Prosecute the torture.

July 4, 2015

Liberty Will Reign

And "John Adams - While I live, let me have a country, a free country!" here (embedding disabled).

July The Fourth

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds 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 to 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 shown 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 meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration 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 harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to 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 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 offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring 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 in 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, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and 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 endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is 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 attention 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 the 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.

June 30, 2015

John Oliver on Transgender Rights

When he's right, he's right.

A special request to my friends at the Post-Gazette:  Can you please email the link to this blog post to Jennifer Graham?  Perhaps after seeing this, she'll be inclined to do a follow-up/correction/apology column to her piece on Caitlyn Jenner.

And if anyone else wishes to send this along to Ms Graham, please feel free.

June 29, 2015

Revisiting Arnold New Kensington UPDATED

I wanted to give an update of sorts for whatever's going on in Arnold/New Kensington.

When last we spoke, a political blog had been taken down and the post hoc ergo propter hoc implication from this paragraph:
The political blog focusing on the New Kensington-Arnold School District was taken down not long after a school board member filed a lawsuit this week accusing an anonymous poster of making false and potentially damaging statements about him.
I've been told by a source close to the blog that that's not the case.  My source tells me that it was a matter of low traffic which led to a trickle of comments.

In any event, my blog post was a discussion of libel in the comment that triggered the above mentioned lawsuit.  I'm not a lawyer in any way (I believe I said that before - just wanted to reiterate out of an abundance of caution) and I was writing to say that the commenter might be in some legal trouble.

Looks like at least one actual expert disagrees.  From the Trib:
Robert Richards, a Penn State professor and the founder of the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment, said that it's unlikely that Petit could actually win the lawsuit, since elected officials are held to the highest standard of proof in a defamation suit.

The burden will be on Petit to prove that the anonymous commenter knowingly made false statements that damaged Petit's reputation, according to Richards.

Richards worries more that the anonymous poster's identity will be revealed.

“It's extremely tough to prove,” Richards said of actual malice. “We have long protected anonymous speech in this country.

“You want people to anonymously be able to blow the whistle, so to speak, and not be afraid to speak their minds.

“That right is threatened to be eroded by suits like this.”
The article goes on to say that Petit's attorney believes he can prove malice.

I don't have access to any other of the facts of the case so I am going to leave the narrative at that.  If there's a court case to proceed, let it proceed without the less than fully informed opinions of a blog two dozen miles away.

In any event, the next version of the blog has gone live and from what I can gather, right now they're discussing the supposed similarities between a deleted facebook message and an email sent into the the first blog.

Whatever the facts, looks like things have gotten nasty in the Arnold New Kensington School District.

As a post script, the man at the center of this controversy, John Pallone, has showed up on the pages of 2 Political Junkies - here.  He was quoted by the Tribune-Review as saying he didn't think the Ten Commandments monument posted outside of Valley High School is unconstitutional.

So whatever else we know or don't know about John Pallone, we know he doesn't know squat about the Constitution.

UPDATE: I made a mistake.  An astute reader emailed in today to inform me that John Pallone is the Superintendent of the New Kensington Arnold School District and that it was his brother Bob Pallone who I quoted regarding the Ten Commandments monument.  I should have taken the extra few minutes to make sure I had my Pallone brothers straight.  I didn't and it resulted in a mistake and for that I apologize.

June 27, 2015

Right Wing Freak-Outs Over Marriage Equality

Let's start a World Net Daily.

First there's editor-in-chief Joseph Farah:
This was not a legal decision. It was a political edict by five men and women in black robes who really believe in their “supremacy.” In short, they believe they are wiser than God who created the institution of marriage and a union of a man and a woman.
To Farah the freedom described in Kennedy's decision will surely lead to polygamy and legalized incest.  Oh yea and then there's this:
Does Kennedy understand liberty apart from God’s moral code brings on horrors like were experienced during the French Revolution?
That's right.  Godless liberty (like getting out of the way of Adam and Steve want to marry) will march us all (or perhaps only the soon-to-be persecuted Christians) to the scaffold.

And Farah knows that God's not happy about this.  Nope.  Not one bit:
As a Christian, I also believe we will be hearing from the author of marriage soon.

I don’t know what form that message will come, but it is certain to be heard sooner rather than later.

America’s elite leadership have taken the side of the enemies of God, and He will take notice.

It could come in the form of an economic crash. It could come in more civil and racial strife along the lines of what has been building in recent years. It could come in the form of an attack on our country from foreign power or terrorist group.

