Politics: January 2013 Archives

Stop Living in Fear

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I hear all the time from anti-gun folks that people who "cling" to their guns (and religion) are living in fear.

In my experience, it's precisely the opposite. I don't live in any sort of fear. But almost without exception, the same folks who tell me to stop living in fear are extremely afraid of normal people with guns. Case in point is Oak Harbor Councilman Rick Almberg.

During a hearing last week, citizen Lucas Yonkman identified himself as a military veteran and said he carries his concealed weapon at all times. Almberg asked him if he was currently carrying a weapon. Yonkman, under no obligation to answer, volunteered that he was. Almberg then made an illegal motion that anyone carrying a gun check it with the police, or leave the premesis.

State law preempts local law on guns. Seattle tried to ban guns from city-owned land, and it was shot down for the same reason. You can't do that. It's illegal, and literally a civil rights violation.

But it also demonstrates the irrational fear that is pervasive among many anti-gun folks. Here's a guy who always carries a weapon, who was trained by our government in the use of it, who has no known history of mental illness or criminal violence or lawbreaking. There is simply no rational reason to think he might use his weapon inappropriately, and therefore no rational reason to be concerned that he has a weapon.

I've been told that by carrying a gun I am demonstrating that I am afraid of my fellow man. That's like saying that because I have a spare tire in my car, I am afraid of a flat tire. I am simply prepared for what might happen, nothing more. I have no feelings one way or another. But these people are quite explicitly afraid of their fellow man. They believe a known individual who possesses the ability to cause harm is likely to do so. Despite no evidence that this individual might cause harm, despite the fact that millions of citizens carry guns every day without causing harm, they retain this irrational fear of their fellow man.

Stop living in fear: embrace your fellow man, even if he is armed.

"Give Up on the Constitution"

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Georgetown Professor Louis Michael Seidman says we should not follow the Constitution, but doesn't give any actual reasons why. The reasons he gives for why it is bad to follow the Constitution are actually good.

He's also flatly incorrect about several things.

Right off the bat, he incorrectly says that if a President had "doubts" about the Constitution, this is equivalent to "Constitutional disobedience." Obviously, no, it's not. He further says some Presidents "disobeyed" the Constitution "when it got in their way," which is also incorrect: while this happened sometimes, it was never, for any President -- including Obama -- the normal course of action.

He incorrectly claims that a President can be someone that someone "rejected by a majority of the American people" can be elected President, but since we do not actually have a popular vote, we obviously cannot know that a majority of people reject him (since many people in a particular state might not vote at all, or vote for someone else than their favored candidate, because the person who wins that state is already settled, such as in Texas or New York or California, etc.), even if the votes cast for that winner constituted a majority of the American people, which they do not.

He also incorrectly claims that the rule of law means following the Constitution's provisions "because a bunch of people who are now long-dead favored them two centuries ago." No, we do so because the rights he calls "important and inspiring" are only guaranteed through adherence to that rule of law, and if we arbitrarily ignore what he calls "not so inspiring," we lose the guarantee of everything else.

I agree with him that we should not have natural-born citizenship as a requirement for the Presidency, but he gives no argument that we should simply ignore this, rather than amend the Constitution to change it.

His primary example, though, is gun control. He says that instead of having debate about what is best for the country today, we turn it over to lawyers and judges to discuss whether the Constitution allows it. I'm going to turn his question back on him: So what? That is why we have the Second Amendment, to explicitly undermine the idea that taking away gun rights could be a legitimate exercise of the powers of the government.

And yes, when someone tries to take away my rights, the "temperature" of the discussion increases. He may see that as needless, but I see it as a natural way to ensure that my rights don't go down without a fight.

He doesn't say why this is bad, he just asserts that it is. Why not put the First Amendment under the same "debate"? There's many times in our history when a majority of people would've been in favor of taking away some or all First Amendment rights. It's only because we didn't "give up on the Constitution" that the First Amendment stands today.

The fact is -- and it's another way in which the Georgetown professor is incorrect -- we do not "allow people who died over two centuries ago and knew nothing of our country as it exists today" to "rule us." We make choices about whether or not to alter or abolish the government that's been given to us.

What he's missing, though, is that these people foresaw a time when rights they believed were important, would be spat upon by others, and so it takes some extra-democratic effort to do so. This is the only way in which we can reasonably guarantee the "important and inspiring" provisions we all hold dear. That it is hard to violate the Second Amendment, that a mere democratic majority cannot do so, is a good thing.

Obama's Gun Proposals

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So far Obama has announced three broad proposals to the legislature regarding guns.

1. Obama wants to ban all private sales of guns. Government must be involved in every gun sale, via a background check, even if it means selling to your child or brother.

2. Obama renews his desire, expressed in 2008, to ban "assault weapons" -- knowing full well the ban cannot possibly do anything positive -- and a limit on magazines of 10 rounds, which can at best have a very minimal positive impact.

3. Congress needs to -- very vague here -- "get tough" on gun criminals. Congress should confirm an ATF Director. Note that Obama blames Congress for the spot being empty, even though he has not appointed anyone.

Also, we should have more cops, apparently, because they stop gun crime ... although I guess he opposes guards in schools, because ... they don't stop gun crime in schools?

In other words, Obama has basically proposed nothing that will do anything significant. Frankly, even I am disappointed by the weakness of the effort here. If I were a gun-banner, I'd be livid at Obama. As a gun-lover, I am unsurprised and mildly annoyed. He spent a long time talking about how important this is, but then didn't propose anything important. The background checks and gun bans will not stop any gun crime. None. The magazine restriction might possibly, in a very few limited cases, save lives, but it will be very few if any.

He talked about people and stories and "protecting the most vulnerable" but he proposed nothing that will do anything.

The useless assault weapons ban will not pass, anyway. The background check might, but only if it includes significant protections on the data gathered by government. The magazine limit might pass, but I hope not.

No Jack Lew

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This is why I oppose Jack Lew for Treasury. He repeatedly said Obama's budget would be reducing the debt, but his own numbers showed an increase in the debt every year. He lied, both on TV shows and directly to the Senate.

Lew also, as the article shows, either lied -- or just didn't know! -- about needing 60 votes to pass a budget in the Senate.

His dishonesty, and perhaps additionally his incompetency, disqualify him from consideration. More than anything else, we need a Treasury Secretary who will be highly competent, and totally honest with the American people about our fiscal status. He has proven he is not the man for that job.

<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from January 2013.

Politics: December 2012 is the previous archive.

Politics: February 2013 is the next archive.

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