RTT News: Dark Chocolate May Improve Walking Ability.
I’m still recovering from whatever flu virus hit me last weekend. I do have my voice back and I’m coughing a bit less so I’m beginning to catch up with reading this and that. I stayed in bed with hot tea and a marathon of “Drunk History” while trying to figure out if the noise I was hearing last night was gunfire or fireworks. I have no idea what the mix of one to the other was. That’s one of those things that keeps me indoors on NY’s Eve because I really don’t want to be the one out there gathering the data. Most folks try not to think about about it.
One of the things that always amazes me is how vulnerable people are to wishful thinking and things easily demonstrated to be complete bullshit. I suppose I suffer the hubris of the scholar on this account. I didn’t have access to the internet in my home until 1980 but you generally could find me in whichever library housed the government documents drop. Yes, the University of Nebraska libraries had huge basements dedicated to the stuff at one time and I was a basement dweller. Now it’s all on spreadsheets on my hard drive. It really doesn’t take much to figure out what is what. However, everything experiences variation and intellect and curiosity are no different.
I guess the same thing that makes folks vulnerable to religion also makes them vulnerable to political myth. My first experience with all the ploy to keep people well-behaved and hopeful was as a child when I learned my parents were deliberately lying to me about Santa Claus for my sister’s sake. I later studied 3rd and 4th century Roman history and lost religion. It’s basically the same MO but with much better data. But the Santa episode really sunk in. I went to the basement, screamed at myself for being so stupid then wondered what else they’d been lying to me about. Well, it turned out that it was about a lot of things that I could easily find out about in my handy dandy local library’s reference section. I’ve spent my professional and personal life gleaning through data looking for truths. I hate being taken in.
We’ve all been stumped about why Donald Trump could gain ground in any national level political race. He says things that are blatantly hateful and false, yet he gains ground. Polls showing his demographics illustrate his base. It’s basically the ugly underbelly of the US that shows up in our history quite frequently. These folks love being taken in.
He is strongest among Republicans who are less affluent, less educated and less likely to turn out to vote. His very best voters are self-identified Republicans who nonetheless are registered as Democrats. It’s a coalition that’s concentrated in the South, Appalachia and the industrial North, according to data provided to The Upshot by Civis Analytics, a Democratic data firm.
Mr. Trump’s huge advantage among these groups poses a challenge for his campaign, because it may not have the turnout operation necessary to mobilize irregular voters
The Civis estimates are based on interviews with more than 11,000 Republican-leaning respondents since August. The large sample, combined with statistical modeling techniques, presents the most detailed examination yet of the contours of Mr. Trump’s unusual coalition.
We’ve seen this set of nutcases before. It appears to be the return of the Reagan coalition. This turns my mind back to the Santa Claus story, and for that matter, any particular dead religious figure you can conjure up that people have turned into something not quite like the original narrative. Ronald Reagan was an affable fool. Any economist that has studied the time period and his policies will tell you a completely different, data-based narrative than most of the people taken in by him. BB sent me this link a few days ago. I’ve only been able to really digest it today.
Any of us that have intensely studied some aspect of his regime–in my case the economic data–know that the myth is no where close to the truth. These narratives always seem to serve the current group of rich, powerful, assholes. It doesn’t matter if you’re told to submit yourself to your husband or master or render unto Rome, it’s pretty much the same thing. These so-called populist heroes lead sheep to slaughter.
Ronald Reagan was not only intellectually ungifted, he was incurious and ignorant about the details of the day. It’s amazing to me that as historians go back and sift through their form of data on the ground, so little of it manages to take down the public id. The link to Salon takes you to an excerpt from “The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton” by WILLIAM LEUCHTENBURG whose thesis on Reagan is summed up thusily: “No one ever entered the White House so grossily ill-informed”. This says a lot given he was followed relatively shortly by Dubya Bush who didn’t even appear to have a command of his primary language let alone nuanced policy. Remember, Dubya’s the guy that declared war on a lot of Muslim-majority countries without a real grasp of the difference between Sunni and Shia let alone the minority ones.
