Fourth of July Reads


Good Morning!!

Today we celebrate the Declaration of Independence. I’ve assembled a few informational readings about this day in history.

From The Cagle Post: Fourth of July Fast Facts.

“I’m confused. I thought July 4 was the day our country declared independence from King George III of Great Britain.”

“Actually, according to, that’s not so. The Continental Congress declared independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776.”

“Then why do we celebrate our independence on the Fourth every year? Is that when we started the American Revolution?”

“That is a common misunderstanding, as well. The American Revolution began in April 1775, more than a year earlier.”

“I’m stumped. Was the Fourth the day Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence?”

“Nope. Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft in June 1776. Also, Jefferson didn’t write the Declaration alone.”

“He didn’t? I always thought he was the sole author.”

“A common misconception. In fact, the Continental Congress appointed a five-person to write the Declaration. It included Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman.” ….

“Though Jefferson wrote the first draft, it was changed 86 times by other members of the committee and other members of the Continental Congress.”

I did not know that.


David Armitage at The Wall Street Journal: The Declaration of Independence: The Words Heard Around the World.

The Declaration of Independence is the birth certificate of the American nation—the first public document ever to use the name “the United States of America”—and has been fundamental to American history longer than any other text. It enshrined what came to be seen as the most succinct and memorable statement of the ideals on which the U.S. was founded: the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; the consent of the governed; and resistance to tyranny.

But the Declaration’s influence wasn’t limited to the American colonies of the late 18th century. No American document has had a greater impact on the wider world. As the first successful declaration of independence in history, it helped to inspire countless movements for independence, self-determination and revolution after 1776 and to this very day. As the 19th-century Hungarian nationalist, Lajos Kossuth, put it, the U.S. Declaration of Independence was nothing less than “the noblest, happiest page in mankind’s history.”

In telling this story of global influence, however, it is important to separate two distinct elements of the Declaration—elements that sometimes get conflated. The first of these is the assertion of popular sovereignty to create a new state: in the Declaration’s words, the right of “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.” The second and more famous element of the Declaration is its ringing endorsement of the sanctity of the individual: “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.”

Read much more at the link.


From the LA Times: The slow-spreading news of American independence.

In this era of instant communication, it’s interesting to note the slow distribution of the Declaration, and the spreading of the word to those on whose behalf independence had been declared. (Imagine the Twitter version: Dudes, we’re on our own. #independence #totallyrad #stickitkinggeorge).

The text was set in type by Philadelphia printer John Dunlap just hours after the Continental Congress approved the manifesto on July 4. He ran off about 200 copies, most of which were then distributed via horse and boat around the Colonies. He reprinted it in his own newspaper, Dunlap’s Pennsylvania Packet, or The General Advertiser (great newspaper names back then). Over the next few weeks, Jefferson’s stirring words were reprinted inlocal newspapers and pamphlets around the Colonies.

And, naturally, in Britain. It took more than a month for the first reports of the Declaration to reach Britain in letters ferried by the Mercury packet ship. Gen. William Howe, who was leading the crown’s forces in the Colonies, included a brief mention in his report to his overseers. So the first public airing of the news came in the London Gazette, the crown’s official paper. If you weren’t a close reader, you could have easily missed it.

In the four-page issue dated Aug. 6-Aug. 10, 1776, the Gazette’s lead story was Howe’s update of the war, reporting that “the Rebels, who are numerous, and are very advantageously posted with strong Entrenchments both upon Long Island and that of New York, with more than One Hundred pieces of Cannon for the Defence of the Town towards the Sea, and to obstruct the passage of the [British] Fleet up the North [Hudson] River, besides a considerable Field Train of artillery.”

Finally, Carina Kolodny at Huffington Post: This Is Not Your Independence Day.

The 4th of July might commemorate the independence of our country — but it also serves as a bitter reminder that in 1776, the country that I love had no place for me in it.

When our founding fathers penned, “All men are created equal,” they meant it. Not all people. Not all humans. Just all men — the only reason they didn’t feel obliged to specify “white” men is because, at the time, men of color were considered less than men, less than human.

The 4th is not my Independence Day — and if you’re a Caucasian woman, it isn’t yours either. Our “independence” didn’t come for another 143 years, with the passage of The Woman’s Suffrage Amendment in 1919. The 4th of July is also not Independence Day for people of color. It wasn’t until the 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870 that all men had the right to vote regardless of race — on paper, that is, not in practice. People of color were systematically, and all too successfully, disenfranchised for another century. July 4th of 1776 was certainly not a day of Independence or reverence for Native Americans. It wasn’t until 1924 that Native Americans could unilaterally become citizens of the United States and have the voting rights to go with it.

