Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A National Con(versation), or Summit Like That

I just couldn't get the plaintive trademark whine of the late Andy Rooney out of my head this morning as I mulled the question: "D'ja ever wonder what a national conversation is? Does a national conversation happen when 330 million people rush to their kitchen tables and all start babbling at once? Or is a national conversation limited to what the ruling class decides it is, and only the pre-approved big shots are allowed to do the talking?  How does a National Conversation become declared a National Summit? When the big shots go to the mountain-top, will the hoi polloi remain down below, out of mind and out of earshot?  And what are the requirements for a Task Force? Does it spring fully formed from a National Conversation, or does there have to be a Summit first?"

Hmmm... d'ja ever have a sneaking suspicion that the National Conversation was created to replace that other gimmick known as "Kicking the Can Down the Road"? Comparing political procrastination to a childish game has just been officially banned from the lexicon by Lake Superior State University, anyway, along with such gems as "job creators" and "double down."

There are so many National Conversations going on all at once that I can barely hear myself thinking like Andy Rooney. The loudest official gab-fest today, now that the planet is simultaneously drowning and going up in flames, is the National Conversation about Climate Change. The situation is so dire that President Obama is already mulling a National Summit on it. It will then be only a matter of time before "Summit Like It Hot" morphs into a special re-mulling Task Force.

Joe Biden will not be available to "do" climate change, since he is already tasked with doing gun control. That issue quickly evolved from a desultory can-kicker of a conversation during the campaign to a must-do-now issue in the wake of the Newtown massacre. I can foresee gun control morphing into a 2,000-page mess of a bill, replete with pork and corporate welfare. It bodes ill that the National Rifle Association has inexplicably been invited to meet with the Task Force. And you know what their knee-jerk response to "force" is: More force. Force in schools, force in neighborhoods, force in malls, force in movie theaters. We all remember what happened when the insurance leeches and pharmaceutical industry were invited to a seat at the table during health care reform negotiations. They ended up writing the law themselves, to enrich themselves.

And speaking of the NRA, did you (I mean, d'ja) ever wonder why ObamaCare protects gun rights? Were you even aware that it did? I sure wasn't. It turns out that the NRA, along with the usual suspects, was also inexplicably invited to help craft the Affordable Care Act. As a result, it is now against the law for doctors to ask patients about their firearms during intake screenings. Theoretically, a disturbed individual who has a hankering to commit mayhem can seek psychiatric attention and rest assured that any information about the arsenals he has squirreled away at home can never be part of his permanent medical record. It's the Don't Ask, Don't Tell clause of ObamaCare. Page 2,037, to be exact.

It's only a matter of time before the NRA is asked to join the Climate Change Task Force. There will probably be new laws enacted requiring all citizens to pack heat in their Hurricane Emergency Preparedness Kits, and to fight fire with fire power.

Of course, there are certain topics that will remain indefinitely stuck in the mire of the National Conversation, probably never evolving past that stage to actually become a summit or a task force. Marijuana legalization falls into that category. A petition on the White House website for pot legalization finally got enough signatures to force an official response. It comes from top Drug Thug Gil Kerlikowske:
 Thank you for participating in We the People and speaking out on the legalization of marijuana. Coming out of the recent election, it is clear that we're in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana. 
(snip)
(and here he quotes President Obama talking to Barbara Walters)" …this is a tough problem because Congress has not yet changed the law. I head up the executive branch; we're supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we're going to need to have is a conversation about how do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it's legal."
 
Meanwhile, I may be wrong in my notion that "having a conversation" is at the bottom of the prioritization totem pole. I forgot about the real pit of despair, which involves our elected officials just holding their ears and ignoring stuff. Tom Angell, a marijuana legalization advocate told The Huffington Post
"From 'legalization is not in my vocabulary and it's not in the president's,' as Gil Kerlikowske often used to say, to 'it is clear that we're in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana' is a pretty stark shift," he said. "Of course, what really matters is to what extent the administration actually shifts enforcement priorities and budgets, but I sure do like hearing the U.S. drug czar acknowledge the fact that marijuana legalization is a mainstream discussion that is happening whether he likes it or not."
Of course, there's a very familiar monkey wrench in the works when it comes to legalizing pot. You guessed it: the NRA. The War on Drugs is a lucrative enterprise, requiring lots of weapons and ammo for both the cops and the drug cartels themselves. The Obama Administration has not made weapons trafficking enforcement a huge priority. D'ja ever wonder why? Should we be having a Conversation about it?
 

30 comments:

Pearl said...

There is no use having a "national conversation" if no one is informed of the facts of the case. Even if an election were held to determine how people felt about gun control, war, drugs, finances in order to make executive decisions, the information coming in would be invalid based on the distorted information they are subjected to. Even those of us who are more aware and educated about the basic causes of the problems we face, have to make constant choices about who and what to believe.

We need leaders who are one step ahead of the populace, know how use information available to them first hand to decipher the facts, are knowledgeable and experienced in historical perspectives and have the confidence and courage to act for the benefit of all the people. I can only think of two presidents who were able to fill that role: Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. Even they made mistakes, but were able to move the country forward in the midst of crisis.

There are many potential leaders who will never be tapped because their beliefs and dreams of the future don't reverberate in the limited educated heads of present and future citizens. It takes brave souls to question the status quo and act upon it.
That is why the courage of Karen and many others that we know about are crucial to keep the truth alive until and when it is recognized by enough people to make a difference. It also helps us keep our faith with our beliefs and gives us the strength to contribute our own knowledge into the pot and support those we admire. That is what keeps me going and I will continue to wear out my fingers signing petitions and sending in comments wherever needed as well as trying to politically educate my grandchildren which is a challenge.

Denis Neville said...

Con-jobbers of America…

"All that year the animals worked like slaves. But they were happy in their work; they grudged no effort or sacrifice, well aware that everything they did was for the benefit of themselves and those of their kind who would come after them, and not for a pack of idle, thieving human beings." - George Orwell, Animal Farm

Bank hacking was the work of Iranians, say US government officials and security experts.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/technology/online-banking-attacks-were-work-of-iran-us-officials-say.html?hp&_r=0

Who else could it be but Iran?

“There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.” - C.S. Lewis, Letter VI, The Screwtape Letters

Screwtape encourages Wormwood to make sure the patient lives in a state of unreal fears about what will happen in the future, rather than merely dealing with the anxious uncertainty of the present moment. The anxious uncertainty of the present is the patient's real spiritual task. He must be distracted from it. He must see his fears as the "Enemy's" will. He must even see them as battles, his own private crosses to bear.

“Resignation to present and actual suffering, even where that suffering consists of fear, is far easier.”

“In all activities of mind which favour our cause, encourage the patient to be un-selfconscious and to concentrate on the object, but in all activities favourable to the Enemy bend his mind back on itself." - C.S. Lewis, Letter VI, The Screwtape Letters

According to Screwtape, there are three levels to a human being: will, intellect, and fantasy. Wormwood should direct everything good in him into fantasy, and everything bad into will. The grandest good intentions cannot keep a man from hell, but they may make him more amusing once he gets there.

