Archive for the ‘U. S. A.’ Category

Proving You’re You   2 comments

 

There are so many things to love about this photograph!

There are so many things to love about this photograph!

From a hyperbolic op-ed piece on NYTimes.com:

We should be in a rage over the widespread attempts to disenfranchise voters, from the gutting of the Voting Rights Act to the rise of the Voter ID movement — a near-naked attempt by conservatives to diminish the number of Democratic voters.

And as over-the-top as this rhetoric is, come to find out the left side of the political spectrum is just getting warmed up. Here’s more inflammatory rhetoric from our Vice President, speaking in February:

… Vice President Joe Biden blamed “hatred” as the motivating force behind voter identification laws in states such as North Carolina, Alabama, and Texas. Biden wants new laws to block “former slave holding states in the south” from discrimination against blacks and other minorities.

Biden, speaking at a reception at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., in celebration of African-American History Month, said that, “These guys never go away. Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

So, according to Vice President Biden, I’m a hater. Because I wish to limit the franchise of voting, I must hate people. It’s true that I grew up in a former slave-holding state, so I must hate people. After all, slavery was only abolished 89 years before I was born, so I must still be a hater.

Me, a hater? Puh-leeze.

But, seriously, can someone please explain to me exactly why the voter ID movement is bad? If requiring you to show a picture ID is going to diminish the number of Democratic voters … am I to understand that there are a significant number of people that have NO ID in today’s world? Or, to be very specific, that there are a significant number of potentially Democratic voters that have NO ID today?

Seriously?

You have to show an ID to cash a check. You have to show an ID to use a credit card. You have to show an ID to pick up a child from school. You need an ID to get a library card.

I do not understand why showing an ID when I want to vote for a sheriff, a city councilman or a President is a bad thing. Can someone explain that to me, please?

There is a lawsuit now moving forward in Kansas that’s illustrative. Arthur Spry and Charles Hamner, residents of a retirement home in Overbrook, KS, are suing that they were denied their right to vote, as they did not have a driver’s license, computer, or access to the birth records needed to secure a photo ID and vote in a recent election. Interesting … I’ll just note that they might not have the ability to access their birth records, but they apparently did have the resources to file a lawsuit. Just sayin’.

There are anecdotal stories on both side of the equation for people to point to. Perhaps some people in nursing homes have been marginalized, and didn’t have the resources/time/understanding to get IDs, so they couldn’t vote. On the other side, there are stories of people proudly declaring that they voted for Obama 5 times in the last election.

I think both kinds of incidents are relatively insignificant. The thing I do believe, however, is that each citizen should vote … once. Non-citizens? They don’t get a vote.

Today, voter ID laws have been enacted in 30 states. Photo IDs are required in 12 states currently. 13 more states have photo ID legislation pending. Importantly, federal law requires that any such ID must be free. Free. It’s in the constitution, even. Check the 24th amendment, which was passed in 1964. Poll taxes, or charging people for the right to vote, cannot be done in federal elections … or now, in any civic election. Since IDs are free, what are the Democrats so afraid of? Could it be that would-be Democratic voters are incapable of getting a free ID when it’s offered?

So, if the cost of an ID is not the issue … what is it, exactly? That the government shouldn’t need to know if their voters are citizens when they step up to the ballot box?

Personally, I don’t think this is a left/right, Republican/Democrat or an entitled/downtrodden thing. It’s, simply, a right/wrong thing.

But wait! There was actual research done on the topic by my beloved Mizzou … and guess what the study, described in BreitBart.com, found?

A 2008 University of Missouri study actually demonstrated that those who argue that Voter ID laws would suppress the vote are misguided. The study showed that Voter ID laws had little effect on voter turnout. Moreover, Jeffrey Milyo, professor of economics and public affairs at the University of Missouri and a scholar in the Center for Applied Economics at the University of Kansas, notes that overall voter turnout in Indiana actually increased after the implementation of photo ID.

I won’t go so far as to say that I think making a required photo ID will encourage more people to vote … but I am definitely of the opinion that having people prove their identity is a reasonable requirement before a person is allowed to vote. And, again, federal law requires that IDs be FREE to voters.

