edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
Two hundred forty-one years ago.

Still completely relevant today.

(These truths remain self-evident, Mr. Trump's blatherings notwithstanding.)

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 harrass 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 benefits 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 Brittish 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.


(Transcript from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html)
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
Donald Trump was not who I was expecting to win election as the next President of the United States.

...

At the moment, I have nothing else to say.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
I've been posting this sort of message on other social media; now it's LJ/DW's turn.

If you are a US citizen and have already voted in this year's election, thank you!

If you are a US citizen and have not already voted in this year's election, today's the day! Get out there and VOTE!

If you are not a US citizen, please accept my apologies on behalf of my fellow citizens for the mess we've been making. Things should get better shortly.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
Well, that wasn't nearly as much of a train wreck as I feared. That's the good news...

1) Big point: Trump refused, point blank, to say he'd accept the results of the election. Instead, he'll keep us "in suspense"

2) Trump keeps dodging hard questions (such as Roe v. Wade), and kept interrupting both Clinton and the moderator (Chris Wallace). Clinton was much more willing to actually answer the question being asked before pivoting away to whichever talking point she was working on.

3) Trump claimed that the stories about him groping women had been debunked; funny, I hadn't heard anything like that.

4) Apparently, it's all Clinton's fault that Trump moved jobs overseas and used Chinese steel to build his buildings. Also, everything that's gone badly in Iraq and Syria is her fault.

5) Neither candidate bit when Wallace asked if they'd consider an entitlement "grand bargain" of tax hikes and benefit cuts. Good for them.

Trump didn't suffer an obvious meltdown (although he still had the sniffles), so that's sort of a win for him; Clinton got her points across, so that's sort of a win for her. For me, the big question is going to be whether Trump can keep from blowing up over the various digs Clinton got in on him.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
The "town hall" debate is over ("only" ran 7 minutes late, better than commuter rail!). Some quick thoughts:

1) Both Trump and Clinton kept going over their allotted time and kept interrupting each other and the moderators. (I didn't have a counter running, but I'm pretty sure Trump did far more interrupting that Clinton did.)

2) Lots of Trump dodging questions and giving vague answers. Also, lots of Trump complaining that the moderators don't interrupt Clinton.

3) Anderson Cooper was at least able to get Trump to say that he hadn't paid federal income taxes; when asked if he could say for how long, Trump replied "no I can't".

4) Apparently, Trump and his running mate (Mike Pence) "don't talk" - at least, not about Syria.

5) Trump pushed Bengazhi and email scandals; I guess he thinks they haven't been addressed enough over the last several years.

It will be interesting to see what the fact-checkers come up with, since Trump flat-out denied saying things he's on record as saying.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
Well, that wasn't nearly as a mess as last week's Trump/Clinton debate, but tonight's debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence didn't really add much to my knowledge about either man. One thing I did learn is that both men have sons in the USMC.

A few things I did note:

1) Pence clearly was having trouble handling the criticism of Trump; at least six times Kaine asked Pence to defend some particular thing Trump had said and every time Pence changed the subject.

2) I think Kaine did a better job of speaking in general; Pence kept repeating ObamaCare, "War on Coal," "weak and feckless" phrases as if they were magic.

3) Pence twice tried to refer to Russian president Vladimir Putin as a "small man"; Kaine used that to bring up how Trump had praised Putin, had his cronies running his campaign, etc. Similarly, when Pence tried to bring up Clinton Foundation and "pay-to-play", Kaine used that to segue into comparison with Trump Foundation; CF is higher-rated that American Red Cross, TF made illegal campaign contributions. (Missed a chance to needle Pence on Trump's fundraising emails to European MPs, alas.)

3) Moderator Elaine Quijano kept things moving along, but both Pence and Kaine talked all over her time and time again. (That said, neither man was throwing Trump-like tantrums, and they usually apologized when called out for interrupting.)

Overall, I doubt this debate was a disaster for the Trump campaign, but it certainly wasn't a great success for them. Considering that there's only a month before the election, this debate has to count as a Clinton/Kaine win.

Now to see what the "professional" pundits think ...
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
Quick thoughts before I go and see what the commentariat thinks:
1) No surprise that Clinton had facts at her command; also no surprise that Trump had stump speech lines down
2) Trump got clearly rattled every time Clinton brought up specifics about his wealth, business, etc.
3) Trump constantly interrupted both Clinton and moderator (Lester Holt)
4) Particularly towards the end, the moderator did a good job of brushing aside Trump's attempts to change the subject and re-asked the questions Trump was avoiding (e.g., "presidential look", accepting outcome of election)
5) Trump was constantly scowling; Clinton showed a range of emotions, including a couple of "oh, goody" moments when Trump had said something particularly factless.

And, not that it should matter, but Trump had a pretty obvious case of the sniffles and kept on reaching for his water glass.

I doubt this causes either side to lose their partisans, but I also doubt Trump convinced anyone not already a true believer to support him. Clinton may well pick up some undecideds.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
Yep, still important. Perhaps especially this electoral season.

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 harrass 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 benefits 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 Brittish 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.

(Transcript from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html)
edschweppe: (can't take it any more)
But not necessarily in a good way. Thus sayeth NOAA:
Statewide Average Temperature Ranks, December 2015-February 2016, Period 1895-2016; showing that all six New England states had their record highest average temperature

The December-February average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 36.8°F, 4.6°F above the 20th century average, surpassing the previous record of 36.5°F set in 1999/2000. The exceptionally warm December boosted the contiguous U.S. winter temperature. The February temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 39.5°F, 5.7°F above the 20th century average, ranking as the seventh warmest on record and warmest since 2000.
Forty-six states across the contiguous U.S. had a winter temperature that was above average. Much-above average winter temperatures were observed across the West, Great Plains, Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast. Each of the six New England states had a winter temperature that was record warm.
Alaska had its second warmest December-February with a statewide temperature of 14.2°F, 10.6°F above average. Several locations across Alaska were record warm including Barrow and King Salmon, while Anchorage and Juneau had their second warmest December-February.
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/summary-info/national/201602

But, of course, certain political factions are convinced there's no such thing as climate change.

I voted!

Mar. 1st, 2016 07:14 pm
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
Despite the best efforts of the MBTA to delay my train home, not to mention my town having moved my precinct's polling place to an elementary school with totally inadequate parking for the purpose, I made it in time to vote in today's Presidential primary election.

Frankly, I'll be happy with either Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders as President. I voted for Clinton mostly for tactical reasons, figuring that there cannot possibly be any undiscovered dirt left to be dug up on her. Sanders hasn't been in the national spotlight nearly as long; if there is any muck to be flung at him, it'll be flung for the first time during the general election campaign.

It was tempting to cross over to the Republican side to vote against Donald Trump and Ted Cruz - but there wasn't anybody to vote for on that ballot. (Or, at least, nobody I'd want as President.)

The poll workers said turnout was pretty good. The vote-counting machine was showing just over a thousand ballots, which would be not at all bad for just my precinct - OTOH, if that was supposed to be three precincts worth, I wouldn't be as impressed. (Last I checked, there are around 2200 or so voters per precinct here.)
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
If you live in one of the Super Tuesday states - or anywhere else where the polls are open today, for that matter - remember:

Democracy is dangerous.

Vote anyway.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
Today is Election Day in much of the US, although not for me personally.

However, if you happen to have the chance to cast a ballot today, please do so, no matter how well or how ill your politics and mine happen to match up.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
Just a reminder of why the Fourth of July matters.
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 harrass 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 benefits 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 Brittish 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.

(Transcript from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html)
edschweppe: Submarine warfare qualification badge, aka "dolphins" (submarine insignia)
The Berlin Wall, that is. Well, figuratively the Wall came down on November 9, 1989, when the East German government announced that East German citizens would be allowed to freely travel to West Germany. Crowds of East Berliners started streaming through the checkpoints. Crowds of West Berliners climbed on the Wall in celebration, and folks started physically chipping away at the concrete barriers. All broadcast live on television channels around the globe.