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!” on Iran?

Keep the people confused and war's implications for them.

Who are these American officials? These security experts?

Where is the hard evidence that Iran had in anything to do with these attacks?

“Never presume yours is a better morality.” - Graham Greene

American intelligence officials claim Iran is retaliating for the economic sanctions and cyberattacks on Iran. In the last three years, three sophisticated computer viruses have targeted computers in Iran. The United States, together with Israel, was responsible for Stuxnet, the virus that destroyed centrifuges in an Iranian nuclear facility in 2010.

Zee said...

@Karen--

What a great title for a great article!

“Does a national conversation happen when 330 million people rush to their kitchen tables and all start babbling at once? Or is a national conversation limited to what the ruling class decides it is, and only the pre-approved big shots are allowed to do the talking?” —Karen Garcia (My emphasis added.)

BINGO!

At the risk of putting a few additional words in your mouth, Karen, while sorta quoting you, “When the big shots go to the mountain-top...[the]...hoi polloi [definitely] remain down below, out of mind and out of earshot...[.]” And that's just the way the “big shots” like it.

Unless we choose to belong to some powerful special-interest lobby, e.g., the NRA or the Natural Resources Defense Council or some big union, our only “voice” in any so-called “national conversation” is through 'phone calls, e-mails or faxes to our elected officials which, at best, result in a “For” or “Agin” box being checked by the staffer at the other end of the line.

Additionally in the case of e-mails, we get canned auto-replies thanking us for our interest and telling us about all the other “great” stuff our representative is doing for—or to—us (depending upon your point of view) without dealing with the actual subject of the e-mail whatsoever.

Our Congresscritters will do whatever is best for themselves in the end, and that's usually whatever is best for their large corporate or special-interest group donors.

That's American “democracy” and “political conversation” at work.

Anonymous said...

Karen,
I was really impressed by your recent comments in the Times. I tried to respond to your 1/10/13 abortion comment but the Times system wouldn't let me reply to your comment, I had to submit it as a separate comment.
In regard to the drug war, have you seen "The House I Live In" yet? It's a remarkable documentary by the director of "Why We Fight". You can watch the trailer on youtube, but the full documentary is really, really worth seeing. The surprise guest is a well-regarded Lincoln historian who has some fascinating insights on the history of drug prosecution in the US. David Simon is also prominently featured.

James F Traynor said...

Yep. They have us running around in circles, jumping up and down and generally going crazy. Myself included. It's actually kind of funny when you try to visualize it. But it's not. People are going hungry, homeless and being offed by various agents from the armed and dangerously deranged, to hovering drones piloted by armchair warriors directed by smarmy sociopaths.

And the climate is changing. Oh my, yes it is! Let's have a town meeting about it. But we'll not invite all those commie, terrorist scientists. Most of them are Jews anyway and you know them. Except for the Likud, you know, those Republican Israelis. They're our Jews; the good ones who're going to Jesus at the Rapture.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks, everyone. I have been asked/reminded to republish my Times comments here in the threads, since some of you are unable to access them at the NYT site.

In response to Gail Collins's piece on the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade and the slow chipping away of reproductive rights caused in part, say some old-school feminists, by a lack of activism from younger women, I wrote the following:

Abortion rights may be on the back burner as far as Millennial women are concerned, because they have never known a time when Roe v Wade did not exist. People tend to be more passionate about their rights when they don't have them.

Activism among the young has been most evident in the now-dormant Occupy movement. The 20-somethings are America's lost generation. Unemployment and underemployment have been bequeathed to them by the reckless financial class and the feckless political class. If they're passionate about anything, it's about the loss of their economic rights.

The Generation Opportunity’s Millennial Jobs Report, released two months ago, reveals that Millennial women have a 10.5 percent unemployment rate. Many of them are deeply in debt from the outrageous costs of a higher education. Many are forced to live at home with their parents, and those who do work often earn slave wages. Many have simply given up looking for work.

It's not that they don't care about their reproductive rights. Maybe they're silent because they're poor and struggling. Those of us who came of age in the Roe v Wade era leapt into the careers of our choice, without mountains of crushing student loan debt. We had energy, even money, to spare for political activism.

Young women today may be up to their ears in choices, as the Planned Parenthood VP surmises. But too many of them have had their choices, and their chances, snatched away from them through no fault of their own.

And, here's my comment in response to Charles Blow's piece on gun control: (borrowing some points from my latest blogpost).....

What gives me pause is that the NRA has actually been invited to impart its wisdom to Joe Biden's task force this week. That's kind of like when the White House invited the insurance company predators and the pharmaceutical giants to help out in health care reform. Those guys with the big bucks sure have a funny way of writing our laws to benefit themselves. Those politicians sure have a funny way of deferring to the donor class and the lobbyists.

Ironically enough, the NRA even had a say in a few clauses of the Affordable Care Act. Under Obamacare, doctors are not allowed to hound patients on their firearms possession and usage. Additionally, the insurance rates of gun owners may not be hiked due to the existence of weapons in their possession. Read more about it here:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolynmcclanahan/2012/07/23/gun-owner-right...

A big mark in our favor as regards gun control is the strident voice of Multibillionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has not been coy about broadcasting the fact that presidents do have the power to issue executive orders, circumventing the gun lobby and the Republican nihilists. Even powerful politicians listen when you're in the top ten of the Forbes 400 Plutocrats. And it's also a huge plus that the president no longer has to worry about his own political future.

Maybe this time, we'll get lucky. Maybe this time we'll finally win our right to not get shot.

Zee said...

@Karen--

At the risk of sounding glib, you already have “the right not to be shot.” Per the Declaration of Independence, you have the rights to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness;” per judicial extensions of the Fourth Amendment you have “the right to be left alone;” and per laws in every state and at the Federal level, you have the “right” not to be shot, or stabbed, or beaten with a baseball bat or otherwise assaulted. Sounds to me like your “right” is covered.

But short of confiscation of every single firearm in this country (and all the ammuntion, too), you will never be entirely free of the possibility that you might be shot, and nothing will spare you from the possibility that you might be stabbed, beaten, or otherwise assaulted, as well.

There are no guarantees of absolute safety in life, much though we might wish for them.

Some of the gun-control measures that are being put forth at the moment might reduce your chances of harm by gun, but, I submit, not by much.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Federal_Assault_Weapons_Ban
#Expiration_and_effect_on_crime

It will be interesting to see what Dianne Feinstein may put forth in her much-touted “assault weapons ban redux,” but I suspect that even some Democratic senators may balk at what she is proposing, and then, of course, there is always the Republican-held House to get gun-control legislation past.