Can you prove that you’re you? Are you OK to prove that you’re you?

Youer Than You

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New York Times: We Should Be In A Rage

Wikipedia: Voter ID Laws In The United States

WIBW.com: Trial Set….

The Jefferson Memorial   2 comments

Cherry Blossoms are almost in full bloom on the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, DC. This weekend will be the perfect time to check them out! Photo: Andrew S. Geraci. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 4/10/14.

Cherry Blossoms are almost in full bloom on the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, DC. This weekend will be the perfect time to check them out! Photo: Andrew S. Geraci. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 4/10/14.

I’m Disappointed   2 comments

CLOSED 2

I’m disappointed that our tax dollars had to pay for this sign.

Last Saturday, all admissions to the National Parks and other national properties were FREE to celebrate National Public Lands Day.

Today, all admissions are impossible, as all national properties are closed due to the budget impasse.

OF COURSE it’s a game.

I’m disappointed in the Republicans, who refuse to allow Obamacare to move forward … after it passed.

I’m disappointed that this entire battle is apparently being fought over Obamacare … but that  implementation of that program began today, unimpeded by the government shutdown.

I’m disappointed in the Democrats, who refuse to accept any responsibility for the impasse. Don’t two people or, in this case, two parties, have to disagree to have an argument?

I’m disappointed in the President, who doesn’t feel this is his problem.

I’m disappointed in the President, who isn’t fulfilling his promise to work closely with both sides.

I’m disappointed that negotiation by terrorism is now the normal state of business in Washington. When you don’t agree with what the other side gets passed … you blow it up.

I’m disappointed in all of the state legislatures that approved their own state’s voting districts after the 2000 and then the 2010 census, making an ever-increasing number of US House seats unwinnable for the opposing party … meaning that the legislators have nothing to fear with ever more strident posturing.

I’m disappointed that all of the “furloughed” government workers won’t be paid for today … until they’re allowed to make it up later. The US public loses, either way.

I’m disappointed that people are on vacation, and suddenly not allowed to visit national properties. Trips planned for months … lost.

I’m disappointed that blaming the other side is more important than good governance.

I’m disappointed that historians are pointing to the legislative deadlock preceding the Civil War as the closest thing to the “dancing on the precipice” politicking that we are seeing today. And 152 years ago, that disagreement hurt everyone. Everyone.

I’m disappointed that I have no idea how to make it better.

I’m disappointed that I’ve lost my sense of humor about national politics.

I’m disappointed.

CLOSED

I’m disappointed that the US Department of the Interior tweeted this photo today, showing that Yellowstone National Park is closed.

Posted October 2, 2013 by henrymowry in U. S. A.

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Volunteer on National Public Lands Day!   1 comment

National-Park-FoundationFrom The National Park Foundation:

NPFoundation 0120 YEARS OF GIVING BACK TO PUBLIC LANDSNPFoundation-02

While summer may not officially end for another few days, we’re already excited about what is to come in our national parks this fall! In less than two weeks we’ll be celebrating National Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 28th. This is a great time to give back to the national parks you love. It is our nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for our public lands. And it’s a fee-free day, meaning national park entrance fees will be waived!

Last year, nearly 175,000 people volunteered their time at more than 2,200 sites in every U.S. state, the District of Columbia and in many U.S. territories. Volunteers removed an estimated 23,000 pounds of invasive plants, built and maintained an estimated 1,500 miles of trails, planted an estimated 100,000 trees, shrubs and other native plants, and collected an estimated 500 tons of trash from trails and other places. Let’s help make this year – the 20th anniversary – even bigger and better!

Visit the National Park Foundation website to find out how you can get involved and honor this special occasion by volunteering in your national parks!

You can also find a list of volunteer events here. (ed note: And these are in MANY public places, not just in National Parks!)

NPFoundation-03

You Can’t Wear The Flag   Leave a comment

Here’s a great post from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

Unthinking Flag Desecration

I Pledge Allegiance Shirt

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US Flag: Common Display Mistakes

US Flag: The First

US Flag: The Second

US Flag: The Third

US Flag: The Snake Flags

Posted August 2, 2013 by henrymowry in U. S. A.

