Category: Politics

I Want to Believe

This evening, as I was driving home from Phoenix, NPR was playing Dr. King's Why I Oppose the War In Vietnam speech. I got distracted and missed my exit. That may not have been causal -- I don't usually come that way and have missed that exit before -- but it was the first time I'd heard the audio and it certainly had my attention.

Kudos to NPR for acknowledging King's more controversial later years -- every year at this time, we see the usual round of King retrospectives, and too often they skip from I Have a Dream to the assassination, glossing over his outspoken opposition to the war and his focus on economic inequality.

I also just read Barack Obama's speech from the Ebenezer Baptist Church, and it reminded me why he struck such a chord in '04. The man gives a damn fine speech, and today he delivered one worthy of being spoken from Dr. King's own pulpit.

But I am a cynic.

Obama says, "The Scripture tells us that we are judged not just by word, but by deed." Very well. "We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them" are some very pretty words. But touring with the vehemently anti-gay Donnie McClurkin was a not-so-pretty deed. And his backpedaling explanation that McClurkin isn't anti-gay but only wants to cure "unhappy gays" is not only political weaselry, it's also the plot of X-Men 3.

"It is not enough to decry the disparities of health care and yet allow the insurance companies and the drug companies to block much-needed reforms" -- those are pretty words too. Words which lead me to wonder why Obama wants the insurance companies and the drug companies to help him write his healthcare plan.

Obama says a lot of pretty -- hell, downright inspiring -- things. But in 2006 he voted for a non-binding withdrawal plan for the Iraq War over Kerry and Feingold's bill to set a date. In 2005 he voted to renew the PATRIOT Act. Judged not just by word but by deed indeed, Senator.

Two years ago The Boondocks produced one of the finest half-hours of television I have ever seen, an episode titled "Return of the King" which explored the premise of Dr. King waking up from a 30-year coma in the modern era. At one point, King asks, "What happened, Huey? What happened to our people?" Huey responds, hesitantly, "I think...everyone was waiting for Martin Luther King to come back."

And that's the tragedy of the modern civil rights movement: for forty years, America has been waiting for Martin Luther King to come back. (It's also the tragedy of the current season of Boondocks, which has descended from this Peabody-winning meditation on our culture to jokes about movie ticket prices, and whose Katrina episode centered around Granddad trying to get rid of his mooching relatives, but that's a tangent.)

And for a nation and a movement so desperate to see Martin Luther King come back, it can be very tempting to mistake Barack Obama for him. He is an inspiring orator, and if he becomes President it will be the most significant step for racial equality since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But Obama is not Martin Luther King. I seldom find myself in the position of defending Hillary Clinton, but she was right when she said, "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a movement. He was gassed. He was beaten. He was jailed. And he gave a speech that was one of the most beautifully, profoundly important speeches ever written in America, the I Have a Dream speech." Obama, meanwhile, has sat quietly on the Senate floor and taken safe positions on controversial issues rather than risk his reputation for what he believes is right. (Clinton has too, of course -- even moreso, I would argue -- but that doesn't make the King/Obama contrast false.)

I also think Clinton has been attacked unfairly for her remark that it took LBJ to sign the Civil Rights Act. She wasn't impugning Dr. King's legacy, she was merely recognizing President Johnson's role -- and I don't think any rational person could argue that, had Richard Nixon been President in 1964, the act still would have passed.

All this to say...I hate politics. There are moments when Barack Obama's words inspire me, when I think of how he could be a great leader, how he could restore America's position in the world and, more, how he could bring us closer than ever to recognizing those self-evident truths that Jefferson mentioned back in 1776. I hear him speak of the continuing struggles for equality, not just racial but also sexual and economic, and I want to see a leader who can speak to the nation's conscience and make those dreams a reality.

But in the end, all available data show that he is just another politician. I may well mark his name on my ballot two weeks from now, but I fear that too will be an exercise in cynicism -- if I vote for him, it will not be because I trust him, but because I mistrust him less than I do Clinton.