What we are hearing from the White House, perhaps to be enacted by executive order and thereby circumventing Congress, might be bans on the future manufacture and sale of certain so-called “military-style assault weapons,” development of a database to track future gun transactions, and universal background checks. None of these will affect in the slightest the 300,000,000 million or so firearms (and growing fast!) that are already in “circulation,” not to mention the huge amounts of ammunition that are already in private hands.

Modern ammunition lasts indefinitely. Just today, I was at my local indoor shooting range shooting
.22 LRs that are close to 20 years old, but which work just as well as those purchased yesterday.
And as Fred Drumlevitch has pointed out, firearms last indefinitely. As I mentioned in some prior post, my father's Smith & Wesson .44 Spl, manufactured back in the twenties, is still quite serviceable today, and ammunition is still readily available.

So the proposed new controls may reduce or eliminate the possibility of mass murders—or, gun murders in general—in some distant future, but certainly not tomorrow, next week, or even twenty years from now.

As I have stated before, I have no objection to banning the manufacture and sale of so-called “military-style assault weapons” and large-capacity magazines, as I don't own any anymore. And I support universal background checks for all firearms “transactions;” that's just common sense. I'm happy to see legal mental health records (judicial involuntary commitments, etc.) included in such background checks, too.

But don't expect me to march down to the local police department and “register” any of my other firearms into some Federal database. We've seen what happened post-Hurricane Katrina; how much more “efficient” would those illegal gun confiscations have been had the guns of New Orleans residents been in some such database?

And some of us out here also remember what happened in New York City back in 1991, when previously-lawfully-registered weapons were declared contraband, and owners were forced to dispose of them or be subject to fines and confiscation:

http://www.nytimes.com/1991/07/31/nyregion/assault-weapon-ban-passes.html?scp=1&sq=&st=nyt

The history and consequences of gun registration are clear.

I suspect that any calls to “register” existing firearms will be met by strong resistance, as will any calls to confiscate—or even “buy back”—privately owned firearms, as has been proposed by elected officials in Iowa and New York State.

Denis Neville said...

Today Krugman asks, “Can we now start talking about unemployment?”

Who cares what Krugman thinks?

Who cares what we think?

Speaking truth to power?

Remember what happened to Thomas Paine, who died in poverty, buried as unceremoniously as a dog in a ditch.

Public opinion does not matter. Our opinions do not matter.

The elites do not care what we think. They will do what they will want regardless of what public opinion is. Opinions don’t matter in plutocracies.

Appeal to their shared savage morality? Are they acquainted with, even rhetorically interested in, the lives of the poor? They care nothing about our suffering.

They fund the fairy tale of democracy to quell the potentially riotous rabble.

Re: activism and the now-dormant Occupy movement

Peaceful protest will not shame the elites into doing the right thing. There is only one way of dealing with them: get in between them and their money. MLK, Jr. understood this.

Do Americans have the balls for massive, sustained, peaceful protest and civil disobedience - a Velvet Revolution – that will shut down their economy?

Not yet in my opinion. The elites don’t believe we have what it takes either.

“Public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed.” - Abraham Lincoln

Denis Neville said...

“The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?”

“The fact that the gun is a reverenced god can be seen in its manifold and apparently resistless powers. How do we worship it?”

Gary Wills, “Our Moloch,” counts the ways:

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/dec/15/our-moloch/

Zee said...

@Denis--

When I walk out onto a trap, skeet, or sporting clays field, or onto the metallic silhouette range--sometimes bearing semi-automatic weapons--my firearms are just tools to play the game, as are baseball bats, hockey sticks and golf clubs merely tools to play those respective games.

While they may be prized possessions and worthy of respect for the damage that they may do if used carelessly, they are not objects of worship, at least not to me, no matter how much you or Gary Wills may think otherwise.

Karen Garcia said...

As promised, here is another exciting installment in the continuing series known as "Karen's Komments". This one is in response to Krugman's Kolumn on Krazy Klowns and Koins:

This coin idea is catching the scions of disaster capitalism off-guard. It's spoiling their whole nefarious plot. The plutocrats of Pete Peterson's Fix the Debt cabal, and the politicians who love and fear them, have been plotting to impose some pretty nasty austerity on a nation already reeling from the ignored crises of unemployment and underemployment, stagnating wages, and the worst income inequality in American history.

If the powers that be think the coin solution is silly, then they'd better get it through their skulls that wealth disparity is even nuttier. It'll end up killing them, too. According to a just-published study, even affluent Americans are dying sooner than their European peers. And now, people who can't afford vaccinations or sick days are spreading their germs to the oligarchs in a new flu epidemic. Fetch the monogrammed silk hankies, quick!

It's getting dire out there. In one wealthy Manhattan enclave, a homeless man set fire to some discarded Christmas trees to stay warm. The flames spread to a building where three-bedroom lofts are going for $4.5 million. No plutocrat was injured. This time.

But it's only a matter of time. Since we live in a country where the Silly Season never ends, and the other seasons are now Flood, Fire, Drought and Melt, we might as well let the farce be with us, and bring on the clown coin. It'll be worth it just to watch Pete Peterson lose his timing this late in his career.

Pearl said...

Zee:
The article, Our Moloch by Gary Wills which Denis included in his comment
brings up much food for thought in my mind. Mainly it is obvious that that
the use of guns in past and current cultures is interwoven with the
socio/politico atmosphere permeating our lives.

Soldiers obtain and use guns 'legitimately' and kill whom they are told are the enemy. Therefore, how do you describe the use of guns and other weapons as acceptable when they are instruments of poor choices per decisions of the vested interests of our elected leaders and lawmakers and
kill indiscriminately.
And when they kill civilians as collateral damage how do we describe the use of firearms under such conditions?

There is one step between the use of guns under conditions of animal sport
which many people are not happy about, and under conditions of aiming a gun or assault rifle at a human being with permission to do so. Add one more step of aiming a gun or assault rifle at innocent civilians in a domestic venue because the shooter believes in his mind that they might be the enemy.
That is how trained soldiers are able to shoot because they are trained to
believe in their mind, often mistakenly, that any humans in the vicinity are the enemy. Soldiers coming home from wars they question, often end up unable to accept what they had done. (Remember Vietnam)

The training of soldiers to kill is not too far off from how a disturbed
person in his rage, believes he must rid the world of the innocent person(s)he is aiming his rifle at.
In other words I believe there is a very small difference between how and
why one kills when they have a weapon in their hands and how the continuation of war after war in our country poisons the well. Teaching the
use of guns in any venue is therefore as dangerous as giving those guns to
all and sundry.

So while you and others believe you do not worship your guns, you are the
recipient of endless propaganda, especially among males, of the feeling of virility, control and power in knowing how to use them. This is what pulls soldiers into wars and affects how people relate emotionally to their guns.
Add in the ancient wiring of our brains regarding the necessity in the past for real survival, you are not
really free in your choices.

Forgive the length of my comment, but I find this issue of great concern.
Just today we had another deluded student enter a high school in the Los Angeles area and attempt to shoot several classmates. Fortunately, he missed aim although seriously injuring another and was finally talked out of further destruction. Another town rocked on
its heels.

