In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

So what is it we’re celebrating today?


If you want to get a closer look at the words, visit the National Archives in Washington (where the key documents in our nation’s history are on display), or click on the image above.


Tea Party History 101: The revisionists strike again

Robert R. Livingston

No kids allowed

Back in January, Michele Bachmann, the Republican rep from Minnesota, went off on a tangent about slavery and the founding fathers. You might have read about that somewhere.

In her Fractured Fairy Tales version of American history, the founding fathers “worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States,” which was wrong, and John Quincy Adams (who really did work tirelessly against slavery) was a Founding Father, which was wrong.

When the Founding Fathers were busy founding the country, signing the Declaration of Independence, John Quincy Adams was eight-years-old. You can’t get around that. If you think you can get around that, you are not allowed to participate in any of the celebrations next Monday for you know what.

But Bachmann is trying to get around it. When George Stephanopoulos at ABC pointed out that she was wrong in saying John Q was a Founding Father, she said this:

Doesn’t admit she’s wrong. Doubles down on the crazy.

So what happens next? Her supporters feel if she’s not going to change her mind, the next thing to do is change history. So this happened:

Now it appears that her supporters have altered Wikipedia to make it appear that John Quincy Adams was a Founding Father, even though he was only a child when his father John Adams, America’s second President, signed the Declaration of Independence.

And here’s their handiwork (click for a bigger view):

Now, this shouldn’t bother me, because as some of my past posts have shown, I don’t take Bachmann seriously.

But then I see that others do. In recent polls, she’s now the number two choice for Republicans in the nomination for president and the favorite to win the Iowa caucuses. At this rate, the Republican ticket in 2012 will be Romney/Bachmann. And if the economic situation doesn’t get any better, that ticket will make the race a close one.

There used to be a time in this country when you demanded your leaders be smarter than you were. These days, all bets are off.

Tea Party history 101: the Herman Cain edition

Herman Cain, one of the declared candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, said this:

We don’t need to rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America, we need to reread the Constitution and enforce the Constitution,” Cain said. “And I know that there are some people that are not going to do that, so for the benefit of those that are not going to read it because they don’t want us to go by the Constitution, there’s a little section in there that talks about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

“Because that’s when it says when any form of government becomes destructive of those ideals, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it,” he added.

Cain needs to reread the Constitution. Why is it these Tea Party patriots throw the Constitution in your face when they’re trying to make a point, but end up quoting the wrong piece of parchment? What Cain is talking about is the Declaration of Independence, a completely different document written 11 years earlier.

And why is it Tea Baggers harp endlessly on the need for today’s laws to be in adherence with what the founding fathers intended?

Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration of Independence and one of the founding fathers, wrote this:

I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

Contrary to what this may sound like, I don’t spend countless hours poring through American history books looking for obscure quotes to show that Tea Baggers and the Republican politicians who enable them haven’t the slightest idea of what they’re talking about. I rode my bike over to the Jefferson Memorial today. That quote is written on the wall.