Politics: June 2005 Archives


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There was an interesting story on NewsHour tonight about pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions they don't like.

Mostly, this is about RU-486, the "morning after" pill. But it's also about, for some pharmacists, any birth control pill. The pharmacists don't like it, so they don't offer it, and don't fill prescriptions for it.

This angers a lot of people. But it doesn't matter how angry you are. You're wrong. The pharmacist gets to make that decision, period. End of story. No matter what you say.

The arguments -- none of which am I making up or exaggerating, all coming from the story -- are all irrelevant.

  • This is taking my right away.
    No, it isn't. Not in the least, tiniest, bit. In sane countries, your right to get something does not obligate someone else to provide it to you.

  • This is an organized attack on birth control, and the right of women to make their own decisions.
    So what, even if true? I can write letters to the editor attacking those same things, should I have my ability to write those letters taken away, too?

  • It makes it harder to get health care.
    So what? The pharmacist has no legal obligation to make your life convenient.

  • It denies access to health care.
    No, it doesn't. It might make it harder to get, but see the above point.

  • It endangers women's health.
    Potentially, I suppose, but so do many things. All that means, anyway, is that it is incumbent upon you to find out beforehand how you are going to get the drugs you might need. It's called being a responsible adult.

  • It's stupid.
    Yeah, well, people have the right to do stupid things. Like have abortions.

  • The pill doesn't actually cause an abortion.
    I can refuse to sell something for any reason I want. Maybe I only sell yellow pills (it's my favorite color), or pills that don't give people gas (farting makes me sad), or pills that don't in any way influence the mind (as L. Ron and Tom would order all Scientologist pharamcists). It doesn't matter what the reason is.

  • There's no good way to decide whose morals we go by.
    Yes, there is: the pharmacist's (or his boss).

  • This is one religion inflicting their beliefs on others.
    No moreso than a Kosher deli not selling pork is them inflicting their beliefs on me.

It's their business. It's their choice (something pro-choice advocates should be more than passingly familiar with). They have no obligation, period, to provide any product they don't wish to provide.

The dumb thing is that it is easy to get access to these drugs. Oral contraception can be gotten at many pharmacies; if you are a rare person for whom there is none in your area that provides it, then get it online (gasp!) or from your doctor. For "emergency" contraception, your doctor can keep some on hand. This is a solved problem, and we don't need to infringe on the rights of pharmacists to solve it. slashdot.org

What Is Said

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Hilarious story on CNN today, Bush slammed for Iraq link to 9/11. Some statements from Bush are quoted, followed by "Democrats accused the president of reviving a questionable link between Iraq and 9/11," and then showing some people slamming Bush.

But what, precisely, was wrong with what Bush said? They don't actually say. Biden says Americans are "smarter than that." Smarter than what? British Labour MP says, "There is absolutely no connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda." OK, but Bush didn't say there was. Nice straw man, though.

So what did Bush say that was wrong? Nothing I can see, and nothing that the CNN reporters deemed worthy of note. They just felt it sufficient to imply Bush said something wrong, without actually saying what he said that was wrong.

Also, the story noted, "Monday's poll found that half of Americans do not see the war in Iraq as part of the war on terror that began after September 11, 2001." But the link to the poll doesn't explain that, and I can find no record of the actual question asked, so I can't consider that information interesting or useful. slashdot.org

So Much To Say about SCOTUS

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Lots of people saying lots of things today, but the one thing I want to note is that I am so glad they refused to intervene in the case of Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller.

CNN's legal reporter calls it "terrible news." I love it. It means that journalists have no special federal rights.

Some journalists are trying to say it is good news, because it could have been worse: after all, the Court could have affirmed that they do not have special rights! But that is already the status quo. By not taking the case, they did affirm that.

And some people have even said, well, this is good, because (sorta like the medical marijuana case), it might force the Congress to take the issue up. While that might happen with medical marijuana (though I wouldn't hold my breath [ha ha]), there's no chance it will happen with special rights for the press. And good, because they deserve no special rights.