I think it's hard to be an optimist in America in this day and age. Perhaps incremental improvement is all we can hope for. I can't say I think that's enough...but I guess I'll take it.

Two Hundred Thirty-One

If the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty.

- James Madison, Father of the Constitution

Happy Independence Day. Remember the Enlightenment thinkers who cast off the sovereignty of a man named George who believed himself a supreme power unbeholden to his citizens and the rule of law.

(See also: last year's 4th of July post, which includes the complete text of the Declaration of Independence and a link to Brent's modern version.)

You can't be serious

So I was listening to NPR on the way to work this morning, and they were talking about the attorney firing scandal.

And they played a clip of George Bush saying, "Democrats now have to choose whether they will waste time and provoke an unnecessary confrontation, or whether they will join us in working to do the people's business."

That is not a paraphrase. That is the exact quote.

President Bush -- President George Walker Bush, the current President, that President Bush -- just excoriated somebody for provoking an unnecessary confrontation.

You can't make this shit up.

...

In yesterday's post, I suggested that perhaps it was inappropriate for Rep. Marsha Blackburn to defend Bush's troop surge using a turn of phrase that also happened to be a Marvel Comics marketing slogan.

Not to be outdone, Florida's Rep. Ginny Browne-Waite has shown her support for the surge by saying -- I shit you not -- "Git-r-done."

Ladies and gentlemen, your United States Congress.

I'm With Captain America

Dear Rep. Blackburn,

I was thrilled to hear you sum up the Iraq escalation debate in the terms, "Whose side are you on?" I have always felt that the decision to send people off to war should be approached with the same gravity and solemnity as a comic book slogan.

Your black-and-white, either-or rhetorical question, "Are you on the side of freedom or are you on the side of allowing the terrorists to get the upper hand?" is certainly food for thought. Here are a few variations on that theme:

Are you on the side of the CIA, who said there was no link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda (at least, prior to our invasion), or of Douglas Feith, who cooked intelligence to send us to war?

Are you on the side of the Iraq Study Group, or the side of an administration which told us Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, we would be greeted as liberators, the war would take less than six months and pay for itself, major combat operations ended in May 2003, the insurgency was in its last throes in May 2005, there was no chance of sectarian strife -- in short, an administration which has been wrong on each and every single aspect of this war to date?

Are you on the side of the American people, or do you want more of our soldiers to die?

Hopefully that question is sufficiently black-and-white for you.

An Open Letter to Mayor Thomas M Menino

I'd like to dedicate this post to the late, great Molly Ivins. I may not have her wit, but I do share her love of sarcastic mockery of absurd politicians. Consider this my way of making the ridiculous look ridiculous.

(Context, for those who haven't heard it. And please feel free to contact the mayor yourself.)


Dear Mr. Mayor,

I am not a constituent. I live in Arizona -- though I'd love to move to Boston one of these days.

I'm sure you're receiving a lot of messages from out-of-towners today. I will not sugarcoat -- that is because today, you are a national laughingstock.

Sir, your city was brought to its knees by Lite-Brite representations of blocky cartoon characters flashing obscene gestures.

Please reread that sentence. Take a moment for it to sink in. Because it certainly doesn't seem as if you've done so yet.

Again, Sir, I will be blunt: you should be embarrassed. That people within your city government would see an object like that and conclude that it was an explosive device is absurd. What were they thinking -- that Boston is under attack by the Riddler? Use your head, man -- if it were the Riddler, there would have been riddles!

But are you embarrassed? No. You have attempted to hide your Keystone Kops' incompetence behind a wall of outrage. You have set the narrative for the news reports; you have used language like "hoax" and listened as the media parroted your words. And incidentally, Sir, controlling a message by repeating distorted language and getting the media to do the same? That's a tactic best associated with Republicans.