June 14, 1777   Leave a comment

Why is today Flag Day?

Because 236 years ago TODAY, the Second Continental Congress finally decided on a flag:

“Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be Thirteen stripes alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

They did not specify the number of points on the stars, nor the arrangement of those stars. However, Francis Hopkinson, a member of the Congress, designed a flag and then actually billed the Congress for the design! They did not pay the bill. This flag is assumed to have first been raised at the 1777 Middlebrook encampment in New Jersey. A flag with this design still flies in Middlebrook today!

Hopkinson Flag - Middlebrook

A Hopkinson Flag still flies daily over the site of the encampment of the Continental Army in 1777 and 1778.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Francis Hopkinson portrait by Robert Edge Pine.

Francis Hopkinson portrait by Robert Edge Pine.

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US Flag: The First

National Flag Day

Trusting Government Testimony   Leave a comment

In an interview with National Journal, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper clarified remarks over NSA snooping. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

In an interview with National Journal, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper clarified remarks over NSA snooping. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Obama has told us we should trust that his administration is doing the right thing with the telephony metadata that they are collecting.

Trust.

Here’s what James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, said in a public, senate hearing 3 months ago on surveillance.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon):

“Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

James Clapper:

“No.”

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon):

“It does not?”

James Clapper:

“Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect—but not wittingly.”

Last week, Mr. Clapper clarified what he meant when he said no:

“What I said was, the NSA does not voyeuristically pour through U.S. citizens’ e-mails. I stand by that.”

So there you have it. Mr. Clapper directly lied about what the NSA was doing. He lied, in public, in sworn testimony before the US Senate.

Here’s my bottom line: trust is a difficult thing to earn when you are known to lie.

And you know how I feel about people that lie.

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Trusting Big Brother

“Secret Blanket Surveillance”

Reason.com: Clapper’s Testimony

National Journal: James Clapper Clarifies…

“Secret Blanket Surveillance”   2 comments

For your consideration, Michael Moore on the left & Glenn Beck on the right. As always.

For your consideration, film maker Michael Moore on the left & media personality Glenn Beck on the right. As always.

Glenn Beck:

“I think I have just read about the man for which I have waited. Earmarks of a real hero.”

Michael Moore:

“HERO OF THE YEAR: NSA tech assistant reveals he is the source of stories on U.S. Gov’t domestic spying.”

It is a very rare day when Glenn Beck and Michael Moore agree on anything. What do they agree on here? That Edward Snowden – the guy who leaked the information about the NSA court order to receive all of the Verizon “telephony metadata” – they agree he is a hero for defying orders of secrecy. This is the same guy that some people are urging should get the death penalty for releasing government secrets.

For your consideration, President Obama on the left and Congressman Rand Paul on the right. As always.

For your consideration, President Obama on the left and Congressman Rand Paul on the right. As always.

Rand Paul:

“I have no problem if you have probable cause and you target people who are terrorists and you go after them and people that they’re communicating with, you get another warrant.

“But we’re talking about trolling through billions of phone records. We’re not talking about going after a terrorist. I’m all for that. Get a warrant and go after a terrorist, or a murderer or a rapist.   But don’t troll through a billion phone records every day. That is unconstitutional, it invades our privacy and I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level. I’m going to be asking all the Internet providers and all of the phone companies, ask your customers to join me in a class action lawsuit. If we get 10 million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at then somebody will wake up and say things will change in Washington.”

President Barack Obama:

“You can’t have 100 percent security and then also have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience.”

For your consideration, former Vice President Al Gore on the left and Glenn Beck again on the right. As always.

For your consideration, former Vice President Al Gore on the left and media personality Glenn Beck again on the right. As always … but here, they’re on the same side.

Glenn Beck:

We must NOT trade liberty for security any longer or we will lose both and deserve neither.

Al Gore:

In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?

