Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Will Rogers’

 The Hottest Places in Hell Are Reserved for Those Who in a Period of Moral Crisis Maintain Their Neutrality—Dante

Introduction

With the loss of 17 young lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida the United States is now engaged in a soul-searching mission like never before. Young people have taken to the streets and voicing their opinions with a “take no prisoners attitude.” No subject is off limits regarding gun control or other control mechanisms. And there is no shortage of ideas on what to do about the problem of mass murder in the face of opposition from the gun lobby.

Ninety years ago Will Rogers said, “America has the best politicians money can buy.” You know what? He was right. Politicians, particularly conservative Republicans, have sold their souls for the almighty dollar. Some might even say, “They’ve sold their soul to the devil by trading on the death and suffering of others.”

Influence of NRA on American Politics

Gun manufacturers, NRA lobbying groups, and Congressional and Senatorial political entities, who’ve been bought by the NRA, are all collectively—Merchants of Death.

Rationalizations from these economically-driven piranhas would suggest that it’s all done to defend the Second Amendment. Nothing could be further from the truth (more explained later). The real motivation underlying NRA actions is money, plain and simple. For them, lobbying and paying out large sums of money is an investment in future profits. How much money is the NRA worth? More than five years ago, (December 2012), the National Rifle Association had $227.8 million in revenues and $163 million in the worth of their assets.

I would estimate now that this organization has a combined (revenues and assets) in excess of ½ billion dollars.

In 2017, total lobbying expenditures paid out by the National Rifle Association were $5,122,000 on behalf of the Gun Rights industry.  This included $4,802,000 for the Parent National Rifle Association and $320,000 for its subsidiary Institute for Legislative Action.

In the 2016 election, the NRA spent $11,438,118 to support Donald Trump and they spent an additional $19,756,346 to oppose Hillary Clinton. That’s over $31 million spent on one presidential race. No organization would pony up that much money unless they expected an excellent return on their investments.

Second Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms and was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments contained in the Bill of Rights.

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the right belongs to individuals, while also ruling that the right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of either firearms or similar devices. State and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing this right, per the incorporation of the Bill of Rights.

Please note that the right to bear arms is not unlimited. This is a significant interpretation of U.S. Constitutional law. 

I mentioned earlier that the rationalization of the NRA is money, not the Second Amendment. This is because they know they can influence and buy politicians like purchasing cattle or sheep, but engaging in criminal activity and bribing federal judges at the Supreme Court, District Courts of Appeal, or lower district courts is quite a different matter. Courts are powerful. And legal interpretation and analysis is always needed. I must point out to my readers that calling a Supreme Court justice liberal or conservative may not necessarily help one predict how they analyze data or how they are going to vote. For example, I was struck by the legal reasoning of the late conservative United States Supreme Court justice Anthony Scalia.

Back in 2012 he was interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox Sunday News. Here is the gist of what he had to say on Fox news about the Second Amendment:

The conservative justice notably authored the Supreme Court’s 2008 opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, which ruled that the Second Amendment protects a person’s right to bear arms and struck down a D.C. ban on handguns. The court also ruled, though, that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” Scalia pointed out  that that the Second Amendment “obviously” doesn’t apply to weapons that can’t be hand-carried and modern-day weapons like “hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes” weren’t factored in at the time of the writing of the Constitution.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that there are “undoubtedly” limits to a person’s right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, but that future court cases will have to decide where to draw the line.

Where to draw the line

I would like to say something about the logic and thinking that needs to be considered about drawing such a line between individual gun rights on the one hand, and limitations of gun rights on the other.

With respect to Anthony Scalia’s statement that future courts will have to decide where to draw the line, it tells me that sociologically speaking, legal interpretation of the law cannot completely divorce itself from making value judgments. This is why there is always a window of opportunity for both liberal and conservative justices to put forth their own political or ideological spin on any particular case.

The implication of Scalia saying future judges must decide where to draw the line suggests that the fine points of legal reasoning are, at its core, predicated on both values as well as facts in a particular case. Whenever you hear any judge use the term “reasonableness” when rendering any legal decision, that is your clue to know that values (are) were part of that decision.

What are the implications of all this? Courts don’t make laws per se; that’s what legislative branches of government do. Courts however are charged with interpreting laws. In theory it is a good system; in reality however no system is perfect. And even what a “perfect” decision-making system would be ultimately is still based on value judgments.

But the courts don’t get much help from legislative bodies. Why? Because our democratic political system doesn’t work when politicians can be bought or sold. When that happens our political system becomes tainted and stinks of undue influence. Put another way, the public’s interests and concerns matter little except at election time. And even then more is promised but little is ever delivered.

Since values are critical to decision making (legal or otherwise) think about this! What kind of insanity would exist if “right to bear arms” was interpreted to include: military tanks, RPGs, bazookas, flame throwers, or should I say it—the right to have an atomic bomb in everyone’s one’s garage. Why not, if that was ever permissible under the Second Amendment? Oh! But you’re going to say—that’s insane. Tell me folks, is that really any more insane than an AR-15, automatic weapons made into killing machines from bump stocks, or high-powered, high capacity magazine rifles used with the goal of murdering scores of people, including teenagers and children? You draw your line; I know I’ve drawn mine.

Being Upfront with my Readers

     I am not unbiased in my feelings about this issue. I’m a gun owner and a really tough old navy veteran in my 70s. Nevertheless, as emotionally strong as anyone, I totally lost it one day back in December 2012 when the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School.in Connecticut took place.

Pictures of 20 first grade students were shown on the TV. Their young faces caught my attention immediately and cut me to the core. I broke down in tears and sobbed like a young child; my tears were uncontrollable. Did I personally know any of these people? No! But it didn’t matter. I am a human being with feelings and I care about humanity as much as I care about my own family. A piece of me died that day.

If any horrific event like the Sandy Hook slaughter was ever going to bring about change it had to be this tragedy of tragedies. Nevertheless, Republicans in both houses of Congress, backed by the NRA, prevented any change at all. Republicans from the Freedom Caucus, Tea Party and some conservative Senators were still genuflecting, and bowing down in supplication before the high priests of money—those powerful merchants of death—the NRA.

Now, we have a psycho in the White House to make matters worse. Not only is he a carbon copy of his ultra-conservative stooges but he is, by his actions with the Russians, a traitor to his country. He is the Benedict Arnold of our time.

Donald Trump came to Washington to drain the swamp. Come this November we’re going to help him do that. But it won’t be what he expects. If he isn’t already impeached by then, the millennials, along with one “angry as hell” public, are going to remove every shameless, immoral, political reprobate bought and paid for by the NRA.

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »