Monday, July 31, 2006

Scranton Newspaper Continues Unethical Practices

Bobby Casey's hometown newspaper is also a major funding source for him and, from all appearances, his campaign's personal newsletter. The owners of the paper have purchased Casey's loyalty with hundreds of thousands of dollars of donations over the years. We've discussed this before in "A Matter of Integrity". The Scranton Casey campaign chief writer is Borys Krawczeniuk, and he's done it again.

Contrary to fairly-well settled journalistic ethics, members of the Scranton Times-Tribune's editorial board, and their families, have funneled tons of cash into Pennsylvania's perennial candidate's pockets over the years. This alone is a blush-inducing violation of the most basic of rules.

But they compound that by hiding from their readership their conflicts of interest in covering Casey campaigns -- itself yet another ethical lapse.

But, as I have pointed out before, they are in NE PA where, apparently, ethics are merely a punch for local jokes.

Your Slob has corresponded with Mr. Krawczeniuk on the matter and asked him whether it would be better if the Scranton Times-Tribune routinely carried a disclaimer on their coverage of their favorite donee.

Mr. Krawczeniuk's response?

I spelled his name wrong.

Like I said, NE PA.

When the Thief Reports a Robbery

When the thief loses something, he is more quick than the honest man to claim he was robbed. He assumes that everyone around him has the same perverted, incomplete moral compass which guides his daily life. It is only through that lens that Karl Rove's recent utterings can be understood. Having escaped the dock thanks to the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' 'technicality', which he no doubt otherwise despises, this unbowed drunk monkey blamed the first amendment for his problems. It makes sense because, else, he'd actually need to take personal stock and bankruptcy is something no man wants to face.

Speaking to graduates at the George Washington School of Political Management, Rove told the young minds that reporters cover the likes of him because the reporters are trying to avoid personal responsibility, "perhaps they want to draw attention away from the corrosive role their coverage has played". Oh, reilly?

There's more, but in case you haven't had your breakfast I won't further stink up the joint with more of his drivel. The Washington Post has it.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Power-Drunk Chimpanzees

Kurt Vonnegut, writing in 2004:

Many years ago, I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and reasonable America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the Second World War, when there was no peace.

But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America’s becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Anti-Slots Swann Hires Slots Lobbyist as Chief of Staff

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has checked out the background of Pennsylvania Gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann's new campaign chief of staff and found some irony.

"Walter Breakell, of New York, was named campaign chief of staff on Friday and will oversee operations in Swann's Pittsburgh office beginning Monday", according to the paper. Breakell was formerly head of the New York office of DCI Group, a national lobbying concern. One of DCI's big clients is GTECH. From the Tribune-Review:
GTECH [is] a leading gambling technology and services company based in Rhode Island. GTECH is one of the companies licensed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to manufacture slots machines for Pennsylvania's fledgling casino industry. Last year, the state Revenue Department selected GTECH to operate the central computer system to monitor activity at each of up to 61,000 slots machines in the state. It eventually would be the largest such system in the world. GTECH paid DCI $400,000 between 2001 and 2005, according to a lobbyist database maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that tracks politically related spending. DCI's total lobbying income during that period was $11.5 million.
Slots casinos are to Swann's campaign what immigration is to Santorum -- an issue a desperate losing campaign hopes gets it noticed. The Swann team is apparently a little sensitive that the Tribune-Review picked up on the fact that Swann just hired someone who's last firm helped bring gambling to Pennsylvania:

Swann campaign spokeswoman Melissa Walters said "That's ridiculous. The only person that brought gambling to Pennsylvania is Ed Rendell."

Well, okay then.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Oops. Bush Asking for Post-Facto Law Change to Avoid Criminal Charges

In 1994, Walter B. Jones, Jr., the son of a multi-term Democratic Congressman from North Carolina, switched to the Republican Party after losing the 1992 democratic nomination to fill his father's seat. He was swept into office in the great Republican take over during the midterms in Bill Clinton's first term.

Soon after, he had a conversation with one of our pilots who was resident in the Hanoi Hilton. Upset to learn that there were no available avenues to seek criminal justice against the perpetrators of torture, he drafted and proposed the War Crimes Act. It was passed by a voice vote in the House and unanimously in the Senate. President Clinton signed the bill, which was fully supported by the Defense Department.


After the recent Supreme Court decision rejecting the Administration's trashing of the Geneva Conventions in Guantanemo, not to mention the kinds of things coming out of Iraq, the Bush Regime has apparently set about to re-write the War Crimes Act as it seems that it applies to them, too.

The War Crimes Act makes it a federal crime to, among other things, treat prisoners in violation of the Geneva Conventions. It imposes a 10-year prison sentence and the death penalty if a prisoner dies from the abuse.


Enter Alberto. As the Washington Post reports today,

Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. . . . Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has spoken privately with Republican lawmakers about the need for such "protections," according to someone who heard his remarks last week. Gonzales told the lawmakers that a shield is needed for actions taken by U.S. personnel under a 2002 presidential order, which the Supreme Court declared illegal . . . .
Too bad that Gonzales wasn't asked about the potential problems under the War Crimes Act back in 2002 so that he could set the President straight . . . oh, wait a minute, the Washington Post also says,
Since September 2001, however, Bush administration officials have considered the law a potential threat to U.S. personnel involved in interrogations. While serving as White House legal counsel in 2002, Gonzales helped prepare a Jan. 25 draft memo to Bush . . . in which he cited the threat of prosecution under the act as a reason to declare that detainees captured in Afghanistan were not eligible for Geneva Conventions protections. . . . and said that only a presidential order exempting detainees from Geneva protections "would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution." That month, Bush approved an order exempting those captured in Afghanistan from these protections.

