Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Friends,

On this Independence Day, in year 3 of the reign of Donald Trump, all I ask of each of you is to consider this:

All of us were once immigrants, fleeing an oppressive regime, and looking to make a new life. Are we really all that different from today’s asylum seekers from Latin America?

Actually we are. They come to our border in peace where the founders of our great nation brought violence. The founders of our great nation also brought the travesty of the 3/5 rule, went on to the alien and sedition acts, and really just went down hill from there.

Yet we built from that a nation founded on liberty and dedicated – after a civil war, a few miles of Chinese built railroads, a little Japanese internment, a few murders of civil rights giants, etc. – a nation dedicated to the equality of all people. We came so far as to legalize gay marriage!

But, as we saw in Germany in the 1930’s, even the greatest nation can slip into pure evil within months. We can’t let that happen.

And if you think it can’t then you need to remember that the German killing camps began as nothing more that places to house Russian POWs. The most intellectually advanced society let those camps grow and grow and grow until they were machines that could murder and incinerate 10,000 people a day.

Not everything horrible starts big. It can happen anywhere.

So on this day when we celebrate a nation who’s founding ideology was worth risking lives, fortunes, and sacred honors, please remember that we would have no nation were it not for immigrants fleeing repression.

Here’s proof:

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 Brittish 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.


Georgia

Button Gwinnett

Lyman Hall

George Walton

 

North Carolina

William Hooper

Joseph Hewes

John Penn

 

South Carolina

Edward Rutledge

Thomas Heyward, Jr.

Thomas Lynch, Jr.

Arthur Middleton

 

Massachusetts

John Hancock

Maryland

Samuel Chase

William Paca

Thomas Stone

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

 

Virginia

George Wythe

Richard Henry Lee

Thomas Jefferson

Benjamin Harrison

Thomas Nelson, Jr.

Francis Lightfoot Lee

Carter Braxton

 

Pennsylvania

Robert Morris

Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Franklin

John Morton

George Clymer

James Smith

George Taylor

James Wilson

George Ross

Delaware

Caesar Rodney

George Read

Thomas McKean

 

New York

William Floyd

Philip Livingston

Francis Lewis

Lewis Morris

 

New Jersey

Richard Stockton

John Witherspoon

Francis Hopkinson

John Hart

Abraham Clark

 

New Hampshire

Josiah Bartlett

William Whipple

 

Massachusetts

Samuel Adams

John Adams

Robert Treat Paine

Elbridge Gerry

 

Rhode Island

Stephen Hopkins

William Ellery

 

Connecticut

Roger Sherman

Samuel Huntington

William Williams

Oliver Wolcott

 

New Hampshire

Matthew Thornton

——-

Happy 4th of July. Stay strong and resist hatred so that a 300 million of can have the chance to turn back toward good,

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Yesterday, Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook and one of Mark Zuckerberg’s college roommates, wrote a New York Times Op-Ed proposing that Facebook be broken up. I’m not a big proponent of government intervention intended to stifle the growth of large successful businesses. But, Chris’s arguments are compelling. For example, he says of Mark’s 60% ownership of Facebook shares:

Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered.

Although, in my view, Chris misrepresents the intent of the American constitution when he says…

America was built on the idea that power should not be concentrated in any one person, because we are all fallible. 

… he makes an important point about monopolies and the concentration of power.

I have heard an interesting counter-argument to Chris’ contention that Facebook is like AT&T once was and that competition is not an issue. The argument goes like this:

“Facebook provides their services for free and, since they aren’t selling anything to users and aren’t exchanging money for access, this can’t be about monopoly and antitrust”.

Perhaps there is a long debate to ensue. But I want to give you my opinion with one simple concept:

<<<<< DATA HAS VALUE >>>>>

To me this is unquestionably an antitrust issue. Every time I point my browser at Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp (I don’t actually use the latter) I am exchanging my personal data for the services I’m consuming. I know I’m doing this and I only do it because I get value from these services. I’m exchanging something of value for something else of value.

The problem is that if I don’t like Facebook software, I have no other choice. I can’t move to another social platform (no, Twitter isn’t a substitute), and I can’t just stop using these apps without sacrificing my network of relationships. (After all, Facebook was established for what appeared to be a really cool purpose and that is something I embrace).

