Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

“If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad.”
— James Madison

Take Action!

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Bush War Adviser Says Draft Worth a Look
WASHINGTON (AP) - Frequent tours for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have stressed the all-volunteer force and made it worth considering a return to a military draft, President Bush’s new war adviser said Friday.

“I think it makes sense to certainly consider it,” Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said in an interview with National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”

“And I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table. But ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation’s security by one means or another,” Lute added in his first interview since he was confirmed by the Senate in June.

Ohhh - this would end well. Good Grief what Tools!

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

Think Progress » Rep. Bill Sali: Religious Diversity In Congress ‘Was Not Envisioned By The Founding Fathers’
Rep. Bill Sali: Religious Diversity In Congress ‘Was Not Envisioned By The Founding Fathers’

When Idaho State Rep. Bill Sali was running for Congress in 2006, Vice President Cheney visited his state and said, “Bill is ready to make a difference in Washington, and he’s going to be the kind of Congressman who will make you proud.” Now-Congressman Bill Sali (R-ID) is demonstrating his worth by criticizing the new religious diversity embodied in the 110th Congress:

We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes — and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

Really? Sali may want to take a peek at Article VI of the Constitution, which notes that there is no religious test for public office:


What a dumbass.

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XM recreates D-Day radio coverage in real-time - Orbitcast.com
Next Wednesday, June 6th, XM will air a unique special that re-creates the radio coverage of D-Day, with archival reports from NBC’s original radio news bulletins of the invasion.

This incredible broadcast will air, in real-time, starting at 12:41am ET (which was the time of the first airing) and will end June 7th, at 5:45pm ET on The ’40s (ch 4). The special will be based on the original NBC radio news reports of the invasion (currently housed in the National Archives) exactly as it was heard almost 63 years ago.

The marathon will also feature music of the era and archival reports from radio commentators of the day, including H. V. Kaltenborn, Merrill Mueller, and the other members of NBC’s news staff.

“Once we discovered that this material existed, we felt we had an obligation to bring it to XM listeners,” said Program Director Marlin Taylor. “No one else would undertake such an endeavor and it is our role to keep the music and history of this era alive and available to those living in the 21st century.”


Sounds very interesting. As Gizmodo noted - it’ll be educational to see how the media handled war “real time” back then.

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

Women have played major role in history — from the start, authors assert
Of greatest import in this book is the idea that women have always been major players – not simply baby-machines who tended to the children, rustled up roots, collected nuts and berries and relied on macho male hunters to bring home the bacon.

In fact, the authors’ spadework led them to a striking conclusion: that “female humans have been the chief engine in the unprecedented high level of human sociability; were the inventors of the most useful of tools – called the String Revolution; have shared equally in the provision of food for human societies; almost certainly drove the human invention of language; and were the ones who created agriculture.”


But of course.

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April 17, 1790: America Loses One of Its Most Inventive Minds -
1790: Benjamin Franklin dies.

Printer, newspaper publisher, statesman, inventor, scientist, patriot, revolutionary — no one, with the possible exception of Thomas Jefferson, cast a more imposing shadow over young America.

Franklin spent his working life as a printer and publisher and much of his legacy rests there. But his contributions to the scientific sphere were equally impressive.

Although not formally trained as a scientist, Franklin was hardly a duffer when he forayed into the field following his retirement from the printing trade. He possessed a keen intellect and a naturally logical and inquisitive mind, and his experiments with electricity, begun in the early 1750s, yielded results that led to a number of technological advances, the lightning rod and the electric battery among them.

Franklin’s work with electricity brought him international fame, several honorary degrees and membership in Britain’s Royal Society, but he was active in other areas, too. He studied weather closely and proposed better methods for tracking storm progression. He invented the catheter while trying to help his ill brother, and he conducted experiments to make agriculture more efficient.

Franklin retained a lifelong interest in science but the events of the day moved him inexorably toward the politics of revolution.

When Franklin died in 1790 at the age of 84, more than 20,000 people attended the funeral.

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Thomas Jefferson

In an 1808 letter, President Thomas Jefferson wrote,

“The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys.”

Today’s politicians seem to have forgotten that. That’s why we need the Read the Bills Act.

Read the rest of this entry »

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White House Opposes D.C. Vote - washingtonpost.com
The White House declared its opposition yesterday to a bill that would give the District its first full seat in the House of Representatives, saying it is unconstitutional, and a key Senate supporter said such concerns could kill the measure.”The Constitution specifies that only ‘the people of the several states’ elect representatives to the House,” said White House spokesman Alex Conant. “And D.C. is not a state.”