House Might Pass Min Wage Increase -- Gee, thanks

Two damn dollars over two years? Com'on. I'm equally unhappy with the Democrats who are taking credit for pushing this insult through as I am with the Republicans who are going to try to take credit for it, while tying it to all sort of big-business, rich-folk measures.

What, should we all line up and thank those bastards on both sides of the aisle for their generosity? At the full blown $7.25 -- phased in over two damn years -- a minimum wage worker only needs 79 1/2 hours a week to gross $30,000 a year. Golly, thanks guys. You can raise a great family of four on that, right?

Joe Bageant's most recent essay puts the source of my ire well, you should go read the whole thing:

The widening affluence gap aggravates an already existent class system, though neither class is willing to acknowledge it. The national mythology holds that we are a "nation of rugged individualism," the implication being that there are no classes, no masses, just 300 million rugged freedom loving Daniel Boone/Marlboro Man types completely in charge of their own destinies. And on rare occasions when class is acknowledged by working Americans, they express the simplistic consumer state induced view that class has entirely to do with money, and say they are all "middle class" in a country that is pretty much divided into only two classes. An astonishing number of families in the $30,000-per-household bracket believe they are in the top 10%, according to some surveys.

Regardless of media-manufactured underclass hallucinations as to class, only one class is paying half a week's wages or more for a single doctor visit to a member of the other class. Only one class is counting on Social Security for its entire retirement income (at least 64% of Americans and rising, by last count.) Yeah, yeah, more than half of Americans are invested in the stock market through 401Ks etc. we are told. But only at a few thousand dollars per household. When it comes to the much-ballyhooed stock market, 10 % of Americans split the national hog between themselves, tossing the ears to the other 90%. At this point bona fide pinkos may be excused from reading the next paragraph. You've heard it a million times, but I just can't help myself, comrade.

Cometh the old familiar numbers so oft heard, but worth repeating in hope that their meaning may by mysterious courses known only to God, take spark in the football besotted minds of my fellow underclass mutts: The richest 10 percent of families own a little over 85% of all outstanding stocks, 87% of all financial securities, and 90% of all business assets. If you throw in assets such as homes, checking and savings accounts, CDs and money funds, and pension accounts, then 20% of Americans own 83% of all wealth. The bottom 20% have no assets, no net worth at all. Put simply, the top 20% eat the cake, the middle 60% eat the crumbs and the bottom 20% get to lick the plates while they do everyone else's dishes.
UPDATE: Chortling that "You've seen us really outfox you", House Republicans show who they work for.

Yesterday, they passed a bill raising the minimum wage for the first time in nearly ten years, from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour, over THREE years. But, they tied it to bills extending valuable tax credits for big business and permanently cutting the estate tax, benefitting only the richest 1.2% of the population.

From the New York Times, here's how the increase is phased in:
Under the minimum wage proposal, the current $5.15 rate would rise by $2.10 over three years in three increments, reaching $5.85 in January 2007, $6.55 on June 1, 2008, and $7.25 on June 1, 2009. The change would also allow tips to be counted toward minimum wage increases in states where that is not now allowed.
It goes on to the Senate now.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Crazy Curt Weldon Swift Boats Joe Sestak

Release from the Sestak Campaign:

Media, PA - Today, members of Veterans for Sestak made the following statements on the outrageous swift boat attacks on Democratic candidate and former Vice Admiral Joe Sestak by Curt Weldon and his supporter Scott Migli, Executive Director of the Republican State Committee, who recently suggested that Sestak wore the wrong rank with his uniform at Memorial Day services.

Tom Clay, co-chair of Veterans for Sestak, said: "As a retired service member who grew up in Springfield, Joe was invited by the Springfield American Legion, of which he is a member, to attend the Memorial Day events in Springfield – which included memorial services. Prior to the Memorial Day events, I called the Pentagon to confirm
what the regulations were and the U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations clearly state that former Navy service members are allowed to wear their uniform at memorial services at the highest rank they attained while on active duty. Joe reported to the US Naval Academy at the age of 18, after graduating from Cardinal O'Hara High School in 1970. He then served his country honorably for 31 years, and it is absolutely shameful that anyone would attempt to dishonor that service."

Rocco Polidoro, a Republican co-chair of Veterans for Sestak, and the Commander of a local veterans group said, "Admiral Sestak, per Navy regulations, is entitled to wear his uniform, for memorial services, at the highest rank he attained. Someone needs to instruct Mr. Migli in the finer points of Naval regulations, but sadly, that won't be Curt Weldon since he has never worn the uniform of the Unites States military. As a Republican, I can safely say that Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan would be turning over in their graves if they knew that Curt Weldon and other Republicans would be using this as another desperate attempt to swift boat a man who dedicated his life to serving this country for 31 years.

Jerry Gavin, a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 67, Delaware County said, "Former Vice Admiral Sestak, who is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 67, Delaware County, was asked by us to participate in the Marcus Hook Memorial Day events with other members of the Delaware County Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America. He was also asked to be a speaker at the memorial service and to read the names of the Navy service members from Delaware County who were killed in Vietnam. As someone who was myself wounded in Vietnam, it put tears in my eyes to hear Admiral Sestak read the names of those who had given the ultimate sacrifice. For anyone to criticize him for participating in non-political Memorial Day activities is deeply upsetting."

