Friday, January 02, 2009

The Law of Unintended Consequences

The New Second Amendment: A Bark Worse Than Its Right

In June, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling on the Second Amendment right to bear arms, D.C. v. Heller. For over 70 years, the federal courts had read that amendment to protect only a state's right to organize militias, like the National Guard. In a long-awaited victory for the gun rights movement, the Court reversed course and held that the Second Amendment protected an individual's right to own guns for personal self-defense.

So far, the victory hasn't turned out exactly as the gun rights folks had hoped.

As many legal scholars predicted, the Supreme Court's decision led to a tidal wave of Second Amendment challenges to gun control. Every person charged with a gun crime saw the Supreme Court's decision as a Get Out of Jail Free Card.

To date, the lower federal courts have ruled in over 60 different cases on the constitutionality of a wide variety of gun control laws. There have been suits against laws banning possession of firearms by felons, drug addicts, illegal aliens, and individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors. The courts have ruled on the constitutionality of laws prohibiting particular types of weapons, including sawed-off shotguns and machine guns, and specific weapons attachments. Defendants have challenged laws barring guns in school zones and post offices, and laws outlawing "straw" purchases, the carrying of concealed weapons, possession of an unregistered firearm, and particular types of ammunition. The courts have upheld every one of these laws.

Since Heller, its Gun Control: 60, Individual Right: 0.

... there's more on HuffPo after the click.

My comment: Another case of "be careful what you wish for".

Anyway, this suggests some questions to me ... and I pass them along to you.

1.) Is this a case of "activist judges" that the right is so ... um ... up in arms about? And if it is, given the historic precedents (to wit: "For over 70 years, the federal courts had read that amendment to protect only a state's right to organize militias"), is it the lower court judges who are being "activists" by upholding the history of precedents or the hand picked and packed right wing Supreme Court, bucking the precedents that represent the dreaded "activism"?

2.) Or could this just be another of those right-wing despised situations of trial lawyers bringing frivolous lawsuits that waste the court's time and public's resources?

America Greets 2009 By Going Insane

from Wonkette

A nut in a World War II Nazi military uniform aims his bayonet-tipped rifle at Seattle cops and is shot dead. A distraught guy fires a gun in the air from his garage and three Los Angeles police cut him down. An angry old Colorado ski bum plots an epic four-pronged terror attack on the rich people of Aspen, but he shoots himself in his Jeep Cherokee before detonating the four bombs. Across the country, wrecked Americans chose to go completely insane on New Year’s. Welcome to 2009. It’s going to be awful.

Maybe it’s just that there’s no “real” national news on January 1, or maybe America is collectively leaping off the foreclosed skyscraper of destiny, but the amount of full-on crazy suicidal behavior over this New Year’s holiday is enough to make calm people hide in their basements with a sack full of assault rifles.

And the number of cops ready and willing to shoot and kill anything acting a bit weird is a very grim reminder that the Militarized L.A. Cop is now a national menace.

... read the list of New Year's incidents on Wonkette after the click.

My comment: To quote Janis Joplin, "Freedom's just another word for nuttin' left to loose."

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Top 10 Rightblogger Stories of 2008

Excited (not to say deranged) by the long Presidential campaign, conservative bloggers -- rightbloggers, in our affectionate parlance -- were in top form this year, and outstripped the sleepy Main Stream Media in every way. If mainstream Republicans were content to call Obama a socialist, rightbloggers insisted that he killed his grandmother. If the GOP lashed out at Al Gore, rightbloggers denounced his cartoon avatar Wall-E. Rightbloggers turned even the dullest political fodder into comedy gold, and we honor their achievements with a year-end top ten.

... read the Top Ten eye rollers from the right in the Village Voice after the click.

My Comment: The Village Voice nails it once again. I'm glad someone is keeping track of all the silliness. For once, the right-wingnuts prove useful -- worth at least four belly laughs, three beaming chuckles, two broad grins and a partridge in a a pear tree ....

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


"In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican."

-- H. L. Mencken

Why things are the way they are

The Left-Handed Whopper

In 1998 Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a "Left-Handed Whopper" specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The following day Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Simultaneously, according to the press release, "many others requested their own 'right handed' version."

