Mel's Char Palace
Happy birthday, Seth Warner:
Immediately after the commencement of the Revolutionary War, [Ethan] Allen and Warner became primarily conspicuous among the Green Mountain Boys (as settlers in that region denominated themselves), who were as ready to seize the musket in defence of American liberty as were any in the regularly organized colonies, and, indeed, were the very first to assail His Majesty's forces, in the surprise and capture of Ticonderoga, led by Allen, and seconded by Warner; and Crown Point, the next fortress held by the British arms, was on the following day taken by Warner, to whom that honor was conceded by the other officers engaged in that affair.
Both Allen and Warner were made colonels by the self-assumed authority of the occupants of what now constitutes the State of Vermont, and were recognized as such by the army, soon after those events, destined by Congress for the invasion of Canada, and as partisan officers did good service therein. Allen's career was, however, short, he being made prisoner in a rash attempt to surprise Montreal during the progress of the siege of St. John's, by Gen. Montgomery, and sent in irons to England to be tried as a traitor.
But Warner, who was as much distinguished for cool courage as Allen was for impetuosity, continued throughout that and the two succeeding campaigns to render excellent service its a partisan commander, in many of those conflicts between small parties on each side which are not particularized in the history of the war —and not only so, but for the part he acted in some truly celebrated conflicts.
Appropriately enough, Warner was head of Warner's Regiment, an "extra-continental" regiment (one of several not directly attached to a particular state) established by Congress on July 5, 1776. All part of the "Vermont Question" wherein Congress had to dance around the issue of New York's claim on our territory.
Why Hasn't Obama Been Impeached Yet?
When will he just get a BJ and be done with it?
Keep comin up with funky ass shit like every single day
Clear And Present Danger
Conservative activist Tom Zawistowski, the former president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, compared the Obama administration's ongoing IRS scandal to Nazi Germany during an appearance Thursday afternoon on Fox News.
Zawistowski appeared on Neil Cavuto's show to say that he believed his group was among those targeted by the IRS. He said it took two-and-a-half years for his organization's tax-exempt status to be approved.
After describing the delay as "onerous intrusive and politically motivated", Zawistowski, called the responses he received from the IRS as "frightening".
"This is unbelievable. This is Nazi Germany," he said.
If there's one thing Hitler was really good at, it was taking a long time to process tax-exempt applications. Truly, the mark of absolute fascist dictatorship run horribly amok with its jackboots stomping on the throat of freedom-loving patriotic liberty.
Anyway, if you want real tyranny in the USA, consider the Sedition Amendments to the Espionage Act of 1917, upheld by SCOTUS, 7-2. Holmes dissented (along with Brandeis):
I do not doubt for a moment that by the same reasoning that would justify punishing persuasion to murder, the United States constitutionally may punish speech that produces or is intended to produce a clear and imminent danger that it will bring about forthwith certain substantive evils that the United States constitutionally may seek to prevent. The power undoubtedly is greater in time of war than in time of peace because war opens dangers that do not exist at other times.
But as against dangers peculiar to war, as against others, the principle of the right to free speech is always the same. It is only the present danger of immediate evil or an intent to bring it about that warrants Congress in setting a limit to the expression of opinion where private rights are not concerned.
Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition. To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the speech impotent, as when a man says that he has squared the circle, or that you do not care whole heartedly for the result, or that you doubt either your power or your premises.
But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas-that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment.
Every year if not every day we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.
Only the emergency that makes it immediately dangerous to leave the correction of evil counsels to time warrants making any exception to the sweeping command, 'Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.'
Douglas concurred in Brandenburg several decades later (and making an allusion to Holmes whilst defending greater speech protection):
One's beliefs have long been thought to be sanctuaries which government could not invade...The line between what is permissible and not subject to control and what may be made impermissible and subject to regulation is the line between ideas and overt acts.
The example usually given by those who would punish speech is the case of one who falsely shouts fire in a crowded theatre.
