Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bob Barr, on Heller

Barr issued a statement on this Supreme Court case, and again, it sets him apart from both Obama and McCain. Here's the text, emphasis supplied in bold:

Bob Barr Calls Heller Decision on Gun Rights “One of Court’s Most Important Rulings on behalf of Liberty”

Washington, DC - Today the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the individual right of Americans to own guns in District of Columbia v. Heller. The ruling “will go down as one of the Supreme Court’s most important rulings on behalf of liberty,” says Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr.

Until today, the Court had never held that the Second Amendment directly applied to individuals. “Today’s decision marks a new era for gun rights in America,” explains Barr, who is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association.

Barr also drafted the Libertarian Party’s amicus curiae brief in Heller. “By protecting an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, the Second Amendment ensures that all Americans are able to participate in sporting activities, hunt, and protect themselves and their families,” he explains.

The right to self-defense is particularly important for women and minorities in a city like Washington, D.C. “Where crime rates are high, a gun may be the only means for law-abiding citizens to safeguard themselves and their families,” Barr notes. “Lawful gun ownership deters an untold number of crimes every year.”But the Court’s ruling, though welcome, is not enough.

“It is important to have a president who also supports the right of Americans to own firearms,” says Barr. “Sen. Barack Obama says that he believes in such a constitutional right, but he supports the District of Columbia’s ban, which gives criminals an advantage over law-abiding citizens,” notes Barr.

Sen. McCain has not advocated an absolute prohibition, “but he cosponsored legislation which could require registration of attendees at gun shows and even ban such shows,” Barr warns. And Sen. McCain’s campaign legislation “curtailed the First Amendment right of gun owners to protect their rights by participating in election campaigns.”

As part of the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment undergirds American liberty. “The individual’s right to keep and bear arms helps ensure all of our freedoms,” says Barr. “The Supreme Court’s recognition of the constitutional right to gun ownership is a recognition of the right to life, liberty, and property for all Americans.”

Good on Barr, yet again.
Heller Decision In - Pretty Good!

Neither the 2nd Amendment, nor the Bill of Rights, were particularly trashed by the Supreme Court today. That's about as uplifting as 'good news' gets these days. The Washington Post report's first paragraph says a lot:
The Supreme Court, splitting along ideological lines, today declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to own guns for self-defense, striking down the District of Columbia's ban on handgun ownership as unconstitutional.
Well, thank goodness for the affirmation of the 2nd Amendment! As I stated earlier today, my understanding of the Constitution is that it is a document that limits government and affirms individual rights. So, gun laws such as DC's should be smacked down.

I'm tired of splits along ideological lines. Interpreting the Constitution shouldn't come down to ideology. Either the document conveys a right or it does not. Either it limits government or it does not. Don't get me wrong- I'm glad the 2nd Amendment was affirmed. This kind of affirmation, and this kind of Supreme Court, simply is going to return results based on the whim of nine robed individuals, which means, the process of nominating new Justices will be just as political and stupid as it has been for the past 25 years or so.

Now, this is only pretty good news, though, because within the majority decision, this concession could be found:
Scalia wrote that the Constitution leaves the District a number of options for combating the problem of handgun violence, "including some measures regulating handguns."
So, DC only 'went too far'. You can bet that DC will write a new law banning handguns, with language that 'goes far enough'.

I can see that in certain states, where language isn't strongly in affirmation of the right to keep and bear arms, that bans that only 'go far enough', will be deemed Constitutional. Indiana could easily enough be one such state. Here's the language on firearms, as such- Article 12:

Section 1. A militia shall be provided and shall consist of all persons over the age of seventeen (17) years, except those persons who may be exempted by the laws of the United States or of this state. The militia may be divided into active and inactive classes and consist of such military organizations as may be provided by law.(History: As Amended November 3, 1936; November 5, 1974).
Section 2. The Governor is Commander-in-Chief of the militia and other military forces of this state.(History: As Amended November 5, 1974).
Section 3. There shall be an Adjutant General, who shall be appointed by the Governor.(History: As Amended November 5, 1974).
Section 4. No person, conscientiously opposed to bearing arms, shall be compelled to do so in the militia.(History: As Amended November 5, 1974).
That's it. Nothing clear at all. Militia? What militia?

Ohio's language is exceptionally crisp, and therefore, better. Article 1, Section 4:

The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.
On the practical side, there were people in DC, including Mayor Adrien Fenty, gathered in protest of the decision, some holding signs suggesting that firearm bans make for safer streets. Talk about being guided by blind dogmatism. The DC law was passed in 1976. Has DC been anyone's idea of a safe place, where gun violence is unheard of, in the last 32 years? Bwaahahaha.

Update: How come I couldn't find Article 1, Section 32 when looking up the Indiana Constitution on the Indiana Gov't website? Seems curious, no? When you search the Indiana gov't website and type "Indiana Constitution" into the search window, you get a link to Article 1, Sections 1-16 only.

Thanks, Roberta X, for the link to IU's site with the full text!
In Anticipation of the Heller Decision

The Supreme Court is expected to release today its' decision on the Heller case. While most fears with regard to possible loss of individual rights hinge directly on the 2nd Amendment, I am most fearful for the decay of the Bill of Rights as a whole.