Polidoro concluded by criticizing Weldon for his poor record on veterans' issues: "Given Curt Weldon's terrible record on veterans issues – from voting against full retirement and disability for all veterans to voting for a budget that cut veterans' healthcare by over $13 billion – it's hardly surprising that he's once again demeaning the service given to this country by a veteran. Admiral Sestak is a cut above Curt Weldon and this nonsense. Maybe if Curt hadn't spent so much time chasing down WMD in Iraq and had actually paid attention to the needs of our veterans, he wouldn't be in a position where he'd have to try to demean a service member by swift boat attacks against someone who has served this country with such honor and distinction."

According to the U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations, former members of the Armed Services may wear the uniform of the highest rank they held during their service when attending a memorial service, contrary to what Curt Weldon and the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania have said.

Santorum Approval "Up" to 43% in Latest Survey USA Poll

SurveyUSA has released its latest approval ratings for all US Senators. Santorum's 43% approval in this July poll was an improvement over last month's 36%. It was good enough to move him from dead last among all US Senators to 96th place. I can hear the corks popping in Virginia from here.

His 7-point gain came entirely within the one-third of respondents who admitted to being Republicans. Last month, only 48% liked Their Rick, but he managed to pick up a majority of the minority in July, scoring a soaring 62% approval rating amongst his own people. The only groups giving him +50% approvals were Republicans and two subsets -- conservatives and the anti-choice contingent. All three make up a minority of Pennsylvania voters. He could take 70% of those groups and still lose the election going away.

Medicare D-Day on Medicare's B-Day in Bucks County

From Fact-esque, get over there if you can:

"If you are caught in that donut hole you will be disappointed and start pressing your members of Congress to do something about it."

That bit of advice was given two years ago by Gail Wilensky, PhD, a health analyst with Project HOPE, a former Medicare administrator who also advised President Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign.

Dr. Wilensky was right. And now is the time for all of us in Bucks County, PA to show up on July 29 to tell our congressman, Mike Fitzpatrick (R), that we want to see Part D fixed today.

And it's not just the Donut Hole we want fixed. PA Action, the sponsor of the event, wants the following sensible fixes made to Part D:

* Require that Medicare negotiate the cheapest possible prices for drugs with the pharmaceutical companies;
* Eliminate the "Donut Hole" that will add crippling costs to many seniors;
* Offer a prescription drug plan to seniors directly through Medicare that does not require they join private plans;
* End the "bait and switch" provisions that allow private insurance plans to drop coverage for specific drugs while seniors are locked into the plan;
* Reopen an enrollment period so that millions of seniors will not be locked out of help for prescription drug costs -- and drop the penalty for joining after May 15.

PLEASE RSVP at this link and make the commitment to coming out on the 20th. Remember, we'll be lobbying Rep. Fitzpatrick for real reform of a confusing and crony-driven Part D as well as celebrating Medicare's 41st birthday and our democracy.

What: Medicare D-Day on Medicare's B-Day

When: 9:15am Saturday, JULY 29

Where: One Oxford Vally, Suite 800 located in the Oxford Valley Mall - we will gather on the side of the building that faces the JC Penney parking lot

Google Map

Why: to lobby Congressman Fitzpatrick to fix Medicare's Prescription drug benefit

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Washington State Supreme Court Rules Against Equal Rights

Gay marriage bans do not violate constitutional due process, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled today. The Court overturned two different lower court decisions which declared the ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.

Under federal constitutional law, when legislation creates a class of persons treated different from others, the Court looks first to determine if that differently-treated class is a "suspect class" (mainly, minority classes) or if the activity proscribed involves a "fundamental right". If the Court finds either a suspect class or a fundamental right is at issue, then the legislation is reviewed under a "strict scrutiny" standard. This is the most rigorous standard applied in the review of legislation and, almost always, that standard results in an invalidation or severe restriction on the legislation at issue.

If a Court determines that no fundamental right or suspect class is involved, they are free to apply what is called the "rational basis" test. Under that test, the legislation merely needs to be reasonably related to some legitimate state interest, and it is validated. More often than not, application of the rational basis test results in the Court upholding the constitutionality of the law at issue.

So the classification of the right involved, or the class of persons affected, often is crucial for the purposes of challenging or defending legislation claimed to be unconstitutional.

This brief diversion for arcane constitutional analysis being necessary only to put into context the enormity of what the Supreme Court of Washington has decided and how wrong it was.

The Court determined that homosexuals and lesbians are not a "suspect class" and that same-sex marriage was not a fundamental right. They then declared that the ban on gay marriage was rationally related to the State's asserted "legitimate interest".

What was that interest? Let the Court explain:
The State contends that procreation is a legitimate government interest justifying the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples. The State reasons that partners in a marriage are expected to engage in exclusive sexual relations with children the probable result and paternity presumed. The State reasons that no other relationship has the potential to create, without third party involvement, a child biologically related to both parents, and the legislature rationally could decide to limit legal rights and obligations of marriage to opposite-sex couples. The legislature could also have found that encouraging marriage for opposite-sex couples who may have relationships that result in children is preferable to having children raised by unmarried parents.
There you have it -- procreation. That, the State of Washington declares, is one of the legitimate state interests which led to the Washington version of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Court makes a play at dealing with the plaintiffs' (several dozen in the two combined cases) rejoinders that the State's purported interests are silly on their face -- nothing requires straight couples to have children (or -- as many of us who have experienced long marriages can attest -- sex); nor is there anything to prohibit procreation and child rearing outside marriage. No one prohibits the elderly or the sterile to marry -- indeed, it would be unconstitutional to prohibit couples from using birth control or having vasectomies. You can come up with long list of similar responses on your own.