I'd gotten out of the US Navy a few months earlier. At the time, I had no idea that the Cold War was so close to ending, let alone that the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact would dissolve without a shot being fired. I watched the party on the Wall on television, and marveled.

That day demonstrated that we humans can get things right, every so often, without blowing ourselves to hell in the process. It’s a day I often remind myself of, when some fresh damnfoolishness shows up on the news, or in my social media streams.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
It's Election Day in the US. If you're an American citizen and haven't already voted, today is the day. I can pretty much guarantee that there's someone or something idiotic to vote against on your local ballot, even if you can't find anything to vote for.

(If you're not an American citizen, please excuse this temporary interruption in my regularly scheduled burfling.)

Vetoed!

Feb. 26th, 2014 08:59 pm
edschweppe: (meth lab of democracy)
That Arizona "legalize any sort of discrimination on religions grounds" bill that I wrote about earlier this week?

Jan Brewer, governor of Arizona, has vetoed the bill. From Talking Points Memo:


Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) announced Wednesday night that she has vetoed the anti-gay bill that has been sitting on her desk since last week.

The bill "does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona," she said in explaining her decision. She took no questions after announcing the veto.

"I sincerely believe that (the bill) has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve," she said. "It could divide Arizona in ways that no one could imagine."

Brewer added that the legislation was "broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences."

The bill had drawn an intense national focus on the state since it cleared the Arizona House last week and went to Brewer. Gay rights advocates had said the bill, which would require the government to have a compelling interest before infringing on an individual's exercise of their religion, would effectively legitimize discrimination against LGBT people.

[ ... ]

Meanwhile, the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative group that helped craft the bill, lamented Brewer's decision.

"Opponents were desperate to distort this bill rather than debate the merits. Essentially, they succeeded in getting a veto of a bill that does not even exist," the group's president Cathi Herrod said in a statement. "When the force of government compels one to speak or act contrary to their conscience, the government injures not only the dignity of the afflicted, but the dignity of our society as a whole."


Maybe I can retire my "Arizona: Meth Lab of Democracy" usericon again?

I hope so.
edschweppe: (meth lab of democracy)
As reported all over the place, including the Arizona Republic, Talking Points Memo and even the BBC, the Arizona state legislature has passed a bill which opponents say will in effect legalize overt discrimination against gay people on religious freedom grounds. From the Arizona Republic / AZCentral article:
The Arizona Legislature has passed a controversial religion bill that is again thrusting Arizona into the national spotlight in a debate over discrimination.

House Bill 2153/Senate Bill 1062, written by the conservative advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy and the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, would allow individuals to use religious beliefs as a defense against a lawsuit.

The bill, which was introduced last month and has been described by opponents as discriminatory against gays and lesbians, has drawn national media coverage. Discussion of the bill went viral on social media during the House floor debate Thursday.

Opponents have dubbed it the "right to discriminate" bill and say it could prompt an economic backlash against the state, similar to what they say occurred when the state passed the controversial immigration law Senate Bill 1070 in 2010.

Proponents argue that the bill is simply a tweak to existing state religious-freedom laws to ensure individuals and businesses are not forced to do something that goes against their beliefs.


I am not a lawyer of any kind, but I do have a bit of Google-fu and was able to find both the full text of SB 1062 and the sections of Title 41 of the Arizona Revised Statutes amended thereby online. Chapter 9 of Title 41 is entitled "Civil Rights"; article 9 of that chapter is entitled "Free Exercise of Religion" and consists of five sections:
41-1493 Definitions
41-1493.01 Free exercise of religion protected
41-1493.02 Applicability
41-1493.03 Free exercise of religion; land use regulation
41-1493.04 Free exercise of religion; professional or occupational license; certificate or registration; appointments to governmental offices; definition
My layman's interpretation of the current text of article 9 is that it basically is set up to keep Arizona state and local governments from interfering with religious expression in two specific fields: land-use regulations (section 41-1493.03) and professional licensing (section 41-1493.04). SB 1062 expands (dramatically, in my opinion) the scope of article 9, so that anybody (not just religious organizations) may use a "sincerely held religions belief" defense against any enforcement action or lawsuit, whether brought by the government or by private individuals - like, for instance, a gay couple refused service at a public establishment.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer apparently has five days to sign or veto the bill. I personally hope she vetoes it; however, it appears to be sufficiently badly written as to provide all sorts of unintended consequences should it become law. Do people who believe capital punishment to be evil now get to not pay their state income tax? Does this now permit Islamic fundamentalists to practice Sharia law? Does this now permit the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints to practice polygamy?

