Ken's Project Blog

January 1, 2013

Emancipation Proclamation Sesquicentennial

Filed under: On This Day — Ken @ 8:31 am
Tags: , ,

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, from 1863

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, from 1863

On January 1st, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln, with trembling hand, laid down his freshly dipped pen and flexed his arm. He was worried that a shaky signature might cause his critics to question his resolve in signing the measure before him.

His arm restored, President Lincoln picked up his pen and signed the Emancipation Proclamation. With this stroke of his pen, the 16th President caused “all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State…in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforth, and forever free.”

With the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation the Civil war was transformed from a fight to maintain the Union into a fight for Human Rights, and America committed to pursuit of the principles embodied in her founding documents.

It is interesting to note that there were four states that were part of the Union (they did not secede) that permitted slavery, and that the Emancipation Proclamation did not cause those slaves to be set free. Those states were Missouri, Kentucky, Delaware, and Maryland.

Sources:

Wikipedia.comEmancipation Proclamation

Archives.govFeatured Document: The Emancipation Proclamation

Civilwar.comLetter from Abraham Lincoln to Horace Greeley

June 26, 2012

Democrats Question Motive in Holder Contempt Charges

Filed under: In The News,Politics — Ken @ 10:19 am

Last week, Eric Holder (figuratively) held a selection of yet-unreleased documents that he feels relates to Fast & Furious and are “responsive” to the subpoena Congress issued months ago and was willing to turn them over for a promise to remove the threat of contempt charges against him. When the committee refused his offer he withdrew the documents, claimed he had fully responded to the subpoena, and his boss President Obama decided to exert Executive Privilege.

Why won’t the “most transparent” administration release those documents? Is it because they are holding the investigation up for political gain?

The Congressional investigation thus far has established that Fast & Furious was a seriously flawed program that had exactly zero chances of achieving it’s claimed goal of convicting high-level operators in gun running enterprises, but while establishing that point the DoJ under Eric Holder submitted a false document to the committee, and the committee is following up on that false document (why it was created, who approved it’s release, etc.).

The only conviction in the Valerie Plame “leak” case was “Scooter” Libby who provided conflicting testimony under oath – he was not convicted of leaking Plame’s name – that act was committed by Richard Armitage. If you support the prosecution of “Scooter” Libby by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald (even after he knew Libby wasn’t the source of the leak), you really have to support the current efforts by Rep. Issa’s committee. Not because “they did it, now we can do it,” but because lying under oath and presenting false documents to Congress are both serious crimes.

Sources:

The Hill: Dems seek to recast Holder furor as GOP effort to suppress votes

cnn.com: Armitage admits leaking Plame’s identity

May 29, 2012

NYT – The Politics of Religion

Filed under: Health Care,In The News,Politics — Ken @ 12:36 am

Over at the New York Times, they posted an Op-Ed concerning the dust-up over religious affiliated groups and the federal government’s requirement that they provide no-cost contraception, including the morning after pill. It is staggering that so many half-truths were crammed in to such a short Op-Ed.

I’ll refer you to the actual Op-Ed for the complete text, but let me point out a few of the more egregious mis-representations:

“Mr. Obama very publicly backed down from his original position and gave those groups a way around the contraception-coverage requirement.”

and

“After religious groups protested, the administration put the burden on insurance companies to provide free contraceptive coverage to women who work for religiously affiliated employers like hospitals or universities — with no employer involvement.”

This refers to the government deciding that religiously affiliated organizations would not be charged directly for the cost of providing the required contraceptive coverage – hoping people will assume that the insurance companies would reach into their own pocket and pay for the contraceptives from their own profits. Ask yourself this question: Will a religiously affiliated organization see the cost of their health coverage go up, down, or remain the same once this expense is ‘covered’ by the insurance companies? The answer is, the cost will go up – the insurance companies won’t be donating coverage for contraceptives to these organizations (they are not in the business of giving things away) and contraceptives aren’t free… It’s just that there won’t be a line item for the cost on the invoice.