I am not necessarily in favor of the use of force (jail time) to get someone to reveal a source, but I am entirely against not using that force just because that someone is a journalist. slashdot.org

Kennedy VS Rumsfeld

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I loved the exchange yesterday between Teddy and Rummy. It starts at about 3:45 in and goes until about 7:00. It goes well beyond, and is far more interesting, than the quip many have reported about Rummy having offered his resignation (which was already reported months ago). slashdot.org


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A bunch of people on IRC were talking about the passage of the flag burning amendment in the House, and providing this as evidence that Bush shouldn't be President, because this amendment is so stupid, and therefore only stupid people voted for Bush.

Of course, as most readers of my journal know, the President has nothing whatsoever to do with amending the Constitution, except that he can talk about it, like anyone else, and to my knowledge he has not even done that (I'd welcome links to show otherwise; I'll check tomorrow's WH press briefing to see if someone brings it up).

It's a common theme: most of the people who say Bush and Bush voters are stupid actually know less about law and government and political philosophy than most of the people I know who did vote for Bush, and certainly know a lot less than Bush himself knows.

They're like the people who criticize others for "mispelling" a word. slashdot.org

The Daily Show Is Fake

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Howard Dean really is a moron. He just is. He knows next to nothing about what he's talking about.

He was on The Daily Show tonight and he was saying more stupid things, basically just bashing Republicans, because that is all he knows how to do. Oh, and he said he would balance the budget and give health care to everyone, which would cripple our economy by requiring huge tax increases.

But the dumbest thing of all -- a mean feat -- that he said was that The Daily Show is "probably a lot more reliable to get [news] than the Washington Times and Fox News." And he meant it seriously. He said so twice: "I'm serious. ... I'm not saying this just to suck up."

I can criticize the Washington Times and Fox News with the best of 'em, and I often do. But they are accurate and fair more often than not (although when not, it can be egregious), as opposed to The Daily Show, which is not only almost never accurate, nor fair, it actually tries to not be these things.

And yesterday, Bill Moyers basically said the same thing, and appeared to mean it seriously. Dean can't drop in my esteem very much, but that comment dropped Moyers down a notch or two (as did some of his comments about the CPB and the "radical right," which spinelessly caved to public pressure and didn't cut the CPB funding like it is Constitutionally obligated to).

Anyway, the point is: TDS is fake. It is not real. The "news" they give you is not fair, complete, or accurate, and it doesn't even pretend or try to be those things. They use items from the news to make jokes, and they usually skew the facts to make a better laugh, as I've mentioned once or twice before.

An example from tonight -- there's usually one every night -- is where Jon implied that the the Flag Burning Amendment would invalidate the Flag Code's provision *for* burning a flag to dispose of it. (The laughter of the audience told us they probably didn't know this was in the Flag Code, despite my apparently false impression that this was common knowledge.)

But no proposed law against flag burning would restrict respectful burning of the flag in accordance with the Flag Code. Such proposals are always about desecration of the flag.

Of course, there are many reasons to be against the Flag Burning Amendment, and the specifics of it are really beyond the scope of my point here, which is simply that you're not going to be positively informed by The Daily Show. Maybe you didn't know the Amendment was passed in the House, and maybe you didn't know the Flag Code allows the flag to be burned, but now you also think that there's a conflict between the two.

That's not a net gain, from a purely news or information standpoint. If your goal is just to find new stuff to be cynical about, then yes, TDS is a great place to get your information. But if you want to be truly informed, it's terrible, and this is by design. slashdot.org

Damned Conservative Justices

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Them damned conservative justices are taking away our right to medical marijuana, and allowing local authoritarian governments to steal our property and give it to evil corporations.

Oh wait, no, that was the liberal justices.

Huh. Never mind. slashdot.org

Die PBS Die

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OK, I don't really want PBS to die. I watch PBS every night: NewsHour is the best news on American TV. And my family watches some educational programming on PBS. And I enjoy some of the documentaries and other news programming, often weekly.