No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill informed. At presidential news conferences, especially in his first year, Ronald Reagan embarrassed himself. On one occasion, asked why he advocated putting missiles in vulnerable places, he responded, his face registering bewilderment, “I don’t know but what maybe you haven’t gotten into the area that I’m going to turn over to the secretary of defense.” Frequently, he knew nothing about events that had been headlined in the morning newspaper. In 1984, when asked a question he should have fielded easily, Reagan looked befuddled, and his wife had to step in to rescue him. “Doing everything we can,” she whispered. “Doing everything we can,” the president echoed. To be sure, his detractors sometimes exaggerated his ignorance. The publication of his radio addresses of the 1950s revealed a considerable command of facts, though in a narrow range. But nothing suggested profundity. “You could walk through Ronald Reagan’s deepest thoughts,” a California legislator said, “and not get your ankles wet.”In all fields of public affairs—from diplomacy to the economy—the president stunned Washington policymakers by how little basic information he commanded. His mind, said the well-disposed Peggy Noonan, was “barren terrain.” Speaking of one far-ranging discussion on the MX missile, the Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, an authority on national defense, reported, “Reagan’s only contribution throughout the entire hour and a half was to interrupt somewhere at midpoint to tell us he’d watched a movie the night before, and he gave us the plot from War Games.” The president “cut ribbons and made speeches. He did these things beautifully,” Congressman Jim Wright of Texas acknowledged. “But he never knew frijoles from pralines about the substantive facts of issues.” Some thought him to be not only ignorant but, in the word of a former CIA director, “stupid.” Clark Clifford called the president an “amiable dunce,” and the usually restrained columnist David Broder wrote, “The task of watering the arid desert between Reagan’s ears is a challenging one for his aides.”
I actually was convinced that Reagan was so obviously ignorant and wrong about so many things that you could run any one against him and he’d never get a second term. I was obviously young and not jaded enough to grasp the demographic that supported him because they believed what they wanted to believe because he told them so in such a “nice” way. Now, this same group of yahoos is angry and they believe what Donald Trump tells them because they believe what they want to believe because he tells them in such an “angry” way. ‘Morning in America’ does sound an awful lot like ‘Make America Great Again’ doesn’t it? All of this is basically code for ‘Save White Privilege’ even if I don’t really benefit that much from it. As long you as you can make me feel superior to (fill in the blank), I’ll wishfully hope and then vote for you.
I try to tell myself that there’s no way that Donald Trump could ever be elected but then I would not be learning from my obviously wrong hypothesis that Ronald Reagan could ever get a second term. Reagan raised taxes. He ran up the deficit hugely. There’s the Reagan “recession” and there was Iran Contra which all of these folks conveniently never heard about or forgot when they voted for the affable buffoon. The same demographic could care less about Trump’s lies and the tremendous internet base of fact checking.
But in this year’s presidential campaign, the fact checkers say one candidate has achieved truth-bending royalty.
“This is the first time we have named someone the ‘King of Whoppers,'” Eugene Kiely of FactCheck.org said.
Donald Trump earned that crown with the biggest whopper of 2015:
“I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down,” he said in a Birmingham, Alabama, rally in November 21.
The fact checkers found evidence of just a few people celebrating. But that wasn’t the only tall Trump tale of the year.
“He’s certainly keeping us busy… It is the worst that we have seen in the 12 years we have been doing this,” Kiely said.
“You know, the president’s thinking about signing an executive order where he wants to take your guns away,” Trump said at a South Carolina rally on October 19.
Then in New Hampshire, on September 30: “You know, it started off with 10,000. The other day I heard 200,000. We are going to take in 200,000 Syrians or wherever they come from,” Trump said.
“It’s just way over what the actual number is,” Kiely explains.