Carefully avoided in this Op-Ed is the impact to those religiously affiliated organizations that choose to self-insure, a common practice among religious hospitals – how does a self-insuring hospital avoid paying for contraceptives?

“The vast majority of Americans do not agree with the Roman Catholic Church’s anti-contraception stance, including most American Catholic women.”

As if that matters. The tenets and beliefs of the Catholic Church are not up for vote based on popular opinion – if the majority of Americans felt it was OK to steal, would the Catholic church find itself left with only nine commandments?

“The real threat to religious liberty comes from the effort to impose one church’s doctrine on everyone.”

This was the final line in the Op-Ed, the author’s attempt at a “coup de grace” – but he falls short: the churches aren’t trying to impose their doctrine “on everyone,” if they were to emerge victorious in this “battle” the only people impacted will be those women that choose to work at religiously affiliated organizations (hospitals, schools, charities, etc.) – they will simply be “forced” to pay full price for contraceptives, and there will be no impact on any other woman covered by employer-subsidised medical insurance.

I find it very telling that the supporters of this contraception regulation feel it is necessary to misrepresent the stakes (“impose doctrine…on everyone“), hold up ludicrous arguments (removing the line-item from the invoice solves the problem), and attempt to convince religious groups that they should let popular opinion polls determine church doctrine…

I agree that someone is trying to impose their doctrine on everyone, but it isn’t the Catholic church.

Sources:

New York Times: The Politics of Religion

December 12, 2011

FDR Letter Opposing Public Employee Collective Bargaining

Filed under: History,In The News — Ken @ 4:45 pm

See below the full text of FDR’s letter to Luther C. Steward, President of the National Federation of Federal Employees, of August 16, 1937.

My dear Mr. Steward:

As I am unable to accept your kind invitation to be present on the occasion of the Twentieth Jubilee Convention of the National Federation of Federal Employees, I am taking this method of sending greetings and a message.

Reading your letter of July 14, 1937, I was especially interested in the timeliness of your remark that the manner in which the activities of your organization have been carried on during the past two decades “has been in complete consonance with the best traditions of public employee relationships.” Organizations of Government employees have a logical place in Government affairs.

The desire of Government employees for fair and adequate pay, reasonable hours of work, safe and suitable working conditions, development of opportunities for advancement, facilities for fair and impartial consideration and review of grievances, and other objectives of a proper employee relations policy, is basically no different from that of employees in private industry. Organization on their part to present their views on such matters is both natural and logical, but meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government.

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that “under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government.”

I congratulate the National Federation of Federal Employees the twentieth anniversary of its founding and trust that the convention will, in every way, be successful.

Very sincerely yours,

Let’s look at each one individually:

“Organizations of Government employees have a logical place in Government affairs.” – Contrary to many people that choose to mis-represent this letter, in it FDR clearly supports the idea of federal employees organizing (forming unions).

“meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government.” – This is the set-up, in it FDR is preparing the reader, and by extension, the audience when his letter would be read aloud to them, that there is a special relationship between the public employees and the public…

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. – In other words, public employees can not be considered the same as private-sector employees.

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. – Granting government workers the right to act militantly (aka strike) would allow the unions to subvert the will of the people by being able to grind government to a halt unless their demands are met. This would elevate the public sector unions into a sort of fourth branch of government with the ability to effectively nulify any action taken by the other three branches, as the government workers are typically the ones that implement the will of the other three branches of government (Executive, Judicial, and Legislative).

My point is that FDR believed that unions have their place in the public sector, but with some caveats. This letter clearly shows FDR congratulating the National Federation of Federal Employees for it’s insistence of, and adherence to, the understanding that the role of the public sector union is different from that of private sector unions, and that federal employees are held to different standard by virtue of their role in government.

