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Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Liberal Koch? Bloomberg Pledges $50 Million For Gun Reform

The Liberal Koch? Bloomberg Pledges $50 Million For Gun Reform

It’s sometimes easy to forget that infamous conservatives like the Koch brothers are not the only wealthy Americans who use their wallets to influence elections. As former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) reminds us, plenty of liberals are also giving large sums to influence national politics.

Unlike many of his peers in the dark money game, Bloomberg isn’t hiding his motives. In a New York Times interview and an appearance on NBC’s Today Show on Wednesday, he touted a new effort to strengthen gun laws and curb gun violence on a national level in the United States. The former mayor then pledged to spend $50 million to fight the influence of the National Rifle Association, which spent over $11 million on the 2012 elections.

To sell his new gun-control effort, Bloomberg painted the issue in ethical terms. “This is not a battle of dollars. This is a battle for the hearts and minds of America so that we can protect our children, protect innocent people,” he told the Today Show’s Savannah Guthrie. “We’re the only civilized country in the world that has this problem. We have to do something.”

But Bloomberg’s effort is ultimately about influencing politicians and policy. His ultimate goal, he told Guthrie, is to shore up enough public support to scare politicians away from voting against gun restrictions.

“People will vote for whatever they think is in their own self-interest to get elected and re-elected,” he said. “We’ve got to convince them that the 80 percent of gun owners, the 90 percent of Americans who are in favor of just simple background checks to make sure criminals, minors and people with psychiatric problems can’t buy guns—something that’s common sense—we’ve got to make sure they understand that’s what the public wants and the public’s going to vote that way.”

When it comes to elections, it shouldn’t be hard for Bloomberg to match the success of the NRA.

Contrary to its reputation, the NRA has not fared well in its fight to influence elections across the United States in recent years. In 2012, for example, the gun lobby donated $11 million to various campaigns — and got its desired result in just 0.81 percent of those races.

To be sure, Bloomberg does not have a perfect record of influencing elections either. In 2013, he gave $350,000 to two Colorado state senators who faced recall elections. The senators, both Democrats, had voted for stricter gun laws in the wake of the mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater. Despite Bloomberg’s donations, both senators lost to pro-gun rights Republicans.

The former mayor’s new group, called Everytown for Gun Safety, has already begun its effort to spread gun-violence awareness. The group will combine two already existing gun-control advocacy groups: Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which Bloomberg co-founded, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. The group will primarily lobby women to make gun control an important policy issue that will influence their vote. This video is the group’s first attempt to galvanize supporters and reach a wide audience:

Bloomberg’s pledge to devote up to $50 million to the initiative will make him one of the nation’s top political donors to outside spending groups. In 2012, Bloomberg checked in as the fifth largest donor to outside spending groups, contributing over $13 million to a variety of politically active groups. If Bloomberg had spent an additional $50 million in 2012, he would have been the second largest outside donor.

Only Sheldon Adelson, who spent of $90 million on outside spending groups, would have outspent the former mayor.

Photo: Center for American Progress via Flickr

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  • stcroixcarp

    Finally someone is willing to take on the NRA terrorists with some real cash.

  • terry b

    Now if we could just get Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to join this battle against right wing attacks that are only getting worse, we could actually keep the country safe from a movement which counts on sheer stupidity by a large portion of the electorate to get bad people elected. Thanks to our moronic 5 supreme court judges (can’t use justices since they seem to bereft of what the word means) the wealthy can now attempt to buy elections. Any normal person knows that our country was never meant to allow the rich to use their wealth to affect national election choices.

    • tdm3624

      The nice thing is that big money doesn’t always win. The article pointed out that the NRA spent millions and really didn’t get what they wanted in 2012. We shall see if Bloomberg’s millions will cause a change or not.

      • terry b

        The wealthy allowed a known criminal to remain as governor of Wisconsin. He is also known as the worst governor in the states history. Apparently big money can win some important things. I do hope Bloomberg is successful for no other reason than that he is right about guns.

        • tdm3624

          I agree big money can win elections but there are times when it doesn’t. That gives me hope.