For that matter, consider what might happen if certain people were to profess a sincerely held religious belief that pregnant women are entitled to terminate their pregnancy - and then went to work at an Arizona Planned Parenthood center?
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Under President Obama, the White House has added a "petition" section to their website. Anyone can make a request; if it gets at least 25,000 "signatures", the WH promises to respond.

On November 14, "John D" of Longmont, Colorado petitioned the government to:
Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.

Those who sign here petition the United States government to secure funding and resources, and begin construction on a Death Star by 2016.

By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense.


The response is hilarious:
The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?
The reply goes on to note many of NASA's existing programs, along with various private sector space initiatives.

Sense of humor and sense of wonder. Well done!
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
The major news networks have all called the race for President Obama.

VOTE!

Nov. 6th, 2012 08:52 am
edschweppe: (obama vote)
If you're an American citizen, and you haven't yet voted in this year's elections, today's the day. VOTE! Even if you don't want to vote for any of the choices. (Vote against the choice you dislike most.)

If you're an American citizen, and you have already voted, thank you.

If you're not an American citizen, my apologies for spamming your friends-list.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
In which Josh Whedon provides the reasoning behind his endorsement in the 2012 US Presidential election: Embedded YouTube behind the cut )
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
Also known as "The third presidential debate, that was supposed to be all about foreign policy except when the candidates wanted to repeat their domestic agendas". Surprisingly, that wasn't that often ... )

[1] Okay, I made up the bit about apple pie.
[2] And now there's a Horses and Bayonets Tumblr!
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
also known as "Holy cow, both those guys ate their Wheaties!" Some thoughts behind the cut tag )

These opinions, of course, are worth at most whatever you've paid me for them. After all, I thought the first debate wasn't a "game-changing moment", and everybody else thought it was a huge win for Romney.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
The first debate between President Obama and Governor Romney is over. Some quick reactions )
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
His speech at the Democratic National Convention, as compared to Mitt Romney's speech at the Republican one last week, that is.

It wasn't as smooth as President Clinton's speech the night before, and more details on future proposals would have been nice. He did call out some of the more egregious nonsense on the Republican side ("take two tax cuts and call me in the morning"). More importantly (IMNSHO), however, Obama's speech held a far more positive vision of America - and he pitched that speech to all sides of the political debate.

Best of all, nobody came out ranting at the furniture this time. (Seriously, Clint, WTF?)

In other political news, today was the Massachusetts state primary election. I voted, even though the races I cared about were uncontested. Most of the electorate didn't bother; in my precinct of roughly 2200(?) voters, only 174 ballots had been cast with an hour to go until the polls closed. The poll workers and I joked that there might be a wee bit of a difference come November.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
Well, I did my duty and watched Mitt Romney's big speech at the Republican National Convention.

Personally, I wasn't impressed. It looked like Mitt kept stepping on his applause lines. That bit about how Obama didn't have any business experience brings up the question of how much business experience Mitt's running mate has (answer: none). Celebrating Neil Armstrong's life was a nice touch, unless of course you're running on a government-is-bad-so-let's-cut-it platform. Staples as an "office" company? Err, okay. The lines about women starting businesses were okay, although I'd be a lot more convinced that he cared about women if he'd mentioned anything about pay equality.

Also, WTF was that Clint Eastwood speech about? And did Marco Rubio just torpedo his career with that "we chose more government, not more freedom" gaffe?

