THIS IS A GUEST POST BY LAWRENCE LAFERLA, BROTHER OF 1st CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, DR. JOHN LAFERLA, REPONDING TO CONSERVATIVE EASTERN SHORE BLOGGER, MIKE SWARTZ, WRITING ON “MONOBLOGUE.”
Right-wing blog supports so-called “patriot” groups
Blogger Michael Swartz appears to deny that Andy Harris has in fact endorsed gun extremists who advocate the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. But the second-term, “tea” congressman actually has endorsed gun extremists who do advocate the violent overthrow of our freely elected government. In an open society such as ours, that’s close to treason. It’s simply a fact that Andy Harris supports gun extremists who can be fairly characterized as part of the “Timothy McVeigh wing of the Republican party.” It’s a fact that Andy addressed their right-wing gun rally. They talked of praying with guns in their hands and described our twice-elected president as a “dictator.” Andy gave them his blessing. It’s not unfair to point out that Andy Harris pals around with anti-government extremists.
It’s funny how right-wingers project. Who’s more “despotic,” the president or Congressman Harris? Evidence points toward the latter. Here you see Andy Harris preventing cameras from recording his fracking hearing (as if Andy’s big energy owners actually owned not just the congressman but our entire House of Representatives). Talk about despotism!
Okay, back to the topic of sensible gun policy. I can’t claim to know exactly (as of this writing) what my brother John LaFerla’s position is on gun ownership. (It’s too late in the evening to phone him, and it isn’t stated anywhere on the campaign site.) But we can safely presume that it’s in line with the mainstream. Protect property? Yes. Hunting? Yes. Fight despotic Royal Army? Sure. Overthrow our freely-elected U.S. government? Hell no — are you insane?
That was not in any way part of the intent of the drafters of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights that were adopted in 1789, nor is any right of domestic insurrection to be found in the literal wording of the Amendment. Furthermore, the “militia” that were referred to in the Amendment were supposed to be like juries, with participation from all citizens, not just gun enthusiasts. How do we know? If you have any doubts about this, read the entirety of this excellent exposition on the Second Amendment. And the “well regulated” part means public oversight. You don’t get to proclaim yourself a militia any more than you can proclaim yourself a general or a judge. True citizens militia would have rolling public conscription, like with juries, and would follow state and federal regulations enacted by duly elected public servants. You don’t just form your own little army and make your own rules. When our big army crushes your little army you’re going to cry about “tyranny.” But most Americans won’t call that tyranny. We’ll call it justice.
If you form a right-wing militia, who are you protecting? All of us? Akhil Reed Amar gets it right. Your militia doesn’t necessarily represent my interests as a citizen. You’re just a gun club. Nothing intrinsically patriotic about your gun collection. Nothing at all. And having a gun doesn’t put you in charge of the populace. It doesn’t make you more of an authority than any unarmed citizen. Might doesn’t make right. We have democratic processes in our government of, for and by the people.
Our current President, that thoughtful, decent, moderate, public servant, whom we elected twice with strong national majorities, speaks the truth when he notes that “the government’s us!”
Posts tagged ‘2nd amendment’
To those pro-gun advocates who think that more concealed weapons will reduce crime, please stop embarrassing yourselves and do some research. I’m going to help you along, by providing some studies by very prestigious researchers in the US. I found these while debating a gentleman who thought that John Lott, Jr’s book, More Guns, Less Crime, was so correct and unimpeachable. Interestingly, John Lott, Jr. has a PhD in economics, not social science or other research specialty, and was employed by the American Enterprise Institute, a far-right, conservative think-tank.
Mr. Lott and his methodologies have been highly ridiculed and debunked by prestigious researchers around the country, including the following studies:
- Most of these studies contend that there seems to be little or no effect on crime from the passage of license-to-carry laws. Some, such as Donohue’s 2003 study, find a temporary increase in aggravated assaults.
- Rutgers sociology professor Ted Goertzel stated that “Lott’s massive data set was simply unsuitable for his task”, and that he “compar[ed] trends in Idaho and West Virginia and Mississippi with trends in Washington, D.C. and New York City” without proper statistical controls.
- Goertzel also points out that econometric methods (such as the Lott & Mustard RTC study or the Levitt & Donohue abortion study) are susceptible to misuse and can even become junk science.
- Ian Ayres, Yale Law School, and John Donohue, Stanford Law School, “Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis,” Stanford Law Review, 2003. This study found a temporary increase in aggravated assaults.