  • MarcSFried

    sorry the comparisons don’t apply – “Uncle” Mike is about as transparent as they come – he tells people what he stanbds for and what he wants and then says here is what I am doing with MY money – quite the opposite of the Right wing and the Koch’s hide and deny, keep in the dark, call people names… that’s it in a nutshell. This would not be an issue – especially of fairness and agenda if only the Righties would be so transparent!

  • 788eddie

    Mike Bloomberg was just a “regular guy” as mayor. He would even ride the subway to work with the rest of us. I find that I’m in agreement with a lot of his values, too. Like sensible gun control. I have no problem with that.

    Go Mike! Give ’em hell.

  • ps0rjl

    I fully support Mike Bloomberg’s initiative. In fact I would go further and ban all assault type weapons and large ammo clips. And before anyone calls me “some bleeding heart liberal who wants to gut the 2nd Amendment” I am a Vietnam veteran and a former marine. In fact I carried the original AR15 only we called it an M16 and it had the fully automatic selector which I used many times.

  • Kurt CPI

    We’re the only civilized nation that has a right to keep and bear arms because we’re the only civilized nation with a constitution that guarantees the protection of the people from its government, right down to taking up arms against the usurpers of the people’s power. Our constitution may not be perfect, but it’s the best thing going. The systematic watering-down and dismantling will lead to the collapse of the American system of government. The founders had their serious doubts as to the long-term viability of the republic they created (Adams and Jefferson doubted it would last 50 years), but it was and is those constitutional freedoms that has taken it nearly 5 times that far. Bloomberg has every right, just like the Kochs, to spend his money on whatever he sees fit. Remarkable how the Supreme court rulings are akin to treason in reference to the Kochs, but not even mentioned as long as it’s spent by Bloomberg on things you agree with!

    • ThomasBonsell

      Where the hell do you get the idea that “a constitution that guarantees the protection of the people from its government, right down to taking up arms against the usurpers of the people’s power”?

      That is complete BS. John Adams is considered the “father of the Conbstitution.” John Adams also headed the committee that proposed the Bill of Rights.

      Adams did not spend his political career promoting a national Constitution, then turn around as the first order of business propose a right to be armed to overthrow the nation he spend his political life seeking.

      Your argument is the same old anti-constitution nonsense of the political right, whose “intellectual” forefathers opposed the Constitution in the 18th Century.

      • Kurt CPI

        You are the nonsensical one. Who do you think the Bill of Rights was referring to in language such as “shall not be infringed”? They are referring to the government. No one could possibly dispute that. Every single one of those amendments forbids government from removing powers from the people (limiting speech, publications, religion; detention and prosecution without cause – and the right to have your case judged by your peers, not a government representative; consignment of private property in peace time; skirting the judicial system by imposing impossible fines or bail; and explicitly empowers the states with everything that is not specifically listed in the constitution. The entire purpose of the Bill of Rights is to protect the people from their government. If you want to believe that the second amendment wasn’t included for the same purpose, that’s your privilege. But isn’t it funny that it’s near (but not at) the top of the list with all those others? And there’s plenty of historical evidence to suggest that that is EXACTLY what the founders meant by including the second amendment. Check out Shay’s rebellion ('_Rebellion) and Thomas Jefferson’s response ( Please read them before you reply.

        • ThomasBonsell

          I know what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is all about. It was the area of study in graduate school of one of America’s top universities under some of the best constitutional scholars around. Where did you get your “knowledge”?

          If the Founders wanted the population armed in order to rise up in rebellion against the government, why doesn’t the Second Amendment say that?

          The Second says exactly what its creators wanted it to say: the”PEOPLE” shall be armed in order to have well regulated militias. The “people” refers to society and it is to be armed so that the militias can carry out their function of repelling invasions, enforcing federal law and SUPPRESSING INSURRECTION. Nowhere does it say the function of the militia is to foment insurrection.

          You are just spouting off with the same old anti-constitution rhetoric we hear so much today.

          • Kurt CPI

            One would expect more from such a professed constitutional scholar as yourself. I offered a viable position for debate. In scholarly form I cited references, both to a well-documented event, and an equally well-documented response by one of the architects of our republic. In doing so I hoped to engage in a debate worthy of your scholarship (which we are often reminded of). Instead you chose to reply with not a single reference to my sources, instead citing (once again) your own credentials as if you certainly must be the final word, or at the very least that my humble offering is unworthy of your lofty consideration. Apparently even the evidence I supplied (from other scholarly researchers) is now too tainted to bother reading, the links being supplied by such a dunce as myself. So I leave you to bask in your own brilliance. Oh, If you’d care to reply to to the incident and the Jefferson quote, I’m all ears.