I suspect it will something big. I take no comfort in passing along this warning. It’s just the pattern that God uses to bring His people to repentance for their own good.
There's also this about the president.  It's from something they've taken to call the "Obama Insect Chronicles."  Take a look:
It has happened again. Barack Obama, whose encounters of the buzzing kind have been noted numerous times during his presidency, had another episode Friday as he was praising same-sex “marriage” at the White House.

Obama is talking about how in America people can write their own destiny when the fly lands on his shoulder and makes itself at home.

He continues speaking, and the fly wanders around the shoulder of his suit.

“Today we can say, in no uncertain terms … we’ve made our union a little more perfect,” he says of the Supreme Court ruling that created same-sex “marriage” across America based on the 14th Amendment, which was adopted to make sure blacks were treated equally after the Civil War.

And then the fly flies off.
So what's the significance of the flies?  Oh, Lord take a look.  It's comedy gold:
The flurry of incidents prompted radio and TV host Glenn Beck to say in 2010: “How many times have rodents crossed your path, flies landed on your face, or bees strangely swarmed in your presence? But our president, at one of the most meticulously maintained houses, it seems to be happening all the time. Why? I don’t know, but someone does. … A swarm of [bees] hovered as he was leaving the White House to play basketball. He went inside and they were gone. How does this happen? Oh, I don’t know. But the bees know.”

In January 2013, WND reported prophecy websites were having a field day with the worldwide attention Obama received for sparring with a fly.

Religious and other websites used the headlines to point out that a biblical reference for Satan, the Semitic deity Beelzebub, literally translates from Hebrew into “Lord of the Flies.”
So Obama equals Beelzebub because of all the flies.  This little story made it big locally as well a few years ago.  It was particularly embarrassing for Rose Tennent:
On their June 25 radio program, Pittsburgh hosts Rose Tennent and Jim Quinn read a listener's email that speculated Obama may be "evil," or an "enemy of the USA," citing evidence from Beck's June 23 Fox News show. Tennent then asked: "Isn't there something ... weird about that? Like all the insects and the rodents come out for this man, or something. Like they're attracted to him. You know like those devil movies ... Like they're attracted to the devil or something."
Since we've circled back locally, let's check in with someone I would assume was a huge Quinn and Rose fan.  From Pennlive:
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Butler County Republican and long one of the most outspoken social conservatives in the Legislature, blasted the court's decisions on marriage and health care this week as setting a new high water mark for activist judges.

Taken together, he said, the decisions "really amplify the fact that what we are seeing from the United State Supreme Court now is nothing short of judicial tyranny."

Speaking more specifically about the marriage decision, Metcalfe continued: "It shows what tyrants they are when they think that they can place themselves above God's law, above natural law, and above the will of the American people as we've seen it expressed in state after state after state."

Metcalfe's reference was to the fact that, including today's rulings, same sex marriage has become legal in most U.S. jurisdictions only through court rulings that have overridden laws put in place by elected officials or voter-approved initiatives.
I know facts really aren't Daryl's friends but in a recent poll done before yesterday's ruling for the NBC News/Wall Street Journal, 57% of those polled favored the Supreme Court deciding that " gays have a constitutional right to marry" and another recent poll done for CBS News/New York Times showed that 57% of those polled said that it should be legal for same-sex couples to marry.

So I guess Daryl's wrong about that whole "will of the American people" thing.  In any case let me touch back on a worry that Farah has:
We’ve already seen this same-sex marriage issue used, including by this same court, to portray anyone who dissents from the redefining of marriage as a bigot, a hater, a maladjusted rogue, an enemy of the people.
At least in the case of Joey Farah, the good folks at WND and our good friend Daryl Metcalfe, I'd have to ask: Yea, and your point is?

GIving Credit Where Credit Is Due

I'm normally good for a jab or two at the Tribune-Review (or at least their editorial board for whenever they botch the science) but simple fairness dictates that when they're on the right side of history that achievement should be applauded.

For perhaps if they hear the applause and if they get to like it, they'll spend a little more time amongst the rational and reasonable.

Today, they're on the right side of history.  Admittedly, they do it on their own terms, but still:
No state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

That's the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment on which the U.S. Supreme Court based its Friday decision to settle one of this nation's most contentious contemporary debates.

In a 5-4 ruling, with swing Justice Anthony Kennedy joining the court's four liberal brethren in providing the deciding vote and writing for the majority, the high court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. And thus “the law” has been forced to evolve to mirror contemporary mores and folkways.