Now, before anyone argues that Independence is about more than voting rights, I’d like to point out that our Founding Fathers would fundamentally disagree with you. The Revolutionary War was fought, in large part, because of “taxation without representation” — the then English colonists believed they were not free because their voices were not represented. The right to vote, the right to have your say is the delineating characteristic of a democracy.

hobby lobby

The Aftermath of the Hobby Lobby Decision

On that note, today many concerned citizens are looking back at the latest Supreme Court decisions that take women backwards in their pursuit of freedom and autonomy. The court-approved limits on access to birth control go beyond the Hobby Lobby decision. Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog: Broader right to object to birth control.

Expanding the rights of religious opponents of birth control, a divided Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon spared an Illinois college — and maybe hundreds of other non-profit institutions — from obeying government regulations that seek to assure access to pregnancy prevention services for female workers and students.  In the same order, the majority essentially told the government to modify its own rules if it wants to keep those services available.

Three Justices wrote a sharply worded dissent, accusing the majority of creating on its own a “new administrative regime” that will seriously complicate the operation of the birth control mandate under the new federal health care law.  The majority, the dissenters said, “has no reason to think that the administrative scheme it foists on the government today is workable or effective on a national scale.”

The ruling, which the majority insisted was temporary and had settled nothing finally about the legal issues at stake, came three days after the Court in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby had given for-profit businesses whose owners have religious objections to birth control a right to refuse to provide those services in their employee health plans.

The plea by Wheaton College, a religious institution in Illinois with about 3,000 students, moved the Court beyond for-profit firms to the world of non-profit religious colleges, hospitals, and other charities.  The government had already moved to accommodate their beliefs, but that had not gone far enough for the college and for scores of other non-profits.  With the Court’s new order, they gained additional separation from the birth-control mandate.

At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum writes: Supreme Court Now Playing Cute PR Games With Hobby Lobby Decision.

For the last few days, there’s been a broad argument about whether the Hobby Lobby ruling was a narrow one—as Alito himself insisted it was—or was merely an opening volley that opened the door to much broader rulings in the future. After Tuesday’s follow-up order—which expanded the original ruling to cover all contraceptives, not just those that the plaintiffs considered abortifacients—and today’s order—which rejected a compromise that the original ruling praised—it sure seems like this argument has been settled. This is just the opening volley. We can expect much more aggressive follow-ups from this court in the future.

POSTSCRIPT: It’s worth noting that quite aside from whether you agree with the Hobby Lobby decision, this is shameful behavior from the conservatives on the court. As near as I can tell, they’re now playing PR games worthy of a seasoned politico, deliberately releasing a seemingly narrow opinion in order to generate a certain kind of coverage, and then following it up later in the sure knowledge that its “revisions” won’t get nearly as much attention.

At Slate, , and  explain that Hobby Lobby rewrites religious-freedom law in ways that ignore everything that came before.

Monday’s decision in Hobby Lobby was unprecedented. Much of the commentary has focused on the Supreme Court’s decision to extend rights of religious free exercise to for-profit corporations. Hobby Lobby is for religion what Citizens United was for free speech—the corporatization of our basic liberties. But Hobby Lobby is also unprecedented in another, equally important way. For the first time, the court has interpreted a federal statute, theReligious Freedom Restoration Act (or RFRA), as affording more protection for religion than has ever been provided under the First Amendment. While some have read Hobby Lobby as a narrow statutory ruling, it is much more than that. The court has eviscerated decades of case law and, having done that, invites a new generation of challenges to federal laws, including those designed to protect civil rights.

The authors explain how the right wing Roberts Court has moved beyond any concern for legal precedent in making its decisions.

Hobby Lobby is unprecedented because it corporatizes religious liberty. It extends to for-profit businesses the rights and privileges that have long been associated only with churches and religious nonprofits. But that change is the result of a more pervasive and deeper upending of the law of religious liberty in America. Ignoring congressional intent, the court reads RFRA as having shed its First Amendment skin. It is not entirely clear what American law will look like after that change. But if anything is clear, it is that the Roberts Court is now unconstrained by precedent. It has loosened itself from decades of First Amendment doctrine and has begun remaking the law of free exercise.

Please read the whole thing.

