Was it a fake news or fake news that it was fake news?

February 22, 2018

Is the real news sometimes fake as the fake news?

Had to ask myself that in the middle of the night when I could not sleep and checked my computer to see what’s new.

There was a story circulating on the alt right sites (or at least the ones who like to take jabs at mainstream media) that CNN attempted to hand a scripted question to a Florida high school student in place of one he wanted to ask at what was billed by that network as a town hall meeting on the Florida school shooting. Supposedly the kid wanted to suggest that veterans could be hired as armed guards at the schools. But instead, purportedly, CNN handed him a script, I suppose calling for gun control.

Later this morning when I tried to check one of the sites covering that story in order to read further into it, it appeared to be gone (although I am sure you can find it — nothing, truth or lie, ever really disappears on the internet I am told).

Concurrently there is this story floating around that actors have appeared as students promoting gun control.

Even if even minute parts of all this were true — I mean anything goes on this modern form of communication (or miscommunication) — there is enough footage out there and enough reporting from enough different sources that we know the obvious and understandable truth: folks and their children or visa versa are upset at being the targets of rapid-fire weapons.

(And by the way I did try to check some of this out via the Snopes site, but nothing on the scripted question, or at least when I checked, and I got too bogged down on the other — to convoluted; I gave up.)

Regardless of the facts I am sure that there is a fake news effort out there by forces of or friendly to the NRA or alt right and maybe even the Russians employing fake news to taint or smear the real news as fake news.

In the pre-internet days one had to judge the source to get to the truth. These days you have to judge the source of the source, and that can be difficult to perhaps impossible at times.

All that aside, I am always uncomfortable when journalism becomes an integral part of the news rather than an unbiased observer. And public forums should be an honest, unscripted discussion of issues. And I am in no way charging or believing that there was any scripting (but having never attended one of these CNN-type town halls I would not know). And if something is to be broadcast in a time frame there has to be some order.

I’m not even sure a news organization should stage forums. Doing that by definition makes them part of the story. Of course in broadcast news, in particular, the presenters by being presenters become a part of the story somehow. No way around it really.

I could go on and on about this but I will try not to. But let me add that I wish that for the so-called presidential debates, for example, that we’d go back to a really dull format run by the League of Women Voters in times way past now with the contestants sitting on folding chairs to wait their turn to speak with no fancy stage decorations and where the contestants did the talking not the moderators (and actually political nerd or junkie that I have been I did not think that they were dull) .

And back to the school shooting issue: regardless if there might be some people on both sides of the issue trying to muddy the waters, I think that the gun control movement might catch fire with the populace as a whole if the students and parents can sustain the pressure. It might well spread nationwide.

Little Marco Rubio, the Florida U.S. senator and former presidential candidate who gets millions of dollars from the NRA, looked as if he were shaking in those boots he sometimes wears to heighten himself when he faced the wrath of a visibly angry man whose daughter was killed in the recent massacre.

Angry citizens are the one thing that can beat the NRA.

p.s.

If you have not read my blogs previously you might jump to the conclusion, understandably, that I am super liberal and maybe against the Second Amendment. Not necessarily so. I consider myself middle of the road in politics and tolerant of that uniquely American provision in the Constitution that is the Second Amendment, even if I think that it is never fully understood nor described by most (including me). I mean it’s only one sentence long and does state that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. But I think to fully understand it you have to read some history and court decisions and be aware of its use of language — its grammar and syntax and the fact there is even more than one version of it.

But if I am correct the official version (my source Wikipedia) is:

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.

Note the confusing use of upper case and I would say at least the last comma. English grammar had not been fully standardized, especially in the United States, I believe, at the time of our founding fathers, but without going into it all I think I am correct in writing that the current interpretation by the U.S. Supreme Court allows some room for some amount of gun control.

 

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Lots of room for interpretation in the Second Amendment but it’s all academic…

October 23, 2017

Note: a few posts ago I wrote that I wanted to do something on the Second Amendment. Well what follows is something but certainly not a complete analysis.


 

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (part of what we call the Bill of Rights) is terse and ambiguous in that it seems to connect the right of citizens to keep and bear arms (have guns) with something called the militia.

(I don’t think we are talking the modern phenomenon of self-proclaimed vigilantes running around in camouflage looking like a cross between GI Joe and a deer hunter.)

Well except the late Justice Antonin Scalia did not see it that way and the conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court agreed — citizens have a constitutional right to have guns for their own use irrespective of military service, it concluded.