This is, however, a classic case where speech is brigaded with action...They are indeed inseparable and a prosecution can be launched for the overt acts actually caused. Apart from rare instances of that kind, speech is, I think, immune from prosecution. Certainly there is no constitutional line between advocacy of abstract ideas as in Yates and advocacy of political action as in Scales. The quality of advocacy turns on the depth of the conviction; and government has no power to invade that sanctuary of belief and conscience.
Being thrown in jail for dissent is tyranny. Delays in application processing is what you should expect from bureaucracy (lemme tell you how long disability filings take, both with the government and for-profit corporations). A little perspective, please...
Billion Year Old Carbon
Some Coincidences In Space And Time
Ne frusta vixisse vidar ("May I not seemed to have lived in vain").
- Tycho Brahe's last words to Johannes Kepler
I noted in March that Kepler discovered his 3rd law on almost the same date that his namesake space observatory was launched. Now, on THIS date, he reconfirmed his discovery (after noticing some calculation errors), and we also receive some not-so-good news about the Kepler spacecraft:
At our semi-weekly contact on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, we found the Kepler spacecraft once again in safe mode. As was the case earlier this month, this was a Thruster-Controlled Safe Mode. The root cause is not yet known, however the proximate cause appears to be an attitude error. The spacecraft was oriented with the solar panels facing the sun, slowly spinning about the sun-line. The communication link comes and goes as the spacecraft spins.
We attempted to return to reaction wheel control as the spacecraft rotated into communication, and commanded a stop rotation. Initially, it appeared that all three wheels responded and that rotation had been successfully stopped, but reaction wheel 4 remained at full torque while the spin rate dropped to zero. This is a clear indication that there has been an internal failure within the reaction wheel, likely a structural failure of the wheel bearing. The spacecraft was then transitioned back to Thruster-Controlled Safe Mode.
The spacecraft is stable and safe, if still burning fuel. Our fuel budget is sufficient that we can take due caution while we finish our planning. In its current mode, our fuel will last for several months. Point Rest State would extend that period to years.
With the failure of a second reaction wheel, it's unlikely that the spacecraft will be able to return to the high pointing accuracy that enables its high-precision photometry. However, no decision has been made to end data collection.
Kepler had successfully completed its primary three-and-a-half year mission and entered an extended mission phase in November 2012.
Even if data collection were to end, the mission has substantial quantities of data on the ground yet to be fully analyzed, and the string of scientific discoveries is expected to continue for years to come.
All good things must come to an end, I guess. And this mission was certainly not in vain...
Actually, Mr Kokesh, That's Not Entirely Accurate
Kokesh answered the Washington Post through a series of text messages:
Suppose the D.C. police, as they have promised, block the marchers from crossing into Washington? How should they respond?
“With Satyagraha,” Kokesh, 31, texted The Washington Post. That is a term used by Mahatma Gandhi to describe his strategy of nonviolent resistance to British rule in India. [...]
Did his response of “satyagraha” mean violence is unacceptable?
“Only if absolutely necessary in defense of life or limb,” he wrote.
'tis true that Gandhi did not absolutely rule out violence as a tool, but in a very limited context:
I have...not hesitated to say that it is better to be violent if there is violence in our breasts than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. Violence is any day preferable to impotence. There is hope for a violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent.
Satyagraha is a weapon of the strong; it admits of no violence under any circumstance whatever; and it ever insists upon truth.
If you wish to wrap yourself in the trappings of Gandhian satyagraha, I recommend understanding it a little better...
The Final Countdown
Securing The Blessings Of Liberty Takes Compromise
[FN1]Monday May 14th 1787 was the day fixed for the meeting of the deputies in Convention for revising the federal system of Government. On that day a small number only had assembled. Seven States were not convened till, Friday 25 of May...
Mr. ROBERT MORRIS informed the members assembled that by the instruction & in behalf, of the deputation of Pena. he proposed George Washington Esqr. late Commander in chief for president of the Convention.