But so what? I also watch SportsCenter and The Daily Show every day, but I don't want my tax dollars to go to them. We watch Noggin every day, and pay $2.40 per year (on top of our basic DirecTV package, not including sales tax, and really more than that, since we don't watch most of the other channels in the package, so it is probably more like $5) to do so.

This has nothing to do with any particular bias of PBS shows. Sure, they lean left in a great many cases. But I couldn't care less about that. If PBS were all right-wing, I would feel the same way. This is about a. the fact that the Constitution neither expresses nor implies the power of Congress to pay for public broadcasting, and b. the fact that commercially viable worthwhile programming is everywhere and can be funded if people really want to see it.

There are supposedly 90 million weekly PBS viewers. The budget of PBS is supposedly being cut by $100 million. So each viewer just needs to pay $1.11 to make up the entire shortfall for next year. $2 would give a huge boost in their bottom line. Two measly dollars. If you are unwilling to give $2 to PBS, I can't believe you really care about it.

I don't pay anything to PBS because my tax money goes to it. The moment the PBS budget is cut, I will send in a check for $20 to PBS, covering me, my family, and a bunch of other people who maybe really are unable to pay. slashdot.org

Leave Office

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It's perhaps not coincidental that some of my favorite DC politicians have left office voluntarily: Gingrich, Thompson, Kasich, Watts. Hmmmmm. slashdot.org

Political Party Trivia

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John Quincy Adams was elected to the Senate as a Federalist, the Presidency as a Democrat, and the House as a Whig.

Although, he was only a Democrat in name, which is why he wasn't one to begin with, and why he didn't remain one. There was really no other party at the time worth speaking of: four candidates got at least 13 percent of the "popular vote" for President in 1824, and all were from the same party. And as such, he really had no party to support him in Congress (just like his father, who was a Federalist in name, but didn't get much Federalist support).

Adams I was elected because at the time, parties were not an integral part of the process. Adams II was elected because there was only one party, and it was so close that it was thrown to the House, because no one had a majority in the electoral college. Jackson (who won decisively in 1828) had a plurality, but Adams won the House vote.

Apart from Washington and the two Adamses, can anyone think of another "President without a Party"? All three were caused by a combination of circumstances (no real strong party system, or a one-party system) and personalities (Washington rose above parties, where the Adamses were fiercely independent and didn't fit into a party mold). slashdot.org
I need a bumper sticker saying, "Gitmo don't torture terrorists, guards do."

Seriously ... why shut down a facility EVEN IF systematic torture is happening there? Then you need to pay a ton more taxpayer money to get a new facility, and for what? If you have not changed the (supposed) torture policy, or gotten rid of the perpetrators, then nothing has substantially changed. And if you do, then there's no reason to shut it down.

And that's assuming there actually is systematic torture going on, which is something no one's come close to actually showing, but just for the sake of argument assming there is: it's still a stupid idea. slashdot.org

Top Two Primary Litigation

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The Washington State GOP is suing the state to defeat the new Top Two primary. The WA Secretary of State's office has the documentation online. It's been fast-tracked in federal district court because this will directly affect the September 2005 primary coming up.

I think the case is strong, but the strongest part of the case is where the Top Two initiative forces the parties to be affiliated with people they don't want to be affiliated with, which directly violates both the spirit and the letter of the Supreme Court decision in CDP v Jones (2000). The initiative changed the part of WA law that says someone puts their party *affiliation* on the primary ballot, to party *preference,* which means they can say they are a Republican even if they are a far-left liberal that the Republican party disavows.

The Republicans quote some of the same parts of Jones that I did. It is a pretty clear case, I think, and I can't see how the GOP won't win, at least substantially. The question, I think, is whether the entire Top Two will be abolished, or just the part allowing anyone to put any party preference they want on the ballot will be abolished.