Senators Merkley & Reid

For your consideration, Senators Jeff Merkley and Harry Reid. Both are Democrats. Merkley is on the left, but you’ll have to figure out who should be on the left & right here.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)

“The type of secret bulk data collection is an outrageous breach of Americans’ privacy.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada)

“Right now I think everyone should just calm down and understand this isn’t anything that’s brand new.”

*     *     *     *     *
This is one of those rare issues these days that is not about right or left. It’s about right and wrong.

 

Obama and Reid are stating the government’s position clearly: the federal government thinks it should monitor EVERYONE. You know, because that way they just might find someone doing a bad thing. So let’s monitor EVERYONE.

 

A part of this discussion, I believe, is that Verizon uses cellphone technology, which uses the “public airwaves” – Verizon is licensed to use a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which belongs to the public. They are licensed to use this spectrum just as radio and TV stations are. I believe that’s why the government sought the “public” information broadcast over those airwaves in the Verizon court order. Public information, such as a picture taken of you when you are walking down a public sidewalk, is fair game. But private information, like who an innocent person is calling? That’s exactly what the government is gathering – that we know about. We don’t know what other data they are gathering.

 

How much does this cost? Don’t know. How many terror plots has it already prevented? Don’t know. Is it constitutional? Don’t know.

 

But do I like it? No.

 

The only quote shown above that I really agree with is Rand Paul’s. (…and that’s the only time I’ve ever said that.)

 

I cannot state that Snowden is a hero at this point. He took the law into his own hands, and revealed a secret program that a federal court had judged to be legal. It is not heroic to tell the government’s secrets — and the Supreme Court may still rule that the telephony metadata was appropriately obtained. We don’t know.

 

Harry Reid’s comment is laughable, I think. We should tolerate the program because it’s old news?  Riiiight.

 

However, I don’t see that the program is outrageous, or obscenely outrageous. The government isn’t listening to the calls, and they’re not getting recordings of the calls. They are (apparently) just getting information about the calls.

 

I don’t think it’s right. I think it’s wrong.

 

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Becoming A Citizen   1 comment

Mary Gavelda immigrated from Poland in 1908, and then married Simon Chucalovich in 1910. Mary became a naturalized citizen in 1939 ... and Velda was named for her.

Mary Gavelda immigrated from Austria-Hungary (now Poland) in 1909, and then married Simon Chucalovich in 1911. Mary, who is Velda’s paternal Grandmother, became a naturalized citizen in 1939 … and Velda was named for her.

Given the political surge towards dealing with illegal immigration in some fashion, I thought it worthwhile to review what it takes to become a citizen.

I did it the easy way. As Lady Gaga sang, “I Was Born This Way.”

There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.  However, the last time the US created a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, only a fraction of those eligible became naturalized — less than half, in fact.

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the (current) Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Generally, to be eligible for naturalization you must:

  • Be age 18 or older;
  • Be a (ed. note: legal) permanent resident for a certain amount of time (usually 5 years but less for some individuals);
  • Be a person of good moral character;
  • Have a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government;
  • Have a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States; and
  • Be able to read, write, and speak basic English.

There is a test! You must pass a test on US history and government, and another test on English. Here’s a recent history and government test summary from the Wall Street Journal:

Citizenship Test

Here are a few of the more interesting questions from our current N-400, Application for Naturalization.

Have you ever been a habitual drunkard?

Have you ever been a member or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with:

a. The Communist Party?

b. Any other totalitarian party?

c. A terrorist organization?

Do you have any title of nobility in any foreign country?

On July 3, 2012 at the Seattle Center, 520 people from 79 nations became U.S. citizens. – Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

On July 3, 2012 at the Seattle Center, 520 people from 79 nations became U.S. citizens. – Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

How About Your Family?

We are a nation of immigrants.

I hope our political leaders can find their way clear to solving the complex issue that is immigration. We need to control our borders … but we also need to be realistic about the labor needs in our country. California crops would rot in the field if not for the migrant labor that follows the harvest. I’m not a fan of the illegals clustered around Home Depot and equipment rental yards hoping to catch some day labor. I absolutely believe that employers should only employ legal residents.

