Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Unanimous Declaration

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 bonds 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 to 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 shown 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 meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands. He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers. He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance. He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature. He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to 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 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 offenses: For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring 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 in 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, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation. 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 endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is 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 attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends. We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the 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. New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
Source: The Pennsylvania Packet, July 8, 1776 UPDATE: The above language in italics is the unedited text of the Declaration of Independence from England. To show they were not just whining hypocrites, the founders went on to forge out a constitution. It was to be the medicine to cure the ills they had declared themselves free of. Our human struggle for immunity from the toxins in power continues to this very day. CELEBRATE!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

When Accountability Is A Plague

We have seen the emergence of a new type of "accountability" during the past decade.

We could describe it as stealth accountability, which is being framed and presented as "policy differences".

Instead of political wrongs, crimes, or sources for proper retribution, the worst of governance is accepted simply as bad policy for which impeachment is off the table.

The official story line designed to launder egregious and treaty violating government behaviour is composed of a one liner something like "one administration cannot punish a prior administration for what that prior administration did based on policy differences between the two administrations".

Having declared that premise, the official exercise then becomes one of describing everything the prior administration and everyone in it did as "policy", even to the degree of calling war crimes a policy of government.

When such a position is unleashed and promulgated, each current administration is then relieved of the dirty, hard, and painful work of applying the principles of accountability to any previous administration, and instead, can focus on re-election.

This evaporation of accountability is one of the primary signs of a or the decline of the U.S. Republic.

Most any academician will have a rap for this subject of accountability, which will go something like:
Accountability is the missing conceptual link in the current debate over how best to advance democracy. Democracy affirms the need to justify decisions made by citizens and their representatives: it is a system that connects the values of the individual with the decisions of the collective. The preferences of citizens revealed by fair elections (representation) or organized and definitive discussion (deliberation) are the starting points of democratic legitimacy.
A clearly defined accountability system is crucial to any system of representative democracy because citizens, through their vote, legitimize or give authority to leaders to act.
(The Accountability Ladder, PDF, emphasis added). As it turns out, accountability is an important, required, and essential ingredient for U.S. Democracy.

That essential, which is the DNA of true democracy and constitutional government, is the constitutional foundation of American government.

It is actually the essence of any government by, of, and for the people because in this specific application we speak of here, it applies only to government officials.

The first leg or phase of accountability is a free press.

To the extent the press can be subverted is the extent to which accountability can be subverted, and thus the extent to which U.S. Democracy can be subverted.

In the new administration we have heard a lot of talk about open government, yet open government without accountability is like bragging about doing public wrong.

The rhetoric "hey, look what we are doing, torture, spying on Americans, destroying the economy, see how open we are" rings hollow without accountability, and does not sound at all like the American liberty bell.

The next post in this series is here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Iraq's April 30 4th Of July & Iran's Win

The results of the 8 year war are now in.

Iran won.

Iraq and Iran fought an 8 year war in the 1980's during Saddam Hussein's reign, which ended as a stalemate that cost a million male lives and left a population composed of a majority of women in Iran.

The U.S. backed Saddam Hussein in that war.

When the luv affair with Hussein ended after he invaded Kuwait, and the U.S. later invaded Iraq during Bush II, things began to change.

The Shia radicals who had been expatriated to Iran and elsewhere became activated and they returned to Iraq.

Soon they embedded themselves into the Iraqi government when the Baathists were banned, during the Bremer leadership, soon after the U.S. invasion and at the beginning of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Bremer, like Bush II, knew nothing of the Shia v. Sunni dynamics and the religious struggle between them so he, like most Americans, had no idea what was going on in that regard.

Today and back then the Shia of Iraq and Iran are aligned against the Iraqi and Saudi Sunni, and the Kurds to the north care not a lot for either; hence the U.S. has sown the seeds for the future political crop which will not be and is not now pro-American.

The Iraqi April 30 celebrations about the Americans leaving can be compared to the U.S. 4th of July alignment against the British Empire and for U.S. independence from Britain long, long ago.

Nationalism held the U.S. together then, after its independence, and will hold Iraq together for awhile now, but so will closer ties to Iran mixed with a hatred of America they now share.

These types of energies too, however, will wane eventually and those ancient divisions within Iraq will sprout once again, helping the greater problems to return to the surface and blossom.

Shia, Sunni, and Kurd will march again with Shia support from Iran, and with Sunni support from other neighbouring countries.

The U.S. civil war took a long time to develop following the exuberant 4th of July, but it came, and the April 30th Iraqi exuberance will also give way to Iraqi civil war in due time.

But it will not be as bad as the U.S. civil war was.

From an oil baron perspective, all that remains to be seen is whether the oil barons can keep a hold on the Iraqi oil they greedily went for under the oil baron regime of Bush II.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Citizen Franken Goes To Washington

The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that Al Franken has defeated Norm Coleman to become U.S. Senator from the great state of Minnesota. The court held:
The question presented on appeal is whether the trial court erred in concluding that Al Franken received the most legally cast votes in the election for United States Senator. Because we conclude that appellants have not shown that the trial court‟s findings of fact are clearly erroneous or that the court committed an error of law or abused its discretion, we affirm.
(Coleman v Franken). Much has been written about this election, so enough said.

UPDATE: Senator Al Franken was sworn in Tuesday, July 7, 2009.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Activist Judges Of The Conservative Sort

We asked the question a while back whether the conservative judges, who have the majority on federal courts for the first time since 1937, would be what they claim to eschew, namely being activists. Today at the U.S. Supreme Court in Ricci v DeStefano, 557 US ___(2009), Case #07-1748, a case from the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, in which Supreme Court nominee Sotomayor took part, the conservative Supremes got active.

