The militia part of the Second Amendment

The Washington Post has a front page story saying that the Second Amendment had always been construed to refer to a “collective” right to own firearms on the part of state militias until 2008 when the Supreme Court ruled that it refers to an “individual” right.  This change in interpretation, the article contends, was because the NRA nefariously funded legal research that supported its novel position.

I think that argument is absurd.  Read the gist of it after the jump. But then I’d like to discuss the “militia” part of the 2nd Amendment.  Since the Constitution says that “a well regulated Militia [is] necessary to the security of a free State,” shouldn’t we have a well regulated militia, as opposed to a standing army? [Read more...]

Medal for drone warriors

The military has instituted a new medal, the Distinguished Warfare Medal, to honor great deeds performed by those who operate drones and other high-tech military systems operated from afar (such as, presumably, cyberwarfare).  The problem is that in the hierarchy of medals, the Distinguished Warfare Medal outranks the Bronze Star (which is given for valor in combat) and the Purple Heart (which is given for getting wounded).  The new medal has sparked outrage and ridicule from troops on the ground who have to face getting shot at, as well as veterans who had to put their lives on the line, unlike drone warriors.  As a result of the uproar,  military brass are reviewing the ranking. [Read more...]

American factions are coming together over drones

It has been said that America is polarized politically, but now an issue has emerged that is uniting conservatives and liberals, rightists and leftists, tea party activists and occupy Wall Street types:  Concern about drones.

Virtually all of these factions are praising Rand Paul’s filibuster protesting the Attorney General’s ruling that American citizens on American soil are subject to being zapped from above by drone technology.  All are opposing establishment-types from both parties who hail the new military technology.

Might this herald a new political consensus around civil liberties?  How about a Bill of Rights agenda, which would uphold the conservative causes of religious freedom and gun rights AND the liberal causes of freedom of speech and expression?

Are there other issues that might serve as a similar rallying point? [Read more...]

The drone filibuster

Attorney General Eric Holder said that drones could be used against American citizens on American soil.  So libertarian Republican Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) staged a 13-hour filibuster–a real one, in which the Senator actually occupies for the floor rather than just threatening to–in protest.  Eventually, Holder said that drones would not be used against unarmed Americans, just terrorists in an emergency.

Some Republicans were annoyed with Paul’s “stunt,” as Sen. John McCain called it, and defend an aggressive use of drones.  Some of them were lunching with President Obama when Paul was filibustering, sparking some observers to see a changing of the Republican guard (to borrow an Iranian phrase), with a new generation of Republicans challenging the traditional GOP practice of giving a blank check to anything military and championing instead civil liberties.

What do you think? [Read more...]

North Korea says it will nuke America

North Korea said it “will exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country.”  Meanwhile, the UN unanimously passed new sanctions against the eccentric but nuclear-armed communist nation, with even China–which usually protects its client state by exercising vetoes–going along.  The White House says not to worry, that we could shoot down a North Korean missile, if they have one that would reach us, which they supposedly don’t.

I know that North Korea is always blustering and threatening.  But history has shown that it is unwise to dismiss what dictators and terrorists promise that they will do.  Hitler laid out his plans quite early, but hardly anyone took him seriously, until he started carrying them out.  It may take North Korea awhile to develop long-range missiles, but isn’t this evidence of what they intend to do with them?  Can we afford to just laugh at the North Koreans?  But can we do anything other than wait to see if they are serious? [Read more...]

America’s enemy list update

Hugo Chavez, the Marxist anti-American president of Venezuela, has died of cancer.   Meanwhile, nuclear-armed North Korea has said it will cancel the 1953 cease-fire that ended the Korean War, due to American sanctions and joint military exercises with South Korea.  And Secretary of State John Kerry rattled his  sabre at Iran, threatening military action if Iran acquires nuclear weapons and announcing that the U.S. will give non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels. [Read more...]


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