Ironically, the Hobby Lobby decision may have also created some serious problems for the human beings who own corporations (h/t Dakinikat). From Mother Jones: How Hobby Lobby Undermined The Very Idea of a Corporation. Basically, now that SCOTUS has said that some corporations are inseparable from the people who own them, those owners could lose their legal protection from debts and lawsuits that result from corporate actions. There’s some instant Karma for you!

In Other News

A few more links for your holiday reading pleasure:

Miami Herald: FBI records: Chilling find in Bradenton dumpster (new clues to Saudi involvement in the 9/11 and the cover-up of that involvement by the Bush/Cheney administration).

Study links Oklahoma earthquake swarm with fracking operations 

Boston Globe: People prefer electric shocks to time alone with thoughts.

LA Times: Tibetans get high-altitude edge from extinct Denisovans’ genes.

What stories are you following on this Independence Day?


4th of July Evening Boom…Boom, Sans Fireworks

Happy 4th of July!

Most of America is feeling a massive heat wave, and many communities are canceling the regularly scheduled firework show because of the dry conditions. Then you have the towns that are cutting the show to protect the birds…or to save money, either way…you won’t find any fireworks here on tonight’s post either.

However, what you will find is a shitload of cartoons to tickle your fancy! So, let’s get on with the show!

This video clip is from the AdultSwim cartoon Robot Chicken…

The American Revolution, as interpreted by the people who brought you 300.

“From the people who claim 300 is a true story comes the tale of our nations birth.”


Yeah, “it ain’t accurate, but it will blow your f’ing mind.”  I can just imagine there are folks out there who would actually think that is a true depiction of our nations birth. I am not joking…I could see something like that being passed off as a history lesson in one of Bobby Jindal’s flagship schools….I mean, look what Huckabee did with it. Check out the actual copy from the Learn Our History website.

We recognize and celebrate faith, religion and the role of God in America’s founding and making our country the greatest place on Earth…

Learn Our History is a diversified educational media company that teaches children and teenagers about history, social studies and current events through the use of animated films supplemented with online resources with the goal of providing a solution to many of the recognized shortcomings in the way history and social studies currently are taught.  Learn Our History’s products are differentiated by the Company’s focus on entertaining while teaching history and social studies from a proudly American standpoint.

When your kids or grandkids get their hands on these videos, you’ll be amazed at how they‘re instantly pulled in to the stories.  As they watch the history videos, they’ll be learning about the major events and most influential people that shaped our great nation.  And because they’ll be having so much fun watching the zany characters, they won’t even realize they’re learning!

With Learn Our History, your kids gain an understanding of important concepts and how those concepts play a role in our everyday lives. From understanding the role of government and taxes to national security, democracy and more, your children will learn to appreciate what it means to be an American and how fortunate they are to live in the the home of the brave and the land of the free!

American Revolution Trilogy

The Declaration of Independence –

Go back to see the story behind how our Declaration of Independence came to be.

The Birth Of A Revolution – learnourhistory.

In this outstanding film, young viewers will journey back to the American colonies during the period leading to that first fateful battle.

Winning Our Freedom – learnourhistory.comcom

Victory over Great Britain depended not only on military success, but also political acumen. Great Britain possessed a modern, wealthy and well-trained army – one of the finest fighting forces in history. In contrast, the colonists were poor, but their ambitions for independence compelled them forward. Believing their quest was divinely inspired, with each step they took, their goal of independence from Britain became an answered prayer.

Ooof, that just gives me the chills…maybe it is because I am a history major? Or perhaps it is just the thought of such accurate story telling. /snark

(Anyway, the reason I spent some time on this will come together at the end of tonight’s post.)

We have seen many years go by since John Footpenis Handcock signed the Declaration of Independence with such passionate flair.

Independence Day 2012 – Political Cartoon by Bruce Plante, Tulsa World – 07/04/2012