To all of that, the majority opinion basically says, well, nothing of any substance. This is the sum and substance of the Court's response to the, naturally sputtering, incredulity of the plaintiff's on the procreation argument:
But . . . marriage is traditionally linked to procreation and survival of the human race.
I'm not kidding or overstating here -- go read the opinion -- that really is how the Court deals with the crucial issue of whether the State has articulated a legitimate interest. "Because it's always been that way". That is presumptive of the outcome because if the State has gay marriage, then the argument evaporates. It is like saying that marriage has always traditionally been to perpetuate and protect the integrity of the races -- when interracial marriages were prohibited. (In fact, that was exactly one of the arguments made by States and courts in upholding the miscegenation laws which over a third of the States had on their books as late as 1967 when the issue finally came to the Supreme Court of the United States for the first time.)

But neither the State nor the Court were done, there is also the all-important issue of "child-rearing", on which the State alternatively hangs it's hood hat:
The State also argues that rearing children in a home headed by their opposite-sex parents is a legitimate state interest furthered by limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples because children tend to thrive in families consisting of a father, mother, and their biological children.
Hoo-boy. So, what's next, a state law taking children away from a mother who loses her husband in some senseless, stupid, foreign war that resulted from a series of lies and misdirection, and giving them to a "real" family?

The argument was so weak that a third-grader with ADD could have poked Hummer-sized holes in it during recess while jumping rope. But we over-estimate the Washington State Supreme Court and the State legislature. Here's what the Court had to say in rejecting the, naturally smirking plaintiffs', arguments about the State's purported interest:
But given the rational relationship standard and that the legislature was provided with testimony that children thrive in opposite-sex marriage environments, the legislature acted within its power to limit the status of marriage. That is, the legislature was entitled to believe that providing that only opposite-sex couples may marry will encourage procreation and child-rearing in a "traditional" nuclear family where children tend to thrive. We reiterate that the rational basis standard is a highly deferential standard.
No, no, no, no! What you are supposed to be doing is deciding in the first place if any legitimate state interests are articulated -- instead you simply assume that they are legitimate!!!

Sorry, just had to take a break to yell at my computer screen like it was Fox News on a Sunday morning.

So, essentially what the Court said was, well the State got some ya-hoos to come up and testify how children are better off with straight mommies and daddies and they chose to believe them so that's all okay.

This is a prime example of what an "activist" court really is and how it works.

The Court first mis-defines the issue by asking if the right to a "same-sex" marriage is a fundamental right. But putting it in that context the court pre-decides. That is not a far stretch from asking if a "mixed-race" marriage is a fundamental right. "Marriage" is a fundamental right period.

If the Court had honestly stated that issue, and admitted that a fundamental right was involved, it would have made the remainder of the opinion look a whole lot less contorted.

After going off wrong by refusing to correctly identify the right at stake, the Court then compounds that error by offering absolutely no analysis of whether the purported state interests were legitimate interests when it came to the regulation of marriage licenses, or whether those purported interests were pretextual, and again in the utter refusal to engage in a real evaluation of the rational relationship between the stated purpose and the legislation itself.

Some of these plaintiff-couples had been together for decades, many had children. Now they get to go home and tell those children that their parents cannot marry because the State of Washington and the Supreme Court of Washington decided that the children are better off with a "real" family.

This is odious. Had the Washington Supreme Court been more honest, more talented, and more far-sighted, they would have done well to adapt the closing words of the 14th Chief Justice of the United States -- a Republican, by the way -- in Loving v. Virginia:
Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man" . . . . To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the [sexual] classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious [ ] discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another [sex] resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.
UPDATE: Excerpts from Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire's reaction:
"First and foremost, I am asking for all Washingtonians to respect their fellow citizens. The Supreme Court has ruled and we must accept their decision whether we agree with it or not."
"As to my personal beliefs, Mike and I received the sacrament of marriage in the Catholic faith. State government provided us with certain rights and responsibilities, but the state did not marry us."
"I believe the state should provide these same rights and responsibilities to all citizens. I also believe the sacrament of marriage is between two people and their faith; it is not the business of the state."
Thanks to Northwest Progressive Institute for the quotes.

UPDATE II: The American Anthropological Association -- formed in 1902, the world's oldest society of professional anthropologists and publisher's of the leading journal in the field -- had this to say about the whole 'marriage the foundation of civilization' stuff:
The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.
h/t to Hominid Views.

Santorum and Casey Snubbing Project Vote Smart

Neither Santorum nor Casey have "bothered" to return the National Political Awareness Test (an issues survey) sent to them by the non-partisan, non-profit Project Vote Smart. The Pocono Record has noticed that they, and many other officials and candidates in Pennsylvania have similarly responded "screw you" to the effort. From today's editorial in the Record:
Today marks the deadline for political candidates and elected officials to file their responses to Project Vote Smart's National Political Awareness Test.

Hardly anyone running for office has done that. Why is that?

It's because they can get away with it. Voters let them get away with it. Voters have allowed politicians to control their "message" fully and to avoid answering basic questions about where they stand on a variety of important issues that affect our communities, our state and our nation. . . .

Project Vote Smart also asks candidates and officials to take the National Political Awareness Test, which asks them their views on basic issues ranging from abortion rights to labor and the environment. There's no right or wrong answer on the test-- the questions just call for responses that best describe their positions, which voters can then weigh to make a decision about how they cast their ballot. Why, then, with their ample staffs of paid and volunteer helpers, are most candidates and officials unwilling to provide this information?

Because they want total control of the message. They know that a sound bite or a well-turned phrase is more likely to sway voters than honest answers about where they stand on key issues. . . . Educate yourself. Visit and see which candidates are willing to fill out the National Political Awareness Test and voluntarily tell citizens their positions, or whether they prefer slick campaign slogans and spin.