Source:

The American Presidency Project: 112 – Letter on the Resolution of Federation of Federal Employees Against Strikes in Federal Service

November 4, 2011

Three years ago today…

Filed under: History,Politics — Ken @ 11:36 pm


Three years ago today, Nov. 4th, 2008, Then-Senator Barack Obama delivered his acceptance speech in Grant Park in Chicago, IL. In looking over the text of the speech he delivered, I found this passage:

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

How far we’ve come in three short years – now we have a President who tours the country blaming House Republicans for their failure to pass his “American Jobs Act” legislation, despite his inability to get his Democratic majority in the Senate to pass this piece of legislation

Sources:

cnn.com: Transcript ‘This is your victory,’ says Obama

youtube.com: President-Elect, Barack Obama in Chicago

thehill.com: Obama’s jobs plan blocked in Senate

October 17, 2011

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and the Protect Life Act

Filed under: Health Care,In The News,Politics — Ken @ 3:18 pm

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Let me point out two things – the Hyde Amendment and Executive Order 13535.

The Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortions under Medicaid, except for some very clearly defined circumstances (rape, incest, protect the life of the mother) and allows states to use their own money to fund abortions if they so choose.

Executive Order 13535 was signed by President Obama in March of 2010 to re-affirm the long-standing position of the Hyde Amendment on the Patient Protection Act (so-called “Obamacare”).

Sources:

youtube: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) Speaks Against Pro-Life Act (10.13.11)

wikipedia: Hyde Amendment and Executive Order 13535

Round the World – Pittsburgh

Filed under: Books,History,Round the World — Ken @ 6:00 am

ROUND THE WORLD – PITTSBURGH

Thursday, October 17

What is this? A telegram! “Belgic sails from San Francisco 24th instead of 28th.” Can we make it? Yes, travelling direct and via Omaha, and not seeing Denver as intended. All right! through we go, and here we are at St. Louis Friday morning, and off for Omaha to catch the Saturday morning train for San Francisco. If we miss but one connection we shall reach San Francisco too late. But we sha’n’t. Having courted the fickle goddess assiduously, and secured her smiles, we are not going to lose faith in her now, come what may. See if our good fortune doesn’t carry us through!


The above is an excerpt from Andrew Carnegie’s book “Round the World,” published in 1880, documenting his around-the-world journey. I am posting the daily updates on the 143rd anniversary of their entry date.

October 15, 2011

Round the World – New York

Filed under: Books,History,Round the World — Ken @ 8:09 am

ROUND THE WORLD – NEW YORK

Saturday, October 12, 1878.

Bang! click! the desk closes, the key turns, and good-bye for a year to my wards—that goodly cluster over which I have watched with parental solicitude for many a day; their several cribs full of records and labelled Union Iron Mills, Lucy Furnaces, Keystone Bridge Works, Union Forge, Cokevale Works, and last, but not least, that infant Hercules, the Edgar Thomson Steel Rail Works—good lusty bairns all, and well calculated to survive in The struggle for existence—great things are expected of them in The future, but for the present I bid them farewell; I’m off for a holiday, and the rise and fall of iron and steel “affecteth me not.”

Years ago, Vandy, Harry, and I, standing in the very bottom of the crater of Mount Vesuvius, where we had roasted eggs and drank to the success of our next trip, resolved that some day, instead of turning back as we had then to do, we would make a tour round the Ball. My first return to Scotland and journey through Europe was an epoch in my life, I had so early in my days determined to do it; to-day another epoch comes—our tour fulfils another youthful aspiration. There is a sense of supreme satisfaction in carrying out these early dreams which I think nothing else can give, it is such a triumph to realize one’s castles in the air. Other dreams remain, which in good time also must come to pass; for nothing can defeat these early inborn hopes, if one lives, and if death comes there is, until the latest day, the exaltation which comes from victory if one but continues true to his guiding star and manfully struggles on.

And now what to take for the long weary hours! for travellers know that sight-seeing is hard work, and that the ocean wave may become monotonous. I cannot carry a whole library with me. Yes, even this can be done; mother’s thoughtfulness solves the problem, for she gives me Shakespeare, in thirteen small handy volumes. Come, then, my Shakespeare, you alone of all the mighty past shall be my sole companion. I seek none else; there is no want when you are near, no mood when you are not welcome—a library indeed, and I look forward with great pleasure to many hours’ communion with you on lonely seas—a lover might as well sigh for more than his affianced as I for any but you. A twitch of conscience here. You ploughman bard, who are so much to me, are you then forgotten? No, no, Robin, no need of taking you in my trunk; I have you in my heart, from “A man’s a man for a that” to “My Nannie’s awa’.”