Most analysts explain that the case involves the verbal distinction found in the 2nd Amendment. Wikipedia has a line that summarizes the modern confusion:
Another major point of contention is whether it protects an individual right to personal firearms or a collective State militia right

I know you all remember verbatim each of the 10 Amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights, but out of stubbornness, I'll include the language of the 2nd here:
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.
So, here's what I'm worried about. The Constitution was designed by the Founders as a limit of government power, not on individual rights. The Bill of Rights was to further clarify. This decision could begin an unravelling of the entire Bill of Rights. If the 2nd Amendment is found not to be a limitation on government but on individuals, there is no reason I can see for the same thinking to be applied to the 1st Amendment (goodbye freedom of speech), etc.

This could be a historic, dark day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Crisis In Confidence?

(h/t electvibe) It's funny to watch the partisans. Those on the left crow about President Bush's lousy approval rating of 23%, while those on the right crow about the Democratically controlled Congress' 12% confidence rating.

Guess what? Both sides are right to crow. Democrats and Republicans together have made a wreckage of our country, our states, our counties, and our municipalities. Change I can believe in? Let's dismantle this trash! Are you really going to continue to elect the very people who have shaken your confidence to the core?

The Gallup poll that shows the current state of confidence in Congress also measures other institutions, such as the military, small business, big business, organized labor, organized religion, and a host of others. It's shocking to see the results. Check out the article, and look to the side-bar at the right. Article after article about the public's lost faith in banks, in Congress, in President Bush, in the Supreme Court. It's amazing the city isn't in flames as we speak.

All this government isn't working. If it worked, there would be no more poverty, thanks to the anti-poverty programs. There wouldn't be any crime, thanks to all the law enforcement expenditure. Etc., etc.

As a libertarian, I get a lot of noise about how if we returned to the principles of limited government this country was founded upon, we would have chaos and dissatisfaction, or, how it's impractical utopian dreaming. I have to say, all this government is the impractical utopian dreaming. It hasn't improved a thing, and it's sure made a whole lot worse. The people seem to get that.

So, why will they vote for the same things masquerading as 'change' or as a 'maverick'? I just don't get that.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Health Care Preview

Quoth Mencken: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

Seems like us free marketeers are on the unpopular side of the health care numbers, so it won't surprise me when the day comes that American doctors inspect us like cattle, and if our wastelines are greater than the prescribed measurement, we will be declared officially overweight, and subject to fines.

Dystopian libertarian scare tactic? No- it's what happens in Japan today. Link to CNN video.

When everybody is responsible for the cost of everybody else's health care, you can bet we'll all be interested in the size of your waist.

I'll laugh my ass off, because I'm trim enough not to worry, and so many of those who thought socialized health care was a great idea will be off to the fat farm, miserable in having to actually exercise. Good. I'd be happier left alone, and fending for myself on my family's health care bills, but I don't think I'm going to have that chance for much longer, so I may as well take pleasure where I still can. If I have to pay for you, I'll be the biggest health nanny this planet has ever seen, harassing fat people in the street, merely as a cost prevention measure.

Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it. Hard. As you deserve.
Goodnight, Mr. Carlin

Comic George Carlin died the other day, as was widely reported. I thought it was nice to see so many articles of praise for the man on his passing. Article: "How Carlin Changed Comedy".

Many cited his "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Telelvision" routine, and the Supreme Court case that followed. Well, me too. It had a big effect on me, twice.

The first was as a 12-year-old. We just got cable TV, and I had never heard such a string of profanity used a) so profusely, and b) so calmly in a discourse. I was deeply impressed, as any smart-ass lad of 12 might be.

The insights ran a bit deeper at age 19, when I became Program Director at my college radio station, WCSB-FM. It was my job to understand the convoluted interpretation of the "7 Words Supreme Court case as they affected broadcast radio. I was the law at the station, but also the teacher. I had to instruct new recruits on the things you could air and the things you couldn't, without risk of fines or even loss of license, such was the atmosphere created by the FCC in response to 'obscenity' and 'indecency'.

To get it, let's examine the words "shit" and "fuck".

If you aired something that went, "what a shitty thing to do!", this was okay to air late at night, for it was merely indecent. If you aired something that went, "your dog took a shit on my lawn!", this was not okay to air, for it was obscene. The difference? The use of the word to mean an excretory function, which was deemed bad.

So, "fuck you!" was okay at night, as indecent. "He fucked her at the motel" was forbidden, as obscene. The use of the word as a sexual function was bad, in the eyes of the FCC.

The way I took it was that our country, or at least our government, was afraid to talk about two of the most common, basic things human beings can do, in non-clinical language. Afraid of words! Banning them! In America! Pathetic.

George Carlin, on the other hand, was not afraid of words. He explored them deeply. It's how he came up with routines like this. Carlin was hereby established as a hero to me.

Free speech was something I cherished, and as the representative of a radio station to the FCC, thus, to the federal government, I got one of my first real-life instances where I came to find government to be a pointless, restrictive ogre. After all- if one didn't like what they heard, they were perfectly free to use one of two buttons: the on/off button, or the frequency dial.

So, thanks, George, for the laughs and the formative experience. Thanks, and goodnight.

Here's the "Seven Words" routine. Don't click if you can't have the cuss words fill the room!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

5 Years!

Today is my 5th Wedding Anniversary! Here are some pictures from our day.
My cousin, Doug Carson, married Ame & I. Doug also baptized me.
Ame's Dad, Chuck, brought a prop that made for a great photo, but caused the catering staff to panic and call the police.
Just a little dot of frosting on the groom's nose.