reminds me of the furor over Jay's Treaty.


July 14, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Don't Know Much About Heritage

Is it not strange that the descendants of those Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom have always proved the most intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others?

 - Robert E Lee (December 27, 1856)

James Loewen soeaks with Salon:

I think now the neo-Confederate position is coming down like the house of cards it always was. It was always based on a flat lie, the claim that the South had seceded for states’ rights, and not for slavery. In truth, every single document of secession shows that the South seceded for slavery, and against states’ rights. The states’ rights motif is attractive. Anybody who ever had any problem with the IRS can identify with something smaller, the state, against the Goliath of the federal government. But the Confederate cause had nothing to do with states’ rights.

Yes, it was all about slavery from the very beginning, to the point of explicitly gagging Congress to prevent even the discussion so nobody's feefees were hurt.

Let us also recall last few years before war broke out, Vermont passed laws in contravention of The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, guaranteeing due process to escaped slaves and securing freedom to all persons in our State.  That upset a few "states' rights" people.

For starters, Fillmore, as reported by the Memphis Daily Eagle:

[T]he President and the entire Cabinet are very much exasperated at the course of pro-
ceedings in the Vermont legislature; and that, at a long Cabinet council, held on the 7th inst., they determined to enforce the fugtive slave law in Vermont, should a case arise there, if it required the whole military force of the United States to do it.

Folks in Kentucky (ironically enough):

The act of the Vermont Legislature is in direct conflict with the late law of Congress, and is intended evidently as a nullification of that law.  If declared valid by the courts of that State and carried into effect, it will subject every judge and every officer that enforces it to the penalties provided by the act of Congress.  Vermont should hereafter be classed with South Carolina, and be known and stigmatized as one of the nullification States of the Union.  NULLIFIERS!  How do the citizens of Vermont, the "law abiding" New-Englanders, like the title?

Not to mention Virginia and Georgia:

In a message to the Virginia Legislature, Governor Wise, referring to one of the Vermont resolutions on slavery, said: "We cannot reason with the heads of fanatics, nor touch hearts fatally bent upon treason." Copies of Vermont resolutions relating to Kansas sent to the executives of the various States, called forth along message to the Georgia Legislature from Gov. Herschel V. Johnson, in which he characterized the resolutions as insulting. 

The Vermont resolutions are said to have caused "much high feeling and indignation in the House." One member offered a resolution directing the "Governor to transmit to the Governor of Vermont, with a request to lay the same before the State Legislature, the Georgia resolutions of 1850, declaring that the State would resist acts of aggression therein enumerated, "even (as a last resort) to the disruption of every tie that binds her to the Union"; and enclose the same in a leaden bullet. Other members suggested that powder and a coil of rope should be included. 

The following resolutions were offered:

"Resolved, By the General Assembly of the State of Georgia, That His Excellency the Governor be and is hereby requested to transmit the Vermont resolutions to the deep, dank and fetid sink of social and political iniquity from whence they emanated, with the following unequivocal declaration inscribed thereon:

"Resolved, That Georgia, standing on her constitutional palladium, heeds not the maniac ravings of hellborn fanaticism, nor stoops from her lofty position to hold terms with perjured traitors."

In the Georgia Senate this resolution was offered: 

"Resolved, That His Excellency, President Pierce, be requested to employ a sufficient number of able-bodied Irishmen to proceed to the State of Vermont, and to dig a ditch around the limits of the same, and to float 'the thing' into the Atlantic."

States' Rights and Free Speech for me, but not for thee.  That's the heritage of their Traitor Flag.


July 11, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Friday, July 10, 2015

A Defeated Kulturkampfer Sez Wut?

Yes, I remember when MLK was all about disobeying laws that totally oppressed bigots:

In his latest column at WorldNetDaily, paleoconservative commentator Pat Buchanan argued that given the Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized same-sex marriage and the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the state capitol grounds, a “rebellion” unlike any seen since the Civil Rights Movement “is likely to arise from the right.”

Buchanan situated this “coming era of civil disobedience” in a long tradition that began with the Founding Fathers. “What else was our revolution but a rebellion to overthrow the centuries-old rule and law of king and parliament, and establish our own?” he asked.
Buchanan connected the coming struggle with the Civil Rights Movement — in particular, with Martin Luther King, Jr., whose “Letter from Birmingham Jail” he quoted. “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws,” King wrote, to which Buchanan replied, “what is an ‘unjust law’?”