So really for all intents and purposes that pretty well settles it unless a future court decides otherwise, and the high court does not like to reverse its own rulings, rather it prefers to follow the principle of stare decisis, going by legal precedent (what has been decided in the past), I guess to avoid uncertainty and promote trust in the law — even though on occasions it has, such as Brown v the Board of Education when it decided that separate is not equal in public services and accommodations, in the landmark civil rights case, thus overturning a ruling some 56 years previous.

I’ve been trying to research the Second Amendment but my work life and other things have impeded that. But I know the confusion in part comes in by the outdated language and the weird syntax and punctuation and even the strange choice of capitalization of the one-sentence amendment. I think it is correct to say that the more modern rules of English grammar were either not in effect or universal at the time of our forefathers. And today those modern rules seem to be fading with the use of the internet and tweets and the lack of emphasis on grammar in our schools — but like I often note in my blogs, that is another subject.

To further confuse matters, there are various versions of the Second Amendment with slightly different punctuation — such as the one used for ratification and the final official one approved by congress. And that leads to confusion. I think that in itself proves the value of universal rules and the correct usage in grammar (something I strive for but don’t always attain myself). The official version of the Second Amendment follows:

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. 

Now at first glance I’d have to say there is some connection with serving in a militia (a kind of self-defense force) with the right to keep and bear arms. But if I understand it correctly the high court majority felt that the first part of the sentence was nothing more than words — a “prefatory clause” they called it — or that even if it did express the need for a militia, the important part of the amendment is what it called the “operative clause”, the right of the people to keep and bear arms. I have to ask: does people really mean individuals or the plural like in the people of a state or nation? But of course this is all academic. The high court has spoken; we all have a right to have guns.

But to the chagrin of some ardent all-or-nothing gun enthusiasts the high court did hold that there can be some restrictions.

A primary concern at the time of the writing of the amendment was the role of local or state militias as opposed to that of a standing federal army. Some did not even want a regular federal army. It would take a historian to figure it all out really, or at least supreme court justices reading a lot of history (of course I guess that is what they do).

One book I am reading says that there just was not much of a public record of what the authors of the Second Amendment or those who voted for it thought about the individual right to have guns. Most of the discussion seemed to center around the role of the militia. However, in some proposed drafts or some state bills of rights, the individual’s right was protected.

As to my own opinion or feeling: I have come to the conclusion that individuals in the U.S. do have what appears to be a unique guaranteed right to keep and bear arms with some reasonable restrictions, still not clearly defined by the high court.

And I somewhat reluctantly agree with gun enthusiasts that if you get too carried away with restrictions then the right to keep and bear arms is a little empty.

Just before I began to write this post (actually several days ago) I read about another wild shooting, this time in Maryland. Several people were killed and others wounded. And of course we are just coming off the worst gun massacre in our history in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. And of course, especially in the inner cities, we have constant gun violence.

We have a problem in this country with the free flow of weapons and the phenomenon of apparently mentally deranged people wanting to make a name for themselves in this era of social media and instant mass communication. They want to go out in a blaze of glory (well what they think is glory but is really infamy).

While we cannot stop all of these deranged people we can do something to stem the free flow of weapons even if it approaches infringement on our right to have guns.

Who can think living in a society with the bullets flying is a good idea?

On the other hand, it can be comforting to know that each and every one of us does have a right to protect ourselves, even though not all of ourselves are going to take advantage of that due to personal considerations or interests.

I had wanted to do a more thorough presentation on the subject but even though the Second Amendment is only one sentence the subject is rather complex.

However, for the time, I remain at least a nominal supporter of the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms.

p.s.

And about the militia. I think history shows that in the context of the Constitution we are talking of a state-organized military type unit, which in modern times is our National Guard, which each state has but which can be federalized when the need arises.

I personally don’t believe that the National Guard should be used for foreign engagements except in extreme emergencies when all qualified citizens might be subject to a military draft. But that is of course another subject.

 

 

 

 

 


Why do we ‘love’ our guns so much? Protection is one reason…

April 29, 2017

Just read an article on CNN in which a correspondent who is now a U.S. citizen but who is originally from India, the land of non-violent resistance Gandhi style, wanted to determine what those in other parts of the world consider is the reason behind America’s “love affair” with guns.

 

So she went to an NRA confab.

 

She claims although she did not completely get her head around it all, she did come away with “much to consider”.

 

To boil it down, I think she found that some of the reasons law-abiding citizens want to own their own guns include: self-protection (the police may not always be available in time), the feeling of freedom from an overpowering government that would run every aspect of one’s life, and sport shooting.

