Posts Tagged ‘Second Amendment’

Cheeps and Chirps — belated July 2016 Republican National Convention edition!

August 11, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 11, 2016

Twitter feed, represent!

Sadly, this could be an evergreen tweet

 

• Reminder: The U.S. is still at war

 

• Comedy!

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Tragedy upon tragedy: America suffers its worst week in nearly 15 years

July 9, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 9, 2016

This week, two men — two black men — who did not seem to pose an imminent threat to anyone were shot to death by police officers in Baton Rouge, La., and in a suburb of St. Paul, Minn. About 24 hours after the death of the second man, Philando Castile, a gunman began firing at the conclusion of a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration in Dallas. Five law enforcement officers died; eight other people were wounded, all but two of whom were police.

More than two years ago, I called April 2, 2014, “a most American day” because of the events that took place on a seemingly ordinary Wednesday. That morning, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision that eased restrictions on political donations, thereby further paving the way for America’s wealthy to expand their influence on the nation’s political process. That afternoon, a mass shooting took place at Fort Hood in Texas, as three people were killed and 13 others injured by a soldier who subsequently took his own life.

That was a bad day, and bad in ways that were characteristically American; that is, in ways that showed off our nation’s embrace of money and guns. This past week, I think, has also been uniquely American, and for some of the same reasons. In fact, I think this has been the most discouraging week for our nation since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

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Cheeps and Chirps for July 2, 2016

July 2, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 2, 2016

Please enjoy some more recent odds and ends from my Twitter feed.

• Comedy!

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Arguing about American rights: The U.S. Constitution and its first two amendments

April 29, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 29, 2016

Perhaps the worst day in American history since Sept. 11, 2001, was Dec. 14, 2012. That Friday morning, a 20-year-old fatally shot his mother in their Newtown, Conn., home before driving to nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he killed six adults and 20 children before turning a weapon on himself. The gunman used weapons that had been legally purchased by his mother.

Over the course of more than a year following that massacre, I spent a great deal of time on Twitter attempting to persuade people who held what I thought to be excessive enthusiasm for gun rights that their ideas were somewhat misguided.

“I no longer want to live in a country that shrugs and says the Second Amendment justifies every gun death,” I told one such fanatic several hours after the killings had taken place.

After right-wing conspiracy peddler Alex Jones told Piers Morgan in a January 2013 interview, “My point is that the Second Amendment is sacrosanct,” I quoted Jones and added a sarcastic parenthetical (“Kids’ lives? Whatever”) in attempt to highlight his skewed priorities.

When a conservative mixed-martial-arts fan told me on Twitter that “guns as written in the constitution are to protect countrymen from a tyrannical government,” I dryly observed that “[t]hat worked perfectly in Waco and at Ruby Ridge, right?” Shortly afterward, I asked the same individual, “So 31,000 gun deaths annually is the price of the Second Amendment?”

Reader, I’m 99 percent sure that I persuaded approximately zero percent of the people I engaged to alter or adjust their views in any way.

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Recent Readings for Jan. 9, 2016

January 9, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 9, 2016

• “The Fall of King Coal.” In December, a federal jury convicted former Massey Energy Chief Executive Don Blankenship of conspiracy to violate federal mine-safety laws, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of a year in prison. In “The Fall of King Coal,” which Mother Jones published in the fall as Massey’s trial was getting under way, reporter Tim Murphy took a close look at Blankenship’s career, which involved breaking union strikes as well as existing contracts and safety and environmental regulations.

“It was very, very obvious from the first part that [Blankenship] cared about one thing and one thing only, and that was the dollar, and it was clear that he worshipped at the altar of greed and dollars, and he wouldn’t let anything get in the way,” one longtime union foe told Murphy.

• “The Corporate Takeover of the Red Cross.” The American Red Cross did not have a good 2015, when several reports came out exposing it as a floundering and at times ineffective organization. Take, for instance, a June report from ProPublica and NPR that bore the headline “How the Red Cross Raised Half a Billion Dollars for Haiti and Built Six Homes.”

Last month, Justin Elliott extended his reporting on the American Red Cross by describing how former AT&T executive Gail McGovern has brought a businesslike mentality to the charity that has coincided with, if not actually caused, budget deficits, layoffs, internal cutbacks, sagging morale and the loss of trust by countless volunteers and partners. One of McGovern’s apparent missteps was hiring Jack McMaster, a former AT&T colleague who ran a Dutch telecom company into the ground before getting a job with the Red Cross.

• “Republican doom doesn’t equal Democrat victory: Our political chaos could destroy them both.” Salon columnist Andrew O’Hehir blasts the left and the right in this essay:

Clinton’s tone and rhetoric have been measured during this campaign, but as Salon’s Bill Curry wrote recently, she remains an unregenerate foreign-policy hawk who shows every sign of yearning to double down on failed military overreach. Whatever you think she may have said, Clinton has absolutely not ruled out sending American troops by the thousands to fight a ground war against the Islamic State. She has called out Republican candidates for their “bluster and bigotry” and rejected talk of a “war on Islam,” which is all to the good. But the policy proposals discernible below her calm and resolute-sounding language over the last month are virtually indistinguishable from those of the non-Trump GOP contenders: More war, more surveillance, less First Amendment. “You are going to hear all the familiar complaints: ‘Freedom of speech,’” she told a Brookings Institution audience on Dec. 6. I know! As if that’s in the Constitution or something!