Our revolution, FTR, was against a government in which we had no representation, which we do now, including a third branch mandated in our Constitution ratified by the People.  Oh, and there was a little unpleasantness wherein we resolved the issues of Supremacy and equal protection and such.


July 10, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Thursday, July 09, 2015

Happy Birthday, 14th Amendment!

[O]f the cases in this Court in which the Fourteenth Amendment was applied during the first fifty years after its adoption, less than one-half of 1 per cent. invoked it in protection of the negro race, and more than 50 per cent. asked that its benefits be extended to corporations. 

 - Justice Hugo Black, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company v. Johnson (1938)

The Constitution Center has a nice little summary listicle post thingy:

On the 147th anniversary of the 14th Amendment, Constitution Daily looks at 10 historic Supreme Court cases about due process and equal protection under the law.

On July 9, 1868, Louisiana and South Carolina voted to ratify the amendment, after they had rejected it a year earlier. The votes made the 14th Amendment officially part of the Constitution. But in the ensuing years, the Supreme Court was slow to decide how the new (and old) rights guaranteed under the federal constitution applied to the states.

In the early Supreme Court decisions about the 14th Amendment, the Court often ruled in favor of limiting the incorporation of these rights on a state and local level. But starting in the 1920s, the Court embraced the application of due process and equal protection, despite state laws that conflicted with the 14th Amendment.

The requisite number of states having approved, it was officially declared part of the Constitution on July 28.  Or at least that's what the Germans would have us believe...


July 9, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Just kidding.  They wisely voted to remove their State's sanctioning of a flag that universally (yes, it does, especially when people deny it because they know it's absolutely true, heritage my ass) symbolizes white supremacy, hatred, and treason.

[Before State Rep Jenny Horne's floor speech], she listened as a handful of the flag's supporters introduced one amendment after another.

They introduced nit-picking stipulations: Add a new flagpole; dig up flower beds; get budget approval from a museum first; wait a year, then hold a referendum; just go home and think it over some more.

They threatened to create new committee meetings and new legislative sessions to deal with them. If that happened, the flag would keep flapping -- for weeks, months, maybe longer.

By the time Horne got up to speak, fresh grief was simmering under her skin.

She told her colleagues that the suspected shooter, allegedly motivated by racism, had revered the flag for all the wrong reasons and that she was sick of arguments that have kept it aloft for decades.

"I'm sorry, I have heard enough about heritage," she said.

The heritage of the Confederacy is personal for Horne, 42. She says she is a descendant of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president. But the flag, she said, had to go.

"Remove this flag and do it today. Because this issue is not getting any better with age."

All you good ole boys who want to still wave the Traitor Flag, go for it. In fact, I insist: makes assholes easier to identify and avoid.


July 9, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, July 06, 2015

Whosoever Therefore Resisteth The Power

It remains a puzzle as to how protecting the rights to Life, Liberty, and Puruist of Happiness is anathema to the Creator who supposedly endowed upon us said rights.

Right-wing pundit Alan Keyes told WorldNetDaily readers this weekend that the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage was one of the most “treasonous” acts in American history, warning that if “the Obergefell decision stands, America’s constitutional government of, by, and for the people, falls.”

Calling on readers to ask God to reverse “this Court’s supremely treasonous act,” Keyes wrote that “Americans still loyal to the premises of right and justice must emphatically reject this decision.”

He added that it represented an even greater injustice than British colonial rule in the U.S., the Fugitive Slave Acts and the Dred Scott ruling.asd

Indeed, guaranteeing Equal Protection under the law is by definition 'treason'--apparently we're giving aid and comfor to homo-loving ISIL--according to the US Constitution.  Oh, and way worse than taxation without representation, not to mention laws executed to deny freedom to certain human beings (counting fractionally for representation but not taxation).


July 6, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Sunday, July 05, 2015

Cruel War Against Human Nature Itself

Because I have an abiding interest in the Declaration and its excised sections, amongst other things, I recommend reading Ben Railton's piece at TPM on the subject.