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Independence Day 2012
Yeah, that looks about right!
This cartoon is just one of many in a similar theme…
AAEC – Political Cartoon by Charlie Daniel, Knoxville News Sentinel – 07/04/2012
Cartoon by Charlie Daniel -
AAEC – Political Cartoon by Chan Lowe, Sun-Sentinel – 07/04/2012
Cartoon by Chan Lowe -
AAEC – Political Cartoon by John R. Rose, Byrd Newspapers of Virginia – 07/04/2012
Cartoon by John R. Rose -
Alright…now for the more creative of the bunch:
Clay Bennett editorial cartoon – Political Cartoon by Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press – 07/04/2012
Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon
The look on that tea-bag’s face is perfect.
This next one brings the major power outages home:
The Powerlines Red Glare – Political Cartoon by Steve Artley, Artleytoons – 07/04/2012
Cartoon by Steve Artley - The Powerlines Red Glare
This one is served with a touch of  Scalia :  7/4 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Fireworks | Mike Luckovich
Then there are the cartoons meant for reflection:
Cartoon by Randy Bish -
Still Standing Tall
Still Standing Tall COLOR © Nate Beeler,The Washington Examiner,fourth of july, july fourth, 4th, liberty, tree, axes, independence day, holiday, freedom
Cagle Post » Fourth of July
Fourth of July COLOR © Nate Beeler,The Washington Examiner,fourth of july, july fourth, independence day, fireworks, pursuit, happiness, declaration of independence, holiday, 4th, family
I don’t know about you, but I prefer the ones with a bit more bite:
AAEC – Political Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez, El Nuevo Herald – 07/04/2012
Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez -
The 4th of July – Political Cartoon by Angelo Lopez, Philippines Today – 07/04/2012
Cartoon by Angelo Lopez - The 4th of July
(I have to admit, this one above by Angelo Lopez is my favorite.)
Outsourced Flag – Political Cartoon by Richard Bartholomew, – 07/04/2012
Cartoon by Richard Bartholomew - Outsourced Flag
Cagle Post » Work
Larry Wright Cartoon for 06/30/2010
Cagle Post » July Fourth
And that brings me back to the beginning of this post…American History at its finest…face palm is exactly what I’m talking about!
Have a wonderful evening, and if the fireworks are banned in your neck of the woods, you don’t have to outsource your 4th of July fun. May I suggest you simply enjoy an all American meal of cheesburgers, fries and beer…and make your own damn explosions of BOOM-BOOM.

Dumbed Down America

Time to bring back civics classes. Nearly a quarter of Americans don’t know when the Declaration of Independence was signed, or what country we declared independence from. From ABC’s The Note:

A Marist poll released Friday shows that only 58 percent of Americans know when the country declared independence. Nearly a fourth of respondents said they were unsure and sixteen percent said a date other than 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Young people posted the most troubling scores with 41 percent of people ages 18 to 29 saying they were unsure when the Declaration of Independence was signed and 27 percent saying the wrong date.

One in four Americans do not even know which country the U.S. gained independence from. The correct answer, of course, is Great Britain, although 20 percent of respondents were unsure of that fact.

Again, age made a big difference. Middle-aged Americans – ages 30 to 44 – guessed the wrong country more than any other age group, or 10 percent of the time. The younger generation was less likely to be flat-out wrong, but was more likely to be unsure. About one third of Americans age 18 to 29 said they didn’t know for sure which country America won independence from.

That is so sad. I was just thinking this morning that I can remember the days when we were proud to be Americans–when it was important to know our history and be aware of our rights. What happened? That was before American culture became synonymous with corporate culture–before being greedy, selfish, and callous became the American way.

The final changeover happened under Ronald Reagan. That is when so many Americans bought into the notion that money was more important than human relationships, when “religious” people began to embrace “prosperity” rather than the old, outdated notions of “faith, hope, and charity (love).” Under Reagan, young people stopped preparing for careers in which they could help others or the society as a whole and started focusing on whatever job would bring in the most money.

Barack Obama came of age under Reagan, and as far as I can tell, although he calls himself a Democrat, the current occupant of the White House is totally sold on the Reagan philosophy. He doesn’t seem to know much about history or basic economics, even though he has degrees from two elite universities.

Not only is civics missing from high schools, but also Americans don’t get educated by the media anymore. When I was a kid, there were actually serious shows on TV that analyzed politics–not shouting, arguing shows, but real news shows. Today young people are watching TV shows like “Hoarders” and “Jersey Shore.” I’m next generation will learn to be even more greedy, selfish, and narcissistic than previous generations. I hope I’m wrong.

I know I sound like a bitter old woman–sorry about that. I grew up in the ’50s and ’60s, a time of great social change; but looking back now, it was a much simpler time. My generation has been called every insulting name in the book–selfish, narcissistic, rebellious. Tom Wolfe labeled us “the me generation” for looking within and seeking ways to become more awake and aware–for trying to understand human consciousness and for going into therapy.

Am I just doing what Tom Wolfe did–judging and misunderstanding the generations that came after mine? Please tell me I’m wrong!