It’s rare for me to agree with this administration but in this case they are correct.
DC was designed as the seat of government of the United States and belongs to all the states.
It was intentionally designed not to be in any state. Shrink it and cede the residential districts back to the states they came from - if the states will have them. Otherwise let them form their own tiny state and exclude the federal building area and the Potomac from that state. If that’s what they really want to do.
Of course then we have to look at changing all the rules for the rest of the territories.
Aren’t we sick enough of people ignoring the Constitution without resorting to it ourselves?

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

WASHINGTON - The nation’s top two law enforcement officials acknowledged Friday the FBI broke the law to secretly pry out personal information about Americans. They apologized and vowed to prevent further illegal intrusions.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales left open the possibility of pursuing criminal charges against FBI agents or lawyers who improperly used the USA Patriot Act in pursuit of suspected terrorists and spies.

The FBI’s transgressions were spelled out in a damning 126-page audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine. He found that agents sometimes demanded personal data on people without official authorization, and in other cases improperly obtained telephone records in non-emergency circumstances.

Full Story

—–

This is why we don’t give them those powers! This is why the Patriot Act is wrong headed. This is why we have a Constitution! How stupid are we?
Gonzales is a criminal and has zero respect for the US Constitution. He, in addition to his employees, needs to be prosecuted.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/30/opinion/30harris.html?ex=1317268800&en=c6ea4450122c3e93&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

IN the autumn of 68 B.C. the world’s only military superpower was dealt a profound psychological blow by a daring terrorist attack on its very heart. Rome’s port at Ostia was set on fire, the consular warfleet destroyed, and two prominent senators, together with their bodyguards and staff, kidnapped.

The incident, dramatic though it was, has not attracted much attention from modern historians. But history is mutable. An event that was merely a footnote five years ago has now, in our post-9/11 world, assumed a fresh and ominous significance. For in the panicky aftermath of the attack, the Roman people made decisions that set them on the path to the destruction of their Constitution, their democracy and their liberty. One cannot help wondering if history is repeating itself.

Consider the parallels. The perpetrators of this spectacular assault were not in the pay of any foreign power: no nation would have dared to attack Rome so provocatively. They were, rather, the disaffected of the earth: “The ruined men of all nations,” in the words of the great 19th-century German historian Theodor Mommsen, “a piratical state with a peculiar esprit de corps.”

Like Al Qaeda, these pirates were loosely organized, but able to spread a disproportionate amount of fear among citizens who had believed themselves immune from attack. To quote Mommsen again: “The Latin husbandman, the traveler on the Appian highway, the genteel bathing visitor at the terrestrial paradise of Baiae were no longer secure of their property or their life for a single moment.”

What was to be done? Over the preceding centuries, the Constitution of ancient Rome had developed an intricate series of checks and balances intended to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of a single individual. The consulship, elected annually, was jointly held by two men. Military commands were of limited duration and subject to regular renewal. Ordinary citizens were accustomed to a remarkable degree of liberty: the cry of “Civis Romanussum” — “I am a Roman citizen” — was a guarantee of safety throughout the world.

But such was the panic that ensued after Ostia that the people were willing to compromise these rights. The greatest soldier in Rome, the 38-year-old Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (better known to posterity as Pompey the Great) arranged for a lieutenant of his, the tribune Aulus Gabinius, to rise in the Roman Forum and propose an astonishing new law.

“Pompey was to be given not only the supreme naval command but what amounted in fact to an absolute authority and uncontrolled power over everyone,” the Greek historian Plutarch wrote. “There were not many places in the Roman world that were not included within these limits.”

Pompey eventually received almost the entire contents of the Roman Treasury — 144 million sesterces — to pay for his “war on terror,” which included building afleet of 500 ships and raising an army of 120,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry. Such an accumulation of power was unprecedented, and there was literally a riot in the Senate when the bill was debated.

Nevertheless,at a tumultuous mass meeting in the center of Rome, Pompey’s opponents were cowed into submission, the Lex Gabinia passed (illegally), and he was given his power. In the end, once he put to sea, it took less than three months to sweep the pirates from the entire Mediterranean. Even allowing for Pompey’s genius as a military strategist, the suspicion arises that if the pirates could be defeated so swiftly, they could hardly have been such a grievous threat in the first place.