- Jens Ludwig, Georgetown University, “Concealed-Gun-Carrying Laws and Violent Crime: Evidence from State Panel Data”, International Review of Law and Economics, 1998.
- Dan Black and Daniel Nagin, “Do ‘Right-to-Carry’ Laws Deter Violent Crime?” Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 209–213 (January 1998).
- Mark Duggan, University of Chicago, “More Guns, More Crime,” National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. W7967, October 2000, later published in Journal of Political Economy.
- Tomislav V. Kovandzic and Thomas B. Marvell, “Right-To-Carry Concealed Firearms and Violent Crime: Crime Control Through Gun Decontrol?” Criminology and Public Policy 2, (2003) pp. 363–396.
- John J. Donahue III, Stanford Law School, ‘The Final Bullet in the Body of the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis’, Criminology and Public Policy, 2003.
- John Donohue and Ian Ayres. “More Guns, Less Crime Fails Again: The Latest Evidence from 1977–2006″ Econ Journal Watch 6.2 (2009): 218-238.
These are just a few of the many studies that oppose the Lott junk science approach to research.
In response to the dispute surrounding missing data that Lott referred to, in regard to a study he said he had performed in 1996, Lott created and used “Mary Rosh” as a sock puppet, to defend his own works on Usenet and elsewhere. After investigative work by blogger Julian Sanchez, Lott admitted to use of the “Mary Rosh” persona. Sanchez also pointed out that Lott, posing as “Mary Rosh”, not only praised his own academic writing, but also called himself “the best professor I ever had”.
Many commentators and academics accused Lott of violating academic integrity, noting that he praised himself while posing as one of his former students, and that “Mary Rosh” was used to post a favorable review of More Guns, Less Crime on Amazon.com. Lott has claimed that the “Mary Rosh” review was written by his son and wife. ”I probably shouldn’t have done it—I know I shouldn’t have done it—but it’s hard to think of any big advantage I got except to be able to comment fictitiously,” Lott told the Washington Post in 2003.
I am not an anti-gun advocate, however, I do believe that the government, whether State or Federal, has the right, and the duty, to regulate and control guns in our society. Regarding a statement that I recently came across by in a LTE, “If that were true then the First Amendment would have been disassembled a very long time ago.” This person seems to be saying that there are no limits or controls on the 1st Amendment! If so, then he is wrong! I know the following may be long, but it is essential in understanding our Constitution and how it works!
As everyone knows, free speech rights can be controlled and regulated, especially when such speech is clearly seen as a danger to the physical safety of individuals. That’s why no one may yell “Fire” in a crowded theater, when there is no fire. The threat of injury supersedes the person’s right to speak.
Also, the Supreme Court has further defined certain speech, also known as “at-risk speech,” as being unprotected by the First Amendment, such as:
1) Burning draft cards to protest draft — prohibited because of superior governmental interest.
2) Words likely to incite imminent violence, termed “fighting words.”
3) Words immediately jeopardizing national security.
4) Newspaper publishing false and defamatory material — libel.
And, the 1st Amendment has other rights that are regulated, as well, including the taxation of religious organizations…if they want to keep their tax-free status, they may not be active in political activities. The “right of the people to peacefully assemble” is also regulated, where the safety, and even the convenience of the public, is jeopardized. Hence, Occupy Wall Street protestors were removed from certain locations, and protestors, anywhere, may not block streets and thoroughfares or may even be required to obtain permits before being allowed to assemble.
The government, Federal and State, has the right to regulate commerce, land use, the protection of our air and water, and so many other areas of our society. How were any of these actions allowed? Simply put, because the PEOPLE wanted these things. And, the PEOPLE are what allow these policies to continue.
I hear over and over again, how the “Founding Fathers wanted this and the Founding Fathers wanted that!” The fact is that the Founding Fathers knew that their wants and desires were limited by their deaths; that the world is ever evolving and changing, as they, themselves, were witness to. (see the diary of James Madison, from the 1787 Const Convention) They realized that the only way to have a government and country that would endure, was to give the PEOPLE the power and authority to make changes (even if it was just the white, male landowners)! Hence, one of the most important parts of the 1st Amendment: “…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” If the Founding Fathers didn’t want changes to happen, they would never have allowed that right to be included!
Further, the Founding Fathers also realized that they were not infallible. They knew that they were part of a “great experiment” and that, even great experiments fail if their rules and hypotheses are inflexible and not subject to change. Hence, they wanted the Judicial Branch (on par with the Executive and Legislative Branches) to be able to interpret the law and adjudicate disputes. One of the first major cases decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, under the great Chief Justice, John Marshall, was Marbury v. Madison (1803). It is a landmark decision on this important question: “Does the Supreme Court have the authority to review acts of Congress and determine whether they are unconstitutional and therefore void?” The answer: “Yes! The SCOTUS has the duty and responsibility to review acts of Congress to determine their Constitutionality. What this means is that the Court must be able to interpret the Constitutional intent.