Annie Oakley said...

Requiring a background check to buy firearms does about as much good as requiring a Breathalyzer test to buy a car.

For one thing, the person who buys is not necessarily the person who possesses or operates it over it's lengthy shelf life, so it doesn't help weed anyone out. Many guns are given as Christmas or birthday gifts, and anyone can ask another to buy guns for them.

So why don't we just use the same cockamamie approach to driving a motor vehicle as we do with firearms? We would simply check the background of the buyer at the car dealership. Who cares who's going to be actually driving it, if he knows how to drive, or if he can even see, read, or understand signs or traffic laws. The only thing that matters is that he doesn't currently have a felony conviction and never been committed to a mental institution. The result is that anybody getting their hands on a vehicle, regardless of age, ability, skills, knowledge, or minimal IQ could drive as the original buyer of the vehicle passed muster one day at the dealership. That essentially equals our current guns laws.

Another concern with background checks for buyers is that that mental and criminal status is not static - it can change at any time after the gun is purchased with no consequences at that point. And then there is the problem of alcoholism and drug abuse which, in gun control terms, are not considered mental illnesses. Drunks kill people all the time, intentionally and accidentally. Why is it that alcoholics love to play with guns when they're both loaded?

Stressing a connection between mental illness and violence is unfair and further stigmatizes and scapegoats the mentally ill by considering them to be most likely to commit violence. Far more 'normal' and simply evil people kill others each year than the mentally ill. How about profiling really risky types? That would be among many young males between the ages of 18 and 25, the ones that military recruiters try to sign up. They're also the group that the insurance companies charge a premium for, recognizing their risk and danger-loving brain development at that age. They are also the group particularly at risk for developing schizophrenia.

Like it or not, we already have an informal, disorganized militia in the form of millions of heavily armed civilians in a violent society. It would only make sense, given that reality, that firearms be regulated, as in the 'well regulated militia' part of the Second Amendment. Simple possession of a weapon, regardless of ownership, should require carrying a valid license after testing of knowledge and skills appropriate to the type of weapon. I would think intelligent gun-owners would be in favor of discipline, and weeding out the idiots among them. And as far as 'infringement' goes, hunters have to carry hunting licenses (not much more than a tax receipt) during hunting season and that's never been an issue.

Let's face it, we live in a dangerous country and world, and we in the USA have in large part made it so. We are the world's biggest arms dealer and proudly lay claim to being the biggest, most powerful, and most expensive military force in the history of the world. Americans now want to feel safe in their neighborhoods while continuing to terrorize the rest of the world. What a disconnect.

Zee said...

@Pearl--

Forgive me if I have read too much into your remarks, but you seem to have reached the interesting conclusion that even those of us out here who merely enjoy the use of firearms for traditional sporting purposes—rather than killing our fellow human beings—

“...are the recipient[s] of endless propaganda, especially among males, of the feeling of virility, control and power in knowing how to use them.”

In other words, we have been hopelessly brainwashed, and therefore only some serious “reprogramming” will ever make us “right in the head” in your eyes.

Well, if that's the case, then there never will be any “national conversation” on gun control. After all, how can the perfectly sane Pearls of the world ever converse with people who—by definition—verge on being barking mad?

One of the things that most fascinates me about many Progressives is their complete faith in the absolute righteousness of their various causes and beliefs. Despite lip-service paid to “tolerance” and “diversity,” many Progressives are among the least tolerant people on earth, because they are right, and everyone who dares to think or behave differently is utterly wrong —maybe even “deluded.”

True story: I have a dear friend dating back to my undergraduate years who concluded in mid-life that she is a lesbian. No problem for me. She's still the same brilliant and good person whom I watched go on from graduate school to teaching at a major university, where she became Chair of her department and a leader in her field. She became the scientist that I wish, in many ways, I could have become.

My friend has had for her partner for some 20+ years an equally brilliant and dedicated scientist who can be, well, abrupt and harsh in her pronouncements, IMHO. Let's just call her “Partner.”

We were passing through their part of Colorado in late spring on the way to a wedding, and stopped by for a visit. Mrs. Zee and I had scouted out trap clubs along our route, and brought along our shotguns with the intention of doing some shooting on the return trip.

We were discussing our shooting plans with our two friends when “Partner” impatiently snorted “I just can't imagine why anyone would want to own a gun!”

My reply was “'Partner,' any time I hear someone say about a fellow human being, 'I just can't imagine why (s)he would (you fill in the blank),' I see a person sorely lacking in imagination him/herself.”

I went on to say “I just can't imagine why two people of the same sex would be attracted to one another as you two are, but there it is. We're different, you and I, but that doesn't stop me from loving and respecting you. Can you grant me the same?”

“Partner” quickly changed the topic, though we remain good friends.

I try to take people on a case-by-case basis. Even if I can't imagine homosexual relationships, I don't conclude that all homosexuals are sick or deluded.

Even if I can't imagine why someone would care to play golf, I don't call it a stupid game.

If I have understood what you are saying, Pearl, I think that you are being quite unfair to gun owners with your blanket indictment that we have all been “brainwashed” by exposure to a lifetime of “propaganda,” and therefore are in need of some kind of “cure” because we are—by definition— ALL dangerous people.

Maybe our interest in firearms simply means that we are just a little different from you. Is that so hard to imagine?

Pearl said...

Zee:

I appreciate your taking the time to explain your feelings and beliefs regarding the private use of a gun. What concerns me in your response is bringing in the comparison of a Lesbian couple whose differences you tolerate as I should your use of a gun.

Guns frighten me because of their possibility for serious harm in the wrong hands. People with different sexual choices between them do no harm as long as they are good citizens and don't own assault rifles. They do not threaten the behavior of heterosexual couples so the comparison you used of those differences puzzles me.

And no, I am not always right, but the disturbing facts of the numbers of innocent people, including children, killed via guns in the U.S. gives me the confidence to state this involves a very dangerous use of an item created by man whose original purpose of protection in less civilized eras has escalated to dangerous proportions.

The unbalanced effect on our culture by the large concentration on the purchasing and use of guns in all kinds of situations has spun out of control. The cult of violence in games, movies, TV, especially for our younger citizens is disturbing as is the worship of going to war to defend ourselves no matter how distorted the reasons may be. And the level of control of an organization 'protecting' the rights of citizens to purchase and own guns in order to keep a financial empire going regardless of the consequences is totally and completely irresponsible and unacceptable.

Cars are also dangerous but in order to drive you need to qualify for a license for yourself and the car, be on record for such ownership in case you break the law, which is explicit on speeding, causes of accidents, and whether you have been drinking and driving. Imagine the increase in harm a car could do without these restraints.

Namely, I am as concerned about the possibility of harm by a gun even accidentally as I am about the effect it has on the owner's mindset which differs from person to person. If you have children, are you not sending them a message in one way or other about the use of guns and how would you feel if they want to buy and use guns at an early age? I am sure this would add a note of concern to you if they did find it an enjoyable sport even if they were responsible kids. And do you believe that by owning a gun at home this would protect you and your family from an invasion by robbers or would it escalate such a situation to dangerous results?