Here's the contact information for our two candidates, why not let them know that they should tell us citizens their positions on the issues they will most likely face on out behalf and help us become informed voters, rather than hide behind their campaign hype and spin:
Washington DC Web Mail Address: ...
Campaign EMail Address:
Campaign Web Address: ...

Washington DC Address
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-3804
Phone: 202-224-6324
TTYD Number: 202-224-5024
Fax: 202-228-0604

Campaign Address
Post Office Box 16426
Pittsburgh, PA 15242
TollFree: 1-877-VOTE-RICK
Fax: 412-922-6461

Campaign E-Mail Address:
Campaign Web Address:

Campaign Address
Post Office Box 25311
Pittsburgh, PA 15220
Phone: 215-567-4190
Phone: 412-444-0171
Fax: 215-567-4191

British War Families Win Right to Challenge Iraq Invasion in Court

In what British political and legal observers are calling a 'stunning victory', families of fallen British soldiers are going to get their day in Court. The Evening Standard is reporting that a British appeals court has overturned an earlier dismissal of the case and ordered the government to present it's evidence for the legality of the invasion to that court.

Relatives of four servicemen who died early in the conflict sued the British government, claiming that the gin up of the war was a "series of lies" and that the invasion was itself a breach of international law.

Defendants in the lawsuit include the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence. According to the plaintiffs' solicitor:
The Government now have to produce evidence to a full hearing in the Court of Appeal. That evidence needs to establish once and for all whether the decision to invade was lawful. In particular, the Government must finally explain how the 13-page equivocal advice from the Attorney General of March 7 2003 was changed within 10 days to a one-page completely unequivocal advice that an invasion would be legal. My clients believe he impermissibly changed his advice because he was sat on by the Prime Minister and others in Government. In changing his advice, he sent these soldiers to their deaths.

Gee, I wonder if the defendants have considered impleading Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bush Changing Position on Embryonic Research

The White House is now admitting that embryonic stem-cell research does not involve the taking of any human life. Typical Bushworld tactic -- appease the base then shift to be more palatable to the middle. Here's Tony Snow on why the President was going to veto the lifesaving stem cell research bill:
The president believes strongly that for the purpose of research it's inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder. He's one of them . . . .The simple answer is he thinks murder's wrong.
And then in the Catholic World:
The president is not going to get on the slippery slope of taking something living and making it dead for the purposes of scientific research.
That kind of stupid talk got Bush lots of positive coverage from the wacko right for the last week. Now that it has set in with all of them (the tiny minority opposed to lifesaving stem cell research), it's now safe for the President to talk out of the other side of his mouth. As reported today by the Washington Post:

President Bush does not consider stem cell research using human embryos to be murder, the White House said yesterday, reversing its description of his position just days after he vetoed legislation to lift federal funding restrictions on the hotly disputed area of study.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said yesterday that he "overstated the president's position" during a briefing last week but said Bush rejected the bill because "he does have objections with spending federal money on something that is morally objectionable to many Americans."

Isn't THAT special?

One might hasten to point out to Snow and Bush that NOT spending money on stem cell research is morally objectionable to about three times as many people as is spending the money.

Oh, and by the way, if that is going to be the yardstick for the nation's policy, about three times the number of people who find stem cell research morally objectionable find spending a billion dollars a week on the Iraq War equally morally offensive.

But I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Heavy Hand of Bush on EPA - Report Confirming Global Warming Scrubbed

Well, not exactly scrubbed, but the links were ham handedly broken. The report, issued as part of the required annual update on the joint Canadian-US Management Plan for Lake Erie, concluded that
There is now stronger evidence than ever of human-induced climate change. . . . Between 2004 and 2090, our climate is expected continue to become warmer. This will result in significant reductions in lake level, exposing new shorelines and creating tremendous opportunities for large-scale restoration of highly valued habitats.
The Report concludes that "human-induced" global warming will lead to a steep drop in water levels of Lake Erie over the next 64 years and cause the lake's surface area to shrink by up to 15 per cent. The annual update is required by the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the United States and Canada.

Although dated April 21, 2006, the "Lake Erie Lakewide Management Plan Report" (LaMP in bureaucrat-speak) was recently released to the website and linked from the EPA's Lake Erie Binational Site. Soon after (mostly Canadian) news reports on the climate change conclusions began surfacing, the link to the 2006 LaMP Update stopped working. Now, clicking on the link brings up an error page.

The Report itself, however, remains on the site, one just needed to manually type in the URL: This maneuver, although by now all too familiar to those paying attention, is nevertheless puzzling, as the prior LaMP updates contained similar language, and those links remain active (at least for now). The "human-induced climate change" stuff is in Section 11 of the LaMP Updates "Significant Ongoing and Emerging Issues". It's on page 7 of section 11 in the 2006 Update.

I guess the good news is that you know the wheels are falling off when they can't even effectively scrub websites anymore.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Compassionate Conservativism in Action -- Fined for Giving Toys & Medicine to Sick Children

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

A Seattle peace activist, fined for taking medicine to sick and dying children in prewar Iraq, is challenging that Bush administration policy as a violation of international law tantamount to genocide.

Bert Sacks, 64, vows not to pay the $10,000 fine for violationg U.S. economic sanctions against Saddam Hussein's Iraq by taking $40,000 worth of medicine and toys to the country in 1997.

Sacks, whose appeal will be heard today, lost a previous court challenge in U.S. District Court in Seattle in 2004. But Sacks and his attorney say the legal landscape has changed in their favor with the recent Supreme Court decision dismantling Guantanamo tribunals for alleged terrorists.

In that case, which also began in Seattle, the Supreme Court instructed the Bush administration that it cannot simply ignore the Geneva Conventions, which embody the international law of war.

