Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Declaration of Independence - Under Siege

Today is my wedding anniversary. I usually post a loving tribute to my wife, Sue, and our ability to make it through the minefield which all marriages are at some point or another. It was 27 years ago today when Sue and I took the vows, and though it hasn't always been easy, we are still together, relying on one another more and more with each passing year.

So, it was with great regret that I asked her if it would be okay for me to skip doing a post about our anniversary in order to  address a more pressing issue; our rights as citizens in our own land. Those rights include the freedom to speak our minds; assemble peacefully without penalty; and to enjoy the freedom from unwarranted intrusion into our personal lives. It is with sorrow that I have to state these things are all under assault at the present time.

I was a bit uncomfortable with the NSA news; that they have been reading our e-mails and listening to our phone calls; but since I have nothing really important to hide, I was almost willing to chalk it up to “national security”; trusting that our government “by the people and for the people” would be capable of making the distinction between terrorists and ordinary individuals.

I was also comfortable with the “leaks” generated by Messrs.’ Assange and Snowden; it gave me the feeling that this kind of information should be available for the public. Just as the government tells us that if we “have nothing to hide, then we have nothing to fear”, I make the same claim against them.
What are they afraid of? “Leaking” the truth? If I had “leaked” the truth to my Dad, rather than answer his questions on the first shot, I got punished. It was a great lesson to me, and one that reverberates this July 4th, on the heels of the latest revelation about Obama’s 2 year old “secret” (until this week) program dubbed the “Insider Threat Program.” 

The IRS scandal, along with the NSA nonsense, still don’t worry me as much as this latest infringement of the rights which we all seem to take for granted, even as they are being slowly whittled away by both political parties.

This “Insider Threat Program” is the most disturbing to me because it goes against the very grain of the Whistle Blower Protection program. Just the very name says it all; “Insider Threat Program.” Think of what the term really means. It’s not a program designed to stop national security “leaks” and keep us safe from foreign enemies; it’s a program specifically designed for government employees to identify; and punish; the people who work in government agencies and may see something wrong going on.

All this brings us to the vaunted document displayed above; the Declaration of Independence. It was 237 years ago today when the last of the signers affixed their signatures to the document which gave birth to a nation founded upon the principles later codified in the United States Constitution. I wonder how many of our politicians have read; or even understand; the document. In light of all recent events, I would venture that, even if they have read it, they think of it in terms of antiquity; almost as if it were no longer relative. For those who share that view I am printing the text of the Declaration below, in the hopes that you will read it.

When you do, substitute all of the recent scandals for the things which the Declaration accuses King George the Third of. You may be surprised to discover that we have as much to complain about now, as we did 237 years ago.

So, here is the text, and after that a bit of music, which; although calling for change; does not require anyone to kill anyone else in the endeavor. Happy 4th, and don’t forget to make those phone calls to your Representatives and Senators in Washington when the holiday is over. Let them know how angry you are at their attempt to rob of your birthright. 

And, whatever you do, wave that flag proudly today – it belongs to us, the people. And that’s something we can never afford to let them forget.

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 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 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.

Happy Anniversary Sue. 

I love you more than ever - as if that were even possible...

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