It is not a simple decision and one never truly knows how a deeply unhappy or disturbed youth or adult might use a weapon that is available to try and solve his or her problems.

Please think of the broader implications beyond your own desire to enjoy your outings with firearms and try to understand why the rest of us may be frightened to death when we walk the streets of any major city or worry about our children while in school. My own nephew lost the use of his eye when he and a friend were carrying and shooting with rifles when one went off and hit him. They were teenagers walking with their parents and he was lucky not to have been killed. As well there was real dysfunction in the families afterward and this boy never really came to terms with the result of that accident.

Zee said...

@Annie Oakley--

I'm not sure that I fully understand all of your remarks, but insofar as I think that I understand them, you raise some interesting points that are worthy of discussion.

I have no personal problems with “licensing” people to be able to buy and own firearms. The State of Illinois already does that to some extent, with its Firearms Owner Identification Card and, outside of Chicago at least, Illinoisans seem happy and free enough.

In a manner of speaking, on the way to obtaining our concealed carry licenses, Mrs. Zee and I already have been tested, thoroughly “ID'd,” fingerprinted, and undergone criminal background checks taking up to 60 days. We have to renew these “licenses” every four years, going through the whole process again. At the “two-year point” we have to take a brief refresher course and, again, demonstrate our shooting skills.

So the State of New Mexico is informed on a regular basis that we probably own guns, know how to use them, are in retention of our shooting skills, and otherwise remain citizens in good standing. If we are willing to regularly jump over such hurdles to “carry,” we are certainly not opposed to similarly licensing gun owners in general, just as automobile drivers are licensed.

The only cautionary notes that I would add are that: (1) Any such licensing process should not be unduly burdensome to the would-be gun owner, making the process so time-consuming, expensive or physically challenging to complete as to limit gun ownership only to the wealthy and physically perfect. (2) There should be no psychological testing in order to obtain the license; only judicial evidence of involuntary commitments or “holds” for psychiatric evaluation may be dispositive. (3) There should be only two general categories of licenses, one for “long guns” and another for handguns; it would be unduly burdensome to demand a license for every firearm owned, IMHO, and would also constitute de facto registration, to which I am very much opposed. Per my earlier remark, the memories of Hurricane Katrina and New York City are still very much on my mind.

In other words, the license is a license to buy and possess firearms, but does not constitute any evidence as to what—if anything—the licensee owns. Similarly, the licensee could only sell firearms to other current licensees in good standing. And there would have to be some kind of guarantee—backed up with criminal penalties—if the database for licensees is ever used to unlawfully confiscate firearms.

The obvious barrier to implementation of such a plan, however, is that there are an estimated 80,000,000 or so of us gun owners out here. Even if we were all willing to submit to such a process, how to move us all through it in a timely way? Require licensing of only new purchasers? Well, that would be a start, but there are plenty of current gun owners like me who may well never purchase another gun in our lifetimes. What to do about us?

Still, licensing is something worth talking about.

Interesting that you should mention the “militia.” Did you know that, obsolete or not, the United States still has a militia on the Federal books that is NOT the National Guard, and is divided into two parts, viz., the “organized” and “unorganized” militias per US Code?

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/311

In the early days of the Republic, militia members were expected to provide their own arms and ammunition, and, except for religious reasons or physical infirmity, every male of appropriate age (17-45) was expected to be enrolled in his respective State militia per the Second Militia Act of 1792.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militia_Acts_of_1792

http://www.constitution.org/mil/mil_act_1792.htm

Today, the requirements that militia members (1) bring their own arms, and (2) be trained in order to become a “well-regulated militia” have been dropped, but the militia exists by law even today.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Part I
Are you clear now on the equivalencies, Pearl? The action potentials as explained by a scientist academic, yet. Bottom line: golfers, lesbians, shooters – equivalent danger. Different folks, different strokes, that’s all. Let’s try to get along and be more broad-minded about firearms.

BTW have you heard the new theme song for the NRA? How gun enthusiasts console themselves after a Newtown? They sing along with Julie Andrews “My Favorite Things”:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and worm woolen mittens

When rounds hit, and when the kids drop
I simply remember my fa-vor-ite Glock
And then …
And then I don’t feel so bad!

Let’s see, if Gary Wills’ Moloch essay doesn’t touch the heart – or brain – of a rah-rah NRA member, and the news from Newtown doesn’t help one think a little deeper on the correlation between the number of guns and the number of shoot outs in America, maybe other sets of numbers will do the trick, especially among the good folks who pat themselves on the back as scientists who live easy with the mathematical support called statistics.

A good way to gain insight on the social benefit of an organized activity is to interview the people who clean up – or try to ¬– after the activity. About the dead and wounded children from firearms in America, ask first responders and ER staffers. They’re the first to clean up after the mess left by guns. And they can count. Their way of counting numbers might carry weight for a real scientific mind open to conviction.

After a while the intentional murders, impulsive teen suicides and stupid accidents from firearms begin to wear down the patience of those judgmental clinicians who have to clean up after what is admittedly a very small percentage of mishaps resulting from the more than 300,000,000 firearms otherwise mostly well cared for in the US.

The tally from that very small percentage of mishaps from within a mostly safe gun culture has been described as an epidemic – not metaphorically but in full rampant public health statistics mode – by pediatricians, because firearms kill and maim more kids than road accidents or the major childhood diseases.

Nevertheless, the Affordable Care Act, the one the President doesn’t mind bearing his own name as Obamacare, imposes a gag order on pediatricians (thanks to an NRA-sponsored passage in the AFA) keeping them from discussing guns in the home with young patients and their parents. What business is it of a pediatric surgeon who just amputated a four-year old’s shotgun-mangled leg to inquire about gun safety in the child’s home or the community?

Jay - Ottawa said...

Part II
Here are a few statistics for scientists, to include scientists emeriti, and the educated public who don’t faint upon seeing numbers:

“In 2008, 2,947 children and teens died from guns in the United States and 2,793 died in 2009 for a total of 5,740—one child or teen every three hours, eight every day, 55 every week for two years.… The 5,700 children and teens killed by guns in 2008 and 2009…would fill more than 229 public school classrooms of 25 students each.”

http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/data/protect-children-not-guns-2012.pdf

Admittedly, 2008 was a high count year, but the beat goes on. That’s about 100 Newtowns per year, one every three or four days. Is the sacrifice to Moloch essay by Gary Wills such a reach in light of the choices that get us to 100 Newtowns a year?

Yes, We’re Number One!

“The United States has the highest rates of firearm-related deaths (including homicide, suicide, and unintentional deaths) among industrialized countries. The overall rate of firearm-related deaths for US children younger than 15 years of age is nearly 12 times greater than that found for 25 other industrialized countries, and the rate of firearm-related homicide is nearly 16 times higher than that in all the other countries combined.”

