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Sue for redress

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We are loving the HBO miniseries John Adams, not just because it’s a stirring biopic of one of our angriest founding fathers, but also because it gives a glimpse, however fictionalized it may be, of the circumstances surrounding our liberation from the tyrant King George III.

The Declaration of Independence, as penned by Thomas Jefferson, stunned Paul Giamatti’s Adams on the screen. “Not only a declaration of our independence,” he says, while the brilliant and perverse Ben Franklin looks on, “but of the rights of all men.”

The declaration continues to inspire. One passage jumped out at a recent re-reading of the document.

“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Talkin’ ’bout a revolution, these guys were, manifested in musket and artillery fire ringing throughout the colonies.

Unless something has changed drastically in these last few hundred years, we are still bound by the tenets put forth in our Declaration of Independence. And it is still our duty to strike when a government – even our own government – no longer represents the will of the governed.

But some things have changed drastically since the Treaty of Paris was signed at the Hotel de York in the City of Lhts. For one, citizen uprisings are not viewed as particularly patriotic in this day and age, and you can ask David Koresh how the US government handles small groups who stockpile weapons.

So what is the citizenry to do in the face of a federal government that no longer protects the interest of the people?

California, Arizona, New York and 14 other states, plus the District of Columbia have taken a thoroughly modern approach to this country’s oldest problem: They’re going to sue.

The issue this time around is not the Stamp Act or unfair taxes on tea, but global climate change, about which the Bush administration – acting custodian of the United States of America – has done nothing, except maybe to convince some people that it is not real.

Tell that to the polar bears.

In fact, since the Supreme Court’s decision last year compelling the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emissions of greenhouse gasses, the EPA under Bush has actually argued against protecting the environment.

Abuses and usurpations indeed.

But instead of assembling militia, teabagging the harbor and firing at the whites of their eyes, these states are lawyering up to petition the US Court of Appeals.

Adams, a lawyer himself and one of the architects of American common law, as well as one-half of the only other father-son presidency, would likely have approved.



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