On July 13 the court will hear arguments. I think the most likely outcomes will be either an injunction against the state, banning the Top Two from taking effect until the court can more fully decide the case, or a quick judgment ruling against the state. From there, the state may appeal to the Ninth District Court, where it will end, because there's no way the Supreme Court will hear this case again. slashdot.org

Indian Reservations

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Tonight I sat in on a fantastic presentation by the Marysville Tulalip Community Association. They are 400 families who live on the Tulalip Indian reservation, who are trying to stand up for the civil liberties of all reservation residents.

When I call it a "reservation" I do so with some reservation (HA!). Technically, the reservation was dissolved in the 1920s, and never reinstated. However, they do have certain sovereign rights over their lands that others don't have (like, ability to build casinos). However, these residents (tribal members and non-members) own their own land, and are thus technically not part of the reservation, though they are within its historical borders.

(In fact, most of the private landowners bought their land during a period of time when tribal sovereignty was not recognized. Those landowners really got sold out by the federal government on this; their rights got handed over.)

The worst actual act taking place today is that the tribe puts a 1% tax on all property sales, despite not actually having any legal authority over these landowners. But what they do have is the federally granted authority to place leins, and if you don't pay the tax, then you get a lein, which you can only challenge in federal court, which will end up costing you more than the 1%. Sucka.

They also talked a lot about other serious economic problems, such as the drive to keep a portion of the sales tax. But even worse is that they are buying up land that is being taken off the tax rolls. As soon as the Tulalip Tribes, Inc. buys land, the local governments stop taxing it. But what makes this even more egregious is that there is no reason to do it: land is taxable until it is converted from normal land to land held in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a process that takes nearly a decade, and is not even a sure thing.

One of the big pushes right now is to have local governments start taxing those non-trust parcels again, immediately.

There's a lot of stuff going on, but the good news is that forward progress is being made. The ultimate goal is integration, so we don't have two court systems, two tax systems, two police systems, etc. We're one nation, indivisible. Tribal sovereignty should not exist, and it only exists because of federal law, not because of any treaty, and it should be phased out and abolished. slashdot.org
Well, at least noted right-wing wacko Michael Kinsley agrees with me that the "Downing Street Memo" really doesn't add anything of significance to the discussion. slashdot.org

Sex Ed

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Some people seem to have a problem with me saying no government employees should be able to tell my children about sex, including, but not limited to, sex ed in public schools.

I don't understand how people can say they want the government "out of my bedroom," and then invite the government into their children's bedrooms. I agree the government should not be able to have anything to do with the sex life of private citizens, that laws regarding such are unreasonable. I don't see how this does not extend to our children as well.

It seems entirely perverse to me.

Yes, of course there are health concerns with unprotected sex. Does this justify government intrusion into your own sexual behavior? If not, then why does it justify intrusion into that of your kids?

You may like government telling your kids about the most intimate activity they will ever have. I think no one but my child's parents have the right or responsibility to do so. I know that saying something that is patently obvious to most people is crazy-talk here on Slashdot, but so be it.

Next up: Sally's teacher explains the proper method for kneeling during Sunday mass, so she doesn't get sore calves! slashdot.org

Nominating Conventions

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The King County Democrats have this notice on their web site:

The Democratic Party wants Democrats to get involved. We will actually have a more open process than the Republicans. The Democratic Party will be using our Precinct Committee Officers, which are elected by their neighbors every even-numbered year. The Republicans will be using the caucus style system, which is highly Party driven on the Republican side and limited in the number of people who are allowed to participate.

The problem is that for the Republicans, all PCOs are automatic delegates to the convention, and in addition anyone else can be elected as a delegate at the caucus. How this makes the Democrats more open is a mystery.

The funny thing is that their method is more republican, while the Republican method is more democratic.

Not that it's a contest: I noticed before the caucuses that the Democrats had a more closed process. But they're playing the iron pot, calling the stainless steel kettle black.