Lest there be any confusion, we do not support this decision as any kind of ode to “progressive” living constitutionalism. To the contrary, the ruling represents a welcome advance on the path to the right to be let alone, a decidedly libertarian philosophy. [Italics in original.]
So for them the ruling is a victory for libertarianism.  Perhaps it is, perhaps it isn't.  Who cares?  In either case, for them it's settled:
Same-sex couples asked for not only equal treatment under the law but “for equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” Mr. Justice Kennedy wrote. “The Constitution grants them that right.” Period.
Well done, my friends.  Perhaps we'll spar again tomorrow (yea, we probably will) but for today you're on the right side of history.  And for that my hat is tipped.

Good for you.

June 26, 2015

This Happened Today

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

So did this:

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Love Wins

This Just In

From the Supreme Court:
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that it is legal for all Americans, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, to marry the people they love.
Details to follow.

The decision.

From the decision:
The challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and they abr idge central precepts of equality.The marriage laws at issue are in essence unequal: Same-sex couples are denied benefits afforded opposite-sex couples and are barred from exercising a fundamental right. Especially against a long history of disapproval of their relationships, this denial works a grave and continuing harm, serving to disrespect and subordinate gays and lesbians. Pp. 18–22.
The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.
And finally:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
Freedom, equality and fairness won.

June 25, 2015

In Case You Missed It - ACA Survives

From the NYTimes:
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Obama’s health care law allows the government to provide nationwide tax subsidies to help poor and middle-class people buy health insurance, a sweeping vindication that endorsed the larger purpose of Mr. Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

The 6-to-3 ruling means that it is all but certain that the Affordable Care Act will survive after Mr. Obama leaves office in 2017, and will give it a greater chance of becoming an enduring part of America’s social safety net.
Whatever the majority's details, I am sure this is something that's bound to piss off the braintrust at the Tribune-Review.


June 24, 2015

Daryl Metcalfe And Neo-Succesionist Nullification

Today, I start with this piece at the Huffingtonpost by Charles J. Reid, Professor of Law, University of St. Thomas. He starts by denouncing the so-called "Confederate Flag"and then turns the course of his argument a bit:
But we should go deeper than asking for symbolic change, as important as that is. I'd like in particular to call attention to a troubling development found mostly in deep red, Republican states, and that is the unholy marriage between Confederate ideology and the Second Amendment.

The bond that unites Confederate ideology and the Second Amendment is the idea of "nullification." This is the belief that the states are the ultimate arbiters of what is or is not constitutional and that the states are thus always free to ignore federal law. States and not the courts, on this warped view of the Constitution, judge what is or is not constitutional.
And he frames "nullification" in to a 19th Century historical context:
Nullification, in other words, was a prominent feature of the constitutional theory that justified the Confederacy. It was a doctrine finally repudiated by the Civil War and by the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868.

What does this history have to do with the Second Amendment? Simply this: Nullification, a concept that should have died a century and a half ago, has been resurrected from the tomb by gun-rights extremists and is triumphing in legislature after legislature in America's deep-red states.
Not so fast, Bub.  Maybe not even in some deep-red states.  And for all things wingnutty, we can as always turn to State Representative Daryl Metcalfe and the legislation he's sponsoring, HR 357 (as in 357.  Do you get it?  Well, do you, punk?).  From Metcalfe's co-sponsorship memo:
I am currently having legislation drafted that is similar to firearm legislation introduced in Wyoming. My legislation would prohibit the enforcement of any new federal restriction, prohibition or registration requirement for firearms, magazines, and ammunition. My legislation would also require the state to intercede on behalf of Pennsylvania citizens against any federal attempt to register, ban or restrict the purchase or ownership of firearms and firearms accessories which are currently legal products.
And from the bill itself:
General rule.--A Federal law, rule, regulation or order created or taking effect after December 31, 2012, shall be unenforceable within the borders of this Commonwealth if the law, rule, regulation or order attempts to register, restrict or ban the ownership or purchase of a firearm, magazine of a firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition.

Penalty.--An official, agent or employee of the Federal Government, Commonwealth or political subdivision who enforces or attempts to enforce a Federal law under subsection (a) commits a felony of the third degree and, upon conviction, shall be subject to imprisonment for not less than one year or more than seven years, a fine of not more than $15,000, or both.
Nullification, right there.  In the not that deep red State of Pennsylvania.  Too bad the States have no authority to override federal law nor to decide which federal law is constitutional:
In Edgar v. Mite Corp., 457 U.S. 624, 632 (U.S. 1982) it was held that “a state statute is void to the extent that it actually conflicts with a valid federal statute” and that a conflict will be found either where compliance with both federal and state law is impossible or where the state law stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.
Does Daryl Metcalfe not know this?

I guess it's a moot point since nullification is in itself a denial of Constitutional authority (hey, I thought these Tea Party folks looooved the Constitution??).

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Daryl Metcalfe, Pennsylvania's very own neo-confederate nullificationist!