          • ThomasBonsell

            My sources are the words of the United States Constitution. You ought to learn how to read them.

            The Second Amendment “says a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of s free state…” means what it says. The reason to have an armed citizenry is for the militia to be in force for national defense as well as state defense. See Shay’s Rebellion.

            Article I, Section 8, paragraph 15, says militia duties when serving the nation are “to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;” That’s national defense.

            If you think that the duties of an armed population differ from those words, please quotes those sections of the Constitution that say that, Please quote.

            You offered no substantive source that can prove the words of the Constitution do not mean what the words say. Please quote. And, while you are about it also reveal the source of your “expertise.”

          • Kurt CPI

            You are the one claiming expertise, I have made no such claim. I am the senior network engineer at a small fiber optic company, so logic, conclusion based on evidence, and functional engineering design is all I have to offer. I can, however, read a sentence in context and recognize the Bill of Rights for what it is. Would you argue that the first amendment is not a statement that forbids the government from interfering in the listed items, and in doing so, grants the people the right, to speak and print their conscience, even if it amounts to dissent? Or that amendments 5, 6 and 7 limit the government’s ability to detain, punish and condemn – indeed guaranteeing the final say be placed in the hands of a jury of peers? Why then is the second amendment to be construed as having such a variant application from the others? It grants the people the right to form militias and, to be sure there’s no confusion as to the circumstances of when those militias can be armed, clarifies the meaning by stating, in language that could not possibly be any clearer, that the PEOPLE have the right to keep and bear arms. No restriction – not a single one – is to be found. It’s a single sentence. So once again I leave by asking a question: What is your scholarly take on Jefferson’s published, verified response to the Shay rebellion?

          • CamCubed

            To go yet even further:

            The Bill of Rights was written not just to protect civil liberty but as an extension of constitutional law. In the course of this composition, did it occur to you that the Founding Fathers may not have agreed? In fact, that they vehemently disagreed on several key points?

            So, what do politicians do — good politicians, that is (I know they’re rare today) — when they disagree? They compromise. And that’s what the Constitution and Bill of Rights is. A compromise. You want to read into it for anti-statist purposes but the ambiguity — and there’s plenty of it, else you’re assuming there’s a 200 year old conspiracy by numbskulls (highly educated numbskulls) who are stupid only because they don’t agree with you — the ambiguity ensures that federalists (original federalists, not the hijacked meaning of the term) would claim.

            Most striking of all the compromises is the 2nd Amendment. Back to what I mentioned about the Founders’ military experience or lack thereof — Hamilton and Washington wanted a stronger standing army and navy. Not a big one, just not a virtually non-existent one. The navy was a non-starter; too expensive at the time. But the real reason the army was discouraged was because of assumptions, fears even, that they’d be used for a coup as seen in other proto-republics. That fear, of course, was unfounded. It was unfounded before the Constitution was signed. Washington proved several times during the war that as commanding general, he still bowed to civilian command, following Congress’ orders even when he thought they were strategically imprudent.

            But the fear remained, because ideologically anti-statists are…well…anti-statist, and nothing and nobody can convince them otherwise. Ideology, sir. Not wisdom or empirical evidence, both of which was available to them. Ideology. And this led to such a disagreement over the content of the Constitution that the new states were splintering, the union shredding before it even really began. The Constitution was therefore finished, perhaps a little too hastily, to provide a law of the land. Entrenchment, you see, is a vital legal goal.

            The Bill of Rights was an after thought but was concluded in much the same way. And so here we are, debating over constitutional matters that are entrenched in vagaries, not careful jurisprudence.

            Nevertheless, the Founding Fathers had faith that wisdom would guide future generations. Their optimism was NOT rewarded. Even before the last of them died, they expressed their concern with the direction of the nation (this is back in 1820). Jefferson cynically remarked that civic virtue, the unwritten basis for ANY good government, was dead and gone as early as 1807. I say he was just bitter over the embargoes he tried to support during that time, because it was probably an eye-opener to him — here he was the president, encouraging people to be good citizens, and they blew him off for the almighty dollar. Quite a blow to an idealist like TJ. But I give us a bit longer — the election of Andrew Jackson was the beginning of the end. And we’ve limped along, legalizing great injustices and doing little to rectify those old transgressions, ever since.