The good news? That particular political clown show is over.

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/151901.html - comment wherever you please.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
Well, I did my duty and watched Mitt Romney's big speech at the Republican National Convention.

Personally, I wasn't impressed. It looked like Mitt kept stepping on his applause lines. That bit about how Obama didn't have any business experience brings up the question of how much business experience Mitt's running mate has (answer: none). Celebrating Neil Armstrong's life was a nice touch, unless of course you're running on a government-is-bad-so-let's-cut-it platform. Staples as an "office" company? Err, okay. The lines about women starting businesses were okay, although I'd be a lot more convinced that he cared about women if he'd mentioned anything about pay equality.

Also, WTF was that Clint Eastwood speech about? And did Marco Rubio just torpedo his career with that "we chose more government, not more freedom" gaffe?

The good news? That particular political clown show is over.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
by Mitt Romney's incessant flipping and flopping and pandering:
So, Mitt, what do you really believe?
Too much about the Republican candidate for the presidency is far too mysterious

WHEN Mitt Romney was governor of liberal Massachusetts, he supported abortion, gun control, tackling climate change and a requirement that everyone should buy health insurance, backed up with generous subsidies for those who could not afford it. Now, as he prepares to fly to Tampa to accept the Republican Party’s nomination for president on August 30th, he opposes all those things. A year ago he favoured keeping income taxes at their current levels; now he wants to slash them for everybody, with the rate falling from 35% to 28% for the richest Americans.

All politicians flip-flop from time to time; but Mr Romney could win an Olympic medal in it (see article). And that is a pity, because this newspaper finds much to like in the history of this uncharismatic but dogged man, from his obvious business acumen to the way he worked across the political aisle as governor to get health reform passed and the state budget deficit down.

[ ... ]

Mr Romney may calculate that it is best to keep quiet: the faltering economy will drive voters towards him. It is more likely, however, that his evasiveness will erode his main competitive advantage. A businessman without a credible plan to fix a problem stops being a credible businessman. So does a businessman who tells you one thing at breakfast and the opposite at supper. Indeed, all this underlines the main doubt: nobody knows who this strange man really is. It is half a decade since he ran something. Why won’t he talk about his business career openly? Why has he been so reluctant to disclose his tax returns? How can a leader change tack so often? Where does he really want to take the world’s most powerful country?
http://www.economist.com/node/21560864

When a venture capitalist can't get The Economist solidly behind him, he's in trouble.

My favorite quote:
"The Romney Programme for Economic Recovery, Growth and Jobs" is like "Fifty Shades of Grey" without the sex
(Note to self: time to make some 2012 election icons.)
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
of why the Fourth of July matters.
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 harrass 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 benefits 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 Brittish 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.

(Transcript from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html)
edschweppe: (meth lab of democracy)
An Arizona businessman thinks that Arizona citizens should be able to decide in a referendum which Federal laws, regulations, etc. apply to them, according to the East Valley Tribune (among many):
A Phoenix business owner launched an initiative drive Monday designed to let Arizona voters override federal laws.

And John Biltis said he’s prepared to spend millions of dollars of his own money to put the issue on the November ballot and convince Arizonans to approve it.

The initiative would leave in place a provision in Arizona’s own constitution which says the federal Constitution "is the supreme law of the land." But it proposes to add language saying the federal document may not be violated by any government — including the federal government.

More to the point, it would allow Arizonans "to reject any federal action that they determine violates the United States Constitution." And they would be able to do this either through a vote of the state House and Senate with consent of the governor, or through a popular vote on a ballot measure.

Biltis, the sole owner of TAG Employer Services, said he takes literally the federal constitutional provisions which spell out that Congress has only the power specifically enumerated.
Funny, I had thought the Civil War had settled the whole "states can ignore stuff out of Washington they don't like" bit. Silly me.

(I thought of using my WTF icon, but the meth-lab-of-democracy one is more appropriate, given the location.)

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edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Edmund Schweppe

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