The above is an excerpt from Andrew Carnegie’s book “Round the World,” published in 1880, documenting his around-the-world journey. I am posting the daily updates on the 143rd anniversary of their entry date.

Round the World – Preface

Filed under: Books,History,Round the World — Ken @ 8:04 am


ROUND THE WORLD

BY ANDREW CARNEGIE

PREFACE

It seems almost unnecessary to say that “Round the World,” like “An American
Four-in-Hand in Britain,” was originally printed for private circulation. My
publishers having asked permission to give it to the public, I have been induced to
undertake the slight revision, and to make some additions necessary to fit the
original for general circulation, not so much by the favorable reception accorded to
the “Four-in-Hand” in England as well as in America, nor even by the flattering
words of the critics who have dealt so kindly with it, but chiefly because of many
valued letters which entire strangers have been so extremely good as to take the
trouble to write to me, and which indeed are still coming almost daily. Some of
these are from invalids who thank me for making the days during which they read the
book pass more brightly than before. Can any knowledge be sweeter to one than this?
These letters are precious to me, and it is their writers who are mainly responsible
for this second volume, especially since some who have thus written have asked where
it could be obtained and I have no copies to send to them, which it would have given
me a rare pleasure to be able to do.

I hope they will like it as they did the other. Some friends consider it better;
others prefer the “Four-in-Hand.” I think them different. While coaching I was more
joyously happy; during the journey round the World I was gaining more knowledge; but
if my readers like me half as well in the latter as in the former mood, I shall have
only too much cause to subscribe myself with sincere thanks,

Most gratefully,

THE AUTHOR.

“Think on thy friends when thou haply see’st
Some rare, noteworthy object in thy travels,
Wish them partakers of thy happiness.”


The above is an excerpt from Andrew Carnegie’s book “Round the World,” published in 1880, documenting his around-the-world journey. I am posting the daily updates on the 143rd anniversary of their entry date.

October 14, 2011

Lighten up Francis

Filed under: In The News — Ken @ 7:19 pm


On September 22, 2011, H.R. 3011 was introduced in the House, entitled the “Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act of 2011” and there is a curious passage that is turning some heads:

Whoever, except with the written permission of the Assistant Secretary for Transportation Security (or the Director of the Federal Air Marshal Service for issues involving the Federal Air Marshal Service), knowingly uses the words ‘Transportation Security Administration’, ‘United States Transportation Security Administration’, ‘Federal Air Marshal Service’, ‘United States Federal Air Marshal Service’, ‘Federal Air Marshals’, the initials ‘T.S.A.’, ‘F.A.M.S.’, ‘F.A.M.’, or any colorable imitation of such words or initials, or the likeness of a Transportation Security Administration or Federal Air Marshal Service badge, logo, or insignia on any item of apparel, in connection with any advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet, software, or other publication, or with any play, motion picture, broadcast, telecast, or other production, in a matter that is reasonably calculated to convey the impression that the wearer of the item of apparel is acting pursuant to the legal authority of the Transportation Security Administration or Federal Air Marshal Service, or to convey the impression that such advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet, software, or other publication, or such play, motion picture, broadcast, telecast, or other production, is approved, endorsed, or authorized by the Transportation Security Administration or Federal Air Marshal Service.[emphasis added]

Source: Section 295 of H.R. 3011

Apparently, the TSA is developing a very thin skin and is engaging in behavior that reminded me of the above scene from the 1981 movie “Stripes”.

Sources:

youtube.com: Stripes – Don’t Call Me Francis

infowars.com: House Bill Would Criminalize Satire of TSA

thomas.loc.gov: H.R. 3011 and Section 295

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