... more at the Museum of Hoaxes after the click.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Uncle Jay Explains the News

Helping little minds understand big news stories ...

... or catch the video here on YouTube.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Unrest caused by bad economy may require military action, report says

By Diana Washington Valdez / El Paso Times

EL PASO -- A U.S. Army War College report warns an economic crisis in the United States could lead to massive civil unrest and the need to call on the military to restore order.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Nathan Freir wrote the report "Known Unknowns: Unconventional Strategic Shocks in Defense Strategy Development," which the Army think tank in Carlisle, Pa., recently released.

"Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities ... to defend basic domestic order and human security," the report said, in case of "unforeseen economic collapse," "pervasive public health emergencies," and "catastrophic natural and human disasters," among other possible crises.

... more in the El Paso Times after the click.

My comment: Fasten your seat belts, kids.

Four Decades After Milgram, We’re Still Willing to Inflict Pain

New York Times

In 1963, Stanley Milgram, an assistant professor of psychology at Yale, published his infamous experiment on obedience to authority. Its conclusion was that most ordinary people were willing to administer what they believed to be painful, even dangerous, electric shocks to innocent people if a man in a white lab coat told them to.

For the first time in four decades, a researcher has repeated the Milgram experiment to find out whether, after all we have learned in the last 45 years, Americans are still as willing to inflict pain out of blind obedience.

... more in the New York Times after the click.

Hint: Ewe Betcha! Ready, willing and able to blindly follow orders.

Homeopathic Foreign Ploicy

One of the principles of homeopathic medicine is that a smaller dose is considered more effective than a larger dose. This has profound implications for U.S. foreign policy. At the moment, we have 158,000 troops in Iraq. Imagine if we had only six! According to homeopathic logic, this presence would be much more successful.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

As if Things Weren't Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S.

Wall Street Journal

MOSCOW -- For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument -- that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. -- very seriously. Now he's found an eager audience: Russian state media.

In recent weeks, he's been interviewed as much as twice a day about his predictions. "It's a record," says Prof. Panarin. "But I think the attention is going to grow even stronger."

Prof. Panarin, 50 years old, is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations.

But it's his bleak forecast for the U.S. that is music to the ears of the Kremlin, which in recent years has blamed Washington for everything from instability in the Middle East to the global financial crisis. Mr. Panarin's views also fit neatly with the Kremlin's narrative that Russia is returning to its rightful place on the world stage after the weakness of the 1990s, when many feared that the country would go economically and politically bankrupt and break into separate territories.

A polite and cheerful man with a buzz cut, Mr. Panarin insists he does not dislike Americans. But he warns that the outlook for them is dire.

"There's a 55-45% chance right now that disintegration will occur," he says. "One could rejoice in that process," he adds, poker-faced. "But if we're talking reasonably, it's not the best scenario -- for Russia." Though Russia would become more powerful on the global stage, he says, its economy would suffer because it currently depends heavily on the dollar and on trade with the U.S.

Mr. Panarin posits, in brief, that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar. Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces -- with Alaska reverting to Russian control.

California will form the nucleus of what he calls "The Californian Republic," and will be part of China or under Chinese influence. Texas will be the heart of "The Texas Republic," a cluster of states that will go to Mexico or fall under Mexican influence. Washington, D.C., and New York will be part of an "Atlantic America" that may join the European Union. Canada will grab a group of Northern states Prof. Panarin calls "The Central North American Republic." Hawaii, he suggests, will be a protectorate of Japan or China, and Alaska will be subsumed into Russia.

"It would be reasonable for Russia to lay claim to Alaska; it was part of the Russian Empire for a long time." A framed satellite image of the Bering Strait that separates Alaska from Russia like a thread hangs from his office wall. "It's not there for no reason," he says with a sly grin.

My comment: ... and Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house ... read the rest in the Wall Street Journal after the click.

R.I.P Delaney Bramlett

Played and sang with (and influenced) EVERYONE from Dylan and George Harrison, and The Alman Brothers to Eric Clapton.

Delaney Bramlett with Bonnie, George and Eric: "Commin' Home" ... appropriate somehow.

... or catch the video here.

Delaney and Bonnie with Eric Clapton 1969

... or check out the video here.

Thanks for everything, Delaney.