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/105/4/888.full

There are more numbers in the scales – from 11,000 to 20,000 kids, depending on the year – for the messed-up lives almost, but not quite, snuffed out by non-fatal gun injuries to children in America. Heck, it’s such a big country and there are so many kids, we can spare a few, relatively speaking, I mean still retaining our academic sense of proportion. Cost-benefit calculus and all that.

As we’ve recently been told, there are hundreds of millions of damned-near immortal guns and mountains of long shelf-life ammo out there in the land. Go ahead, you soft hand librls on your sparkle ponies, try and wish that away. Gun possession is legal all the way up the ass of the Constitution until you reach Justice Scalia’s dentures. Why? ‘Cause gun owners have superior arguments in defense of their gun culture. Be thankful if you have a commenter on your site who can straighten you out on the subject whenever you lose a grip on reality.

You’re wasting your time messing with the proud owners of firearms. They have a perfect right to their hobby to collect, to hunt and to flaunt their prowess on the target range. Target shooting is an Olympic sport, no? But the more serious reason for the hobby is to repel invasion. Woe to the Canadians who think they can just swoop down and annex our homeland some day when our army is busy elsewhere. Furthermore, gun manufacturing is big business. Gun makers are job creators.

Let’s stop our whining. Don't even think about taking away their guns. Just clean up the mess and take consolation in counting the tally of death and brokenness coming through the swinging doors of the morgue and ER from the homes, streets, malls and even the schools of America. Guns are here to stay, Everyone else should adjust to the 43,000 households ruled by people who say my fun with my gun trumps you and your kids.

Denis Neville said...

@ Pearl – Having seen the tragic results of gun shootings working at a trauma center, I share your fears.

Society seems ever more angry and ever more lethal.

“Stand Your Ground” laws have become a license for any fool with a firearm to walk the streets and to shoot anyone they fear.

David Simon on the fear fantasy that drives the ideology behind television’s The Walking Dead:

“On television the other evening, I caught a glimpse of a drama in which some future America was overrun by zombies, a thrilling narrative in which survivors could only rely on force of arms to keep the unthinking, unfeeling hordes at bay. And I realized: This isn’t mere entertainment, it’s national consensus. More than that, it’s a well-executed and starkly visual rendering of the collective fear that governs us. We know that they’re out there: The less human. The poor. The godless. The frightening other. And they want what we have, they are going to take what we have, and they understand nothing save for a well-placed bullet. It’s my understanding that the show I encountered is quite popular; in this America, it may even be called populist in its argument — a morality tale that speaks to why we must arm ourselves, and carry those guns with us, and stand our fucking ground; it declares that we can’t rely on collective, utilitarian will to achieve a safe and viable society, that government by the people and for the people is, at this point, an empty catchphrase for fools and weaklings. No, our future is every man for himself, and a gun in every outstretched hand, and if a classroom of six and seven year olds is the requisite cost every now and then, so be it.”

http://davidsimon.com/newtown-conn/

Zee said...

@Pearl--

I, too, am grateful that you are at least prepared to take the time to discuss the various problems associated with gun ownership in a civil manner. I'll try to address some of your additional comments and concerns. Forgive me if I seem a bit...well...brief or abrupt, but I've got some difficult music to practice between now and Sunday AM, so I have less time to hone my words than I would like.

First, I don't believe that my “Lesbian analogy” was a complete “false equivalency.” No, I don't believe that my lesbian couple is a physical threat to anyone. But there are many people—religious fundamentalists, to be precise—who believe that homosexuality it an affront to God and a danger to the very moral fabric of society. So homosexuality poses an extreme—if entirely imaginary and non-physical—threat to the very core of their being. This hatred is something that my gay friends are intimately familiar with, including two who have been “bashed,” one of whom is now a devoted gun owner. Still, call it a false equivalency if you must.

Second, I understand and sympathize with your concerns about the dangers of guns in the wrong hands. I share your fears when in a large city, and that's why I avoid large events that might become “boisterous,” bars, etc. But you or I could be mugged by someone armed with a knife or baseball bat in the big city.

Third, I, too, am concerned about “gun accidents.” There are almost no real gun accidents; most are willful mishandling of devices that are known a priori to be deadly. I have no patience with people who leave their firearms about to be mishandled by children or unknowledgable adults with tragic results, or stolen by criminals who will use them in subsequent crimes.

My guns reside in vaults behind an alarm system and wrought-iron security bars when I am not home. What more would you have me do?

Finally, I strongly believe that having a firearm available could save me and Mrs. Zee from grievous harm during a “home invasion.” As I have pointed out before, the official publications of the NRA include a page titled “The Armed Citizen” on a monthly basis. In each column are compiled 10-12 articles from legitimate news outlets in which lawfully armed citizens use their firearms to repel home invaders, muggers, and the like. These articles have been published for at least the thirty years that I have been an NRA member, so they add up. If you send me a mailing address, I can send you copies of many of these columns, as I keep them on hand to persuade doubters about self-defense like yourself. Or, here's a link to just one such instance that has been recently publicized:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/georgia-mom-hiding-kids-shoots-intruder/story?id=18164812

As to whether or not my use of a gun to repel home invaders would “would...escalate such a situation to dangerous results,” well, I guess I don't fully understand the question. Dangerous results for whom? I think that if someone has stormed past my home security measures, I'm in pretty dangerous straits already, myself. And I would sincerely hope that the encounter is correspondingly dangerous to my home invader(s). If, at the sight of a weapon, the invader doesn't hightail it out the front or back door immediately, I would hope that I would make the situation very dangerous to him/her/them, too, 'cause I'm in serious trouble. I am not a pacifist.

Now, here's a question for you and Jay. I have mentioned areas where I am willing to try to help reduce your fears and keep guns out of irresponsible hands, both on this thread and on others. What you haven't told me is what you really want me to do with my $30,000-$40,000 worth of fine firearms, not to mention ammunition and accessories that would be useless if I were to give them up for the good of society. What is it that you want me to do, or what do you want to do to me?

Denis Neville said...

Call it a false equivalency if you must...but...

“There are many people—religious fundamentalists, to be precise—who believe that homosexuality it an affront to God and a danger to the very moral fabric of society. So homosexuality poses an extreme—if entirely imaginary and non-physical—threat to the very core of their being.”

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!!! It requires less mental effort to condemn than to think.

“Our love of lockstep is our greatest curse, the source of all that bedevils us. It is the source of homophobia, xenophobia, racism, sexism, terrorism, bigotry of every variety and hue, because it tells us there is one right way to do things, to look, to behave, to feel, when the only right way is to feel your heart hammering inside you and to listen to what its timpani is saying.” - Anna Quindlen

Zee said...

@Denis--

It does indeed take "less mental effort to condemn than to think," and yet fundamentalist Christians--and even some political Progressives--do so all the time.