Sacks says that's exactly what the administration has done by illegally imposing a restriction on the delivery of humanitarian supplies that are protected by the Geneva Conventions and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

But government lawyers refute Sacks' contention that the court in Seattle "rejected Sacks' efforts to invoke international law as a ground for invalidating the ... sanctions regulations."

There's more, and you can read the defendant's own blog here.

ABA -- Bush Signing Statements Threaten Democracy

The ABA panel charged with looking into BushCo's signing statement frenzy is releasing a report today critical of the administration's unusual practice. According to the New York Times, the report accuses Bush of "flouting the Constitution" by claiming the power to ignore the laws he signs if he wants.

The panel is bi-partisan and made up of some very heavy Dem and Rep hitters, including former FBI head William Sessions, a former Court of Appeals Judge, a founder of the Heritage Foundation, constitutional experts, among others.
"This report raises serious concerns crucial to the survival of our democracy," said the ABA's president, Michael Greco. "If left unchecked, the president's practice does grave harm to the separation of powers doctrine, and the system of checks and balances that have sustained our democracy for more than two centuries."
The signing statements are the Presidential equivalent of crossing your fingers when you tell a lie. Now, you'll hear administration apologists tell you that signing statements have been "around since Jefferson". True, but for the most part they were of the press release variety -- lookit-the-good-law-just-signed,-mom, kind of thing.

It was during the Reagan administration that they began to be used as a strategic weapon. Guess who came up with the idea? Then Reagan lawyer Sammy Alito.

Think they're not important? Well, the Republican-controlled Supreme Court might eventually disagree.

Departing from hundreds of years of jurisprudence, Justice Scalia recently gave great weight to signing statements in interpreting the intent and meaning of a law. Since the President is not involved in the creation of the law, only in signing or vetoing it, no one has ever looked to the President's opinion as a factor in deciding what Congress meant when IT drafted and enacted the law. Until Scalia. It won't be long now until the Court endorses Scalia's perversion of jurisprudence.

Activist judges, indeed. ITMFA

More Cotton Candy from Specter on Bush Spy Program

In an Op-Ed in today's Washington Post (registration required), Arlen Specter defends his proposed compromise legislation on the Administration's illegal domestic spying program. The piece is the cotton-candy Specter we've all come to know -- it looks good, but melts in the heat of battle.

He starts out making the right sounds, to give moderates and know-knothings the false impression he is being tough on the administration:
President Bush's electronic surveillance program has been a festering sore on our body politic since it was publicly disclosed last December. Civil libertarians, myself included, have insisted that the program must be subject to judicial review to ensure compliance with the Fourth Amendment.
But, where the rubber meets the road, Specter caves to BushCo:
The president has insisted that he was acting lawfully within his constitutional responsibilities. On its face, the program seems contrary to the plain text of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which regulates domestic national security wiretapping. The president argues, however, that his inherent constitutional powers supersede the statute. Without knowing the exact contours of the program, it's impossible to say whether he is right or wrong. But three federal appeals court decisions suggest the president may be right.

To his critics, including the Washington Post, who say it isn't a compromise but (yet another) capitulation by Specter, he wants to know if they have a better idea:
If someone has a better idea for legislation that would resolve the program's legality or can negotiate a better compromise with the president, I will be glad to listen.
Here's an idea Specter -- grow a set.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Heavy Hand of Bush on the CIA

The New York Times reported yesterday that a classified CIA contract worker was fired because she objected to the use of torture by the CIA:

WASHINGTON, July 21 --— A contract employee working for the Central Intelligence Agency said she had been fired recently for posting a message on a classified computer server that said an interrogation technique used by the agency against some terror suspects amounted to torture.

The employee, Christine Axsmith, kept the "Covert Communications" blog on a top-secret computer network used by American intelligence agencies. Ms. Axsmith was fired on Monday after C.I.A. officials objected to a message that criticized the interrogation technique called "waterboarding," a particularly harsh practice that the C.I.A. is known to have used on Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who is widely regarded as the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

I thought it was a little remarkable that there are top-secret blogs on intelligence community computer systems. According to the Times report, over 1,000 classified blogs have been running for about a year in "an experimental effort being carried out in top-secret computer forums where information and ideas are shared across the intelligence community".

But, apparently, the notion of 'shared information and ideas', doesn't include an anti-torture opinion. Ms. Axsmith is a lawyer and computer security expert. She has had top-secret security clearance for over ten-years, during which time she worked in the State Department and the National Counterterrorism Center. In her classified blog, "Covert Communications", she referred to (publicly admitted) use of waterboarding by the CIA, called it torture, and opined that "torture is wrong". She said that soon after her posting, angry CIA personnel told her that senior CIA officials were angry about the blog comments. She was then fired.

She was not dismissed for disclosing any classified information -- for one, she did not, and for another the blog entry was itself classified so that it could be accessed only by officials with top-secret or higher (double top-secret?) clearance.

She was fired for looking to start a discussion about the use of torture, the relevance of the Geneva convention, and for her opinion, contra BushCo, that "torture is wrong".

But, the punishment didn't end there. She was not only fired from her position with the CIA contractor for whom she worked, but her security clearance was removed -- thus effectively ending her long career as a consultant and contractor in the intelligence community.

A high price to pay, but she did, after all, hold the outrageous opinion that "torture is wrong". That'll never do under the Bush regime.

While your correspondent has doubts that the President or senior members of his administration were even aware of Ms. Axsmith's classified blog, much participated in the decision of the senior CIA officials to have her fired from her contracting position, the tone is set at the top. From the first, the tone set by this administration has been intolerant of contrary points of view.

