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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Oh, those pesky subordinate clauses. Take this simple sentence for example: “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.

When did guns become a totem representing all that is good and right in the US.? How did the Gun God acquire the unholy authority to condone, and according to some gun gurus, encourage rampant murder across the land? Pagan idolatry is still among us; we sacrifice 30,000 Americans to the Gun God every year.  We have nearly as many firearms as there are men, women and children in the US: almost 300 million guns In a population of 313 million.  The average gun owner has seven guns.

I know there are untold millions of honest, respectable, law-abiding Americans, responsible people all, who own guns. (I’ll hazard a guess, though, that those honest, respectable, law-abiding Americans don’t own 30-round assault weapons.) Some of those people belong to the NRA and others don’t. Members or not, people overwhelmingly want safer streets and schools and many think Wayne LaPierre is an unprincipled idiot-for-hire.

I also know the Supreme Court has ruled that, with a few inconsequential restrictions, every Tom, Dick, and Dirty Harry wannabe can own a gun. Johnny already got his gun. Be that as it may, the purpose – the spirit – of the Second Amendment was to ensure the new nation that it would remain a nation of citizen soldiers having a militia ready to mobilize at a moment’s notice to defend the new country.In 1783 guns were an important element of society and people who had guns knew how to use them; the Second Amendment wasn’t intended to create a society of thugs, murderers, or irresponsible gun owners.  Had the framers of the Constitution even considered that a looming danger the Amendment would most certainly have been phrased differently.

Having a prepared and ready militia was wise and essential. After the Revolution, having acquired a bad taste under British rule for large standing armies, America reduced the standing military to 5,000 men under arms (less than one-tenth of one percent of the population, essentially no army at all). Few of our citizen solders carried pistols and except in the hands of skilled marksmen both pistols and rifles were highly inaccurate. Indeed, you could stand before the broad side of a barn and not hit it.

Today the militia of post-Revolutionary America has become the National Guard and the Reserves. Contemporary organizations calling themselves militias have no legal standing as military bodies, which seems to bother them not in the least. Indeed they revel in the idea of ignoring and mocking the nation of law they assert they are protecting. Some openly want to overthrow the government and others want to make sure they are safe from government forces (pronounced “gub’ment” with a guttural mumble) smashing in their doors in the dead of night. All of them are alleged grownups who like to run around in the woods in silly costumes playing “Bang! Bang! You’re Dead”. To call them vigilantes is to flatter them.

A subordinate clause is a clause that augments an independent clause with additional information. In the Second Amendment, according to basic English and especially the English of America’s Founders, the subordinate clause is “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”, It was intended to support (augment) the primary purpose of the sentence namely “A well regulated, militia being necessary to the security of a free State”. For a couple centuries, the Supreme Court stayed away from the issue, leaving it to the states, or if pressed, supported the intent of the Framers of the Constitution. That wasn’t unusual; courts often look to what legislators meant (“the spirit of the law”) when making difficult decisions even though the spirit of the law is not, in fact, part of the law itself.

Why the Court did an about-turn and bowed to pressure and sentiments stemming from an imperfect understanding of basic, educated and informed, usages of the English language escapes me. The Supreme Court is the court of last appeal subject to nobody’s opinion other than future Courts, but I don’t have to like it or agree with it. The Constitution guarantees everybody’s right to make their own decisions… and the responsibility of living with the consequences.

The consequences of the Court’s decision on the Second Amendment were that they gave everybody who already owned a gun or wanted one the right to continue making their own personal decisions about right, wrong, law, and justice. Nothing really changed and an ever growing number of people, especially young people, minorities, and the poor are dying. In a nation dedicated to the rule of law the Second Amendment has been interpreted as a license for lawlessness and violence.

I’m not against guns. I’m against stupidity. I grew up in a remote village on an isolated mountain farm where we didn’t have guns; we had a veritable arsenal. The gun closet in the kitchen held a least ten rifles, a few shotguns, and two or three pistols. We even had our own gun shop where we repaired our weaponry and loaded (or, more accurately, deliberately overloaded) our own ammo. The gun shop was in the haymow. Sometimes I look back and wonder how it was that we never blew ourselves up or burned down the barn.

Neither I nor anyone in the family ever shot a human being intentionally or otherwise. That compares favorably with the fact that legal gun owners are six times more likely to accidentally shoot themselves or somebody in the family than they are to shoot an intruder or attacker.  More to the point, the average number of outright homicides in the US (around 10,000 annually) offers a bloodcurdling comparison to other developed countries;  Western Europe as a whole averages fewer than 150 homicides annually. In Canada the number is fewer than 200 (which puts the lie to excuses that guns are part of our unique national heritage), and in Japan there are fewer than 50 murders per annum.

With regard to guns, and gun ownership, it is once again proven that law, justice, and common sense, are all too often mutually exclusive realities.

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Planet Earth is facing two global catastrophes. One of them, global warming, is happening before our eyes.  The other, global winter caused by impact with a big rock falling from the sky, doesn’t get much attention – yet – but is nonetheless a statistical certainty if only because there are countless objects floating around our solar neighborhood.  One of these days one of them is going to hit with the force of mega-multiple nuclear bombs.One Man’s Opinion

It has happened before; one of them the size of two or three football fields struck Earth sixty-five million years ago.  The global winter caused by the ash and debris thrown into the atmosphere and cutting off sunlight exterminated all but the most primitive life forms.  Relatively smaller impacts have “only” wiped out tens of thousands, or perhaps millions, of acres of the planet’s surface.  We’ve already spotted a good number measuring hundreds of miles in diameter.  If we know one of those things is headed our way the only ones to benefit – briefly – will be enterprising sorts selling clean BVDs Read More