Sir, this was not a hoax. Nobody, anywhere, ever dreamed that any human being could possibly mistake those objects for bombs. This is not a case of somebody crying "Wolf!" This is somebody saying, I don't know, "Toothbrush!" and your city officials reacting as if they heard "Wolf!" Instead of suggesting that perhaps the officials made a mistake, you are acting outraged -- outraged! -- that someone would dare say "Toothbrush!" in a post 9/11 world, knowing fully well how much it sounds like "Wolf!"

Yes, this is a sign of a post-9/11 world -- it is a sign of frightened, hysterical people who cannot think clearly and have unsound judgement. Mr. Mayor, a little old lady is no threat when she has a bottle of hand lotion in her carry-on bag. Cellophane and duct tape will not make us any safer in our beds. And a brightly-colored cartoon character flipping the bird bears no resemblance to a bomb. (Actually, perhaps this isn't intrinsically post-9/11 thinking after all -- I remember quite a few people stockpiling canned food in 1999.)

End this foolishness. Don't make any more arrests. Don't file any lawsuits. Just slink away. You don't even have to apologize for your behavior (though that's what somebody with class would do -- and possibly shrug it off with a self-effacing joke in the process). Just move on.

Otherwise, your legacy will be "the mayor who wasted tax dollars suing a cartoon company because his underlings couldn't tell the difference between a bomb and a Lite-Brite".

Think about it, Sir.

And have a happy Groundhog Day.

I assume you will enjoy it -- it's a holiday celebrating a rodent that jumps at his own shadow.

Yours,

Thaddeus R R Boyd
Phoenix, AZ

Buffaloes in the House!

Arizona's Fifth Congressional District -- the Fightin' Fifth!

I was born there. I've lived most of my life there. I went to high school there -- more on that in a bit -- and I still spend a solid chunk of my time there most weekends. I live a ways northwest of there at the moment, but my permanent address is there and that's where I'm registered to vote. It's my district. And Tempe may not be my favorite place on Earth, but it's my hometown.

So, like most people from Tempe, regardless of political party or stripe, I like Harry Mitchell. He's widely regarded as the greatest mayor the city ever had; City Hall is named after him and has a 30-foot-high abstract statue of him out front. He and I went to the same high school, forty-some years apart, and he was a teacher there, though he retired four years before I started there.

In short, the man was a dedicated educator, and a good mayor, a bipartisan type -- in the Bill Clinton "reach across the aisle and accomplish things" sense, not the Joe Lieberman "capitulate to your opponents' every whim and say that criticism of the President imperils the nation" sense. He's still pretty moderate for my frothing-at-the-mouth liberal tendencies, but he's a good guy. Frankly I'd have voted for just about anybody over Hayworth, but -- in this race, at least -- it wasn't enough just to be the Democratic candidate. Harry won because he had Tempe at his back, the Democrats and Republicans alike, and because he got the endorsement of the Arizona Republic -- no small feat given that they endorsed Hayworth the last six times he ran. But with JD balls-deep in the Abramoff scandal, seen as an extremist on immigration even by Arizona standards, and widely regarded as a partisan bully (his last set of campaign ads included one that said Harry Mitchell was soft on child molesters -- the old Rovian tactic of trying to turn an opponent's greatest strength into a liability, but in this case executed extremely clumsily and backfiring spectacularly), a guy with bipartisan appeal like Harry was just what District 5 wanted.

Harry's also had the class not to declare himself the winner until all the absentee, provisional, and early ballots are counted. Which I appreciate, considering mine's in that stack somewhere. And even if it weren't, well, I'm a fan of democracy and, you know, counting votes.

...Speaking of immigration, I'm much less thrilled to report that all three of our immigrant-scapegoating propositions seem to have passed. (ThehTUHKerJUHBS!) But -- and it's a close call, with ballots still being counted -- it looks like the anti-gay amendment failed. 107 was disguised as a proposition banning gay marriage, but gay marriage is already banned in Arizona -- what it was really about was banning benefits for unmarried couples, whether gay or straight. The only reason it was even close is that it pretended to be something it wasn't -- like the "limit the government's power of imminent domain" prop that passed, which actually means if I don't want a corporation polluting my neighborhood, I have to pay him off based on hypothetical lost profits. Or, to be fair, the winner of the Best Orwellian Name contest, the Non-Smoker Protection Act, which was funded by big tobacco, which the voters had the good sense to see through and vote down.