 

(And not to make a sick, sick joke, but by “sport shooting” I was not referring to drive by shootings.)

 

 

One person indicated to her that it is black people who of all people should support the right to keep and bear arms, claiming that the notion of gun control was really a device to keep control of ex slaves after the Civil War (I’m not clear on the history of that, but the correspondent herself noted that when the former British colonial masters took over India they instituted strict gun control).

 

I know the NRA and others often proclaim that if you outlaw guns then only the outlaws will have guns. There is some logic there alright. If you drive toward the Mexican border you will see signs that warn you that firearms are illegal in Mexico. Doesn’t seem to stem the tide of narco gun violence down there does it?

 

The writer said that people in her native India often ask: what is this obsession Americans have with owning guns?

 

I myself was asked that question on one of my trips to Spain by some Spanish people. Spain as I understand it has fairly strict gun control.

 

 

But I listened to the local news in Spain and I’ll be darned, they have armed robberies there too.

 

 

Whatever, I will concede that gun violence seems to be out of hand in our American society.

Guns have been part of our culture. We broke away from Great Britain via gun-toting colonists who fought the revolution.

 

 

Also it was the way we settled the continent. Law and order did not come to the territories until after they were settled and local governments were set up. In the meantime it was like every man for himself, whereas in Canada, the King or the Queen’s law came first (at least that is what I was taught in a comparative government class in college).

 

 Canada has much less gun violence than we do here in the U.S. (but they have had some incidents in relatively recent times).

 

 

And of course we have that Second Amendment in our Constitution that is read by most as ensuring that we all have a right to carry our own heat. I’ve written so much, well at least so many times, about the ambiguity of that one-sentence amendment that I won’t bother repeating it here. I still support the Second Amendment, although that incident in Connecticut in which a whole classroom of school children were murdered just about did it for me.

 

 

There has to be sensible gun control and it needs to be relatively difficult — not impossible — to obtain guns and people should have to prove they can handle them safely and there should be no gun-show or mail order loopholes. President Kennedy was assassinated with a mail-order rifle. And I don’t know how many mass shooting perpetrators or other murderers have gotten their weapons via a gun show (have not tied to look that up).

 

 

Oh, and back to India: maybe those “non-violent” people can’t understand our obsession with guns but you know if women there were armed maybe they could go about without fearing gang rapes so prevalent in India’s “non-violent” culture.

 

 

p.s.

 

The CNN article that inspired my post: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/28/world/indian-immigrant-nra-convention/index.html

 

 

I would not have been able to have guns in the house when my children were growing up. I would not have been able to sleep or be anywhere else knowing that somehow one of them might accidentally shoot themselves — so many tragic reports of children of police officers having deadly mishaps.

 

 

But I know years ago an in-law of mine said he always carried a gun under the seat of his car when travelling out on the open road, particularly in places like the wide-open desert. Today as I drive a big truck through wide-open deserts and questionable neighborhoods in inner cities, I sometimes wonder….

 

 

 

 


We seem powerless in the face of evil all because of one ambiguous sentence…

June 13, 2016

I awoke Sunday morning and checked the news. I was surprised, only surprised, not shocked, to see that there had been another mass shooting, this time in Orlando, Florida. The first report I read was a breaking news story that put the death toll at 20. But I was shocked or stunned later when I read it had climbed to 50, with at least that many more injured, making it the worst mass shooting event in U.S. history.

(I’m reading both 49 and 50 as the immediate death toll; I guess the 50 would include the gunman who was killed after police stormed the site of the shooting.)

But I’m not writing this to report on the details, I want to ask the question: why do we keep reading that the FBI (and others maybe) have these mass murderers on their watch lists and yet they go ahead and do their dirty deeds? I realize the authorities can’t follow around every demented person and catch them just before the act, and they can’t simply jail someone because they think he (or she, but seems it’s always a he, so far) might do something bad. But in this case we are told that the gunman had made comments at work that he had connections with ISIS terrorists and had talked about committing some type of act (maybe vague references or direct, I don’t know). But, you know? you can be arrested for threatening the president. But maybe not people in general.

However, the real frustrating thing in here to me is the fact that of course this was carried out with an automatic assault rifle. After all of these mass shootings, we still have not stopped the free flow of these terrible weapons in this country, and all because we have something called the Second Amendment which a powerful political lobby interprets to mean anyone and everyone can have guns. I’m not at all sure a majority of the American public thinks that. But politicians respond to lobbies and their ability to fund political races and their ability to fund campaigns against those who defy them. Of course the Second Amendment still stands and cannot be altered simply by legislation because it is part of the Constitution and therefore would require the difficult amendment process.

