Archive for July, 2008

Boring, boring, boring.

July 30, 2008

When I started this blog, I announced that it would not be covering nor opining about the day-to-day vicissitudes of politics. Thousands of others are better informed than I and do it better than I ever could.

This year’s presidential contest is another reason I skip the political punditry business: The media’s coverage of it is too boring for words. Yesterday’s Washington Posts is an example of what I mean. Everyone is agog over the indictment of Alaska senator Ted Stephens and wondering how it will affect his reelection chances. (This is an issue? How could getting indicted help?) And after a week of silly speculation about how Senator McCain might name his vice-presidential running mate while Senator Obama was on his trip abroad, (McCain didn’t) today we are treated to an equally silly speculation about how Governor Kaine of Virginia might be Senator Obama’s choice of a running mate. That’s news? Of course, Governor Kaine might be the choice but he might not be as well. How such speculation becomes “news” escapes me. Or Senator McCain’s allegation that Senator Obama didn’t go to a U.S. Military hospital in Germany because the military would not allow him to take the media. (Untrue.)

Or would you rather have in-depth analysis of other trivia: A magazine cover or whether the candidates have their flag pins on today? [1] A year from now who will remember any of this? A month from now?

Besides, the results of the national election this year are not hard to predict. Unless some major disaster befalls him or the nation between now and November, Senator Obama is going to be the next president and the Democrats are going to increase their House and Senate majorities, although their senate majority is unlikely to reach 60 and become filibuster-proof.

Don’ take my word for it. People who know a great deal about predicting presidential elections are saying it. These things are as predictable as the weather, if you have a barometer. In the Royal Navy, we knew that if the glass was rising, the weather was improving. If it was falling, we were in for a blow. The faster the fall, the harder the blow. The Republicans’ barometer is falling fast.

Barometers, as scientific instruments go, are pretty simple devices. It turns out simple election barometers exist and work about as well. They certainly work better than summer-time opinion polls which historically are about as useful as an almanac is for predicting tomorrow’s weather — useless.

How simple are the election barometers? Really simple. Only three variables need to be plugged in to the formulae: the economy, the sitting president’s approval rating and how long the president’s party has held the White House. These barometers are astoundingly accurate. One observer says of them, “This laughably simple metric has correctly forecast the winner of the popular vote in 14 out of 15 postwar presidential elections.” For instance, Jimmy Carter was minus 66 on one such barometer when he ran into the hurricane of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Reagan beat Carter by almost 10% of the popular vote. (President Bush is minus 60 this summer, the second worst rating in the barometer’s history.)

Here’s another of the barometers:

1. If the annualized growth rate of G.D.P. in the second quarter is 2.6 percent or higher, the incumbent party will retain the White House. If the growth rate is 1.5 percent or lower, the other party will win.(The 2nd quarter estimate is scheduled for release on July 31st. The first quarter GDP was 1.0%, the last quarter of 2007 was 0.6 percent.)
2. If the president’s approval rating in the mid-June Gallup poll is below 45 percent, his party will lose in November. If his approval rating is 51 percent or higher, his party will win. (President Bush’s approval rating was 28%.)
3. Whichever candidate is ahead in the Gallup poll taken in the third week of September will win the election.

We’re not to the third week of September yet so maybe Senator McCain still has a chance; but the economy is worsening, the Republican barometer is falling and this summer’s political coverage is trivial and boring.
[1] Hendrik Hertzberg of the New Yorker writes insightfully about the New Yorker cover hubbub that was the story du jour one day earlier this month.


The Lone Truther Rides Again – Illegal Immigration Part 2

July 28, 2008

Sheriff Arpeggio and the Lone Truther sipped their coffee. Not $4.00 a cup Starbucks coffee either, just good cowboy coffee boiled over the fire with the grounds settled by a good dash of cold water in the pot.

The Lone Truther studied the email about illegal immigrants again. “Sheriff, this email alleges that, ‘95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles and of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.’”

“Bah. LAPD doesn’t keep that kind of data. Somebody made that up. Besides, LAPD clears 2/3rds of its homicide cases and more than 1/3 of the remainder are fugitives who are later convicted in other countries. That one didn’t worry me at all.”

“The Sheriff is right, “ added Tonto. “I’m looking at the LA most wanted list right now.”

“Plus, said the Sheriff, “that email claims that nearly 35% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally. It’s 23% in Los Angeles jails and it includes all illegal aliens including a bunch from Asia.”

“What is next?” asked Tonto.

Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.”

“Oh, that’s fine. I wonder why the people of Los Angeles haven’t noticed all those people in their garages. Do you or LAPD get many calls about that Sheriff?”