Minimum wage is up too. And about to go up on a federal level, now that the Dems have the House.

I'm sure I'll have plenty more to say about this later. And I'm sure my cynicism will eventually settle back in. But at the moment, I can call myself a Democrat without any feelings of self-loathing for a change -- and really, that's a great place to start.

The Old Stomping Grounds

October was a busy damn month. Five couples I know -- five! -- got married. I attended three of the weddings.

The first -- technically at the tail-end of September -- involved a road trip to San Diego with Brad, Ian, and Ben to attend Jon and Gina's wedding.

Now, let me start by saying that San Diego is one of my favorite places on Earth.

And let me add that Jon and Gina are my favorite couple. Those kids are gonna do all right.

And let me finish by saying that we arrived at 3AM, picked up Jon, and took him back to our hotel room for 40's and Mario Kart. I don't drink 40's, but I'm not about to refuse the request of a groom 31 hours before his wedding.

I remember very little of the remainder of that morning, but I do remember that Jon and I totally owned at Mario Kart. Just like old times.

Then I hopped a plane back to Arizona to marry my cousin.

...As in performed the ceremony. But yes, I opened with that joke.

You know, it's been a long time since we really hung out and chatted, but the last time I saw her she was really into the whole church scene -- I didn't really expect her to invite a secular humanist to perform her wedding. But it went off pretty well -- and yeah, I quoted scripture (you know, that "love is patient" bit's pretty all right, actually), but I kept my humanist street cred by throwing some Bucky Fuller in there too ("love is metaphysical gravity," baby -- bam!).

It was also very much an Irish wedding. In that people got hammered and were told to leave by security.

The third was...rather abrupt and unexpected, but not entirely unprecedented. I did not attend because I had about a week and a half's notice, and it was the day before...

The fourth, in Sedona -- another of the most beautiful damn places in the world -- where they made us dress up in goddamn medieval attire, but also there was homebrewed beer and mead so I definitely think it was a net gain. Plus I reused my costume for Halloween, which was good because I'd been Brodie from 2001 through 2005 and I really needed something new.

Also there was a misunderstanding with my hotel reservation, because hotels.com tried to tell me that Munds Park was 15 miles away from Sedona. I can't prove anything, but I'm pretty damn sure MapQuest was to blame.

Switching gears, last weekend I went on back up to Flagstaff to see the old Rocky cast perform, and I swear that a visit to Flagstaff is just good for the soul. I stepped out of my car and at the very first breath of fresh air my life felt monumentally better.

I got me a room at the Super 8, crossed the street, and then walked the length of campus from north to south. Let's get one thing straight -- NAU is trying, hard, to be ASU Jr. There's construction everywhere you turn, the roads are FUBAR, and there's no parking anywhere. Oh, and of course the front page of the school paper is talking about another goddamn tuition hike.

The campus has changed a bit, but, contrary to what I was given to understand by Ian, the field back behind Gillenwater -- which I have waxed philosophical about on prior occasion -- is still there. He must've been talking about a different field that got paved over.

The modified engineering building is much prettier than the old one. And the new business building that used to be the anthro building is pretty damn cool.

I went to Burritos Fiesta, and ran into a friend I'd been meaning to see. The last time I saw her was sort of a downer, so repairing that breach was important to me. That worked out really well, and that alone was worth the trip.

The next day I grabbed a bite of lunch with an old classmate, and then watched The Muppet Show on DVD and went to dinner at the Beaver Street Brewery. Then I hit the old theatre on Beaver and Cherry for the midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I went downstairs to greet the cast and determined that the most nonchalant position to be discovered in was on the couch in the green room, obscured by a clothing rack and with my face half-covered by my hood (medieval attire, remember). I was told I resembled a Sith Lord.