A government intolerant of diversity, afraid of dissent, and quick to punish both, is itself intolerable. ITMFA

NOTE: Ms. Axsmith has a discussion of the incident in several posts on Econo-Girl, her non-classified public blog, which includes several supportive comments from her former colleagues in the intelligence community (anonymous, of course, because this is no longer a society in which there is freedom to dissent without fear of repercussion).

GWB Resume -- Many Firsts as President

Thanks to duh for the resume, the presidential accomplishments section I repeat here, but go see the entire document.


I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.

I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.

I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.

I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.

I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.

I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.

I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.

In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.

I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleeza Rice, had a Chevron oil tanker named after her.

I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President. I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations.

My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay (now deceased), presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. History, Enron.

My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision.

I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution.

More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in history.

I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.

I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.

I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.

I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any President in U.S. history.

I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States government.

I've broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history.

I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.

I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law. I refused to allow inspector's access to U.S. "prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.

I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election).

I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of any President since the advent of television.

I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period. After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.

I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.

I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protests against any person in the history of mankind.

I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, preemptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S.
citizens, and the world community.

I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families-in-wartime.

In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq and then blamed the lies on our British friends.

I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.

I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical Bunker Buster" a WMD.

I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden [sic] to justice.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Heavy Hand of Bush on NASA

This morning's NYTimes reports on page one that NASA's mission statement was altered in February to remove any reference to the "Home Planet":
From 2002 until this year, NASA'’s mission statement, prominently featured in its budget and planning documents, read: "“To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers ... as only NASA can." ” In early February, the statement was quietly altered, with the phrase "“to understand and protect our home planet"” deleted.
Although NASA's mission statement has changed over the years, this is the first time since the agency was formed in 1958 that the statement did not include a reference to learning about our planet.

The change was made in February, but apparently is only now filtering down to NASA employees, who brought it to the attention of the New York Times.

This is the BushCo modus operandi. During the 2004 elections, James E. Hansen, who heads NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, banged the drum on global warming and irritated the admistration, which prefers using "common" sense to evaluate difficult scientific issues and considers peer-reviewed journals as "junk science".

After the election, Hansen complained about how the Administration was rewriting his agency's reports on Global Warming and muzzling NASA warnings. When things began to heat up, so to speak, in January of this year, Hansen said that he was warned that challenging the administration's scientific opinions with scientific facts could lead to budget repercussions. Oh, boy, did it ever:

The "“understand and protect"” phrase was cited repeatedly by James E. Hansen, a climate scientist at NASA who said publicly last winter that he was being threatened by political appointees for speaking out about the dangers posed by greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr. Hansen'’s comments started a flurry of news media coverage in late January . . . . The revised mission statement was released with the agency'’s proposed 2007 budget on Feb. 6. But Mr. Steitz said Dr. Hansen'’s use of the phrase and its subsequent disappearance from the mission statement was "“pure coincidence."”

Yeah, right.

This President is an ass. From no child left behind to stem cells to global warming to Iraq to pick whatever issue you want, he oversees a corporate culture expert in ignoring all facts which fail to fit their version of reality. BushCo is doing real and lasting harm to science, to our culture, to society, democracy, and to the planet. ITMFA

NOTE: eRobin has a much more subtle and effective critique on this same topic.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Rendell Given 61% Job Approval in Latest Survey

Yesterday's Strategic Vision poll, taken of 1200 Pennsylvania adults, gave Governor Ed Rendell a job approval rating of 47%.

What a difference a day can make. Today, SurveyUSA released a new poll -- of 600 adults -- which gave the Governor a 61% approval mark. A nice 14-point increase in 24 hours. At this rate, he'll have to start importing voters because he'll be at 100% by next Tuesday. The SurveyUSA numbers are closer to the June Rasmussen Report, which pegged Rendell's approval at 58%.

Rendell's numbers look great across the spectrum -- the only category in which his approvals are below his disapproval rating is with Conservatives. Thirty-nine percent of conservatives give him positive grades, while 59% disapprove of his performance. It is also tight in the Western region of the sate, where his approve/disapprove marks are tied at 48%. Both those segments make up a small fraction of the voters in the state, however. Among moderates and liberals, which make up over 60% of the respondents in this survey, Rendell scores 67% and 76% approval figures. He even has a 50% approval rating amongst Republicans.

Hard to see where Swann has much room to make up the difference.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Strategic Vision: Casey 50%, Santorum 40%

Strategic Vision's July Poll results on the Pennsylvania Senate election do not show any major change from their results for the last two months. Today's results put Bobby Casey at 50% and Senator Santorum at 40%, 8% undecided and a margin of error of +/- 3 points.

Casey gained a point from the June Strategic Vision Poll results, while Santorum is running in place at 40. Casey is standing still as well, having gained but a point since the May (pre-primary) Strategic Vision Poll. But ten points over a multi-term incumbent in July is pretty darn sweet for the Dems to contemplate, even with Casey.

Strategic Vision puts Rick's approval numbers at 46, equaling his disapprovals. Santorum's approval numbers are only one point behind Rendell's 47% approval. In the same poll, Rendell is kicking Swann's butt 49% to 36%. But 60% say Pennsylvania is heading in the wrong direction -- hard to tell but that may be more a reaction to the state legislature than to Rendell.

Strategic Vision's numbers on Bush track close to the recent SurveyUSA numbers -- SV says 64% of Pennsylvanians think Bush Blows.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bush Vetos Lifesaving Legislation

Five and a half years later, after never seeing a spending bill he didn't like, after never vetoing a single piece of legislation regardless whether he understood it, President Bush chose pathetic political posturing and pandering over real science that is poised to help real people. President Bush admits that embryonic stem cell research provides an outstanding potential for not only treating, but CURING many diseases afflicting millions -- diabetes, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's.