“Hardly any.”

“I thought so,” said the Lone Truther. “Here’s one for you to look up Tonto. It says, ‘The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the border.’”

“Kemo Sabe, that was not even the FBI. It was a study by California authorities 13 years ago about one gang in cahoots with Mexican drug runners.”

The Lone Ranger grimaced as he read the next one. “21 radio stations in L. A. are Spanish speaking. What’s a radio station?”

“We got 90 some odd radio stations in LA,” said Sheriff Arpeggio. “And the First Amendment. Don’t know why that is relevant to anything.”

But this email also says you got 5.1 million people who speak English and 3.9 million who speak Spanish.”

Tonto chuckled. “Yeah and most of the 3.9 million who speak Spanish also speak English. I wonder how many of the 5.1 million who speak English can speak a word of Spanish. Besides, the numbers don’t add up Sheriff. What are the other one million people speaking?”

The Lone Truther chimed in. “We have to remember not to believe everything we read. It says this was all in the Los Angeles Times.”

“But it wasn’t,” said Tonto. “It was from all over the place and was written by somebody who thinks every Hispanic is an illegal alien which will come as quite a shock to the 45 Million who are here legally. Heck, over in New Mexico 44% of their population is Hispanic and a lot of those families have been here for 400 years!”

"Passed by here the Governor Don Juan de Onate, from the discovery of the Sea of the South on the 16th of April, 1605.

"Passed by here the Governor Don Juan de Onate, from the discovery of the Sea of the South on the 16th of April, 1605.

“What about this last one?” asked the Sheriff. “Less than 2% of illegal aliens are picking our crops, but 29% are on welfare. Over 70% of the United States ‘ annual population growth (and over 90% of California , Florida , and New York ) results from immigration.”

The Lone Truther scratched his head. “That’s impossible. Illegal aliens can’t get welfare. And how does he know that less than 2% of illegals are picking our crops? I guess the rest are living in garages in Los Angeles, making babies, murdering their landlords and driving to their white-collar jobs in Santa Monica?”

The Sheriff said, “Well this sure will help. Now I can tell my citizens not to worry so much.”

San Francisco de Assisi Mission Church, Ranchos de Taos

San Francisco de Assisi Mission Church, Ranchos de Taos

“Sheriff, this whole thing is a pack of lies. Whoever wrote it is ignorant, a racist, or a liar or all three. Tell em that. And tell them to take a breath. Except for Tonto and his people, we’re all immigrants here. Remind them that more than a million Hispanics are veterans of the United States Armed Forces!”

The Lone Truther put more wood on the fire. “Why don’t you stay for dinner, Sheriff?”

“Don’t mind if I do. If your food is as good as your coffee it’ll be fine. What are you having?”

“Buffalo steak with sauteed mushrooms and some of Tonto’s special sun-dried tomatoes.”

The data for these posts about “Just One State,” about illegal immigration came primarily from U.S. Census Bureau data. Various forms of the email have been floating around since at least 2002. Snopes dealt with the 2006 version but, as far as we can tell, has not updated its information since then. Specific Census Bureau data for Los Angeles County is here.

Statistics regarding illegal immigration came from the Department of Homeland Security.



The Washington Post editorializes about Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Phoenix and his policies regarding illegal immigrants today.  Any resemblance between the real Sheriff Arpaio of Phoenix and my Sheriff Arpeggio is, of course, purely coincidental.

The Perils of Technology

July 25, 2008

Pens almost always work. Pencils too, if you have means to sharpen them. Paper never fails.

The same cannot be said of computers or people like me. I log onto computer sites in order to solve problems and am confronted by a series of words, all of which I recognize as being in English but which convey no meaning to my mind.

Some days it just isn’t worth the effort.

The Lone Truther Rides Again – Illegal Immigration

July 22, 2008

Tonto and the Lone Truther were sitting around the campfire, having a beer. (Actually, the Lone Truther and Tonto never drank alcoholic beverages of any kind. They had to maintain their sobriety at all times in case they were called upon to defend the American Way. But we have them drinking a beer so ordinary Americans will understand that beneath his mask, the Lone Truther was just another ordinary American doing extraordinary things. Tonto did, occasionally and only by accident, confuse sun-dried tomatoes and peyote buttons. And the Lone Truther may have occasionally picked hallucinogenic mushrooms and sauteed them with buffalo steaks but there is no historical proof one way or the other.)