They worked me into the preshow, where I did something that they would later tell me they found a little shocking. And let me tell you, getting your old Rocky Horror cast to say, "Man, I can't believe you did that!" is one of life's richest rewards.

And then I went out to a makeshift cast party afterward, with two old friends and two new ones, drank Corona, and watched Shock Treatment. As always, Tami and I enjoyed it and nobody else did.

At 7:30 my eyes were crusting over and I could barely keep them open. I decided I could hold out no longer and went back to my motel room, grabbed a two-hour nap, showered, checked out, and went to breakfast at Martann's, which, as always on a Sunday morning, was completely packed and had only one waitress on duty. If I hadn't been craving one of their enchiladas with the fried egg on top since I'd started the trip, I wouldn't have gone, let alone stayed the hour and a half or so it took me to get and eat my food. On the plus side, as I took one of my two trips back to the car to feed the meter, I ran into two women I knew from high school. We BS'ed a bit and they told me they'd just attended a wedding of some old friends of ours. (I'm guessing about half of you have been wondering this whole time what the hell happened to the fifth wedding, and the other half are now going, Oh right! There was a fifth wedding!) They were but the first of a cavalcade of familiar faces I ran into on my way out of town.

I managed to ingest enough coffee and tea to get me home, but by the end of the trip I was just about hitting the ol' caffeine crash. I grabbed me another two-hour nap and then kicked back awhile (Ben came over to visit) and finally went back to bed.

But I tell you, it was a beautiful damn weekend and it left me in really high spirits. So high that I spent the next day blocking IP's on our mailserver, whose SMTP port was getting hammered so hard by spam attempts as to result in a goddamn DoS, and still went home feeling good.

Flagstaff's got that kind of effect on me I guess. I should probably go back soon.

But in the meantime, it's good to be back in the valley so's I can vote for Harry Mitchell. Go Harry!

Two Hundred Thirty

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

I'd also like to direct everybody to a wonderful annotated version by my good friend Brent Roberts from last October which links all of the above grievances to our current King George II.

The Declaration of Independence of the Fifty States
In CONGRESS, October 4, 2005

The unanimous Declaration of the fifty united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations,
pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these States; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present President of the United States of America [George II] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/celebrity/george-w-bush-dui-arrest-record

This is the 1976 Maine police document recording the arrest of George W. Bush for driving under the influence of alcohol. Bush, who was 30 at the time, was popped over the Labor Day weekend near his family's Kennebunkport summer home. Bush pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor DUI charge, paid a $150 fine, and had his driving privileges briefly revoked in the state of Maine.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/9/3/115611/4051

We had the USS Baton sailing almost behind the hurricane so that after the hurricane made landfall it's search and rescue helicopters would be available almost immediately. So we had things ready. The only caveat is, we have to wait until the President authorizes us to do so. The laws of the United States say that the military can't just act in this fashion, we have to wait for the President to give us permission.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/31/AR2005083102256.html

This administration has consistently played down the possibility of environmental disaster, in Louisiana and everywhere else. The president's most recent budgets have actually proposed reducing funding for flood prevention in the New Orleans area, and the administration has long ignored Louisiana politicians' requests for more help in protecting their fragile coast, the destruction of which meant there was little to slow down the hurricane before it hit the city.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

http://english.people.com.cn/200303/23/eng20030323_113813.shtml

As US forces escalated its bombings on Baghdad, US President George W. Bush held a war cabinet meeting at Camp David, a presidential retreat in Maryland,on Saturday to review the developments of war in Iraq.

The meeting, lasted for 90 minutes, was attended by Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, White House chief of staff AndrewCard, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, CIA director George Tenet, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers and other top administration and military officials, the Associated Press reported.

Bush is spending his first weekend at Camp David since the war began Wednesday night.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22263664/ns/msnbc_tv-countdown_with_keith_olbermann/t/olbermann-truth-consequences/

Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, 'I'll Protect You, The Other Guy Will Let You Die'?