I went to the District 1 caucus for Snohomish County a few weeks ago. Mostly PCOs were in attendance, so we didn't do much, especially considering our nominated candidate will surely be the incumbent, John Koster. However, there were non-PCOs there (including spouses and children of PCOs), and we elected them as delegates, and we even appointed some new PCOs in the process, so it wasn't a complete waste.

The Snohomish GOP convention is next Saturday, June 18. We'll also have our regular "central committee" meeting at that time. The King County GOP convention is June 11, and the King County Dems are on June 28.

The Snohomish County Dems (which also have only the PCOs at convention) were on June 4, where they selected Marian Harrison to face Koster, and Dave Somers to face incumbent Jeff Sax in District 5. Not to show disrespect, but Harrison appears to be not much of a candidate (just as the GOP candidate in District 4 won't have much of a chance against the Democrat incumbent), but Somers will be formidable, so most of the weight of the county party will go toward helping Sax. slashdot.org

Response to my letter

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Keith Hafner, apparently (unless I have the wrong Keith Hafner from Seattle?) a member of the Democrat party (not that there's anything wrong with that, just offering full disclosure) responded to my letter about substantiation with one of his own.

The best part is where he claims the letter provides substantiation, but doesn't actually say how it does so.

I am writing to him directly, asking him for the actual evidence he claims the letter provides; I don't anticipate an enlightened response.

In your response to my letter you claim the memo provides substantiation.

I want to know, since you bothered to write the letter saying this, why didn't you actually show exactly what evidence the memo provided? Maybe the editors cut that part out of your letter? If so, I offer you the opportunity to tell me directly what this evidence is.

I read the memo entirely, a few times, and I didn't see it. And I've never seen anyone say what it is. Most people in your position falsely state that just because the man was there, his claims are de facto substantiation, but that's silly. Substantiation would be some evidence that this is actually what the administration was doing -- such as a quote or memo from the administration to that effect -- and not merely a claim that could be nothing more than his own opinion (which is definitionally not "substantiation").

So, can you give me one detail from the memo -- just one -- that substantiates the claims it makes?

I look forward to your reply.

I wonder if he is gonna get mad that I e-mailed him directly. Heh. If so, he can complain to the 34th District Democrats. slashdot.org


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In the recent governor election contest, the judge took away four votes from Rossi, because four felons testified for the Democrats that they voted -- illegally -- for Rossi.

Some people are saying this is meaningful, because Rossi lost votes. But it's not. The Democrats scoured and found only those four people to try to make a bogus point about the statistical method the GOP was using. The Republicans didn't even bother trying, because the case could not be won or lost that way.

But worse was that their word was trusted at all. The felons had three options:
  • Tell the truth about whom they voted for. This hurts themselves by taking away their vote, and hurts the candidate they voted.

  • Say nothing. This neither hurts nor helps anyone.

  • Lie about whom they voted for. This gives them, effectively, two votes, as they steal a vote from a legal voter for the other candidate, and lets their own vote stand.

The judge and Democratic lawyers actually believe the felons would come clean, despite having no reason to do so, and every reason to simply not testify, or -- if they are so inclined -- lie.

It brings to mind the old crucifixion sketch from Life of Brian.

Lawyer: Gregoire voter?
Felonious Gregoire Voter: Er, no, Rossi actually.
Lawyer: What?
Voter: Yeah, they said since I voted for Rossi, a vote for him would be taken away.
Lawyer: Oh, I say, that's very nice. Well, then.
Voter: No, I'm just pulling your leg, it's Gregoire, really.

Pot Prosecutions

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Lots of people are complaining about the Supreme Court decision allowing the feds to prosecute people for pot, even if the state laws say they can do it.

This is not a drugs case. This has nothing to do with whether you think pot should be legalized. Everyone on the Supreme Court agrees that is a matter for the legislatures to decide. The question in this case was *which* legislatures decide it: state or federal.