July 5, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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On Dexter Talons And Olive Branches

Yeah, yeah, I've used this clip from John Adams (and much of the verbiage below) before:

It's supposed to be a debate about the Olive Branch Petition during the Second Continental Congress.  Alas, the filmmakers got at least a couple things wrong.  Notice what Dickinson says about halfway through.

Turns out the key part of that speech was actually by Joseph Galloway (who doesn't appear in the miniseries that I can tell):

I never could find the Rights of Americans, in the Distinctions between Taxation and Legislation, nor in the Distinction between Laws for Revenue and for the Regulation of Trade. I have looked for our Rights in the Laws of Nature—but could not find them in a State of Nature, but always in a State of political Society.
I have looked for them in the Constitution of the English Government, and there found them. 

What's more, these statements were made during the First Congress, just a few days after convening.  Dickinson wasn't present in 1774, not being a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly and thus not elected a delegate.  And in a bit of irony, he and Galloway were not on friendly terms:

Mr. Galloway, the Speaker of the House and the head of the delegation, was looked upon at that time as the great champion of popular rights. He had acquired this reputation from the active part he had taken in 1764 in the controversy with the Proprietaries, having drawn up the twenty-six resolutions in which the Assembly asserted that the Proprietary government had outlived its usefulness and prayed the king to resume his direct government over the Province.

His activity at that time had endeared him to the country members, most of whom were under his control. The speech which he claimed to have delivered in the Assembly in support of this petition was said by Mr. Dickinson not to have been the one really made by him, and thus a quarrel was excited between him and Galloway which produced a permanent estrangement at a time when their co-operation would have been of great importance to the public service.

That noted, however, both men were still as yet hopeful that reconciliation would take place between Colonials and the Mother Country:

I have intimated to several of the Delegates the Necessity of sending Commissioners over, fully authorized, to the British Court, as a Mode pursued by the Roman, Grecian & Macedonian Colonies on every Occasion of the like Nature--that thro' them we may be enabled, in case our first Plan for accommodating our unhappy Differences should not be acceptable, to know the better what to propose next--that having these Gentlemen at the Scene of Action we shall be no longer misled by Newspaper Accounts and private Letters, but shall proceed on solid Information and Principles of Safety-

That without this, any Petitions or Plans, not having any Persons to explain and support them, will have very little Effect--That in all Probability the Measures of the present Congress will be deemed illegal & unconstitutional, and that upon this Point only the Necessity of sending Persons Home to insist upon the Right in the Colonies of being heard, and to prove that the Illegality of the Congress arises from the Measures of Power in not suffering the Assemblies to meet;

and if, after all, those Reasons should not procure due Attention to the Propositions of the Congress, to pray that the Governors may have Orders to permit such Meetings, and to give Assurances that their Conduct will be decent, respectful & dutiful to the Mother State --That a conduct of this kind cannot fail to give Strength to our Cause, and, if not immediately, in the End bring the Government to attend to Reason and redress our Aggrievances.

Indeed, Galloway proposed a Plan of Union and said:

Upon the meeting of Congress, two parties were immediately formed, with different views, and determined to act upon different principles. One intended candidly and clearly to define American rights, and explicitly and dutifully to petition for the remedy which would redress the grievances justly complained of--to form a more solid and constitutional union between the two countries, and to avoid every measure which tended to sedition, or acts of violent opposition.

The other consisted of persons, whose design, from the beginning of their opposition to the Stamp Act, was to throw off all subordination and connexion with Great-Britain; who meant by every fiction, false hood and fraud, to delude the people from their due allegiance, to throw the subsisting Governments into anarchy, to incite the ignorant and vulgar to arms, and with those arms to establish American Independence. 

Showing a bit of his Loyalist hand already.  Congress rejected his accommodationist proposal, which he published himself the following year, complaining:

The plan read, and warmly seconded by several. gentlemen of the firs! abilities, after a long debate, was so far approved as to be thought worthy of further confederation, and referred under a rule for that purpose, by a majority of the colonies. Under this promising aipect of things, and an expectation that the rule would have been regarded, or at least that something rational would take place to reconcile our unhappy differences, the member proposing it was weakly led to sign the non-importation agreement, although he had uniformly opposed it; but in this he was disappointed.

The measures of independence and sedition, were soon after preferred to those of harmony and liberty; and no arguments, however reasonable and just, could prevail on a majority of the colonies to desert them. The resolve, plan, and rule referring them to further consideration, so inconsistent with the measures now resolved on, were expunged from the minutes...

