Focusing on the Wrong Amendments

The right wing loons (RWLs) often choose wrong targets. While desperately seeking to preserve an entirely imagined right to possess assault weapons, many RWLs actively ignore a very real curtailment of their civil liberties. Obviously a large fraction of the RWLs feel that assault weapons are necessary to keep certain people in their place. I am not concerned with anyone forever stuck in 1960. The rest, however, should really be considering this. The 4th Amendment has a far greater reach in our daily lives. Following the lead of the Bush, Jr. Administration, the Obama Administration has opted to continue and even increase the overtly illegal warrentless surveillance of U.S. citizens going about their daily business.

From Predator Drones Wrongly Being Used To Spy On Americans:

Surveillance by these drones underlines an unreasonable search on a person and their property. Probable cause needs to be established in a court by a judge in order for a warrant to be granted. Such warrants protect citizens from being unlawfully or unreasonably stalked, tracked, or watched by the government or law enforcement agency. Drones fly well above a target and are hard to spot by the naked eye while performing surveillance, which disregards the Fourth Amendment. It is unlawful because the state needs to prove its case first.

Perhaps it’s just me. I would have thought this is one arena where the dirty hippies (DFHs) and the RWLs could come together. Both are suspicious of Big Brother. Yet this hasn’t occurred. I am at a loss as to why.

All defenses of disemboweling the 4th Amendment in this manner seem to be based on seeking personal safety.

I am reminded of something from someone rather well-versed in the philosophy of the Founding Fathers:

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

-Benjamin Franklin

Soiled Undergarments of Honor

I was once a McCain supporter. I even the poorly written semi-autohagiography Faith of My Fathers (poorly co-written by famed hack Mark Salter). Granted, at that time, his opponent was a malignant alcoholic 50-something fratboy with daddy issues and a knowledge of affairs foreign and domestic rivaled by a double-digit percentage of the population. Nevertheless, I found him tolerable.

Since that South Carolina primary told him that The Man had officially anointed Bush, Jr. as the mouthpiece of the party of drowning government in a bathtub, however, McCain has morphed from a somewhat likable and often reasonable-sounding person into an angry old jackass.

This week, he decided to do a live show for an angry old jackass convention in Arizona:

At Wednesday’s town hall, Teves told McCain that her son, Alex, was killed in the massacre, and she urged the senator to support a ban on assault weapons. McCain responded: “I can tell you right now you need some straight talk. That assault weapons ban will not pass the Congress of the United States.”

The crowd, many of whom appeared to be pro-gun, burst into cheers and applause at McCain’s comments. But Teves said she wasn’t fazed by that, and those cheers, as captured by a local TV news crew, were only part of the story.

I have known and do know a lot of people who could be characterized as gun nuts. Many of them simply like guns. A few of those, however, feel a need to have assault weapons. Of those I know in the latter category, approximately 100% white supremacists. Well, to be fair not all are white. I think black inferiorists might be a better term, if it were actually a term. Though I do wonder to what extent people actually consider themselves superior if they soil themselves in the presence of dark-skinned people. In any case, in my four decades, I have yet to meet a single person who needs assault weapons that was not a pathetic coward. Interestingly, a few have been quite physically intimidating. But that was exactly in character. These otherwise worthless people who are unwilling to put forth effort in anything useful would spend many hours at the gym and in various martial arts courses not for the obvious benefits, but in order to become stronger. Stronger, that is, relative to those they fear. I would like to believe that most of the people who go to the gym do so for personal betterment. Some, though, are certainly there as cowards attempting to make themselves more intimidating to others.

…but I digress…

Someday I may meet a normal, stable, reasonable person that needs assault weapons. But I won’t hold my breath.

Still Fighting the Civil War

In an embarrassing faux pas, it was recently discovered that Mississippi hadn’t officially ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The focus in many articles was of the nature of a silly clerical error, as the ratification had passed both the House and the Senate unanimously. Others pointed to the fact that it took until 1995 for this to even pass. The 130 year tardiness, while absurd, is not even what concerns me.

I am just finishing up rereading Never Call Retreat, The third volume in Bruce Catton’s Centennial History of the Civil War. Each time I delve into a professional history of this war, I am reminded of just how much of today’s right-wing politics is rooted in Confederate philosophy. To what extent? For this answer, one need look no further than the founding document of the Confederate States of America.

Injecting religion into politics and overt white supremacist passions are found right at the very beginning of said document: (via Wikipedia):

The Preambles of both Constitutions do have some similarities, though it seems that the Confederate Constitution authors set out to give a different feel to the new preamble. Both preambles are provided here. The bold text shows the differences in the two.

  • The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
  • The Preamble to the Confederate Constitution: “We, the people of the Confederate States, each state acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity — invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God — do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America.”

The major issue leading to factional unrest and, ultimately, rebellion was that of slavery in the territories. To ensure that the “peculiar institution” was unmolested in all current and future lands of the CSA, the Constitution included the following:

The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several states; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form states to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory, the institution of negro slavery as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress, and by the territorial government: and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories, shall have the right to take to such territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the states or territories of the Confederate states.

Since Nixon’s Southern Strategy, an appeal to Confederate values has vaulted more and more political extremists into prominence. Still consumed with romantic ideas of “The Lost Cause,” a just war over “States’ rights,” and 19th Century human bondage apologetics, Southerners are manipulated into voting against their own interests. We see the ratification of a Constitutional Amendment as a silly oversight in the same month that will see the arguments to strike down the Voting Rights Act of 1965 presented to the Supreme Court.

Sharia Law

It doesn’t occur to some people (specifically, those who routinely issue demands to outlaw the enforcement of Sharia law in their districts) that the first amendment lends itself rather well to preventing the imposition of Sharia law. The irony of their support of Sharia-like moral policing in favor of crackpot Christian nuttery is obviously lost on them.

Conversations with Humans

One thing that occurs to me is that we humans have pretty homogeneous ideas on most things. That is to say, we mostly agree about basic governance. I am always a little bit surprised (I have an IQ of slightly above room temperature, so I’m easily impressed) when I have conversations with people I know as Right Wing Loons (RWLs). When I think of RWLs, I think of comically absurd conspiracy theories and wild-eyed claims about the apocalyptic consequences of minor proposed legislation. But, then, that is the real difference, isn’t it. In order to get rational people to vote against their own interests, an effective strategy is to use coincidences (real, or ridiculously contrived ala Glenn Beck’s) as evidence of conspiracies. Certainly, the left has had its share of kooks. Strangely, one of the rantingest of RWLs is also the purveyor of a crackpot theory in favor among the dirty hippies (DFHs): 9/11 was an inside job.

Alex Jones has convinced the dirtiest of DFHs that the same Republicans who put buffoonish incompetents like “Brownie” in charge of important government agencies like FEMA were able to efficiently and effectively pull off a Bond-villain-scale crime against humanity in utter secrecy, despite the thousands of people who must have been involved.

Alex Jones has convinced the looniest of RWLs that the same Democrats who failed to oust the laziest oaf ever to embarrass the position of the American Presidency, despite disastrous handling of two wars (one of which was based on the most obvious bovine fecal matter since the Maine incident) were able to install a foreign-born secret Muslim Manchurian candidate. And they made him a noticeably flawed administrator and a perfectly typical pandering politician to hide his secret Marxist Muslim agenda.

Yes, the biggest difference between the two sides is a collection of politically appropriate conspiracy theories easily dismissed by reasonable middle school children.