          • Kurt CPI

            Touche`! One point – I would re-word your statement regarding potential coup, to say, “… soon proved itself to be unfounded”. I doubt it seemed unfounded at the time. I can’t imagine the mix of emotion, vitriol, allegiances, fears and hopes that went into forming “American ideals” into a written statement of law. Especially, as you say, when there was (naturally) so much variation in vision.

            For the sake of disclosure, I don’t believe in a 200 year old “numbskull conspiracy” (well, maybe on the off day :-). When engaging Bonsell, who posts with a certainty we all can aspire to, and who generally initiates our exchanges, I just like to point out that varying perspectives are not always without foundation, nor are they without merit. Enigmatic as Jefferson was (and often ill-regarded by Adams), he was indeed a major contributor to the founding principals of our nation. And his ideological response to the Shay incident, at least to me, clearly lends some credence to a literal interpretation of the 2nd amendment. Bonsell refuses to acknowledge that line of thinking as anything other than “…the same old anti-constitution nonsense of the political right”.

            Of course, in my role as forum naysayer, it’s easy to sit back in judgment of the constitutional conventions of 200 years ago…

          • CamCubed

            ” I doubt it seemed unfounded at the time.”

          • CamCubed

            Disqus screwing up, I’ll reply on my home computer when I get there

          • CamCubed

            “I doubt it seemed unfounded at the time.”

            It was nevertheless sentiment shared largely by the anti-federalists. John Adams (a Federalist, albeit a variant from Hamilton; they differed over finance), in fact wrote that the greatest threat to liberty came from the PEOPLE, not a tyrannical government. They were more worried about demagoguery and populism than monarchy. In fact, quite a few Founders seriously contemplated making us a monarchy; I’m glad they changed their minds. Remember, their issue wasn’t so much with King George as it was with Parliament (they saw George as just a kooky jerk eager to capitulate to the House of Lords — and the international corporations like the East Indian Trading Company who were pulling their strings). The Declaration singled out the king because, as executive-in-chief, George had the power to tell Parliament to blow. But George was getting his beak wet, too, not to mention he believed whole-heartedly in rule by divine mandate and found the lust for independence and self-rule an affront. But it was mostly the money.

            ANYWAY…Adams was rather prophetic, don’t you think? He penned his concerns about democracy run a muck twenty years before Robespierre started beheading people (and got himself beheaded). And it was always the criticism people leveled against democracy anyway. Actually, Adams and Jefferson had an amusing little debate, ultimately semantical, over whether the new country was a democracy or republic. Adams pointed out that a republic WAS a form of democracy, TJ would have none of it. Even though it is. The only reason TJ said otherwise was because at that day in age, “democracy” was a loaded word, and he was afraid the “hype” would turn fellow Americans off and empower the Tories (few as they were).

            At any rate, I’m willing to say that anti-federalists wanted the 2A for what you’ve heretofore suggested — although many anti-federalists evolved their thinking and defected entirely to federalism over time. Madison, most prominently. But even TJ, when he sat in the White House, expanded the federal government and would later write exasperatedly that he was tired of people quoting him from 1782 (inferring obviously that his views had changed).

            So, there are two realities to consider.

            a) Federalists pretty much won that original debate. Anti-federalist sentiments lingered, and flared up rather violently from 1861-65, but were ultimately subordinated (if not quashed). That means anti-federalist sentiment still lingering in jurisprudence is NOT constitutional but purely a matter of cultural tradition, as arbitrarily existent as it could be arbitrarily non-existent. Of course, traditions cannot be simply swept away, as Mao learned (or maybe he refused to learn, but it was true anyway).

            b) Whether arbitrary, non-constitutional conventions are to be swept away or modified over time is ultimately up to our elected government and the judges they appoint, as it goes in a republic. (If you wanted direct influence over our government, you’re in the wrong country. Of course, you could always run for office…!) Notice I say non-constitutional, not anti-constitutional. Of course, there is certainly precedent to do this, even by the Founders’ own design and use. SCOTUS precedent dates back to the earliest presidencies and Madison would later write that “re-interpretation of the Constitution is appropriate and inevitable”. That alone should deflate Originalists, but they do have a nasty habit of cherry-picking the founding documents. Scalia’s a schmuck and Thomas…well, I’m not even sure he’s alive. He acts like a zombie most of the time. I assume he votes the way his good friend Limbaugh tells him to.