And that was pretty much that:

From the summer of 1775 until December, 1776, Mr. Galloway remained at his country home, subjected to continually increasing insults and attempted violences. It was during this time that Benjamin Franklin tried in vain to induce his loyalist friend to join the cause of independence, even offering to give security for his personal safety. And there is reason to believe that Mr. Galloway at one time during this period did outwardly espouse the patriot side, possibly as a measure of personal safety; but when the British forces began to arrive in America and occupied New York, and the cauge of the Colonies seemed hopeless, he again conformed his actions to his convictions.

He was, during the latter part of his stay at Trevose, a virtual prisoner in his own house. Mobs visited him and threatened to tar and feather him, and were deterred only by the efforts of his friends. One of these mobs, composed of drunken Dutchmen, planned to hang him. The innkeeper warned him, and he escaped from his house and did not again venture to sleep there.

With affairs in this condition, and an order for his arrest having been made, news of the approach of General Howe through New Jersey was not unwelcome to Mr. Galloway. Hastily loading some valuables into a wagon, in company with several other prominent loyalists, in December, 1776, he quitted his home and made his way to the British camp at New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Galloway eventually left the Colonies and spent the rest of his days in England.  Whilst his friend Franklin and enemies Dickinson and Adams won independence for America.

But it's important to reiterate that John Dickinson and a number of other delegates did not want to declare independence.  So a year before that went down, he Olive Branch Petition was approved on July 5, 1775, dryly recorded thus:

The Congress resumed the consideration of the petition to the King, which being debated by paragraph, was agreed to, and ordered to be engrossed.

Historian Weldon Amzy Brown describes the situation:

Despite [Dickinson's] gloomy apprehensions from the failure of the first petition, he did not despair of effecting a peaceful solution of the troubles and advocated a second petition to the King. A majority of the delegates again sanctioned his policy of conciliation. Dickinson and his friends supposed that the King and ministers had learned their lesson from Lexington and Bunker Hill, but John Adams thought that the dignity and pride of Great Britain would not tolerate another vacillation toward reconciliation. Thus a second petition would be a useless gesture, evidence of colonial fear and weakness.

[T]he fact that Dickinson was the chief spokesman of reunion and that he wrote the second petition, approved by the Congress, reveals his importance as a peace advocate. No other delegate so consistently pleaded for a peaceful solution and no other delegate received greater consideration when speaking for reunion than he did. Dickinson protested against Jefferson's original draft of the petition, because he thought it was filled with too many offensive statements. Jefferson wrote of Dickinson:

He was so honest a man, and so able a one, that he was greatly indulged even by those who could not feel his scruples. We therefore requested him to take the paper, and to put it into a form he could approve. He did so, preparing an entire new statement, and preserving of the former only the last four paragraphs and the half of the preceding one. We approved and reported it to Congress.

However, the second petition enraged New England and brought on a debate which showed all the bitterness of sectional jealousies.
The second petition widened the gulf between the party of Dickinson and reconciliation and that of John Adams and independence.  Thenceforth Adams found nothing favorable to say of Dickinson.

Indeed, Adams called him "a certain great Fortune and piddling Genius" in an unfortunate letter which, along with another to his wife, was intercepted by the British.  For some reason, they found this a tad inflammatory:

We ought to have had in our Hands a Month ago, the whole Legislative, Executive and Judicial of the whole Continent, and have compleatly moddelled a Constitution, to have raised a Naval Power and opened all our Ports wide, to have arrested every Friend to Government on the Continent and held them as Hostages for the poor Victims in Boston. And then opened the Door as wide as possible for Peace and Reconcilliation: After this they might have petitioned and negotiated and addressed, &c. if they would.—Is all this extravagant?—Is it wild?—Is it not the soundest Policy? 

One Piece of News—Seven Thousand Weight of Powder arrived here last Night—We shall send along some as soon as we can.

But anyway, they didn't get around to actually signing for a few more days:

The Petition to the King being engrossed, was compared, and signed by the several members.1

[Note 1: 1 "Congress gave a signal proof of their indulgence to Mr. Dickinson, and of their great desire not to go too fast for any respectable part of our body, in permitting him to draw their second petition to the King according to his own ideas, and passing it with scarcely any amendment." Jefferson, Autobiography, in his Writings (Ford), I, 17.]