[FN5] Mr. JNo. RUTLIDGE seconded the motion; expressing his confidence that the choice would be unanimous, and observing that the presence of Genl. Washington forbade any observations on the occasion which might otherwise be proper. General WASHINGTON was accordingly unanimously elected by ballot, and conducted to the Chair by Mr. R. Morris and Mr. Rutlidge; from which in a very emphatic manner he thanked the Convention for the honor they had conferred on him, reminded them of the novelty of the scene of business in which he was to act, lamented his want of better qualifications, and claimed the indulgence of the House towards the involuntary errors which his inexperience might occasion.
[FN6][The nomination came with particular grace from Penna. as Docr. Franklin alone could have been thought of as a competitor. The Docr. was himself to have made the nomination of General Washington, but the state of the weather and of his health confined him to his house.]
What's instructive to me is that we had a completely broken government (The Articles) and people from different regions and ideologies who really disagreed on a lot of fundamental shit somehow compromised enough to form a more perfect Union. Would that certain folks in Congress today would reflect on that...
Before Chicken Little Looked Up At The Skylab
The first human inhabitants took up residence aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2000. Since then, the ISS has been home to many resident crews who have performed fantastic research in the microgravity of Earth orbit. But none of this would have been possible without America's first space station: Skylab.
From its launch on May 14, 1973, until the return of its third and final crew on Feb. 8, 1974, the Skylab program proved that humans can live and work in outer space for extended periods of time.
Pete Conrad, Paul Weitz and Joe Kerwin spent 28 days in orbit as the first crew of Skylab. The second crew--Alan Bean, Jack Lousma and Owen Garriott--spent 59 days in space. The final Skylab crew spent 84 days in space and consisted of Jerry Carr, Bill Pogue and Edward Gibson. Each Skylab crew set new spaceflight duration records. The record set by the final crew was not broken by an American astronaut until the Shuttle-Mir program more than 20 years later.
Skylab served as the greatest solar observatory of its time, a microgravity lab, a medical lab, an Earth-observing facility, and, most importantly, a home away from home for its residents. The program also led to new technologies. Special showers, toilets, sleeping bags, exercise equipment and kitchen facilities were designed to function in microgravity.
I thought of this last night as I paused my binge viewing of Babylon 5 to watch Expedition 35 and Commander Oddity land in the territory of our former Cold War and space adversaries. I wasn't entirely aware of Skylab during its actual operation--I only vaguely knew there was any space activity since I was born just after Armstrong's leap--but I sure do remember when it crashed into Australia.
And today I reflect on how far we've come in geopolitical and technological terms. With the retirement of the creaky STS, we rely on Russia to get us up to and down from a shared station, which just had a Canadian astronaut in charge, strumming his guitar. And I show all this to my son on the NASA channel via the Internet, first deployed the year I was born and we landed on the moon.
If that isn't magic, I don't know what is. The sky might be falling down all around us, but we've done some amazing things, and if we will it, we can do so again.
"Blood, toil, tears, and sweat..."
Where's The There?
Mother should I run for president?
Nice Republic, Be A Shame If Something Happened To It
If we aim deliberately at the impoverishment of Central Europe, vengeance, I dare predict, will not limp. Nothing can then delay for very long that final civil war between the forces of Reaction and the despairing convulsions of Revolution, before which the horrors of the late German war will fade into nothing, and which will destroy, whoever is victor, the civilization and the progress of our generation.
- John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1920)
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, The Second Bill of Rights (1944)
I won't make the claim that our contemporary GOP is deliberately trying to destroy our economy and government to bring a new fascism to our nation, wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. Yet it's hard to look at what's going on now in light of economics and history between the world wars and not be a bit...concerned. When you create the conditions of despair and disengagement, you enable dictatorship, intentionally or not.
Just remember, we have nothing to fear but fear itself...
Into The Fire
You Say Tomayto...
Nix v Hedden (1893):
There being no evidence that the words 'fruit' and 'vegetables' have acquired any special meaning in trade or commerce, they must receive their ordinary meaning. Of that [149 U.S. 304, 307] meaning the court is bound to take judicial notice, as it does in regard to all words in our own tongue; and upon such a question dictionaries are admitted, not as evidence, but only as aids to the memory and understanding of the court. Brown v. Piper, 91 U.S. 37 , 42; Jones v. U. S ., 137 U.S. 202, 216 , 11 S. Sup. Ct. Rep. 80; Nelson v. Cushing, 2 Cush. 519, 532, 533; Page v. Fawcet, 1 Leon. 242; Tayl. Ev. (8th Ed.) 16, 21.
Botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas. But in the common language of the people, whether sellers or consumers of provisions, all these are vegetables which are grown in kitchen gardens, and which, whether eaten cooked or raw, are, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and lettuce, usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits generally, as dessert.
The attempt to class tomatoes as fruit is not unlike a recent attempt to class beans as seeds, of which Mr. Justice Bradley, speaking for this court, said: 'We do not see why they should be classified as seeds, any more than walnuts should be so classified. Both are seeds, in the language of botany or natural history, but not in commerce nor in common parlance. On the other hand in speaking generally of provisions, beans may well be included under the term 'vegetables.' As an article of food on our tables, whether baked or boiled, or forming the basis of soup, they are used as a vegetable, as well when ripe as when green. This is the principal use to which they are put. Beyond the common knowledge which we have on this subject, very little evidence is necessary, or can be produced.'
But what about ketchup?
We Will Rock You
PS--What is it about late 70s/early 80s videos shot outside in the snow?
Last May, in the heat of President Obama’s reelection efforts, Biden went on "Meet the Press" and said he was “comfortable” with same-sex marriage. Obama had not at that point announced his support for gay marriage, and the vice president’s endorsement left the campaign lurching to clarify the administration’s position.
The following week, Obama acknowledged he had decided to make an announcement endorsing gay marriage before the election, but Biden's comments forced his hand early.
Biden at the time said he apologized to the president for putting him in that position, but in the Rolling Stone interview, Biden said Obama couldn’t have been happier.
“I got blowback from everybody but the president,” Biden said. “I walked in that Monday, he had a big grin on his face, he put his arms around me and said, ‘Well, Joe, God love you, you say what you think.’ I knew he agreed with me. It wasn't like he was in a different place.”
We're not all Joe Biden (thankfully), but this is actually a good example of creating the space that leaders (and society) need to make changes. It's why you write letters and demonstrate and do the other things. If you don't, the people we want to do certain things have no place to go...
Adding: one would be justifiably cynical to see Joe acting out a role in goodcop/badcop, but perhaps we should look at his statements on other issues as opportunities to amplify what he's said and thereby supporting Obama in doing the right thing on Keystone, Social Security, et al. He did force Obama's hand on marriage, and the dominos have fallen pretty quickly since then. "Biden was right on equality..."
Was VE Day The End Of War With Germany?
Apropriate that a question asked on FB comes on this date. At issue was when wars/emergencies end, thus reducing presidential powers to issue wide-reaching Executive Orders.
While Germany unconditionally surrendered on what we now call VE Day, the war didn't technically end (PTO notwithstanding):
- Hostilities weren't declared over until December 31, 1946, by Truman's proclamation (but a "state of war" and "state of emergency" still existed).
- The original declaration of war wasn't terminated until October 19, 1951 (and the state of emergency on April 28, 1952, which had some interesting legal implications).
- Germany didn't completely regain sovereignty until March 15, 1990, when the Final Settlement went into effect, thus officially ending WWII.
So the AUMF and state of emergency that've been in effect for over a decade really are just pikers compared to all that. Still, it would be nice if Congress would perhaps rein in Obama's war powers a smidge...
To Exist Is To Resist
Yup, some things take a lot of time, even if they're the most correct things in the whole world. Like closing Gitmo. My friends at Code Pink are in Harry Reid's office right now, petitioning for redress of grievances.
My life has taken another few different twists since I first was involved, and I always feel more than a smidge of guilt about that (I usually end up having dreams about the now defunct Pink House). At this point, I'm no longer shocked it's been more than 6 years since I donned an orange jumpsuit, even though in the interim we elected a different president who received a Nobel Peace Prize. Ask our friends in Bi'lin how long it took for them to win their modest victory.
There are many ways to push the issue. The important thing is to stay engaged.