Posts Tagged ‘United States Constitution’

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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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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The effort to elect a general named ‘Mad Dog’ captures the craziness of the 2016 election

April 12, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 12, 2016

More and more political observers expect the Republican National Convention in July to be contested, meaning that businessman Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and possibly others will maneuver, overtly and otherwise, in an attempt to secure the presidential nomination.

The outcome of more than just one political race is at stake — the Republicans’ choice, and the manner in which it is made, could have a major impact on down-ballot races. Some have even speculated that G.O.P. control of both houses of Congress could be at stake, although that’s unlikely to happen in the House of Representatives thanks to gerrymandering. If the decision-making process is particularly acrimonious, some observers suggest, the Republican Party could crack up.

Trump has a numerical advantage in national delegates, but his team’s failure to grasp the fine points of the nomination process is exacting a toll. Last month, Slate’s Josh Voorhees wrote a detailed description of how a contested convention might work. Over the past week, political scientists Norm Ornstein and Francis Wilkinson have written about different possibilities, speculating which nominees might emerge under which scenarios.

The one thing everyone agrees upon is that the chances for turmoil are high. If someone other than Trump or Cruz are chosen (which he doubts will happen), Ornstein wrote, “the upheaval at the convention would probably make Chicago 1968 look like a picnic.” Wilkinson thinks that

[T]he outcome most likely to break the party is the one in which Republican elites crown one of their own. Such a candidate would be perceived as illegitimate — not by every Republican, surely, but by enough Trump and Cruz voters to court disaster.

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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.)

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