Saturday, December 22, 2012

Etc.

Musician Lee Dorman, 70, has died. He is best known as having been the original bass guitar player for the 1960s band Iron Butterfly.

It was believed he was on his way to visit a doctor when he passed away. Dorman was found dead in his car. The cause of death was natural causes. Dorman suffered from heart problems for many years, which ended his music career.

Original guitarist Erik Brann died in 2003 of a cardiac arrest.
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Britain system of state schools (equivalent to our public schools) are under assault by the same forces as in the United States.
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Good piece from a few days ago by Cass Sunstein about the distortion of the meaning of the Second Amendment by the NRA and other gun lobbyists which found itself taken seriously by the Roberts court when it made shit up.

To understand what Burger was thinking, consider the words of the Second Amendment: “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.” Fair- minded readers have to acknowledge that the text is ambiguous. Sure, it could fairly be read to support an individual right to have guns. But in light of the preamble, with its reference to a well-regulated militia, it could also be read not to confer an individual right, but to protect federalism, by ensuring that the new national government wouldn’t interfere with citizen militias at the state level.

A lot of historians believe, with Chief Justice Burger, that some version of the latter interpretation is the right one. Until remarkably recently, almost all federal judges have agreed. It is striking that before its 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court had never held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to have guns.

For almost seven decades, the court’s leading decision was U.S. v. Miller. The 1939 case involved a ban on the possession of a sawed-off shotgun. Sounding like Burger, the court unanimously said that the Second Amendment’s “obvious purpose” was “to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of” the militia. Without evidence that the possession of a sawed-off shotgun was related to preservation of a well-regulated militia, the court refused to say that the Second Amendment protected the right to have such a weapon.


Jeffrey Toobin also gives a history lesson on the NRA and its bizarre campaign to twist the Constitution in order to score political points. But, hey, the Roberts court ruled there was a "right to bear arms" in its 2008 bullshit decision..

Interesting people are finally starting to talk about this when yours truly called bullshit on the ruling when it was handed down.

Toobin:

Enter the modern National Rifle Association. Before the nineteen-seventies, the N.R.A. had been devoted mostly to non-political issues, like gun safety. But a coup d’├ętat at the group’s annual convention in 1977 brought a group of committed political conservatives to power—as part of the leading edge of the new, more rightward-leaning Republican Party. (Jill Lepore recounted this history in a recent piece for The New Yorker.) The new group pushed for a novel interpretation of the Second Amendment, one that gave individuals, not just militias, the right to bear arms. It was an uphill struggle. At first, their views were widely scorned. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, who was no liberal, mocked the individual-rights theory of the amendment as “a fraud.”

But the N.R.A. kept pushing—and there’s a lesson here. Conservatives often embrace “originalism,” the idea that the meaning of the Constitution was fixed when it was ratified, in 1787. They mock the so-called liberal idea of a “living” constitution, whose meaning changes with the values of the country at large. But there is no better example of the living Constitution than the conservative re-casting of the Second Amendment in the last few decades of the twentieth century. (Reva Siegel, of Yale Law School, elaborates on this point in a brilliant article.)



My mother swallowed that NRA shit until she read Warren Burger's article in Parade magazine which caused her to completely change her opinion on the issue and agree with me on it. We used to have arguments about gun control, but she saw the light.

Link to Burger piece, which I have linked on this blog before:

People of that day were apprehensive about the new "monster" national government presented to them, and this helps explain the language and purpose of the Second Amendment. A few lines after the First Amendment's guarantees -- against "establishment of religion," "free exercise" of religion, free speech and free press -- came a guarantee that grew out of the deep-seated fear of a "national" or "standing" army. The same First Congress that approved the right to keep and bear arms also limited the national army to 840 men; Congress in the Second Amendment then provided:

"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 1789 debate in Congress on James Madison's proposed Bill of Rights, Elbridge Gerry argued that a state militia was necessary:

"to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty ... Whenever governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia in order to raise and army upon their ruins."

We see that the need for a state militia was the predicate of the "right" guaranteed; in short, it was declared "necessary" in order to have a state military force to protect the security of the state. That Second Amendment clause must be read as though the word "because" was the opening word of the guarantee. Today, of course, the "state militia" serves a very different purpose. A huge national defense establishment has taken over the role of the militia of 200 years ago.

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