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One Wondrous Sentence: The expanded meaning of the Second Amendment

January 17, 2013

This one wondrous sentence shows just how far out of the mainstream the proposition that the Constitution guarantees private citizens the right to bear arms was once considered.

The NRA’s fabricated but escalating view of the Second Amendment was ridiculed by former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger — a conservative appointed by President Richard Nixon — in a PBS Newshour interview in 1991, where he called it “one of the greatest pieces of fraud — I repeat the word ‘fraud’ — on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

Source: Steven Rosenfeld, “The Suprising Unknown History of the NRA,” Alternet, Jan. 13, 2013. (Quote appears on the second of three pages.)

One Wondrous Sentence: Guns and liberty

January 8, 2013

This one wondrous sentence debunks the notion that privately owned firearms are vital instruments in the preservation of liberty.

As long as we are writing science fiction, in the event that a Hitler, Stalin or Mao seized control in Washington, D.C., this American tyrant would worry far more about being murdered by the praetorian guard or overthrown by the military than about the near-impossibility of defeat of the U.S. armed forces by ordinary armed citizens, particularly the kind of pathetic right-wing militia members who would have trouble taking over a trailer park.

Source: Michael Lind, “Guns have never saved us,” Salon, Dec. 17, 2012.

On firearms and firearm fatalities

December 20, 2012

Author’s note: This entry was initially posted on the afternoon of Dec. 20. It was extended and re-posted later the same afternoon. Slight edits were also made to the original text. Thank you for reading! MEM

***

The 117-page report compiled by the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control provides detailed breakdowns by age, race and sex for more than 100 different causes of death in the 2009 calendar year.

The nation tallied 2,437,163 deaths that year, with a number of predictable causes leading the way. Heart disease was the top culprit, claiming nearly 600,000 people. Malignant neoplasms, or cancers, finished in second place by ending just shy of 568,000 lives. Chronic lung disease and various ailments that stop or limit blood flow to the brain respectively notched 137,353 and 128,842 deaths.

Accidents or unintentional injuries were responsible for 118,021 fatalities, ranking fifth on the list. Eight of the next 10 causes are diseases, except for suicide (No. 10, 36,909) and assault or homicide (No. 15, 16,799).

Incidentally, the government’s catch-all category, covering all but the top 15 causes of death, accounted for 469,367 deaths, or around 19.3 percent of the total.

These rather dry tables drew my interest because of the Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughter, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six staff members. They were all killed by multiple gunshot wounds, like victim No. 27, the shooter’s mother, who was slain in her own bed. (The suspect also dispatched himself with a bullet.)

This horrific event has prompted Americans to begin debating gun safety with a fervor that has perhaps never been matched. It’s resuscitated a great deal of argument over this old saw: “Guns don’t kill people, people do.”

Yet a superficial reading of government statistics indicates that guns do in fact kill.

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One Wondrous Sentence: Benevolent protection and gun rights

December 20, 2012

This one wondrous sentence presents a conservative view of the “benevolent protection” of the Second Amendment and the way that debate about guns has been affected by supposed media bias.

The practical consequence of living for nearly two-and-a-half centuries under the almost universally benevolent protection of the Second Amendment is a society in which there are hundreds of millions of guns, in which 47 percent of families and nearly as many Democrats as Republicans own guns, and in which the dissent over the sacrosanctity of gun rights is heard largely because of the overrepresentation in the media of the coastal, urban Left.

Source: The editors, “After Newtown, and Before It,” National Review, Dec. 17, 2012.

On the murder of innocents

December 17, 2012

There was another mass killing in the country on Friday. Having shot his mother to death at the home they shared in Newtown, Conn., a 20-year-old man drove to nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School. He fired at least one bullet through a pane of glass and began shooting adults and children. Twenty youngsters and six adults were slaughtered at the school.

The Sandy Hook slaughter commanded the nation’s attention for what seemed like most of Friday. For me personally, it was the second Friday in a row dominated by news of murder. (On Dec. 6, I learned that a friendly man who owned a restaurant near my house had been shot to death.)

On both Friday afternoons, I found my life warped by pain and horror. And as hard it was to come to grips with the murder of the man I had known (although not well), it’s been even harder to dissipate the awful feelings provoked by the slayings of complete strangers in faraway Connecticut.

Part of the problem, of course, is that the Sandy Hook slaughter, while tragic, is not nearly as much of an aberration as one would hope. Already this year, according to this Mother Jones timeline, there have been seven deadly mass shootings. Seventy-nine people were killed; a similar number were injured. (MoJo defines as a mass shooting as one in which at least four people were killed by gunfire.) Read the rest of this entry »

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