It’s not like this isn’t pointed out daily in places other than newspapers that none of Trump’s demographic appear to read. Bernie Sanders mentioned it just a few days ago.
“It appears that Donald Trump, a pathological liar, simply cannot control himself. He lies, lies and lies again. Today, he repeated his lie that I want to raise taxes to 90 percent. Totally untrue. And PolitiFact gave Trump’s same statement last October a ‘Pants-on-Fire’ rating.
Even Trumps Republican opponents point this out. Unfortunately, the most verbal are Kasich and Jeb who appear to be on their way out the door.
Bush talked to CNN on Wednesday and reinforced his point from the debate that Trump is “not a serious candidate.”
“I got to post up against Donald Trump,” Bush said. “I don’t think he’s a serious candidate.”
He added, “And I don’t know why others don’t feel compelled to point that out, but I did. And I think I got a chance to express my views and compare them to someone who talks a big game but really hasn’t thought it through.”
But, again, the only candidates gaining traction in the Republican field are the “know nothings”. This includes Marco Rubio who has to be as intellectually ungifted as the gipper and is taken somewhat seriously despite the stupid and despite a very shady history of deal making for shady people.
Didn’t we say all this about a gawky rogue presidential candidate named Barack Obama? Sure. But Obama had the advantage of not looking and sounding like a complete fucking idiot. Obama was on the Harvard Law Review, not the Santa Fe Community College football team. Then again, that’s not really fair to community collegians and football players: Plenty of each are smart enough to run the country. It just so happens that Rubio isn’t one of them.
For proof, simply look to Rubio’s campaign message, a bizarre simulacrum of “hope and change” focus-grouped by Red Stripe-swilling blue blazers who are slightly scared of hope and change because they’ve witnessed its power but never fully understood its appeal, like those crouched simians sizing up the galactic monolith in 2001.
I will also admit that I didn’t think Obama was going to be as good of a President as he has turned out to be. I really thought he’d continue to let the Republicans play him like a violin, but he learned, and learned well. His last few years defy the lame duck theory.
So, I’m doing a mea culpa on the two failed hypotheses today just because I do not want to be lulled into a third one. We clearly have one great candidate that is experienced, flawed, and capable. Then, we have a set of figures that look religiously mythical, are supported by people who have a lot to gain from populist ignorance, and appear to be impossibly unqualified for making national policy on all levels. They may have one area upon which they are knowledgeable but most have absolutely nothing but being able to say blatantly wrong things because they have no clue how wrong they actually are.
Work in the right campaigns and vote in 2016. Don’t make me write another mea culpa in 2017. Please.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
And, have a great NEW YEAR!!! I love you all!!!
Thirty years ago from 1985 and deep from Reagan d0o d0o land.
Good Thursday Afternoon!!
Christmas is just a week away; and, I’ll be honest, I’ll be glad when it’s all over. Of course there’s still New Year’s to deal with, but then we can get back to “normal,” such as it is. But will life ever feel truly normal to me again?
This morning I was thinking back over the devolution of the Republican Party during my lifetime. The first president I remember was Dwight Eisenhower. He was boring and he led the way for future GOP leaders in bringing religion into the public sphere; he initiated the “national prayer breakfast,” added “under God” to the pledge of allegiance, and “In God We Trust” to our currency. He formed a close relationship with the Rev. Billy Graham, who served as an adviser to Eisenhower’s campaign and his administration. However, he did preside over a healthy economy and improvements in America’s infrastructure.
The next Republican president was Richard Nixon. Nixon was also close to Billy Graham and Graham was a regular in Nixon’s White House. He continued Eisenhower’s prayer breakfast “tradition.” He began the overtly racist “Southern strategy” in order to attract Dixiecrats to switch parties; and thus Nixon began the politics of resentment and hatred of “the other” that dominate the GOP today.
Gerald Ford was religious, but didn’t try to impose his beliefs on the rest of us, but his Democratic successor Jimmy Carter was a “born again Christian” whose public religiosity may have encouraged Republicans to continue linking politics and religion.
Ronald Reagan was apparently not deeply religious, but he attracted support from the growing religious right groups and often talked publicly about God and Christianity, especially after he was shot in 1981. Once again Billy Graham was a fixture in the White House and Reagan used religion as a political tool.
In 1982, Reagan supported a constitutional amendment to allow voluntary school prayer. A year later he awarded the Rev. Billy Graham the Presidential Medal of Freedom and proclaimed 1983 the “Year of the Bible.” He called on Americans to join him: “Let us take up the challenge to reawaken America’s religious and moral heart, recognizing that a deep and abiding faith in God is the rock upon which this great nation was founded.”
Reagan also used racism, of course. He even announced his run for the presidency with a speech supporting “states rights” in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were murdered because they were trying to register African American voters in 1964. William Raspberry in the Washington Post in 2004:
It was bitter symbolism for black Americans (though surely not just for black Americans). Countless observers have noted that Reagan took the Republican Party from virtual irrelevance to the ascendancy it now enjoys. The essence of that transformation, we shouldn’t forget, is the party’s successful wooing of the race-exploiting Southern Democrats formerly known as Dixiecrats. And Reagan’s Philadelphia appearance was an important bouquet in that courtship.
I don’t accuse Reagan of racism, though while he served, I did note what seemed to be his indifference to the concerns of black Americans — issues ranging from civil rights enforcement and attacks on “welfare queens” to his refusal to act seriously against the apartheid regime in South Africa. He gets full credit from me for the good things he did — including presiding over the end of international communism. But he also legitimized, by his broad wink at it, racial indifference — and worse.
His political progeny include Trent Lott, who got caught a while back praising the overtly segregationist 1948 presidential candidacy of Strom Thurmond, and, I suspect, many Lott soul mates in the current Republican congressional majority.
Today’s Republican majority in the House and Senate is probably far more racist (as well as right wing “Christian”) than the one Raspberry referred to in 2004.
George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush continued the Republican tradition of race baiting and using right wing fundamentalists–who had by then grown very influential in politics–to get votes.
When George W. Bush was in the White House, I couldn’t imagine this trend could actually get worse. But here we are today in a presidential race in which all of the GOP candidates are campaigning on hate and fear of “the other” and using fundamentalist religious beliefs to fan the flames.
The leading Republican candidate for president Donald Trump has actually said in a primary debate on national TV that as president he would kill the families of suspected terrorists in order to prevent attacks, and not many media talking heads have expressed shock about it.
Trump wants to round up 12 million undocumented immigrants, put them on buses and drop them off at the Mexican border. He wants to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. and he thinks he can shut down “parts of the internet” to keep potential terrorists from using it.
Another leading candidate, Ted Cruz, said on Tuesday night that as president he would “carpet bomb” any place where ISIS holds territory. Cruz is the favored candidate of fundamentalist “Christians.”
The other candidates are horrible too. For example, Chris Christie has now said twice on national TV that he would shoot down a Russian plane that entered a no-fly zone.
How have we come to this? I can see the progression in my lifetime. What can we do to break the stranglehold of right wing religious extremism and intolerance on the Republican Party? The only thing I can think of is to elect Democrats to the White House, Congress, and State Houses. If we don’t, we’re on the road to fascism.
Interesting Reads for Thursday
A crazy article from the WaPo: ‘Unfriending’ Trump supporters is just another example of how we isolate ourselves online.
Christian Science Monitor: Why are non-Muslim women wearing the hijab?
Kevin Drum: Strike Two for Pair of New York Times Reporters.
I posted about this guy awhile back. The Cut: Millionaire Cleared of Rape Charge After Claiming He Tripped and His Penis Fell Into Teen.
The Atlantic: Lessons From the Mistrial in the Freddie Gray Case.
What stories are you following today? Or are you just too busy getting ready for the upcoming holidays? Either way, have a terrific Thursday!