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

http://articles.latimes.com/2005/oct/05/nation/na-miers5

"I actually listen to senators when they bring forth ideas," Bush said. "And one of the most interesting ideas I heard was, why don't you pick somebody who hasn't been a judge? Why don't you reach outside. ... And so, recognizing that Harriet will bring not only expertise, but a fresh approach, I nominated her."

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Department_of_Homeland_Security

The department was established on November 25, 2002 by the Homeland Security Act and officially began operation on January 24, 2003. After months of discussion about employee rights and benefits and "rider" portions of the bill, Congress passed it shortly after the midterm elections, and it was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush. It was intended to consolidate U.S. executive branch organizations related to "homeland security" into a single cabinet agency.

It was the largest government reorganization in 50 years (since the United States Department of Defense was created). The department assumed a number of government functions previously in other departments. It superseded, but did not replace the Office of Homeland Security, which retained an advisory role.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/2002/08/bushwartip0802.html

"I am deeply troubled by suggestions from the Bush administration that it is contemplating as one possibility an operation that would almost certainly have to be seen as 'war' in the constitutional sense, yet does not acknowledge that such a choice would need Congressional approval," Powell said. "My concern is that the administration is giving some indication that it does not appreciate the president's duty to make a judgment about his authority, not just a decision about what he thinks is the best policy."

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A37014-2003Jun9&notFound=true

UNITED NATIONS, June 9 -- The Bush administration charged the European Union with actively undermining U.S. efforts to shield Americans from prosecution by the International Criminal Court and warned that the impact on transatlantic relations will be "very damaging" if the EU does not stop.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriot_act

Critics claim the Act is unnecessary and enables U.S. law enforcement to infringe upon free-speech, freedom of the press, human rights, and right to privacy. It is most controversial among critics for section 215 (see below) and section 216, which allows judges to grant government investigators ex parte orders to look into personal phone and internet records on the basis of being "relevant for an on going investigation concerning international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities", rather than probable cause as outlined in the fourth amendment.

...President George W. Bush signed the bill into law on October 26, 2001. Assistant Attorney General Viet D. Dinh and current Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff are the primary authors of the Act.

...In some of these cases, federal prosecutors chose to charge suspects with non-terror related crimes for immigration, fraud and conspiracy.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4273672.stm

Private Lynndie England found the sexual humiliation of Iraqis funny, the military court in Texas heard.

Prosecution lawyers are aiming to disprove defence claims that she fell under the influence of senior soldiers.

She faces 11 years in jail if convicted on charges of conspiracy, committing an indecent act and maltreating detainees.

Pte Jeremy Sivits - who has been sentenced to one year in prison for his own role in the abuse scandal - told the court that Pte England clearly enjoyed the abuse of prisoners.

Many were ordered to strip naked and were photographed in humiliating positions and forced to simulate sexual acts.

"She was laughing, she seemed to be having a good time with all that was going on," Pte Sivits told the court.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9492624/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/england-sentenced-years-prison-abuse/

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -- Army Pfc. Lynndie England, who said she was only trying to please her soldier boyfriend when she took part in detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, was sentenced late Tuesday to three years behind bars.

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States and its Protectorates:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A23899-2003Nov30?language=printer

European countries had vowed to respond to the tariffs, which were ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization, by imposing sanctions on up to $2.2 billion in exports from the United States, beginning as soon as Dec. 15. Japan issued a similar threat Wednesday.

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/kfiles/b34039.html

By next year, for instance, 88% of all Americans will receive $100 or less from the Administration's latest tax cuts.
...
In 2005, the Bush budget assumes the "government will take in 13% more in taxes and fees next year than in fiscal 2004."

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/09/AR2005090900772.html

A federal appeals court yesterday backed the president's power to indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen captured on U.S. soil without any criminal charges, holding that such authority is vital during wartime to protect the nation from terrorist attacks.