Nevertheless, playing to the rabid right wingnuts, today he vetoed legislation which would have permitted an expansion of stem cell research in the United States.
"This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others,'' Bush said at the White House . . . .
That's a damned lie and he knows it.

"Innocent human life"? No, as he is well aware, stem cells are derived from eggs fertilized in laboratories. They are the natural and necessary results of couples attempting to have children. The excess are destroyed or donated for research purposes -- as decided by the patients. (In the unlikely event that there are any viable embryos produced which are not implanted, they would also have the choice of freezing them for future use.)

The embryo are only a few days old. Physically, they are a hollow, microscopic ball, of about 150 cells, called a blastocyst.

Human? Hardly. Sure, they come from a human body -- but so do alot of other things that we don't label "human". To label these blastocyst human embryos is to falsely conjure up the image of a fully-formed fetus for the purpose of making political hay.

The fact is that the majority of the blastocysts produced in this manner are considered of low quality and lacking the ability to develop into a human fetus. Indeed, if placed into a womb, most would not even implant. They would just be expelled.

In the clinics, they try to gather at least 5-7 eggs, and prefer even more, for in vitro fertilization. If they gather and fertilize 7 eggs, they typically expect that at least four or five will be of too low a quality to be implanted. Those embryos can only be destroyed or used for stem-cell research.

Since the average success rate for implanted embryos is at or under 50%, the "good" eggs are almost always used for implantation. (Especially given the cost -- $20 grand or more per implantation.)

So, what the anti-stem cell forces say is, in effect, you cannot use otherwise useless microscopic balls of cells to help living beings because it offends our religious sensibilities, so you have to toss them in the trash.

Just another example of how politicians screw things up when they interfere in decisions which are properly left to individuals and their physicians.

UPDATE: The House upheld the veto, missing the two-thirds needed by several dozen votes.

[Image Credit: Human Blastocyst, Institute for Stem Cell Research]

Well, well, well

I leave you alone for a couple of weeks and I come back and the place has gone to hell.

The SurveyUSA results released today say that 60% of us think President Bush blows -- Pennsylvania being ahead of the curve with 65% probably wishing that Kerry had had the cajones to insist on counting the votes in Ohio and other places (he doesn't even pull 50% approval in Texas anymore). Last month it was 61% disapproval nationwide, 65% in Pennsylvania and 51% in Texas.

Rasmussen also released job approval numbers today, and they've got it 43% approve, 56% disapprove. And THAT's the good news for the Republicans.

The Keystone Poll folks are apparently taking the summer off the Pennsylvania Senate Race, which makes sense since the only thing that's happened in the last two weeks was . . . . well, nothing (par for the course with Casey, and everyone is ignoring Santorum).

The Cajun Jew seems to have met an untimely fate in the great white north (I told him that those polar bears in the soda commercials were not like that in real life).

Fact-esque is back and promoting fixes for the Medicare debacle.

It looks like I've been taken off the dis list for Casey and Santorum (was it something I said?), as I got no word of their new TV ads that the Santorum Blog talks about. I haven't bothered to go look at them, but I bet Casey says nothing of substance and Santorum looks earnest, sincere, and desperate.

Oh, my, you're joking me -- there are bigots in Northeast PA? Gort42 covers the nasty, self-promoting, pandering work of the King of Hazleton.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Happy Birthday America -- July 2 Marks 230 Years of Independence

That's correct, folks. For those of you not history majors or buffs (or my children, who had to listen to the story every year for the last 20) -- Congress did NOT declare the colonies free and independent states on July 4, 1776. The resolution declaring independence was adopted unanimously -- with New York abstaining whilst they awaited instructions -- on July 2, 1776.

Richard Lee and John Adams arrived at the Continental Congress prepared to argue for a declaration of independence fully aware that those sentiments may not be entirely embraced by the gathering.

In early June, Lee made his motion and Adams seconded it.
RESOLVED, 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.
Debate on the Resolution revealed a majority in favor, but a significant number of the colonies yet unsure or lacking appropriate instructions on independence. Congress was adjourned to allow time for the representatives to obtain instructions from their colonies and for lobbying.

In the meantime, recognizing that the Lee resolution would likely be adopted, a committee was conscripted to draft the argument for independence and the justification for what was, clearly, a treasonous and seditious act. Appointed were John Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Thomas Jefferson. Franklin, concerned that Adams was a little too much the aggressive litigator, suggested that Jefferson put together a draft and the committee unanimously appointed Jefferson the scrivener. He produced a rough draft but first met with Adams and Franklin for their input. They made some changes to the document before it was sent to the committee, which approved it without further change.

Congress reconvened on July 1, 1776 and the Lee Resolution was adopted July 2, 1776. It is thus on the Second of July, 1776 that the Colonies Declared themselves Free and Independent States. Adams famously wrote home how the date would be celebrated through history with picnics and fireworks:
The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. . . . It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
Immediately after adopting the Lee resolution and declaring independence from England, the Congress took up the Committee report. They reviewed, debated, and revised it in sessions on July 2, 3 and 4th. On the morning of the 4th, they adopted the Declaration of Independence.
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.
It was sent to the printer the following day and the first signatures were affixed in August, 1776, when most member of Congress were present to sign the document. But the last signature would not be affixed for over five years.

So, you all go off and enjoy the Fourth. I'll be raising my glass(es) to Jefferson, Lee, Adams, Franklin and the rest of the gang today. (All this and more at the National Archives.)

Shameless Self-Promotion UPDATE: The cross-posted version of this history lesson at DKos was selected for a front page Diary Rescue mention. Aw, shucks.