They created some new law which did not previously exist, which was not enacted by congress, and which did not exist at the time Sotomayor and two other Judges of the Second Court of Appeals made their decision.

The Supremes did not reach any constitutional issue, nor had the Second Circuit in its decision earlier, based on the doctrine of avoiding constitutional decisions when statutory claims can be used to fashion a remedy instead, holding:
Thus, the Court adopts the strong-basis-in evidence standard as a matter of statutory construction in order to resolve any conflict between Title VII’s disparate-treatment and disparate-impact provisions.
(ibid, Section II(B) near end). That "strong-basis-in evidence standard" means that cities like New Haven, and other such defendants in these type cases, would have to show they would loose a case if sued, not simply that they could or would be sued.

Did the majority of the court think about what happens when you ask your lawyer if you are going to win a case or not?

"Nothing is guaranteed" is likely to be the answer, so one wonders how the city is going to be sure they will loose a case before they take certain actions to correct what would bring on that loss?

Anyway, the next time the Second Circuit, or any other Circuit Court of Appeals, deals with the issue they will have some new law to help them decide; which is something Sotomayor and the other two Second Circuit Judges did not have when they ruled in this case..

Take notice conservatives, judicial activism is not limited to "those activist liberals" you condemn all the time for being "activist judges", because sometimes even you conservatives in the majority have to make new law.

Conservatives in congress don't call it that of course, they call conservative decisions like this "strict constructionism".

Several journalists in the news media (e.g. Chuck Todd, White House Correspondent for MSNBC) have picked up on the activism in this decision, however, I have yet to notice anyone in the MSM picking up on the heart of the dissent.

Therefore here is a quote from the Ginsburg dissent, which was joined by 3 of the other Justices:
The Court’s recitation of the facts leaves out important parts of the story. Firefighting is a profession in which the legacy of racial discrimination casts an especially long shadow. In extending Title VII to state and local government employers in 1972, Congress took note of a U. S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) report finding racial discrimination in municipal employment even “more pervasive than in the private sector.” H. R. Rep. No. 92–238, p. 17 (1971). According to the report, overt racism was partly to blame, but so too was a failure on the part of municipal employers to apply merit-based employment principles. In making hiring and promotion decisions, public employers often “rel[ied] on criteria unrelated to job performance,” including nepotism or political patronage. 118 Cong. Rec. 1817 (1972). Such flawed selection methods served to entrench preexisting racial hierarchies. The USCCR report singled out police and fire departments for having “[b]arriers to equal employment … greater … than in any other area of State or local government,” with African-Americans “hold[ing] almost no positions in the officer ranks.” Ibid. See also National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, America Burning 5 (1973) (“Racial minorities are under-represented in the fire departments in nearly every community in which they live.”).

The city of New Haven (City) was no exception. In the early 1970’s, African-Americans and Hispanics composed 30 percent of New Haven’s population, but only 3.6 percent of the City’s 502 firefighters. The racial disparity in the officer ranks was even more pronounced: “[O]f the 107 officers in the Department only one was black, and he held the lowest rank above private.” Firebird Soc. of New Haven, Inc. v. New Haven Bd. of Fire Comm’rs, 66 F. R. D. 457, 460 (Conn. 1975).
(Ginsburg Dissent, emphasis added). Some people remember that the blacks did not make slaves of the whites or have power to discriminate against them as a matter of law for a hundred or so years.

Most historians realize that whites enslaved blacks. So the point of the statute was to push back against whites, not against blacks, since it was blacks that were horribly enslaved for generations.

None of us want whites, blacks, reds, yellows, or any other race to be discriminated against in the abstract. But we have not been able to get what we want in our history.

Instead we have had the most horrendous and long lasting slavery and racial discrimination imaginable (in the land of the free and the home of the brave).

Lets not forget that context as the Supreme Conservatives seem to have done.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Uncertainty In "Power" And "Say"

When Heisenberg elaborated on the uncertainty principle microscopes had limited capacity.

Compared to the far more capable microscopes of today's science world, they had cataracts.

The photos show an example of a powerful microscope being used to observe and photograph atoms in diamonds.

The photo on the left is from older technology, and the one on the right is from improved technology.

Heisenberg was a physicist who studied and commented on physical power or energy dealt with by the science of physics.

In general in that science when we can "see" better we can attain more certainty. Of course a great deal of what physicists can "see" is through the lens of mathematics, and even our mathematics has some cataracts in it, as pointed out by Kurt Godel, Alan Turing, and Roger Penrose.

In the more social science of "Say" (political science, management, parenting, governance) there are analogies and comparisons to be made to that aspect of physics.

For example, the more we know about several candidates running for office, and the more we know about what that candidate must do once elected, the more certain we become about the choice we will make.

It comes down to the same principle in both physics and political science, the better we see things the more certainty there is.

In the microscope example above, some of the uncertainty comes from the use of inferior equipment, so as the technology improves the uncertainty tends to diminish.

Constitutional democracy, defined by our U.S. Constitution and the state constitutions subordinate to it, is the instrument we have developed to have the final say.

Our national notion was "we the people have developed this instrument to see our way through the use of power, which we call governing, so this is our final say".

Implicit in that notion is that the people must be able to see what needs to be done, and see into the factors that make up candidates who we will appoint to do what needs to be done, by our vote.

Defects in our ability to see, whether within ourselves or within our system of "open government", will increase uncertainty.

The test of success in this matter is determined by whether or not the people are, at any point in time, more certain of their government or less certain.

Decreasing certainty often leads to the government having to say "have faith in us", which is actually the act of making uncertainty sacrosanct, and ends up being the antithesis of our historical perspective and experience in political science.