I’m getting a slow start again today. We’re having another heat wave here, and its throwing my circadian rhythms off. It’s hard to get to sleep at night because it’s so hot, and then I wake up at around 5AM when it has cooled down some, then fall back into a deep sleep and wake up a few hours later feeling drugged. I’m just drinking my iced coffee now and trying to get myself going. The good news is that at this time of year it does cool down quite a bit at night.
Hillary Clinton is in the news this morning, and as usual, even when she does something positive like requesting the release of all of her State Department emails or hold a meeting with activists and then release the video, the media reports it in a negative light. Here’s the video:
I hope Hillary supporters will watch the videos and not just read the media reports; because she gives intelligent, sensible answers. I linked to a blog post by Oliver Willis a few days ago in which he suggests that the activists are focusing on getting Hillary to say she’s sorry for things her husband did in the 1990s instead of pushing for real changes in policies. He was right.
“All I’m saying is, your analysis is totally fair, it’s historically fair, it’s psychologically fair, it’s economically fair. But you’re going to have to come together as a movement and say, ‘Here’s what we want done about it,’ ” Clinton says to a few members of the movement in the video posted by GOOD Magazine.
“Because you can get lip service from as many white people as you can pack into Yankee Stadium and a million more like it,” Clinton adds later. “Even for us sinners, find some common ground on agendas that can make a difference right here and now in people’s lives.”
Clinton met with the group of Boston-area Black Lives Matter activists last week after they were shut out of an event in the early voting state of New Hampshire that they planned to protest. A spokesman said they watched from an overflow room and met with Clinton afterward.
“I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate,” Clinton continues later in the exchange.
Activists who spoke with Clinton appeared on MSNBC last night to criticize her for “ducking responsibility” for policies of Bill Clinton’s administration that led to mass incarceration of black people.
Why is it that no one seems to understand that Bill and Hillary Clinton are two separate people with separate views of the world? Do they really believe that the wife of a president makes the laws of the land?
Still, Hillary did respond to the accusations. CNN:
The activists, led by Daunasia Yancey, founder of Black Lives Matter in Boston, pressed Clinton on her family’s role in promoting “white supremacist violence against communities of color.”
Clinton acknowledged during the conversation that laws put into place by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, did not work out as planned.
“I do think that there was a different set of concerns back in the ’80s and the early ’90s. And now I believe that we have to look at the world as it is today and try and figure out what will work now,” she said. “And that’s what I’m trying to figure out and that’s what I intend to do as president.”
But Clinton also told the protestors that she was “not sure” she agreed with the activists that her husband’s policies were racist.
“I do think that a lot of what was tried and how it was implemented has not produced the kinds of outcomes that any of us would want,” she said. “But I also believe that there are systemic issues of race and justice that go deeper than any particular law.”
But for some reason all the activists wanted was for Hillary to show contrition in some way. Was she supposed to break down sobbing? I’m not sure what they wanted. Read more about it at CNN.
The first video starts with [Julius] Jones spending three minutes going over America’s history of violence toward black people, ending with Clinton’s role in perpetuating mass incarceration. He concluded with a thoughtful question on what that means to Clinton personally — “Now, they may have been unintended consequences, but now that you understand the consequences, what in your heart has changed that’s going to change the direction of the country?” he asked — and a Clinton aide interrupted before she could answer.
Specifically, what was Hillary’s role in this? Do they believe she was actually running the country with Bill as just a figurehead? Continuing,
Clinton started off with a standard politician answer, recapping her lifelong advocacy for minority children, then offered some insight into how she wants to frame the issue on the campaign trail. “Once you say that this country has still not recovered from its original sin, which is true, the next question by people who are on the sidelines, which is the vast majority of Americans, is ‘So, what do you want me to do about it?'” she said. “I’m trying to put together in a way that I can explain it and I can sell it, because in politics if you can’t explain it and you can’t sell it, it stays on the shelf.” ….