However, we cannot and must not be a closed society. Immigrants should have a chance to succeed in our country, just as my ancestors did.

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US Citizenship and Immigration Services

US Flag: Common Display Mistakes   17 comments

It is not OK to wear the US flag.  Not as a swimsuit, not as a cape, not as a t-shirt.  Not. O. K.

BAD! It is not OK to wear the US flag. Not as a swimsuit, not as a cape, not as a t-shirt.      Not. O. K.

There are rules.  How we should display the US Flag is described clearly in something called the US Flag Code.  There’s a link below; meanwhile, here are my pet peeves.  Far too many citizens are either ignorant or uncaring about how they should display their flag.  Let’s try and set that right, OK?

1. You can’t wear the flag.

Section 8d: The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.

Section 8j: No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.

I cringe at the Olympics … no, you shouldn’t wrap yourself in the flag.  It shouldn’t be on your t-shirt.  It shouldn’t be printed on your clothing at all; you can’t wear the flag (there are a few obvious exceptions, such as patches worn on uniforms by our astronauts, military and police.  And Boy Scouts!).

2. You can’t imprint flags on napkins.  You can’t imprint on commercial items … like credit cards.

BAD!  Totally wrong to wipe your mouth on these napkins.

BAD! Totally wrong to wipe your mouth on these napkins.

Section 8i: The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

It’s really simple: you can’t use the flag to promote your business (which is the advertising part).  And you can’t imprint the flag on something that’s meant to be thrown away, like napkins or boxes.  The flag should be given more respect than that.

3. The flag goes to the right of the speaker on stage.

Section 7k: When used on a speaker’s platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman’s or speaker’s right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the audience.

BAD! This flag needs to be retired immediately.

BAD! This flag needs to be retired immediately.

4. When a flag becomes soiled or tattered, it should be destroyed.

Section 8k: The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

If the flag is showing visible wear, then it is no longer suitable for display.  This is an utterly simple concept, but it’s ignored by almost every business that displays the US flag. When flags need to be retired, you can do it yourself in a private ceremony if you wish.  Organizations like the Boy Scouts or VFW will also help you destroy worn flags, if you would like their help.  I’ve participated in several flag retirements.  It’s a very emotional event.

BAD! Katy Perry's costumes are not to be made of flags.

BAD! Katy Perry’s costumes are not to be made of flags.

5. Flags do not fly in the dark unless they are properly lit.

Section 6a: It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

The Code is silent on what “proper illumination” would be, but the flag should not be left in darkness.  Further, the flag should only fly in inclement weather if it is a weatherproof flag (e.g., nylon, not cotton).

USA's Bryshon Nellum, Joshua Mance, Tony McQuay and Angelo Taylor celebrate their silver medal in the men's 4x400-meter during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012.(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

USA’s Bryshon Nellum, Joshua Mance, Tony McQuay and Angelo Taylor celebrate their silver medal in the men’s 4×400-meter during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012.(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

6. When flags are displayed hanging from a wall, then the blue field is to the left of the observer, or on the flag’s right.

Section 7i: When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.

Display the flag properly, or don’t display it at all.  Why is this such a hard idea?  The rules are very simple, right?

BAD. No way this flag can be put away while showing proper respect for the US flag.

BAD. No way this flag can be put away while showing proper respect for the US flag.

7. A flag should not be touching other objects … like a nearby tree, or a roof.

Section 8e:  The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

This happens in my neighborhood all of the time.  People post a flag from the front of their house, but are then oblivious when the flag snags on the roof or nearby tree branches. If you’re not displaying the flag properly … you’re not showing respect.  In my view, you’re showing contempt and ignorance.

8. Those really big flags on the field before a sporting event?  Not OK.

Section 8c: The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

Another one of those “don’t get me started” public displays.  It is cool to see a really, really big flag … but then when you see how the flag is drug on the ground and wadded up at the end of the display, then I am not entertained at all.

US Flag - poleMore

Congressional Research Service

US Flag Code

US Flag: The First

US Flag: The Second

US Flag: The Third

US Flag: The Snake Flags

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