Meanthile, on July 6 they approved A Declaration of Taking Up Arms:

The Congress met according to adjournment, and resumed the consideration of the address to the Inhabitants of G-B, which after some debate, was re-committed.

The committee, to whom the declaration was re-committed, brot in the same, which being read, was taken into consideration, and being debated by paragraphs, was approved and is as follows:

Declaration on Taking Arms.1

[Note 1: 1 The Committee appointed to draw up a Declaration to be published by General Washington, upon his arrival at the Camp before Boston, reported a draft on June 24th, which occasioned long and warm debate, and was finally re-committed. No copy of this first draft said, by Jefferson, to have been drawn by John Rutledge, is known to exist. Dickinson had taken a distinguished part in this debate, and with Jefferson was added to the Committee.

Jefferson was desired to prepare a draft, but the result was not satisfactory either to Dickinson or to William Livingston. The former criticised it for its harshness, and the latter for of its "much fault-finding and declamation, with little sense or dignity. They seem to think a reiteration of tyranny, despotism, bloody, &c &c. all that is needed to unite us at home and convince the bribed voters of North of the justice of our cause." (Letter to Lord Stirling, July 4, 1775.)

Jefferson's own account was: "It was too strong for Mr. Dickinson. He still retained the hope of reconciliation with the mother country, and was unwilling it should be lessened by offensive statements. He was so honest a man, and so able a one, that he was greatly indulged even by those who could not feel his scruples. We therefore requested him to take the paper, and put it into a form he could approve. He did so, preparing an entire new statement, and preserving of the former only the last four paragraphs and the half of the preceding one. We approved and reported it to Congress." Autobiography, in Writings (Ford) I, 16.]

Parliament took up the petition in November.  The House of Lords interviewed Richard Penn about the general state of affairs and attitudes in America, including how many people might be willing to take arms against the Crown.  The Duke of Richmond then laid out a case for making peace:

[H]e would shew the necessity of an immediate reconciliation between Great Britain and her colonies. His Grace observed, that the colonists were disposed to an amicable adjustment of differences, was evident from the very last petition which had been presented from the congress to the King. The prayer of that petition was, "for a restoration of peace," and it was pressed home on the consideration of Parliament by the language it was cloathed in, which was that of dutiful submission to the sovereignty of Great Britain, as far as the sovereignty was compatible with those rights secured to freemen by the constitution of the empire. This, and infinitely more might be said in behalf of the restoration of peace...

If the conquest of America was the measure proposed, in his apprehension, the difficulties resulting from the attempt, were of such a magnitude as hardly to be surmounted in the given state of things.

But between Congress' sending a declaration of taking up arms and Adams' intercepted letters, this really wasn't an effective way to get the Mother Country to listen:

Dartmouth received a copy of the petition on August 21 and, urged to reply, answered September 1, "That as his Majesty did not receive it on the throne, no answer would be given," Lord Dartmouth was too timid to allow the King to see the petition until he studied it to see if it were acceptable.

His wish for, rather than expectation of, a reconciliation was apparent in his statement: "tho' both sides will have a great way to go before they will be within the sound of each other's voice, it is not impossible that they may come near enough to shake hands at last."

This reply ended the official attempts of the colonies to reconcile their differences with the mother country. It now appeared to them that the sword was the only choice left and the radicals began more openly to advocate independence. Had not the King refused the "Olive Branch"? What more could Congress do?

Though the letter of Adams weakened the chances of the final petition, the war now being waged against the colonies was a strong argument for the revolutionary party. Thus the rejection of the second petition was a definite turning point in the movement for independence. It defined the issue for America as unconditional submission or independence, had a desired effect in that it encouraged definite preparation for war, and cleared the suspense.

Men could now fight for their rights. No time for argument remained; opponents of reconciliation quickly won political ascendancy; and those unwilling to support the cause of independence had little time left to leave the radical strong-holds.

Certainly after this, the King and Congress sounded far from shaking hands (temperate voices like Dickinson's notwithstanding).


July 5, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Friday, July 03, 2015

Promising Bitcoins His Campaign Can't Cash

Ah, the Constitutional Scholar Candidate panders:

Scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy said he met with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for nearly an hour this week and found he sees eye to eye with the GOP presidential candidate.