But it was too late to raise such questions. By the oldest trick in the political book — the whipping up of a panic, in which any dissenting voice could be dismissed as “soft” or even “traitorous” — powers had been ceded by the people that would never be returned. Pompey stayed inthe Middle East for six years, establishing puppet regimes throughout the region, and turning himself into the richest man in the empire.

Those of us who are not Americans can only look on in wonder at the similar ease with which the ancient rights and liberties of the individual are being surrendered in the United States in the wake of 9/11. The vote by the Senate on Thursday to suspend the right of habeas corpus for terrorism detainees, denying them their right to challenge their detention in court; the careful wording about torture, which forbids only the inducement of “serious” physical and mental suffering to obtain information; the admissibility of evidence obtained in the United States without a search warrant; the licensing of the president to declare a legal resident of the United States an enemy combatant —all this represents an historic shift in the balance of power between the citizen and the executive.

An intelligent, skeptical American would no doubt scoff at the thought that what has happened since 9/11 could presage the destruction of a centuries-old constitution; but then, I suppose, an intelligent, skeptical Roman in 68 B.C. might well have done the same.

In truth, however, the Lex Gabinia was the beginning of the end of the Roman republic. It set a precedent. Less than a decade later, Julius Caesar — the only man,according to Plutarch, who spoke out in favor of Pompey’s special command during the Senate debate — was awarded similar, extended military sovereignty in Gaul. Previously, the state, through the Senate, largely had direction of its armed forces; now the armed forces began to assume direction of the state.

It also brought a flood of money into an electoral system that had been designed for a simpler,non-imperial era. Caesar, like Pompey, with all the resources of Gaul at his disposal, became immensely wealthy, and used his treasure to fund his own political faction. Henceforth, the result of elections was determined largely by which candidate had the most money to bribe the electorate. In 49 B.C., the system collapsed completely, Caesar crossed the Rubicon — and the rest, as they say, is ancient history.

It may be that the Roman republic was doomed in any case. But the disproportionate reaction to the raid on Ostia unquestionably hastened the process, weakening the restraints on military adventurism and corrupting the political process. It was to be more than 1,800 years before anything remotely comparable to Rome’s democracy — imperfect though it was — rose again.

The Lex Gabinia was a classic illustration of the law of unintended consequences: it fatally subverted the institution it was supposed to protect. Let us hope that vote in the United States Senate does not have the same result.

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

Almost 100 year old color photos. Remarkably good. From around the Russian Empire. Very cool.

Original Reference
http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=245#more-245

Exhibition Page
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/

You can see all the raw pictures here. Search for the term color.
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/prokquery.html

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.

“Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” he shrugged. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

“There is one difference,” I pointed out. “In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”

“Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

The quote offered above was part of a conversation Gustave Gilbert, a German-speaking intelligence officer and psychologist, held with Hermann Goering in his cell on the evening of 18 April 1946, as the Nuremberg Trials were halted for a three-day Easter recess.

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Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.

The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.

It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.

Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.

The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.

The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves. (Seems to be pertinent again)

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“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.” - Albert Einstein

“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” - Dr. Benjamin Franklin, 1759

“You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence.” - Charles A. Beard (1874-1948), U.S. historian

“The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it.” - Woodrow Wilson

“The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedients.” - Edmund Burke

“Our forefathers would think it’s time for a revolution. This is why they revolted in the first place… They revolted against much more mild oppression.” - Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) when he was asked about the USA Patriot Act.

More Jefferson - This guy had quite a mind…

“The oppressed should rebel, and they will continue to rebel and raise disturbance until their civil rights are fully restored to them and all partial distinctions, exclusions and incapacitations are removed.” - Thomas Jefferson, 1776.

“Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree.” - Thomas Jefferson to Littleton Waller Tazewell, 1805.

“A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular; and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inferences.” - Thomas Jefferson (writing to James Madison), 1787.

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” - Thomas Jefferson.

“Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.” - Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, 1819.

“Most codes extend their definitions of treason to acts not really against one’s country. They do not distinguish between acts against the government, and acts against the oppressions of the government. The latter are virtues, yet have furnished more victims to the executioner than the former, because real treasons are rare; oppressions frequent. The unsuccessful strugglers against tyranny have been the chief martyrs of treason laws in all countries.” - Thomas Jefferson: Report on Spanish Convention, 1792.

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“The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.” - Tacitus (A.D. 55? - 130?)

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“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” - William Pitt, 1783

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