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.

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

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

Massachusetts:
John Hancock

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

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

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

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

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

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple

Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

The hundred days…

Dear America,

Donald Trump has been president now for (almost) 100 days. Civilization has not collapsed. We’ve not all been forced to start speaking Russian. There are still 50 states. And as far as I can tell, not one left-leaning celebrity has actually carried through with their promise to leave the country.

From my vantage point, the country isn’t all that much different than it was at 11:59AM on January 20th. The Democrats in Congress are fighting a long war of attrition hoping to gain ground during the mid-terms. The Republicans in Congress are at war with themselves. No major legislation has been passed and we’re racing towards another impending government shutdown at the end of the month. Abortion is still legal. Everyone can still get married. And states still don’t have to recognize the 2nd Amendment.

The 25% of the population who think’s President Trump can do no wrong are the same 25% of the population who thought President Obama could do no right. The 25% of Americans who think President Trump can do no right are the same ones who though President Obama could do no wrong. The 50% of us in the middle are still utterly perplexed by the extremists on both flanks.

Our politics is brutal and ugly, but the market keeps ticking along flirting with Dow 21,000. Home sales are brisk. Unemployment continues to trend down through the statistical area known as “full employment.”

FDR, with the help of a willing Congress, set a ridiculous standard for the first hundred days of a new presidency. In contrast, Lincoln saw seven states leave the Union before he was even sworn in to start a hundred day countdown. All I’m saying is that the first 2400 hours of an administration may not be the single best tool by which we measure where we are and how it’s going.

My suspicion is there have been far better and far worse times to be both alive and American simultaneously… but that it’s neither as bad nor as good as some of us think it is in the moment.

Best regards,

Jeff

Inmate Manning…

Inmate Manning was arrested for and convicted of one of the most grievous breaches of national security ever committed by a single individual. Inmate Manning was was accused and convicted of violating the espionage act and sundry other charges for making public 750,000 military and diplomatic documents. The inmate may have been convicted of espionage, but in my mind those actions are nothing less than treason. I can’t imagine a crime more vile or a creature so loathsome than a traitor.

Even more appalling, of course is that after serving only seven years Inmate Manning was granted clemency by the outgoing administration. It seems the inmate couldn’t even manage to find the personal fortitude to serve the time for the acts admittedly committed. It was clemency offered by and accepted from an administration that’s spent the last few months raising three kinds of hell about foreign influence on American elections, freeing known terrorists from confinement, and and generally leaking like a sieve.

This… “person”… betrayed the United States of America, put American lives at risk overseas, and was belatedly rewarded for the effort. I’d dearly love to say I’m surprised, but it feels ever more like business as usual in a world where up is down and good is evil.

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.

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

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

Massachusetts:
John Hancock

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

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

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

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

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

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple

Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

The continuing state of (dis)union…

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, distinguished Members of the Congress, honored guests, and fellow citizens:

In 1975 President Gerald Ford came before the Congress and reported that the “state of the Union is not good.” It’s a description that was as apt then, in the immediate aftermath of Watergate and Vietnam, as it is now. President Ford presided over an economy with 85 million workers and a national debt racing towards $500 million. Today there are 149 million Americans at work at the debt is a staggering $18.8 trillion.

We live in a country where one third of the people align with the right politically and detest and are detested by the 1/3 of the people who align with the left. The remaining third is either too enamored with the Kardashians, obsessed with the latest release on Netflix, or too stoned to care what else might be going on around them.

The global climate may (or may not be) changing depending on your trusted source for information. The military is being cut down to its smallest size since before America’s entry into World War II. Our borders are largely undefended. We’re beset by radical Islamic terrorism at home and abroad. And home grown militias are able to occupy federal buildings and property at will – all with little sign of having the national resolve to do much about it.

Our Constitution requires the president to give an annual report to the Congress and “recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” If pressed to give a real response to that requirement, I can only say that the state of disunion is strong and growing stronger – and I have no earthly idea what measures might be necessary, expedient, and popular enough to garner 50.1% of the vote in order to correcting that situation.

Thank you. Good night. And God bless America.

The lesser of “who cares…”

It’s the 3,743rd and final Republican primary debate of 2015, where I will once more attempt to will myself into cheering on whatever candidate I can only describe as the lesser of “who cares?” Being a student of history, I can’t help but to compare and contrast the people on stage to the men who’ve filled the chair they seek. It seems to me that there was a time when presidents stood like giants on the national stage – Reagan, Nixon, LBJ, Kennedy, FDR. They were outsized men who used big words and challenged America and Americans to to great things. Watching these debates (on both sides) leaves me with a feeling that there isn’t a candidate out there who’s fit to carry water for any of the bunch.

I don’t for a moment believe America is broken, but I can’t get past the feeling that we’re simply meandering from pillar to post for want of any kind of meaningful leadership. History is replete with examples of the convergence of man and moment, but so very many of the options presented to us are precisely the wrong people at precisely the wrong moment.

In all likelihood in April I’m going to have to hold my nose and push a button for one of these chumps. I’m convinced that’s one of the real reasons so many people are utterly apathetic about politics. I’m informed and can barely get my pulse to register while watching any of the candidates. What chance does someone who only tunes in only a few days before an election have of making a connection – and paying attention long enough to see it through?

Sigh. Let me go tune in to tonight’s edition of Shut Up Jerkface, I’m Shouting Louder than You.

I’d just waste the rest…

So last week Mark Zuckerberg promised to divest himself of 99% of his fortune over his lifetime. About 13 seconds later, the chattering class filled the internet with complaints that he wasn’t giving it away fast enough, or to the right causes, or that he was just structuring the donations to be a tax deduction.

Without coordinating with the founder of Facebook on where he stands on the issue, my initial response was 1) Who the hell empowered anyone to decide how fast someone should give away their own money; 2) You go ahead and pick your causes and I’ll pick mine; and 3) If you are going to give away the better part of $49 billion, you’d be absolutely insane not to plan for the tax consequences of doing so.

The super-wealthy in America have a long and noble tradition of charitable giving. The barons of the industrial age built libraries, universities, and other public institutions that still dot the country. While even in my wildest, most avaricious dreams I’m not in the company of a Rockefeller, a Carnegie, or a Zuckerberg, I pretty much want to be left alone when it comes to what I give and the causes I choose to support. In my case the causes tend to be local and animal focused almost exclusively – figuring that sick kids and the disease of the moment are always going to find reasonably strong support.

No matter how worthy your cause, telling people that they’re wrong for not donating exactly the way you do (or would) is a pretty ludicrous proposition. If you don’t like what Zuck is putting is cash behind and how it’s being structured, go on out and raise $49 billion of your own and give it away any damned way you’d like… and then remember not to claim any of it at tax time. Unless you’re planning on doing that, I’m not sure I even know what you’re talking about.

It might be helpful in this circumstance to just be glad that people like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet are doing their bit. Under the same circumstances, I’m not at all sure I’d be able to restrain myself from spending half of it on gambling, alcohol, and wild women and then just plain wasting the rest.

With that in mind, my hat’s off to the lot of them.