            But anyway, getting back to the 2A, it was indeed a compromise between anti-federalists and federalists. As federalists have won the debate, anti-federalist the assumptions about the 2A are obsolete and inappropriate. Worse, those beliefs have an unfortunately treasonous history. Once Calhoun weighed in, it was only a matter of time before Jefferson Davis would twist the intentions further to mean a right for armed rebellion, which the Framers absolutely did not intend.

            Except maybe Patrick Henry. And how much did he have to do with composing the Bill of Rights? Oh yeah. Nada. They told him to stay home, his ideas were unacceptable and borderline ludicrous. Henry’s main claim to fame was his speech, which is now quoted only for its famous last lines. The rest of it was ignored because a) it was riddled with profanities; b) it was rallying fellow Virginians on the basis, real or imaginary (it was actually real), that the Brits were coming and freeing slaves and conscripting them to use against the colonists. In Henry’s time, that was a real problem, but nowadays we like to forget that aspect of the Founding Fathers…

          • Kurt CPI

            In my vague, “I doubt it seemed unfounded at the time”, I was referring to the fact that they were, themselves, rebels. They’d managed to rally a disjointed population into rebellion against a world power. It may not have sounded so far-fetched to think that another school might have an even easier time mounting a coup against these nation builders, especially since the new nation didn’t even have a charter. You may well be right that Jefferson changed his tune after experience caught up with him. But at least at the time he wrote it, he believed it.
            Obviously,as your allusion to Jefferson Davis points out, the Civil should have answered any question as to whether the Union would tolerate full-scale military-backed rebellion. But back to the 2nd amendment. It may well be that it was included as a compromise between the populists and federalists. In the end, if it doesn’t grant the right to armed rebellion, it surely grants the right to the means. But now we are getting into NRA territory and that’s a topic of its own…

          • CamCubed

            “mounting a coup against these nation builders, especially since the new nation didn’t even have a charter”

            S’why they rushed the Constitution. They were debating quite a bit and realized the new country was falling apart at the seams because, as you said, they lacked the charter, as it were.

            “it surely grants the right to the means.”

            And here is where I agree with Mr. Bonsell. The Bill of Rights does not ascribe liberties purely to individual citizens, but certain elements of the Amendments specifically delimit the State’s rights qua itself. The Second Amendment is one such right.

            And while we mentioned the anti-federalists’ suspicions, Washington successfully set the precedents to relieve those fears. That the fears remained after Washington — and certainly after his immediate successors — is indicative of anti-federalist ideology rather than civic virtue.

          • Kurt CPI

            So, something like the JA-TJ disagreement on the semantics of republiic vs. democracy. It doesn’t grant the right of the people to keep guns, it just removes the power of the state to take them away.

          • CamCubed

            Yes and no. Since TJ and Adams basically agreed on what they had, and were largely arguing over what the terms of government type meant, you could say the same discord applied to the 2A. However, the point of views could be summed up as thus:

            a) The anti-federalists thought the militia was more than adequate to fend off tyranny, which even they largely expected not from within but from foreign powers (France or England or Spain, namely). Some also purportedly believed that when TJ wrote that “the people are check against the government” (whereas Adams wrote that good government is the check against the people, who are easily misled and inspired to unlawful and chaotic behavior — a concern that even Madison echoed), TJ meant by force of arms. He did not. He meant that the people, who made UP the government in a republic/democracy, had to provide the check against themselves — which is done through countering ignorance. An informed public was his champion, not an armed one.

            b) The federalists wanted a stronger professional army with militia as supplement, because they saw how “well” the militia performed during the Revolution and, later in the 1790s (when these debates were still raging despite the ink laid), when conflicts with Indians became more and more problematic and militias were going home in tatters against the natives. They were denied that (though Washington encouraged an unofficial army to deal with the Indians, which was called the Legion) until after the War of 1812, when a combination of sloppy military coordinations and even sloppier militia actions made it apparent than overhaul would be due. But due to the state of technology and tactics (line fire with muskets) and the need for mass conscripts, that overhaul wouldn’t happen for decades. Not until the Philippine War did we start to see real changes in how our army was compose and how it tactically behaved (mainly after observations of the senseless and downright idiotic bloodshed of the Civil War).

