Monday, July 11, 2016

Thoughts on Dallas, on the Second Amendment, on the Election, a Krugman column and Introducing Chrissy Frost

                                          

Thoughts on Dallas

We mourn the deaths of the police officers slain in Dallas just as we mourn the deaths of the victims of police officers sometimes too ready to use firearms in situations where such force is not warranted.


In the United Kingdom, there are proportionately far fewer shootings by law enforcement officers than there are in the United States because that nation does not possess the infatuation with weapons present here.  A police officer here making a routine traffic stop always considers the likelihood that the person he is approaching may be armed, considering the unbelievable number of weapons, licensed and unlicensed, out there, particularly in states where openly carrying arms is legal.  A suspicious move is more likely to put the officer in fear of his life and provoke him into violent action than it would be in a less “armed” society. 


Add to this the fact that because of historic economic inequalities stemming from slavery (from which we are only 151 years removed), residential and educational segregation and still-existing prejudices, the necessity for law enforcement intervention in predominantly Black and other minority areas is greater than elsewhere.  Hence when police officers go into action in such areas, the tripwires which result in violent, and perhaps unnecessary, action on their part are stretched even more tightly. 


And when such things happen, there is a “multiplier” effect.  Protests take place, peaceful and otherwise, resulting in further confrontation involving law enforcement.  When anger becomes so blind that it overwhelms reason, we have a tragedy such as that which occurred in Dallas.


The entire nation, people of all races and religions, on all economic levels, and of course, all law enforcement agencies, must  work to solve all aspects of  this problem.   Reducing the economic inequalities mentioned above will take a long time.  It has been a “work-in-progress” for a century and a half and will continue to be such.  Reducing the number of guns in this country, however, is a challenge which can, and must, be met.   (This logic can also be applied to dealing with domestic terrorism, the causes of which also will take years to resolve ... but a reduction in the availability of weapons would help us there too, at least to some extent.)  Read on.

Jack Lippman

                                          

 

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution


Reads as follows: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”


In the lobby of the NRA Headquarters Building in Fairfax, VA, the final fourteen words of the Second Amendment are exhibited on the wall.  It’s as if the first thirteen words of the Second Amendment did not exist. (Imagine a group which opposed equality of the sexes misquoting the Bible’s Fifth Commandment as “Honor Thy Father” eliminating any reference to one’s mother.  This is what the NRA has done to the Second Amendment.)

Image result for second amendment lobby of NRA
 In the lobby of the NRA Building
Those first thirteen words of the Amendment were pertinent from its inception until a politicized Supreme Court chose to ignore them in D.C. vs. Heller in 2008.  Up to then, the right to bear arms was taken to mean that back  in the days when the government could call up civilians to serve in militias telling them to bring their own guns, there should be no impediments to gun ownership.   In 1789 those first thirteen words made sense.  But nowadays we have a regular army.  We didn’t then.  So while those first thirteen words are no longer important, it doesn’t mean that the second fourteen words can be taken to stand alone in regard to freedom to bear arms, and that States and municipalities cannot regulate weaponry, if they choose to, without violating the Second Amendment.  But that is what the Supreme Court said in 2008.

A popular cartoonist characterized the Court’s 2008 decision as follows:

Image result for second amendment Supreme court

The role of the NRA in shaping public opinion and supporting legislators who support this misreading of the Second Amendment will be viewed by history as a dark time in American history.   Its constant opposition to any kind of gun control legislation has contributed to making weapons available to those with mental disorders and with evil intent, including terrorists.  Anyone who really wants to secure a weapon can always do so, but the NRA (and the Supreme Court decision in 2008) makes it much easier.  Opponents of gun control measures  look to the misinterpreted Second Amendment as a protector of “due process” for gun purchasers. 

The “Father of our Country,” George Washington, had his own thoughts on gun ownership.  He strongly implied that owning guns was important not only for use if called up to serve in a militia, but to use if our own government became oppressive.  

Image result for George Washington on guns


This kind of thinking is held by many today who oppose certain things our government may do.  That’s why there are extremists training in the woods bent on taking the law into their own hands with the aid of their weapons!  In the United States in 2016, however, opposition to the government should be voiced in the voting booth, and not with a gun, regardless of what George Washington may have said.  But don’t tell this to the NRA, nor to  those of its members who fear that gun control regulation, on a local basis, will be the first step toward trying  “to take their guns away” if the Second Amendment is ever again interpreted the way it was written, and intended, until 2008.  And they feel their opposition to gun control is justified by the words of George Washington. 

Well, George was wrong!   This is why it is very important to elect a Democratic President and a Democratic Senate in 2016.  The "Right" chose to play politics with the High Court ... and now it will be the "Left's" (and the "Center's") turn.  George was wrong. 
JL




                                                                   
 
 

Trumpocalypse, Cosmopolitans and Nativists
 
In a recent column about the forthcoming Presidential election, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman quite accurately describes the mission of the Republican Party as follows: " To put it bluntly, the modern Republican Party is in essence a machine designed to deliver high after-tax incomes to the 1 percent. Look at Mr. Ryan: Has he ever shown any willingness, for any reason, to make the rich pay so much as a dime more in taxes? Comforting the very comfortable is what it’s all about." 

And then he goes on to bash those whose actions resulted in a candidate he feels will lead to the party's "Trumpocalypse."  Well, while I agree with most of Krugman's thoughts, I am not so certain as he seems to be that Trump will lead to the G.O.P.'s demise.  I used to think that, but remember, many an election has been lost by a candidate, or a party, overestimating the intelligence of the voter.
Read Krugman's column by clicking here!  

And in this vein, recent columns by various pundits  have seen this election as one not between Republicans and Democrats, but rather one between Cosmopolitans and Nativists.  Well, the Nativists won in the United Kingdom and I wonder how many unemployed or underemployed Cosmopolitans there are in the rust belt states sipping their lattes, reading the Economist, watching public television and priding themselves on how globalization has made New York City, Paris, London and Rome so wonderously similar.  Not many.
JL