Jones objected to Clinton suggesting that Black Lives Matter needs to have clearer policy goals to get the rest of the country onboard. “I say this as respectfully as I can: If you don’t tell black people what we need to do, then we won’t tell you all what you need to do,” Jones said, adding that “this is and has always been a white problem of violence” and there isn’t much black people can do to stop it.
Really? So candidates and activists should not communicate about changes in legislation and policy? As Oliver Willis noted, the activists don’t seem focused on policies for the future. I really hope this analysis is wrong, but it does sound like this movement may go the way of Occupy Wall Street if they don’t start telling candidates what policies they would support.
I know you’ve probably seen the headlines suggesting that Hillary is no longer the most likely candidate to get the Democratic nomination, so I won’t bother posting them. Here’s a response from Nate Silver, based on actual data: Hillary Clinton’s Inevitable Problems.
Clinton’s favorability rating has, in fact, fallen quite a lot, to an average of about 42 percent favorable and 48 percent unfavorable in recent polls.
Numbers like those, when combined with the “emailgate” scandal and Sen. Bernie Sanders’s position in the polls (he’s now running very close to Clinton in New Hampshire, although not in Iowa or nationally), have a lot of commentators saying Clinton’s campaign has had an unexpectedly rough start. “Hillary is probable, but no longer inevitable,” wrote David Horsey of the Los Angeles Times, assessing her chances to win the nomination.
Horsey is right to deal in probabilities rather than certainties. Personally, I give Clinton about an 85 percent chance of becoming the Democratic nominee. (The general election is a whole different story.) That’s a pinch higher than betting markets, which put her chances at 75 to 80 percent.
But those betting markets, unlike some pundits, haven’t changed their assessment of Clinton much. In the markets, her probability of winning the nomination is still close to its all-time high and has barely budged in the past few months, rarely falling much below 75 percent or rising much above 80 percent.
Emailgate? #feelthebern? Clinton’s declining favorables? The betting markets think everything that’s happened to Clinton so far in the campaign is pretty much par for the course. It’s not that these markets are clairvoyant; they presumably didn’t know there would be a scandal involving Clinton and her email server, for instance. But it was a pretty good bet that there would be some scandal involving Clinton. (It’s not as though there is an absence of them to pick from.) Likewise, while you might or might not have identified Sanders as the person to do it, it was a pretty good bet that somechallenger to Clinton would be situated about where Sanders is in the polls. So events like these were “priced in” to her stock. Let’s look at each of them in a bit more depth.
Please go read the rest at the FiveThirtyEight link above.
I’d like to call your attention to an essay by Valerie Tarico published at Raw Story: Republicans want 10-year-old girls to give birth to ‘rape’ babies — here’s what the Bible sas about that. Tarico is a former evangelical christian who is now a psychologist who writes about “the intersection between religious belief, psychology and politics, with a growing focus on women’s issues and contraceptive technologies that she thinks are upstream game changers for a broad range of challenges that humanity faces.”
In her lengthy essay, Tarico demonstrates that in the Bible women have no function except to bear children and serve men. They are not seen as autonomous human beings who should have choices about any aspect of their lives. We all know this, but reading the biblical examples she gives is still highly enlightening.
More interesting reads, links only:
The Intercept: Why Did the FBI Spy on James Baldwin?
Washington Post: State Department flags 305 more Clinton e-mails for review. (Go down several paragraphs and you’ll learn that none of the emails were classified at the time and Clinton is not being accused of any wrongdoing. The review of the emails is simply for the purpose of deciding what material should be released under the Freedom of Information Act.)
Reuters, via Raw Story: Scott Walker tries channelling Trump in attempt to kick-start sinking campaign.
Bankok Post: Bangkok blast: the Hindu shrine beloved by Buddhists.
What stories are you following today?
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 ConstitutionFacts.com, 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.
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.
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!
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).
Boston Globe: People prefer electric shocks to time alone with thoughts.
What stories are you following on this Independence Day?