I would find it astounding that I am telling you anything new about the beliefs of some fundamentalist Christians regarding homosexuals, e.g.,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki
/Westboro_Baptist_Church

so I am surprised by your "Jesus, Mary and Joseph!!!" outburst of surprise. Was it somehow directed at me instead of the fundamentalists about whom I was talking?

I'm...well...puzzled. Perhaps it's obvious to everyone else out there, but not to me.

Pearl said...

Zee: I find it of use to hear you out even when I don't agree with you and
not because you are a loyal reader of Sardonicky where you may feel we are
all ganging up on you, but I am interested in how you feel and defend your way of life.

Hearing about the arsenal you have in your home although thoroughly locked
up reminds me of something that happened to a friend of mine who had rented a house in Florida for the winter. One night he was awakened by explosions coming from the house next door which were loud and fiery and unremitting.
The firemen who had been called to the home could not go in because the
explosions were caused by an arsenal of guns locked up and hidden in the
house and they had to let the unoccupied house burn to the ground. So, Zee,don't have a fire in your home!

I must admit I am chilled by your long membership in the NRA for more than one reason. If you are a Sardonicky reader I am sure you realize that much of what is written and commented on has to do with the political/social milieu we are living under and which the NRA has unusual influence in. They affect executive decisions since they are heavy supporters of many Republican Congresspeople who respond in kind.
This involves choices about waging war, laws regarding gun regulations,
whether doctors can ask questions of patients in gun related events, whom
they support when voting during elections, ad infinitum. And I don't trust any reports they offer to readers such as the ones you suggested because there are incidents that end up pro and con and I have read many articles by experts not representing vested interests which refute many NRA conclusions. There have been several incidents here in Ontario where people were shot by house owners when what they perceived was an intruder turned out to be a neighbor in trouble, a son coming home late in another case, a man lost during a storm knocking on the door and the woman frightened by his appearance shooting him, ad infinitum. And saddest of all,
young people who are depressed and angry or on drugs being able to obtain a gun somewhere (even when ones in the house are locked up) and kill themselves.

I don't want to prolong this discussion but it is an important one and what I would like to see you do, is help us create a gun environment where others who may not be as careful as you can be reined in and regulated. It may be that one day you will witness or know of someone who has been a victim in a
gun shooting and by saying that there are no real gun accidents avoids the realities.

And when you made some comment that you are not a pacifist, I hope you
recognize what military decisions that have started our recent no win wars (Vietnam, Iraq,Afghanistan) have done to our country. Our fiscal cliff real or imagined, is caused by the huge amounts of costs involved in these wars, (using borrowed money) and the result of maintaining the Pentagon, et.al, all comprising the the largest chunk coming out of one's taxes. We can do better than this.

Remember Pogo!













Zee said...

@Pearl--

I do indeed well remember Pogo:

" We have met the enemy and he is us."

Truer words regarding the human condition have never been uttered.

I won't belabor this thread beyond thanking you for at least patiently hearing me out, and remarking that regarding my "arsenal," you might be surprised just how few really nice sporting shotguns can add up to a significant sum.

Still, I do reload my own practice ammunition, so fire is always a concern. Thank you for the reminder.

Anonymous1 said...

@Pearl

"There is one step between the use of guns under conditions of animal sport which many people are not happy about," Pearl, hunting is, unfortunately, more humane than factory farms, please watch a "Mercy for Animals" or similar video, especially if you eat animals. Hunting is morally superior to eating animals produced on factory farms.

"The training of soldiers to kill is not too far off from how a disturbed person in his rage, believes he must rid the world of the innocent person(s)he is aiming his rifle at." Pearl, what actual knowledge do you have of military training? How can you possibly know what a "disturbed person in his rage, believes"?

FYI, children or young adults committing crimes with guns is not a gun problem, it is parenting, child abuse, and structural problem in a violent society.

The weapons used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were legally owned by shooter Adam Lanza's mother Nancy Lanza, who was a gun enthusiast, and passed a background check. But no one is asking the important question: What kind of mother teaches a mentally ill child to shoot, and gives him access to firearms? According to Nancy Lanza's sister-in-law, she was a gun enthusiast and owned at least a dozen firearms.[108][109][110][111] She often took her two sons to a local shooting range.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Hook_Elementary_School_shooting

Child Abuse in America results in 5 deaths per day. Since the shooting at Sandy Hook on December 14, 2012, about 150 children have died in America from child abuse. Where is your outrage for them? When will parents be required to obtain a conception license, to show their fitness to bear and raise a child? Clearly if Nancy Lanza were prohibited from giving birth, the shootings at Sandy Hook would never have occurred.

http://www.childhelp.org/pages/statistics

Children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. Every year 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving nearly 6 million children (a report can include multiple children). The United States has the worst record in the industrialized nation – losing five children every day due to abuse-related deaths.

"More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse". Source: United States Government Accountability Office, 2011. Child maltreatment: strengthening national data on child fatalities could aid in prevention (GAO-11-599).

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11599.pdf

"Why GAO Did This Study: Children’s deaths from maltreatment are especially distressing because they involve a failure on the part of adults who were responsible for protecting them."

Pearl, I believe you are well-intentioned. But many Americans on both sides of the Democrat-Republican duopoly are unfortunately ill-informed and lack critical thinking skills.

The "gun problem" in America is not about guns at all, it is about a wide range of structural issues, from bad parenting and child abuse, to a fear of our government, our neighbors, and the "other". That said, I support the confiscation of every gun and bullet in America, which of course would have the unintended consequence of a much-needed revolution.

Zee said...

@Anonymous1--

Thank you for your interesting remarks and statistics.

Obviously, you and I disagree on the subject of nationwide gun (and bullet) confiscation, because I still think there's something in the Constitution that says something like

"...nor shall any person...be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation ." (My bold emphasis.)

Still, I agree with you entirely as to the outcome of such an attempt: The Second American Civil War.

But be careful what you wish for. I have no doubt but that the U.S. military will side with the "confiscators" and that the government will easily triumph over the American gun owner, no matter how much (s)he imagines that (s)he is the final bulwark of liberty with his/her "black rifle" and all those 30-round magazines.

This will give our "leaders" the opportunity to "finalize" the police state that we are rapidly becoming. Hello, Big Brother, in all your dark glory.

Remember. In order to confiscate every gun and bullet in America, "they" will have to ransack your home as well as mine.

Who knows what they might find in yours that will get you just as dead or imprisoned as me?

Still, such a civil war would have a couple of positive benefits in the eyes of some of the participants of this forum:(1) The utter extinction of that lower life form, the American gun owner; and (2) Yes, our society will be ever so much safer than it was before.

Anonymous1 said...

@Zee

Perhaps my confiscation remark was not clear. I support private gun ownership rights, although I honestly don’t see how those rights arise under the "well-regulated militia" language of the Second Amendment. Are you a member of a "well-regulated militia"? The right to private gun ownership is a liberty interest as you noted, and therefore protected by Constitution, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment.