Tonto stood up suddenly and said, “Kemo Sabe, I smell dust on the wind. I think a rider is coming in. The Lone Truther stood up and looked. “You’re right Tonto. See that rider, hell bent for leather, coming up the trail? I believe it is Sheriff Arpeggio of Los Angeles town. Better get the coffee ready. The Sheriff doesn’t drink alcohol while on duty and I am sure he is killing that horse because he needs our urgent help!”

Before the cowboy coffee could get to a boil, the Sheriff rode into camp. “Boys,” he said, “I got me a big problem!”

“Have a sit Sheriff and tell us all about it. The coffee will be ready in a minute,” replied the Lone Truther. Tonto didn’t talk much with the Sheriff around. Once the Sheriff had asked to see Tonto’s green card. Their relationship had been icy after Tonto pointed out to the Sheriff that his people had lived here several centuries longer the Sheriff’s. The Sheriff took offense when Tonto asked to see his passport.

“What is that brings you all the way out here in such a hurry, Sheriff?”

“I just got this email called Just One State about them illegal aliens. I got me millions of illegal immigrants living in my town! Take a look.”

The Lone Truther took a look and said, “Something fishy about this Sheriff. Tonto. Fire up the computer. We got research to do.”

Tonto lit a small, smokeless, Indian-style fire under the computer. “Okay, Kemo Sabe, I’m ready.”

“OK, Tonto. The first thing this email says is that 40% of all the workers in Los Angeles County are working for cash and not paying their taxes because they are illegal immigrants.”

“Why that’s absurd on its face, Kemo Sabe. 9.9 Million people live in Los Angeles county. 4.9 million of them are in the work force. If that email is right, 2 million people in Los Angeles are illegal workers. You’d have to count all those workers’ family members too. Half the entire population of LA would be illegal and that’s more than the entire Hispanic population which is 47% and most of them are U.S. citizens. Besides 2.7 million of the jobs in Los Angeles are white-collar jobs and illegal immigrants don’t get those. What is more, 3 million workers in LA drive their own cars to work everyday. Illegal aliens can’t get drivers’ licenses. If that statistic were true, the LAPD would be picking up vast numbers of them everyday and they’re not.”

The Lone Truther looked again at the email. “Sheriff,” he said, “ we’ve got 304,000,000 people in this country. According the the Department of Homeland Security — and don’t forget that’s the agency with the biggest motive of all to exaggerate the number so it can get more money in its budget — there are only 11.6 million illegal immigrants here. Suppose they are right. That’s less than 4% of the population. And only 7.6 million of those are Hispanic or Latino. That’s only 2.5% of everybody alive in this country right now. What’s everybody so worked up about?”

“Well sir,” said Sheriff Arpeggio, “they’re breaking the law and lots of people are really upset about that. Plus, folks are afraid of people who are different and whose birth rate is so much higher. They think the Hispanics are taking over the country. And look here at what this email says, ‘Over 2/3 of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal, whose births were paid for by taxpayers.’”

“Kemo Sabe, that is ridiculous, said Tonto. “That’s all Hispanic births in Los Angeles in 2001. Every single one. Whoever wrote that email thinks that anyone with a Hispanic last name is an illegal alien. But it is true that Hispanics have higher birthrates.”

“Yes,” said Sheriff Arpeggio, “I’ve heard that in Los Angeles a woman gives birth every thirty seconds.”

“Sheriff, you must find that woman and stop her!”

Stay tuned for the conclusion of this exciting episode of “The Lone Truther Rides Again!”

Ice-Out at the Supreme Court

July 20, 2008

Like the first signs of the Yukon River’s ice-out in the spring, commentators about the Supreme Court are beginning — just beginning — to understand that there are no liberals on today’s Supreme Court. Here and there you can hear the ice cracking as it starts to break up. For example, Sunday’s Washington Post ran an article which expressly says what readers of this blog already knew: today’s Court is more conservative than at anytime since the early 1930’s. Five conservatives and four moderates populate the Court today.

Linda Greenhouse, the New York Times reporter at the Court for 30 years, never found this out. In her valedictory article — she has retired, to be replaced by Adam Liptak who we hope will not be as frequent as offender as was Ms. Greenhouse, who blithely used the words “liberal justices” even though none existed for most of her career covering the court — obliquely, and apparently without intentional irony, noted that the Court is different than it would be had Robert Bork been confirmed as a justice. Justice Kennedy got that seat. Only someone who has toiled long and hard in the Court’s swamp would fail to notice that Justice Kennedy is a conservative, even if less a one than Robert Bork. Ms. Greenhouse was still writing about the “liberal justices” in her penultimate article for the Times.