In  reality, however, it would be possible to put much tighter controls on assault rifles without touching the Second Amendment. It has been done previously and then the regulations lapsed and were not re-instated due to pressure from the gun lobby (which of course really represents the commercial fire arms industry).

So the shooter in this case, even though he was on the FBI radar because of comments his co-workers had heard him give and because of connections to terrorists he was believed to have had, was able to legally purchase weapons, to include the assault rifle he used along with a handgun to kill 50 people in this mass shooting. Again, what is this FBI watch list for? (and I may not be using the term “watch list” accurately, but he was on their radar so to speak.)

At my last reading it had not been determined whether this gunman was actually connected to the terrorist group ISIS, which he claimed to be, or whether he was a lone wolf, which ISIS encourages.

And I have to note that reports indicate that the gunman had it out for homosexuals. The event occurred at a “gay” night spot. So we had a twofer for a motive: ISIS terror and hatred of homosexuals (and maybe those go together because of the demented religious or faux religious component of ISIS).

So while there is an international terrorism connection to all of this, the primary problem for all of our safety is the fact that we have a free flow of automatic assault weapons.

I have addressed the Second Amendment, the so-called right to keep and bear arms provision in the Constitution, before. As a general thing, I have always accepted the general notion that citizens have this right, but not without qualifications. And I have done some reading on the history of the amendment and have only gathered that it is ambiguous as to its clear meaning because it is only one sentence long and seems to have a dependent clause which ties the right to keep and bear arms to a citizen militia. And one has to realize this was enacted before we had a regular standing army and before the advent of assault rifles.

The text of the Second Amendment follows (and there is more than one version of it I think, something about commas, but I don’t have the original in front of me, so this is off the web):

————-

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.

————-

So you see the dependency of the militia thing there. And lord help me that we might have home-grown militias running around vigilante style. That would be terrorism too.

But I don’t want to get into a Second Amendment discussion here. I don’t care what it says or what it does not say. It is absurd that we let this situation continue.

In a previous incident a whole classroom of school children was mowed down. Nothing was done.

What does it take?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I don’t think the authors of the Second Amendment had this in mind…

June 11, 2014

When our founders wrote the Second Amendment I doubt they meant that all mentally deranged people should have a sacred right to carry guns and murder people. If what is going on today in our schools, and elsewhere, was happening then I would think they would have at least made a proviso that their concern for the need of an armed citizenry to protect itself did not mean that any loony tune or person sick of mind should have easy access to guns.

I have the same feeling as does President Obama on this one. He said he was “stunned” after  the gunning down of a class full of first graders  somewhat over a year ago that Washington was powerless to do anything. And now there have been a rash of school shootings, one just yesterday in Oregon where one student was shot dead by another student, who then killed himself.

I’ve been reading a book about the whole history of the Second Amendment and so far it seems to me that its authors were talking more of the value of state militias as something to counter a national army run by the central government, although they may well have been addressing an individual right inherent in that idea as well.

Whatever, it does seem incredible to me that we seem to be held hostage to the Second Amendment and the gun lobby, being prevented from making common sense rules on safety. And I don’t mean disarming the public. And I realize that all the laws in the world would not stop every deranged person. But one would think some prudent steps need to be taken.

(Many say that there are already enough laws on the books, they just need to be enforced. Somehow I think something must be missing.)

Again, as I often write, we need citizen legislators who are not professional politicians at the mercy of lobbyists to fund their campaigns or to not put out propaganda against them, in this case the gun lobby.

The right to keep and bear arms can be preserved with reasonable regulation aimed at public safety I would think.

The mental sickness that seems to have pervaded our society will not be solved by gun laws of course. But that fact should not be used as ammunition against any reasonable gun safety precautions.

I think it would be interesting to see a study documenting in these cases through the years how people obtained their guns and the timing. I mean do these people go crazy and then go out and buy guns or find them somehow or what?

Gun rights supporters worry that any move to curb access to guns will eventually lead to the confiscation and prohibition of guns.  If things keep going the way they have been, violence wise, who knows?


How’s that new gun law working in Georgia?

April 30, 2014

As Sarah Palin might say if she were a lefty: “how’s that everyone tote a gun everywhere law working for you in Georgia?”  Of course I’m sure she would not be sarcastic about it because she most likely supports the new Georgia law.

But ironies of ironies, about a  week after the state enacted a sweeping liberalization of gun toting, a guy went on a rampage at a Fed-Ex facility critically wounding several people in a spray of gun fire before killing himself. And the Atlanta suburb in which this took place Tuesday is Kennesaw, a town that back in 1982 mandated that every house have at least one gun. The law is not enforced.