Yes, the Constitution provides the protections you noted, which the SCOTUS can vanquish with a ruling like Kelo v. City of New London. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._City_of_New_London

My reason for supporting the confiscation of every gun and bullet in America is for the unintended consequence of a much-needed revolution. In the past Pearl has indicated the need for a revolution (don’t see it as a second civil war as you wrote), but no one has explained what follows a revolution, other than waxing poetic about this or that.

Americans could bring down our utterly corrupt government economically, simply by refusing to pay their bills. But too many Americans are credit score pussies for that to happen.

Zee, you are a wise old sage, and certainly you know "that death is coming for us as a certainty, regardless" of what actions we take, which death comment is that of Judge Dennis Jacobs, page 9/2862, The Secret Life of Judges, 75 Fordham L. Rev. 2855 (2007). http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/flr/vol75/iss6/4

Zee, will you die fighting for your beliefs, or in a nursing home hopelessly clinging to life?

Judge Jacobs also made this telling comment, which gets to an underlying problem: "I concede that a country could do worse than suffer rule by lawyers: I would prefer a tyranny of law to life under a military regime." (page 11/2863).

What ever happened to "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." cited by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address

Because so many have abdicated their duty as citizens, we now suffer rule by lawyers, Obama or Romney, take your pic, both have their nose up the banks’ and Wall Street’s arse. Remember, a person with a gun is a citizen. A person without a gun is a subject.

Anonymous1 said...

@Jay - Ottawa

I question the report by "Protect Children Not Guns 2012" that opens with a misleading childhood photo of Trayvon Martin. BTW, I think George Zimmerman was wrong to be armed and act as a self-appointed cop.

Here are fugues direct from the CDC for 2009, other years may be available too.

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
Child Health (Data are for the U.S.)
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/children.htm

Mortality, 1-4 years of age
Number of deaths: 4,450
Deaths per 100,000 population: 26.1

Mortality, 5-14 years of age
Number of deaths: 5,651
Deaths per 100,000 population: 13.9

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr60/nvsr60_03.pdf

Leading causes of death, 1-4 years of age
Accidents (unintentional injuries)
Congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities

Leading causes of death, 5-14 years of age
Accidents (unintentional injuries)
Cancer

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_07.pdf

Jay - Ottawa said...

The mission of the Children’s Defense Fund is to help all youths obtain safe passage into adulthood. Since adulthood arrives at around 20 or 21, we can expect that teenagers are included in CDF’s reports.

The CDF report I quoted was dedicated to the memory of Trayvon Martin with a short statement and a photo. This photo was the same one used by ABC-TV in reporting his being shot dead at age 17. I have no idea what age Martin was when that picture was taken. Nor does it matter – unless I were trying ever so subtly to impugn the integrity of the CDF and the entire report that followed Martin’s picture.

Anonymous is not the first to attack the use of that picture. There were objections after the murder that Martin was being prettified by the media. These objectors got busy telling the world Martin was a punk and, by implication, that George Zimmerman may have had good cause for his actions. Apparently, there is a rule somewhere that says homicide is more forgivable if the victim is not so nice. You can get the flavor of that mindset under this rock:

http://sadhillnews.com/2012/03/25/the-trayvon-martin-our-government-subsidized-media-wont-let-you-see

The Children’s Defense Fund has many enemies, enemies one should be proud to call enemies. The founder of the CDF is Marian Wright Edelman, a talented, forceful activist. Her organization has stood its ground and won credibility in a tough world, not because it lies and distorts, but because it reports unwelcome truths and shames the PTB to be somewhat more generous towards disadvantaged youth in our country. Curious how some people busy themselves finding fault with an organization that seeks justice for children. As usual, prophets are not heard in their own land, and real heroes will always be maligned by means mostly foul.

http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/data/protect-children-not-guns-2012.pdf

The numbers in the cited report are footnoted, graphed and specified as to causation: accident, suicide or homicide. The count does not stop at the cut-off Anonymous would prefer (age 14).

Has any right-wing think tank yet written a credible counter-report that invalidates the CDF count of 2008-2009 for child and teen gun deaths: 5,740 (p.9); and for child and teen gun injuries: 34,387 (p.16)? I doubt it. That work is best left to sites like SadHillNews and its friends.

Zee said...

@Anonymous1--

I've performed my own detailed study of the history and meaning of the Second Amendment—and no, I'm not a lawyer—but it really doesn't take very much investigation to see a direct linkage between the meanings of the words of the Second Amendment in the context of the times, and protection of an individual right to “keep and bear arms.”

If you do something as simple as having a look at The Oxford English Dictionary
(reprinted 1961) and consulting Volumes III, VI and VIII, you can parse our for yourself the respective meanings of

“discipline: training in the practice of arms and military evolutions; drill”

“militia: ...in later use employed in a more restricted sense do denote a 'citizen army' as distinguished from a body of mercenaries or professional soldiers. (In this section John Adams is quoted regarding the meaning of the word “militia” in the context of his times.)

“well-regulated: Of troops, properly disciplined.” (See above.)

Still it's just easier to refer you to the Second Militia Act of 1792, to which I provided “Annie Oakley”a link, above. Every able-bodied male between the ages of 17 and 45 was in the militia, like it or not, save for religious scruples, and was expected to provide HIS OWN ARMS. To me, that means OWNERSHIP OF SAID ARMS, which in turn implies an individual right “keep and bear arms.” In U.S. v. Miller back in 1939, the Supreme Court reached the same conclusion, though it rejected Miller's claim because in their eyes, a sawed-off shotgun was not a weapon suitable for use in a “militia.”

http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/bills/blusvmiller.htm

(See about Para. 10 or so, depending upon how you count 'em.)

You might also look at the Federalist Papers, Nos. 28, 29 and 46, which makes it clear that the Second Amendment was not about duck hunting, but, in large part to provide the respective States the ability to resist usurpation of power by the Federal government.

I could go on, but sufficeth to say that in the light of modern scholarship, even doubter Laurence Tribe and Alan Dershowitz have concluded that the Second Amendment protects an individual right, even if the scope of that right has yet to be determined by U.S. Courts, and even if the States have chosen to abandon the “militia model” set forth in the Constitution and the various writings of the Founders.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/06/us/06firearms.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Dershowitz#Second_Amendment_and_the_U.S._Constitution

If they see it as protecting an individual right—the scope of which remains to be determined—well, that's good enough for me. In my heart, I certainly don't see the Second Amendment as protecting an unlimited individual right, either.

I could ramble on about my own researches, but I won't take the time here.

As to what I might or might not choose to do should someone ever come knocking at my door to take my lawfully-owned firearms from me, well, no thinking, introspective person really knows what (s)he would or would not do when “the balloon goes up.” Anyone who says otherwise is a liar or braggart.

And even if I had some suspicions as to what I might do in said event, I certainly wouldn't blurt it out on the Internet where—per our current surveillance state—anyone at all could—and probably is— listening in.

For the moment, I think this topic has been beaten to death.