As readers of the Goldenstate know, the labels matter. “Liberal” arguments are not even being made in the Supreme Court these days; lawyers want to win their cases and know they can’t do that by making futile, “liberal” arguments. Which is why I for one, disagree with those who say the next president should appoint only moderates to the Court. An intellectual counter-weight to Justices Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito would broaden the legal arguments in the Court and expand the national political discussion. President Clinton, who appointed the last two moderates, did not grasp that.

It is time for an ice-out at the Supreme Court. The law, like the water of the Yukon, flows best when unfrozen. The springtime of new ideas, even if the time of those ideas is not yet come, is needed on the Court. That day is advanced every time a journalist or a pundit or an observer of the Court eschews the word “liberal.” Or at least does not let it come within shouting distance of the word “justices.”

From: VPOTUS – Re:War onTerror Memo

July 16, 2008


Only those persons with a current SSBI not subject to a SBPR in the next six months, a TS, or SCI [UAV or IMINT], SCI [G], SAP or Yankee White will see any text in this post. Everyone else will see a series of dashes.

Current SI and TK briefings required.

CCO’s, SCI [SIGINT], NSA CCO’s, DOE Q and L, and lawyers CIA/SLA; DOD/SAP not authorized.

The following caveats apply:


N/A caveat














The rest of you should be afraid – be very afraid.

More News You MIssed

July 13, 2008

According to the New York Times, this article actually appeared in that newspaper. The moral of this story? Don’t believe everything you read, even here.

Guns and Commas – The Last Post (For Awhile)

July 9, 2008

The Supreme Court of the United States has made it clear: Americans unaffiliated with any militia possess a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. More than 36,000 fire-arm related deaths befall the U.S. each year. Handguns account for more than 80%. Half are suicides. Because suicide is an impulsive act, many probably would not happen if guns were not so easily available. More male teenagers die from gunshot wounds than from all other causes combined. In addition to the deaths, more than 86,000 people a year are wounded by fire-arms, again mostly by handguns. In spite of those horrific facts and for what it is worth, here is my judgment on the case: The Court got to the right political and institutional result, but for the wrong legal reason. (I would not have voted to accept the case in the first place, but the Court did.)

Guns are too much a part of our current culture in the U.S. for the Supreme Court to pronounce them illegal. Institutionally and politically, the Court trimmed its sails. Even with the best captain and crew in the world, no sailing ship can sail directly into the wind, even if it needs to.

Enough Americans are not yet fed up with the audit of gun death and destruction. An opinion of the Supreme Court outlawing handguns would do nothing to speed the day when we are sufficiently fed up and might actually slow the process.

But purely as a matter of law, especially if you are — as Justice Scalia loudly and often proclaims himself — a “textualist,” you should conclude that the words and grammar of the Second Amendment protect only a collective right to bear arms for service in a militia. Otherwise, the entire first clause and all those commas are meaningless. Only a self-deluding textualist, hell-bent on achieving the result he desired would read the first clause of the 2nd Amendment out of the Constitution.

Frankly, the Framers never thought about gun control. Back then everybody had guns and all the states had militias. It never occurred to anyone that private ownership of handguns would ever be a serious societal problem in parts of the country. Nor did it occur to them that regulating handguns might solve such a problem. Moreover, Justice Scalia notwithstanding, gun control never crossed the minds of the white male property-owners over 21 who voted to ratify the Constitution. Guns, like limited suffrage, were taken for granted. As Newton could not have imagined a regime where his formulae do not work (Quantum Mechanics), neither could those men have imagined one without private guns or one where women voted.

It is silly to answer a modern question by imagining thoughts that dead people never thought. The Framers had no intention about gun control because they never thought about it. Neither did the people who voted to ratify the Constitution.

Ironically that is why, if you accept a theory of constitutional interpretation which includes modern understandings, it is reasonable to conclude that the ambiguous text of the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right to handguns and single-shot hunting rifles. The 5-4 decision probably tracks current opinion polls faithfully. That is where our culture is at the moment.

And make no mistake, that is exactly how the majority decided this case. That is what Justice Scalia labored mightily to hide in his opinion for the Court. After all, a real textualist would never ignore three lowly commas.


This ends, for awhile anyway, the series of posts about the Second Amendment. Disappointed that the Court skipped the commas and the “ablative absolute” issue, I subside now to wait for a more literate Court.

While I complain about the Court’s sins of omission, here is Ross Guberman on the Court’s grammatical sins of commission.