Through 200+ years of interpretation, we are at a point where gun-advocates want the right to own any “military-grade” weapon they want to put into their arsenal. These “strict Constitutionalists” are wrong, not only in their Constitutional approach, but also in their thinking that we would all be safer in our beds at night, if well-armed citizens, capable of fighting against the US military, were camped across the street from us. I’m sorry, but I, for one, would not (and don’t) feel safer in that scenario. It seems to me that the lunatics are trying to take over the asylum…and they want to be allowed to be armed to the teeth! The result is not knowing who the “good guys” and the “bad guys” are…and they all want the right to walk down the street with their AR-15, or .44 Magnum! Maybe, we should all get some popcorn and sit along the Washington or Baltimore Beltways at rush hour, and see how that turns out!!
THE TEA PARTY is proud of their ‘work-ethic‘, their ability to be self-supporting, patriotic Americans, who rely on no one but themselves. They want everyone in the country to be like them and stop taking handouts and relying on those nasty old ‘entitlement’ programs that make people soft and lazy. Programs like Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, Medicaid, Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) and Food Stamps, among others, have come under attack, with support from stalwarts of the Far Right Wing, like Michelle Bachmann, Ron Paul and Rick Perry.
Lets be fair; lots of Tea Partiers are also survivalists, supremacists and other crazies, who shouldn’t be taken any more seriously than the goofy folks they are. But most Tea Partiers are not racist, bigoted, holier-than-thou libertarians, even though they may sound like that! (Notice that I didn’t include ‘homophobes’ – why? I think most of them are definitely homophobic! Perry is a good example).
When you really poke around and start putting the facts together, you will quickly find the hypocrisy that underlies the Tea Party movement. Of course, the first obstacle we must overcome is to determine what Tea Party supporters really stand for and what they truly believe. Because of the diverse beliefs of those who come under the Tea Party Umbrella, I am only listing some of the most popular positions, embraced by the majority of TP members. Let’s take a look at what some of these positions mean and why they’re so prominent in the TP movement.
I Hate Government Health Care; where Is My Government Health Care?
The hypocrisy began before the new class of pols was sworn in. When it was reported that “a conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at an orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in,” it raised eyebrows. Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) said, “I was just asking a question!” But then, he asked more questions to find out what his alternatives were, never thinking that these are the very same questions asked by millions of Americans who have no health care coverage at all.
When Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the less-than-rousing inspiration for the Tea Party movement, was asked if he thought it was hypocritical for members of Congress to accept government-subsidized and regulated healthcare plans, he replied simply, “[c]ould be.” ”Could be?” This is the same man who decries the “intrusion and over-regulation of federal government in our lives.” He would like nothing better than to see the Federal Government dissolved, or, at the very least, reduced to a coordinator of foreign policy, but without the power to do anything about it. Remember, Paul is trained and experienced as a medical doctor, who understands the suffering (even if he has fantasies about ways to alleviate it) of those with medical conditions and no insurance. He has read the studies and seen the headlines: “Over 40% of Texas workers under the age of 65, have no health benefits at all!” This, apparently, is what he wants for the rest of America – but not himself!
We Support The Constitution…Except When We Disagree With It!
It seems that he Constitution has become the answer to every policy debate for the right-wing of the GOP – or at least their tenuous and limited understanding of what it says. However, after the new Tea Party-supported candidates were sworn in, they didn’t take long to trash the document. As Ryan Grimm reported for the Huffington Post:
“Two House Republicans have cast votes as members of the 112th Congress, but were not sworn in on Wednesday, a violation of the Constitution on the same day that the GOP had the document read from the podium.
As if that weren’t enough, the two lawmakers, incumbent Pete Sessions, (R-Texas), and newcomer Mike Fitzpatrick, (R-PA), couldn’t make the swearing-in because “they were attending a fundraiser at the U.S. Capitol, even though lawmakers are barred from using official resources for campaign or fundraising activities.” That’s illegal, too…and they did it on day one!
It doesn’t take long for the ‘sheep’s clothing’ to come off and see the wolf for what it truly is…an agressive pack animal, interested only in being the dominant player and taking advantage of the weak, young or very old. Sound familiar?
We Don’t Need No Stinking Rules.