In my estimation, then, I’ve exchanging a value (my data) for a service (my network) and the value I exchange is put to productive reuse by Facebook (they sell my data to advertisers and use it to drive my experience). So, my valuable data is  exchanged and re-exchanged just like currency. If I have only one choice about who to give my data to then that is the data version of antitrust, the “not a monopoly” argument dies instantly.

Should Facebook be broken up? You decide. But, does Mark Zuckerberg own a monopoly? Unquestionably.

Mark Zuckerberg gives me a network every day. In exchange I hand him a piece of my ever-growing “dataganger”. Billions of us do that every day and that is called a concentration of power.

This synagogue shooting has been pissing me off more and more as the days go by.

Now, to top it off our President is talking about executive orders to eliminate birthright citizenship. This he does while pretending to console American Jews. At least Hitler was honest about hating us non-Aryans. Trump pretends to give a shit about people who are not white Christians. But, he stands clearly on the side of white supremacy.

This is only minimally about Trump though. It’s really about the people he enables. What is scariest about Donald Trump’s America is not Donald Trump. It is how President Trump has laid bare the evil undercurrent of American White Supremacism and now it’s corollary antisemitism.

I suppose we should thank Trump for exposing what we really are.

But we also need to remember that the evil people are still a minority. It’s not to late to reinvigorate the power of love!

Every day, we seem to be making America greater, and greater, and greater again.

In just one week we have seen 14 bombs sent to past presidents and other major critics of Donald Trump AND the worst massacre of Jews in the history of the United States, with 11 people dead.

The country in which I live is no longer some shining light on some hill. We keep hearing people say “Make America Great Again” but that is clearly nonsense.

Perhaps one of the good things about Donald Trump being president of the United States is that China and Japan are now talking about healing their long-lasting wounds and working together. That is a good thing for the world. But, that is a bad thing for our country because it means that we will not remain the world’s great economic superpower.

So, we continue down the path of making America worse. I am among those who deeply loves the country in which I live. It absolutely kills me to see the wanton destruction of what was once the greatest democracy on Earth. That is all I have to say except to urge all of us to pray for the murdered Jewish worshipers and to pray that what little remain of our executive branch will have the balls to call the bombs what they are: assassination attempts. Such evil is NEVER even acceptable to ponder.

Enough!!!!

I love my country and I respect our flag. I put up my flag for Independence Day and leave it up through Labor Day. I stand for the National Anthem even when I’m just hearing it at home. I help my wife with her “Tools for Troops” nonprofit. I visit the Vietnam Memorial 100% of the time I go to D.C., even though I despise that war. I applaud for returning military when I see them in the airport. I thank every military person I see for their service. I have gone to Arlington National Cemetery for the laying of the wreath at the tomb of the unknowns even when I detested the President who laid it. I read both the Cato Institute’s and the American Constitution Society’s annual Supreme Court case reviews. I love America.

So, you might think I don’t approve of NFL players who kneel during our National anthem. You would be wrong. Here’s why.

The primary thing that makes me so love America is our theoretically unbounded notion of liberty. Unlike China or North Korea we don’t have state controlled media. Unlike Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Afghanistan, and most Muslim countries we don’t have law tied to Religion. Unlike England, we don’t have a state sanctioned church. We have a notion of Liberty that is broader than any other country. Not democracy – LIBERTY.

Unfortunately, the man we have elected President is the anthesis of all my concept of America represents. He will propose firing NFL players who kneel while praising white supremacists as including some good people. He stereotypes Muslims. He wants to stop our free media. He wants to let fundamentalist Christianity drive our laws. He is – in short – the exact opposite of me.

President Trump has the liberty to divide America all he wants. But, we citizens – NFL Players included – have been afforded equal liberty by our constitution. So, even though I revere our country, I love the flag, and I will always stand for the anthem, I revere far more the liberty upon which those things are founded. So, like it or not, I unconditionally support the NFL players, coaches, and owners who exercise their first amendment rights to protest the aspects of our country against which they feel it necessary to fight.

I stand for the first amendment and must thus stand with the NFL.

Man did The Economist nail it on this one!

Moral authority should be a primary Presidential trait. The Economist has rightly called our president out for not having the balls to take a moral stance against evil.