Guns v. Commas – The Penultimate Post

July 7, 2008

He that uses many words for explaining any subject, doth, like the cuttlefish, hide himself for the most part in his own ink. -John Ray,naturalist (1627-1705)
It is time to tackle the Supreme Court’s opinion in Heller v. D.C., the recent case in which the court held that Americans have an individual right to own at least some kinds of guns. This should be the next-to-last post about the case. (At least until some of the cases the National Rifle Association started last week wind their way through the court system.) The other posts are collected in the 2nd Amendment category at the right.

The decision was 5-4 with Justice Scalia writing for the majority. Justice Scalia is the best writer on today’s Supreme Court. He knows how to write a short, well-reasoned opinion. When he goes on for 64 pages, as he does in this case, something cuttle-fishy is afoot.

And, as I’ve warned you before, if you give Justice Scalia his premises, which he usually sets out in the first few paragraphs of his analysis, he’ll frog-march you away helplessly entwined in his logic. It’s his premises you have to watch. Often they are honestly debatable and sometimes flatly wrong.

His opinion in the Guns v. Commas case is an example. Here is how it starts.

The Second Amendment is naturally divided into two parts: its prefatory clause and its operative clause. The former does not limit the latter grammatically, but rather announces a purpose.

Even Scalia knows he’s pulling the wool over our eyes:

Although this structure of the Second Amendment is unique in our Constitution, other legal documents of the founding era, particularly individual-rights provisions of state constitutions, commonly included a prefatory statement of purpose.

But we aren’t concerned with other “legal documents” and Scalia knows it. We’re concerned solely with the Constitution which does not have “prefatory clauses,” except in the Preamble.

If your premise is shaky, it’s good to muddy the waters with an impossible example as soon as possible. For instance,

Logic demands that there be a link between the stated purpose and the command. The Second Amendment would be nonsensical if it read, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to petition for redress of grievances shall not be infringed.”

Then, after making up a provision that does not exist, run back to the unquestioned basic premise:

That requirement of logical connection may cause a prefatory clause to resolve an ambiguity in the operative clause (“The separation of church and state being an important objective, the teachings of canons shall have no place in our jurisprudence.” The preface makes clear that the operative clause refers not to canons of interpretation but to clergymen.) But apart from that clarifying function, a prefatory clause does not limit or expand the scope of the operative clause.

Talking through his hat like this makes Justice Scalia irritable and depressed, like an unwilling child dragged to a weekly piano lesson.

When that happens, he takes it out on a fellow justice. This time it’s Justice Stevens on whom he vents his frustration.

(JUSTICE STEVENS uses the same excuse for dismissing the state constitutional provisions analogous to the Second Amendment that identify private-use purposes for which the individual right can be asserted. See post, at 12.) That analysis is faulty. A purposive qualifying phrase that contradicts the word or phrase it modifies is unknown this side of the looking glass (except, apparently, in some courses on Linguistics).

Scalia spends a lot of cuttlefish ink disagreeing with the two dissents and often does it dismissively. But that enables him to gloss over other textual problems. For instance, what about the adjective “well-regulated?” Most everyone, back then and now, thought it meant a militia created and operated by a state government. But that is a troublesome understanding for Justice Scalia. So, he brushes it aside,

Finally, the adjective “well-regulated” implies nothing more than the imposition of proper discipline and training.

Mr. Justice Scalia’s talent for deception is never as impressive as when he exercises it against unoffending, helpless dictionaries. “Regulated” does not mean “disciplined.”

A straw man to knock down is a good thing too, especially if it gets him back to his basic — and still unquestioned — premise,

It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. . . . It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.

Eventually, he’s finished:

Putting all of these textual elements together, we find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.

And not a word about those three commas, which is pretty good evidence that the Framers put them there for a reason; a reason which Justice Scalia finds disagreeable.


Stanley Fish weighs in with a good point: Everybody on the Court spent their time worrying over the “intention” of the long-dead framers. (Technically, Justice Scalia worries more about the understanding of the people who voted to ratify.) My take on the case, coming this week, is related. Here is a teaser: the Framers had no intention about gun control because they never thought about it. Neither did the people who voted to ratify the Constitution.

Independence Day

July 4, 2008

When admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, a lawyer receives a certificate from the Court which states the year of admission. Mine reads,“in the year of the Independence of the United States, the two hundredth.” A lawyer admitted this year will receive one announcing admission in the year of the Independence of the United States the two hundred thirty-second.” That is an eloquent way of reminding a member of that bar that she carries on a long tradition of service to the United States.

It was once the custom for the day’s orator at local Independence Day celebrations to read the text of the Declaration of Independence. That was a good thing.

The Declaration of Independence

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.

US Flag on the Moon

Saluting the Flag


Ted Widmer summarizes what we know about contemporaneous copies of the Declaration in today’s New York Times.