The new GOP majority in Congress was supposed to be different from past majorities. Being heavily supported and influenced by the Tea Party, they promised greater transparency and openness to the public. “Leaders overreach because the rules allow them to,” said newly elected House Speaker, John Boehner (R-Ohio), speaking to the American Enterprise Institute. “Legislators duck their responsibilities because the rules help them to. And when the rules don’t suit the majority’s purposes, they are just ignored.”
However, after taking the Speaker’s gavel, Boehner divested himself of such sentimental drivel and altered his perspective. Politico.com reported, “the new majority is already showing these promises aren’t exactly set in stone.” Transparency, it seems, is not all that it’s cracked up to be.
Here’s the GOP majority’s tally on ‘transparency’ after taking control of the House: At first, they said that all bills would go through a regular committee process. When it came to a bill that sought to repeal the Obama health care law, it was decided (by the GOP leadership) that it would not go through a single committee!
Despite the ”more transparency” promise, including a more open amendment process for bills, amendments for the health care repeal bill were all but shut down. Further, there were original calls by the GOP members that a list of committee attendees be posted online. So, what happened instead? GOP members, ‘encouraged’ by the leadership, voted for removing that requirement from the House rules. Anything else? Funny you should ask; these new all-American, patriotic, supporters of the constitution, promised to supply direct citations to the appropriate Constitution sections, for every bill they submitted for action. Unfortunately, no such rules were put into place. Perhaps, no one in the GOP has the King James version of the Constitution to refer to?
The Constitution Is Perfect As It Is…Why Does The Supreme Court Need To ‘Interpret’ It?
So, what other actions are Tea Party fanatics taking, in violation of the US Constitution? Too many to list here, but here are a few for consideration, just so you get the gist:
The Iowa Tea Party is backing a “nullification” bill that would allow the state to ignore federal laws, a direct violation of the Supremacy Clause. David Gray Adler, who directs the University of Idaho’s McClure Center for Public Policy Research, told the Washington Post that “nullification proponents ignore the fact that one Supreme Court decision after another has gone against them.” The state’s Republican Attorney General weighed in, stating the obvious, “There is no right to pick and choose which federal laws a State will follow,” which is why “no court has ever upheld a state effort to nullify a federal law.”
“Oh, what the hell…let’s try it anyway” seems to be the attitude of the Iowa Tea Party. I mean, really, what’s the worse that would happen? Hmmm, let’s see: several years of adding another case to an already-clogged federal docket, plus, let’s not forget the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of dollars that would have to be spent by the opposition (state and federal attorneys’ offices – in other words, TAX MONEY) in order to reap another decision supporting the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause!!
Jason Brodeur, a local Tea Party newcomer in Florida, also got into the act, offering a bill that would make it a crime – punishable by a hefty fine or even jail – for a medical doctor to ask a patient whether there are guns in the patient’s home. The Constitutional problem seems obvious: it doesn’t permit the government to limit a physician’s free speech rights just because some lawmaker really, really likes guns. Or, as the Orlando Sentinel put it, the proposed law “protects the Second Amendment from the First.”
Now, I don’t know about those wild Floridians who love their guns, but as someone who has long enjoyed firing off a round or two of a .44-Magnum (yeah, the big Dirty Harry cannon) at some paint cans on a friend’s farm, I can honestly say that if a doctor is asking the question, there’s probably a good reason for it; like, MAYBE THE PATIENT IS FREAKING CRAZY??? Maybe, he’s talked about grabbing a gun and talking care of “those assholes who make fun of me all the time!?!?”
Ok, so where does all this leave us? As mainstream Republicans and neo-conservatives have scrambled to rally the support of the Tea Party movement, many have failed to take notice of some of the important inconsistencies implicit in the Tea Party message. A recent New York Times/CBS poll reveals some interesting information about the movement and its fundamental “principles.”
According to this poll, 91% of Tea Partiers want a smaller government with fewer services. Despite this hostility to big government, 62% of Tea Partiers believe that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are worth the cost (apparently no one bothered to tell them that Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid are evil Godless socialist programs that will bring our country down to the fiery pits of Hell). These findings would suggest, that in order to achieve fiscal sanity, the Tea Party believes that spending cuts are to be implemented elsewhere within the vast expenditures of the federal apparatus. However, when we question their beliefs on paying down the debt, the result is especially troubling. When asked whether they preferred deficit reduction or tax cuts, 49% of Tea Partiers said they would favor tax cuts, while 42% would prefer deficit reduction!
Gee…HYPOCRITICAL AND SCHIZOPHRENIC!!