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR51/063/2005/en/10cc0311-d4fe-11dd-8a23-d58a49c0d652/amr510632005en.html

In late December 2001, a memorandum was sent from the United States Justice Department to the Department of Defense.(4) It advised the Pentagon that no US District Court could "properly entertain" appeals from "enemy aliens" detained at the US Naval Base in Guantá Bay, Cuba. Because Cuba has "ultimate sovereignty" over Guantá, the memorandum asserted, US Supreme Court jurisprudence meant that a foreign national in custody in the naval base should not have access to the US courts. The first "war on terror" detainees were transferred to the base two weeks later.

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2002/jan/03/contract-blacklisting-rule-repealed/

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration repealed a Clinton-era rule that prevents the government from awarding federal contracts to businesses that have broken environmental, labor, tax or other federal laws.

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/hr3162.html

SEC. 106. PRESIDENTIAL AUTHORITY.
Section 203 of the International Emergency Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1702) is amended--
(1) in subsection (a)(1)--
(A) at the end of subparagraph (A) (flush to that subparagraph), by striking `; and' and inserting a comma and the following:
`by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States;';
(B) in subparagraph (B)--
(i) by inserting `, block during the pendency of an investigation' after `investigate'; and
(ii) by striking `interest;' and inserting `interest by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States; and';
(C) by striking `by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States`; and
(D) by inserting at the end the following:
`(C) when the United States is engaged in armed hostilities or has been attacked by a foreign country or foreign nationals, confiscate any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, of any foreign person, foreign organization, or foreign country that he determines has planned, authorized, aided, or engaged in such hostilities or attacks against the United States; and all right, title, and interest in any property so confiscated shall vest, when, as, and upon the terms directed by the President, in such agency or person as the President may designate from time to time, and upon such terms and conditions as the President may prescribe, such interest or property shall be held, used, administered, liquidated, sold, or otherwise dealt with in the interest of and for the benefit of the United States, and such designated agency or person may perform any and all acts incident to the accomplishment or furtherance of these purposes.'; and
(2) by inserting at the end the following:
`(c) CLASSIFIED INFORMATION- In any judicial review of a determination made under this section, if the determination was based on classified information (as defined in section 1(a) of the Classified Information Procedures Act) such information may be submitted to the reviewing court ex parte and in camera. This subsection does not confer or imply any right to judicial review.'.

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/09/us-soldiers-allegedly-trading-pictures.html

"Nice puss / bad foot"

The page titled "Nice puss / bad foot" is devoted to the photo of a nude woman laying down on a table, her foot has been blown off by a land mine, blood, muscle, skin and bone are dangling in its place, and her naked crotch is clearly visible in the photo (thus the reference to "puss"). This is a sanitized version of the photo (unsanitized version here):

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

http://www.hist.umn.edu/~ruggles/Approval.htm

Graph: Bush's Approval Rating

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these States, solemnly publish and declare, That these United States are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the current presidency, and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The signers of the Declaration represented the states as follows:

California

Brenton William Roberts

Happy 4th of July. Go blow some shit up -- safely. (Seriously, don't set anything off near any forests. Half the damn state's on fire as it is.)

Edit 2012-05-26: Added the complete text of Brent's Annotated Declaration, since the Pyoko boards are long gone. I also fixed outdated links.

Holy Fucking Shit

Words fail me.

Bush tells abortion foes, 'We will prevail'

33 years after Roe v. Wade ruling, abortion debate continues

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- President Bush told abortion opponents Monday that they are pursuing "a noble cause" and making a real difference in the campaign to recruit more Americans to stand on their side.

While it is of course totally unsurprising that Bush feels this way, I am beyond shocked that he would actually say it out loud and in public. What is even more terrifying is the prospect that people will accept his words unchallenged.

If Alito sails through his confirmation hearings now, like it certainly appears he will, it's going to send one hell of a message.

Alternately, this could be the smoking gun the Dems need to justify a filibuster.

Yeah, right. And maybe I'm a Chinese fighter pilot.

Edit 2012-06-04: Changed broken CNN link to a copy at archive.org, and added a quote for context.