Some time ago ago Bill Gates gave a televised interview in which, understandably enough, he extolled the advantages of math and science, and of course computers, to the future education of young people. Soon after, the Kentucky legislature passed a bill that lets school districts raise the dropout age from 16 to 18, with Gov. Bashear sweetening the pie with a proposal to give $10,000 to each school district that successfully met the higher educational bar. One Man’s Opinion

I respect Bill Gates; more often than not I approve of the General Assembly; and I hold Steve Beshear in high regard. In this instance, however, Gates, the Assembly, and the Governor were all wrong, though for different and equally wrong reasons They mistook the popularly identified symptoms of substandard academic performance for the root cause. Read More

One Man’s Opinion”  is a liberal, progressive survey of contemporary society, culture, arts, and humanities.  Since controversial topics will be discussed at times, there are a few straightforward rules to be observed:

1:  Civility must reign at all times.  Argument and civility aren’t mutually inconsistent.

2:   Familiarity with the basic structure of the English language is expected.

3:  Facts are often open to interpretation. Disagreeing views are welcome.

Comments are a vital part of any active site.   I may occasionally offer a Comment to clarify a point or two but for the most part I ask that active participants carry on the discussion among themselves.  If you want to contact me directly without posting a Comment, please click HERE.

Thank you / P.B.Faoro

© 2013

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The principle explaining why a stopped clock is right twice daily explains why I sometimes agree with Kentucky’s new, wet behind the ears, Senator Rand Paul. His inner mechanism isn’t processing information but since he keeps talking it shouldn’t be a surprise that an occasional thought issues forth. Almost every time he opens his mouth, however, Rand Paul demeans himself, denigrates the Senate, and insults thinking people everywhere no matter their social or political stripe.One Man’s Opinion
I plead guilty to being a liberal progressive. I haven’t changed much since the 60’s and 70’s when my hair was below my shoulders, I marched against the war in southeast Asia, and smoked pot. Even then I still listened to what reputable conservatives had to say. Sometimes I learned something. (I still read National Review, but try to do so when nobody is looking.) Rand Paul could take a hint..

Back then, one of my heroes was the conservatives’ conservative, William F. Buckley, (who once unraveled a guest with the truly Churchillian put-down “I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting you actually believe what you just said.”) Buckley did his homework, knew what he was talking about, and put it in terms people understood. Limbaugh and his fellow travelers don’t come near the Buckley gold standard; George Will, whom I also enjoy regularly, has flashes of Buckley in him but can also be overly strident. Besides, he’d rather be Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
Unlike our very junior senator and his adoring Fox News dweebs, Buckley was comfortable with guests to his political left on “Firing Line“, nor were they reluctant to come on the show; they knew they would be treated with respect. You might not agree with Buckley, but you could follow his reasoning. Rand Paul fails the follow-the-reasoning test in glorious fashion; one would suspect he’s proud of it.

Never mind that Junior made a fool of himself showboating during the Benghazi hearings, attacking Hillary Clinton without knowing Turkey was one of our few allies in the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean. Much more disturbing is his oft-repeated but baseless “warning” that the US is headed in the same direction that led the German people to elect the Nazi monster, thus leading the German nation to utter ruin and launching a total war that nearly destroyed civilization itself. Despite his repeated denials that these allegations are directed toward the Obama Administration – which is patently untrue, and I think racist at bottom – the fact that he keeps repeating them is confirmation that he is deliberately using a variant of the “Big Lie” stratagem, an expression coined by none other than the Adolf Hitler Junior so gleefully warns us about.
The future Fuhrer first used the term in Mein Kampf, describing a lie “so colossal that no one could believe anybody would have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” In other words, make a lie big enough, and repeat it loudly and often enough that it becomes accepted truth. Sen. Neranderpaul is a Master of the Big Lie. Happily, few besides those who agree with him a priori are listening.
Facts are bothersome things for Junior and he probably shouldn’t do his homework or visit FactCheck.org because either would demolish his fantasy world. The truth is that there are vast differences between the United States today and Germany in the early 1930’s, not the least being that Hitler was never elected to anything. Ever. Not even dog catcher. Nazi #1 was appointed Chancellor in a back room deal and used the position to destroy the already weak Wiemar government, replacing it with his dictatorship under the Third Reich..
Other facts the secondary Senator would dislike, simply because they are facts, include: although the German government in the early 1930’s was extremely weak it was nonetheless centralized. Germany had only a negligible history with democracy whereas by the time of the American Revolution, the Colonies already had a 300 year history of self-government.. The US is also one of the least centralized countries in the world with over 45,000 elective positions at all levels of government none of which are answerable to Washington. That number includes Congress, the judiciary, and state and local governments. US history is replete with instances in which Washington has been successfully told to go pound salt.
 Other inconvenient facts are that, despite sketchy records, the total German military in 1930, including paramilitary groups like the Gestapo, was approximately 23% of the total population, meaning Germany had around 2 active military personnel per sq. mile. In modern America the total military represents about 7% of the population including 40% in the Reserves and another 13% deployed overseas. The US averages one-third of a soldier per sq. mile. Even if the Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted to control the people they don’t have the manpower. Hitler did.
Or how about this one, senator: unemployment in 1930 Germany was 43%; in modern America the rate is 7.6% or one-sixth that of prewar Germany. The US rate is dropping, albeit slowly; in prewar Germany it was growing rapidly. How about inflation? We’ve all seen pictures of Wiemar Germans running to the bank with wheelbarrows full of worthless money (inflation was then 41% per day) hoping to get there before the Mark was devalued again; current US inflation is 2.0%.
About that dangerous direction in which we’re headed, sir, please tell us again where you see it.
I once saw a framed plaque in a lawyer’s office that said, “Ignorance can be fixed; Stupid is forever.” Rand Paul calls the first part into question.