Lack of power

Clay Bennett

The difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution

I’m always surprised by Americans who don’t know the difference between these two documents, so here’s a brief summary:

The Declaration was written by Thomas Jefferson and signed in 1776, with John Hancock’s signature prominent.

This is the document that says, basically, “Hey King George! Screw you!” It starts off with “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” (Or, to be more concise, “Here’s why we’re leaving, asshole.”)

The Declaration also has the famous sentence “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Neither of those sentences can be found in the Constitution.

The Constitution came eleven years later, after the war was won. It was mostly written by James Madison. Alexander Hamilton played a huge role in this as well, especially thanks to the Federalist Papers he wrote (along with Madison and John Jay, who later became the first Supreme Court Chief Justice). These treatises not only helped to convince the states to pass the Constitution, but the ones from Hamilton were also amazingly poetic and even danceable, because he was not giving up his shot. Thomas Jefferson’s writings were influential but he was prohibited from attending the discussions on the Constitution, mostly because he was in France at the time.

But here’s where the confusion really sets in: Stupid people point to the attack on the Capitol and other violent acts against our government and say that rebelling against the government like that is their “right.”

Well, no. No, it isn’t.

The Declaration of Independence was aimed at a specific person, named in the document. It says that we have the right to rebel against a king, a dictator, a tyrant.

The Constitution talks about democracy. You don’t have the right to rebel against a democracy under our Constitution, because we have other means of changing things, through elections and our laws. The Constitution specifically says such action against the United States is treason and punishable, and the Founding Fathers all agreed. (Just look up “The Whiskey Rebellion” and see how the Founders dealt with this kind of treason in our early years.)

Attacking the Capitol when you don’t get your way is the most unAmerican thing you can do. These idiots who claim to be “patriots” while destroying property and killing police officers are deluded and insane.

And on this July 4th weekend, we need to remember that.

The cover of my book “How to Argue the Constitution with a Conservative,” a small portion of which is in this post. Artwork by Darrin Bell

Fantasy tigers

I Miss my Dad

It’s Father’s Day again.

My Dad taught me so much. Not through lectures or lessons — but by example.

He was an artist but a realist. He worked as the art director for the local TV station but quit when the station was bought by new owners he didn’t like. He then started his own business as a sign painter in the days before computers, when if you wanted lettering on your truck for your business, someone had to actually paint it on the truck for you. He worked out of the basement of our house, so he was always home and there for me.

He taught me about respecting women, because he loved my mother and never abused her. He taught me about the importance of honesty and doing the right thing even when no one would know. He never drank or used foul language, and I grew up never drinking or cursing. He never discouraged me from my interests in music or drama or any other crazy projects I had as a kid.

He taught me to be independent and enjoy life — and I think that was a lesson all of his kids learned, as each of us ended up starting our own businesses and/or being very independent in our lives.

He had a great sense of humor, loving his Pogo books and puns. I even got him laughing at Monty Python.

One Christmas, we hung the Christmas tree upside down from the ceiling. Another time, he got a huge one, put it in the living room so everyone driving by could see it from the window, and then put the top of the tree on the roof so it looked like it had crashed through the ceiling.

And our house was always full of kids and music and art, not just from me and my two brothers and one sister, but from lots of neighborhood kids who hung out there while mom made Chef Boy-ar-dee pizzas for everyone.

I had a happy childhood, and it wasn’t until I was older that I realized it. We always saw happy families on TV sitcoms and thought that was normal, but I recall it was my friend Mark Waid in High School who opened my eyes. He pointed out that most of my friends came from broken families, and the reason everyone liked to hang out at our house was because “everybody wanted to be a Ventrella” and have a happy family.

He died soon after I had graduated from law school. He had smoked a pipe most of his life and the lung cancer got him.

But I knew he was proud of me and I was proud of him.

Voting horror in Georgia

Matt Bors

Juneteenth!

“We made Juneteenth a national holiday!”

“Great! How about that voting rights bill?”

“Didn’t you hear? Holiday!”

“And are you voting for the police reform act?”

“I don’t think you’re listening. National. Holiday.”

“(sigh)”

cartoon by Clay Bennett

Favorite “They Might Be Giants” animated videos

Two things I love: They Might Be Giants and good animation. So, for no other reason, here are some of my favorite animated videos of TMBG songs (that I could find on YouTube that were in good quality).

Mar-a-Lego

Steve Sack

The new economy means you have to pay reasonable wages

I’ve seen plenty of right-wing talking points recently about lazy people not taking jobs because unemployment benefits are better.

Unemployment benefits don’t even get people out of poverty, so what does that say about the salary you’re offering?

“But I’m offering a decent wage,” the employer says. Well, obviously not, if you can’t find workers.

The economy has changed. Many workers (who you may have called “essential”) died in the pandemic, and many more have decided that if they’re essential, maybe they should get paid accordingly. There are more jobs than people who need them. (Hey, maybe all those “immigrants coming here for our jobs” isn’t a bad thing after all, hm?)

What makes me shake my head more is the realization that the ones complaining about it are the same ones who talk about how great capitalism is and how the “free market” should decide the economy. Well, the free market is now demanding that you pay your employees a decent wage.

While on one hand, I can feel sorry for those mom-and-pop neighborhood stores that have it harder, this is just a cost of business, like when your rent goes up or the cost of materials increases. People’s value should go up with inflation just like everything else.

But the main thing that bugs me about it is when I see huge corporations complaining about it. The WalMart family could pay every employee $25 an hour and still remain billionaires. There comes a point where you cannot feel sorry for the Bad Guys who put workers in slave-like conditions with as few benefits as possible when they’re so rich they could make a real difference in those people’s lives but choose not to for their own selfish reasons. There’s no way to make that admirable, in my book.

Senator Sinema’s priorities

David Fitzsimmons