Now I imagine supreme gun enthusiasts will argue that if everyone there in that facility was toting a gun that guy, an employee there, would not have done what he did. I’m not sure that is true. Crazy people, of which he had to be one, don’t think things through — they can’t.

It was said that the gunman was dressed like Rambo and was wearing ammunition belts around his neck and I think decked out in camouflage or some such attire. It has also been reported that he had been disciplined for pointing a laser at someone in the plant.

There certainly is some constitutional right to keep and bear arms, but I think it has something to do with self-defense of the nation as well as not restricting the right to carry guns to a king’s army or the government. The Second Amendment is ambiguous at best — read it. The right to carry is tied to a “well-regulated militia”. I don’t think that means or I hope that does not mean those often crazy yahoos that dress in camouflage and run out in the woods and talk or act like vigilantes. I mean who elected them? And which group is in charge?

Even with all of that, I have always generally supported the Second Amendment. Despite its ambiguity, it seems that the prevailing mood or feeling is that it does indeed bestow the right of a free people to possess guns — but courts have ruled that there can be restrictions.

I think there are people who own guns for hunting and sport and there are people who own them for self-defense, and there are collectors. But there is also a strange gun culture that sees every man (and woman?) as his own Rambo who takes it upon himself to right all of what he sees wrong by the threat of gunfire.

Then there are the crazies or people who get so mad at something that they latch onto this Rambo fantasy and decide to get their 15 minutes of fame in a deadly manner.

Yeah, and what if everyone was packing in the Fed-Ex plant? What a shooting spree that might have been.

I hope everyone who was wounded survives.

I continue to support the right of individuals to own guns, but I don’t think carrying them everywhere like in the old westerns is the way to go for society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


What we need is control on high-powered weapons, not religious rants by Mike Huckabee; violent people and access to weapons is the problem

December 17, 2012

As a result of one of the most horrific shooting incidents I have ever heard of in my lifetime (63 years), some heretofore gun rights advocates are conceding that more controls may be needed, such as on those large ammunition magazines that fuel the rapid fire of semi-automatic and automatic weapons, and President Obama has now said we cannot tolerate this type of gun violence anymore.

I am of course referring to the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that occurred on Friday, Dec. 14. Twenty first graders were shot to death (all said to have multiple wounds) in their classroom, along with six school staff members, as well as the 20-year-old gunman’s mother at her home before he went to the school. He killed himself at the school. Most or all of the killings were said to be done with a semi-automatic rifle.

And would you believe that a man who not so long ago ran for president of the United States implied that the tragedy at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut was brought on for lack of prayers to God at public schools? The story I just read said that Mike Huckabee has backtracked a little on that, saying that he just meant that in general, not necessarily in this particular incident, society would be better off with God in the schools.

But isn’t God everywhere? And as far as I know there is no prohibition of prayer in public schools, at least on an individual basis. Certainly Mr. Huckabee knows that the prohibition is against organized prayer that would put the public school’s imprimatur on it, thus making it a sponsorship of religion or of one kind of religion in a nation that prides itself in having freedom of religion. You cannot on the one hand say that people are free to practice whatever faith they want (or not practice) and then have the government (a public school) sponsor one type of religion. And we all know that most of the time that religion would be Christianity. But there are a multitude of other recognized faiths, and each is supposed to have an equal footing. That does not mean, however, that parents cannot be God fearing and implant that faith in their offspring. I am not aware of any school preventing that.

I also have to wonder, however, about his suggestion. Has not much of the violence ever been carried out in the world been in the name of God? Religion seems to be the cause of so many conflicts — or at least the excuse.

It may be that too many faithfuls misinterpret the will or intentions of God.

Yes, we do need the moral code handed down in the name of God. But in the Connecticut incident the problem seems to have been the mental state of the perpetrator and his access to a high-powered weapon or weapons.

Let us hope and let us pray that our leaders have finally awakened to the need for sensible control of lethal weapons (and why or why did it take this?).

I doubt that a majority of Americans want the repeal of the Second Amendment and its guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms. We have thus far managed to retain that amendment, part of our Bill of Rights, and at the same time have some control on guns (although probably not enough).

And I continue to contend that the Second Amendment is ambiguous at best, what with the well-regulated militia being tied to the right to keep and bear arms.

We don’t need to repeal the Second Amendment, but we do need clarification, perhaps.

P.s.

Or maybe we need an amendment to the amendment.