The case is fairly simple:

A. The federal government has the right to regulate interstate drug distribution, under the interstate commerce clause.
B. The federal government has the right to restrict manufacture of drugs, as a means to help prevent distribution, under the Necessary and Proper clause.

The court has no real disagreement on these points. The next point is the tough part:

C. It is not possible to distinguish between manufacture for interstate, or intrastate, distribution, and as such, if you remove their power to prohibit manufacture for intrastate distribution, you effectively destroy their power to prohibit manufacture for interstate distribution.

Rehnquist, Thomas, and O'Connor dissented, not buying this end-run around states' rights. The liberals and Scalia found in favor of the feds. slashdot.org

Called It

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Basically, my previous post was right on. Judge says the election was seriously flawed; judge said the elections laws contribute to the problem and make it worse; judge said he won't fix the laws, but only apply them. Judge won't overturn election. slashdot.org

WA Governor Prediction

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I predict the judge will not set aside the 2004 WA governor's election. That is, that he will find for the Democrats.

I also predict he will rip the Democrats for putting together a terrible case -- and King County for putting together a terrible election system -- and commend the Republicans for putting together an excellent one. But in the end, I don't think he will find that the evidence of mistakes and fraud meets the high threshhold required for the question of setting aside an election.

That's the wrong question, though.

I don't think mistakes alone justify setting an election aside, in the general case. Nor even mistakes combined with fraud on behalf of unaffiliated individuals (the hundreds of felon voters). There is always the possibility of mistakes, and you can't throw out an election just because there are some; if you do, then there can be no such thing as a close election. You always will have a new election if the difference is smaller than a certain percentage, which doesn't strike me as particularly democratic.

However, that assumes that the given election system is well-designed and well-run, and that everything reasonable is being done to eliminate such mistakes. It assumes that the election system is designed to respect and protect the rights of the voters.

And therein lies the problem: in Washington, the Democratic-controlled legislature and Secretary of State's office, and some county elections offices, have done a lot to make sure we don't eliminate mistakes.

They refuse to purge voter rolls, to properly identify voters, to limit mail-in voting, to match up votes to voters, to make different ballot types (provisional, absentee, etc.) look different, and more.

The absence of these provisions is what gave us almost all the "mistakes" shown in court the last two weeks. And the government refuses to fix them. They refuse to protect the rights of the voters by having a good elections system, and worse, they actually -- if not intentionally -- invite fraud, as they provide no means to defend against it.

If the election system is broken, and if the government refuses to fix it, and the result is close enough to be in question, I can see only two remedies. One would be to set aside any close election until the problems are fixed. The other would be simply to order the government to fix the problems for next time.

Given that the legislature just spent a lot of time on election reform earlier this year, and didn't fix the problems, I don't think anyone should have faith in the latter option.

I've been going over this in my mind the last few days, and I was thinking I might come down in favor of the Democratic position in this case. But then I got to the end of the tunnel, and I see no other reasonable option. All the arguments for letting the election stand rely on faith in the election system, which is a losing argument.

I hope I'm wrong, and the judge sees it this way tomorrow, but I wouldn't bet on it. slashdot.org
I would look pretty damned prescient, except that lots of other people could see this coming from miles away, too. It's pathetic that the Democrats who put him there couldn't see it, though.

In case you missed it, in recent weeks he has been talking again. His recent one was saying DeLay should go back to Texas to serve his jail sentence (even though DeLay has not even been charged with, let alone convicted of, a crime). Even Barney Frank said Dean went way over the line on that one.

A few months ago he said he hates Republicans and that they are brain dead. Now, he says "a lot of [Republicans] have never made an honest living in their lives."

Keep it up, Dean. Keep ignoring my advice. Keep alienating the people whom you might try to win over to your side of the aisle. No skin off my nose ... but if I were a Democrat, I would be Dean-screaming all the way to the DNC HQ to get him to resign. He's just awful. For the Democrats. slashdot.org

"Substantiated," Revisited

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from June 2005.

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