Bundy, whose ongoing dispute over grazing rights on federally owned land sparked an armed militia standoff last year with the Bureau of Land Management, said Paul assured him he would grant the rancher’s demands and make Nevada a sovereign state if elected next year to the White House.

“He said, ‘One of your biggest problems is getting Nevada to recognize its sovereignty and to stand up for its sovereignty,” Bundy told KNPR-FM. “He said he would turn over the jurisdiction authority and allow the state of Nevada to act like a sovereign state. He said it would be up to we the people to govern ourselves.”

That word salad sounds like Bush, but with even less legal meaning.  Regardless, I'll bet the hard currency he's saved paying his fair share will allow him to send a nice bundle of Libertarian Dollies to fund Paulie's Libertarian Follies.


July 3, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (2)

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Goddamned Editors

Editing the Declaration in John Adams:

Adams wrote years later to Timothy Pickering:

Mr. Jefferson came into Congress, in June, 1775, and brought with him a reputation for literature, science, and a happy talent of composition. Writings of his were handed about, remarkable for the peculiar felicity of expression. Though a silent member in Congress, he was so prompt, frank, explicit, and decisive upon committees and in conversation, not even Samuel Adams was more so, that he soon seized upon my heart; and upon this occasion I gave him my vote, and did all in my power to procure the votes of others. I think he had one more vote than any other, and that placed him at the head of the committee. I had the next highest number, and that placed me the second. The committee met, discussed the subject, and then appointed Mr. Jefferson and me to make the draught, I suppose because we were the two first on the list.

The sub-committee met. Jefferson proposed to me to make the draught I said, "l will not." "You should do it." "Oh! no." "Why will you not? You ought do it." "I will not." "Why?" "Reasons enough." "What can be your reasons?" "Reason first--You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second--I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular.  You are much otherwise. Reason third--You can write ten times better than I can." "WelI," said Jefferson, "if you are decided, I will do as well as I can." "Very well.  When you have drawn it up, we will have a meeting."

A meeting we accordingly had, and conned the paper over. I was delighted with its high tone and the flights of oratory with which it abounded, especially that concerning negro slavery, which, though I knew his Southern brethren would never suffer to pass in Congress, I certainly never would oppose. There were other expressions which I would not have inserted, if I had drawn it, particularly that which called the King a tyrant. I thought this too personal. I never believed George to be a tyrant in disposition and in nature; I always believed him to be deceived by his courtiers on both sides of the Atlantic, and in his official capacity only, cruel. I thought the expression too passionate, and too much like scolding, for so grave and solemn a document; but as Franklin and Sherman were to inspect it afterwards, I thought it would not become me to strike it out. I consented to report it, and do not now remember that I made or suggested a single alteration.

We reported it the committee of five. It was read, and I do not remember that Franklin or Sherman criticized any thing. We were all in haste. Congress was impatient, and the instrument was reported, as I believe, in Jefferson's handwriting as he first drew it. Congress cut off about a quarter of it, as I expected the would; but they obliterated some of the best of it, and left all that was exceptionable, if any thing in it was. 

Walter Isaacson, in his biography of Franklin, writes:

The most important of his edits was small but resounding. He crossed out, using the heavy backslashes that he often employed, the last three words of Jefferson's phrase “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable” and changed them to the words now enshrined in history: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”"
The idea of “self-evident” truths was one that drew less on John Locke, who was Jefferson's favored philosopher, than on the scientific determinism espoused by Isaac Newton and on the analytic empiricism of Franklin’s close friend David Hume. In what became known as “Hume's fork,” the great Scottish philosopher, along with Leibniz and others, had developed a theory that distinguished between synthetic truths that describe matters of fact (such as “London is bigger than Philadelphia”) and analytic truths that are self-evident by virtue of reason and definition (“The angles of a triangle equal 180 degrees”; “All bachelors are unmarried”). By using the word “sacred,” Jefferson had asserted, intentionally or not, that the principle in question—the equality of men and their endowment by their creator with inalienable rights—was an assertion of religion. Franklin's edit turned it instead into an assertion of rationality.

That scientific rationality still kept humans in bondage for several score years, but it was still a pretty nice start...


July 3, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (4)