            At any rate, since our federalists like Adams and Washington couldn’t get the army they wanted, they agreed to rely on militia until such time that it was no longer needed. As you know, we’re WELL past that time. Even the National Guard, which was based on the militia model, is now more like the regular army (and maybe that should be changed back, but for now, it is what it is, and Guard units returning from Iraq and Afghanistan deserve the same respect as regular army, because they’ve been drilled and blooded just the same).

            Consequently, the 2A is the most obsolete Amendment there is, because the presumed proponents of “fend off the government tyranny” were a) an extreme minority among the Founders; b) most of even that small bunch changed their tune; c) and those who didn’t were thoroughly chastised qua the Civil War.

            HAVING SAID THAT, I do not believe the 2A should be retired and I do not believe firearms should be stripped from civilian ownership. But then again, I also consider the Bill of Rights, as well as other related Amendments that came after, to NOT be the be-all, end-all of human civil rights theory. In fact, we’re the only nation where it is presupposed (by some) that owning a firearm is a human right. Every other people on the planet, including peoples whose national histories are not unlike our own (e.g., Australia) consider that absurd, to say the least.

            It has ZERO philosophical substance. It’s purely a convention, lacking all prima facie evidence save the ramblings of a few extremists who had little to no hand in the construction of the Constitution and the USA (again, TJ is not the champion of this perspective, and if you don’t have TJ, who do you have? Samuel Adams sided with his cousin and the other Federalists on this issue — contrary to the cherry-picked quotes pro-2Aers find; they quote-mine Hamilton for gods’ sake). That doesn’t mean that, as a convention and very long tradition, that it doesn’t have normative force. I respect that force and would not to try and abolishing it. But philosophically, the grounds for it are really weak and insubstantial.

            I tend to agree with TJ. Education is our primary weapon against tyranny. This is where I break from the federalists, at least the elitist Adamsian version (the dad; JQ Adams was more egalitarian). Adams would say the primary weapon against tyranny is an educated republican government. But what we really need is for -everyone- to be educated, else we’re boned.

            And we already are boned. Anti-intellectualism and anti-education is marrow-deep in this country and has been since the election of Andrew Jackson. Yeah, that long. People don’t want to be informed, they just want to be able to shoot the people they disagree with.

          • Kurt CPI

            You won’t get any argument from me on your final two points. Intellectualism is dead among the general populous, and populous consensus on the 2nd Amendment won’t be seriously tested as long as it’s left alone – which seems like the safest stance.
            I, too, enjoy these rare discussions (rare in political discussion forums anyway). I generally come away better educated and/or with a better handle on varying perspectives. I would like to believe that public education will somehow return to higher ground, but I don’t expect to see that happen any time soon. In the long run, it’s our only hope. We can still vote and that’s the biggest gun of them all. But with unlimited corporate financing of elections and a voting population who’s main concern is “who’s going to give me the most?”, the political campaign process has degraded to who has the finances to convince less sophisticated voters just who the politician is with the most candy. I’m happy to be seeing my old age come sooner than later.

          • CamCubed

            I was speaking rather optimistically, mind you. Not only do I doubt such revisions via education would be accepted (especially with the NRA calling the shots, and yes all these puns intended), people would game the system. The force of a law is only as forceful as its enforcers. Given how a number of local small-town sheriffs across the country have defied their states and/or the federal government, I doubt such education would ever even be implemented properly.

            No, we’re just boned. Luckily, because we’re the oddball, that means only WE’RE boned. If America collapses, eh. There are other, potentially better democracies out there.

          • ThomasBonsell

            I am claiming formal education in constitutional law under some of the finest constitutional scholars in America. If you think that is “expertise,” so be it. I have that and several years experience as a cryptanalyst. That’s a code breaker. Go to the GCHQ wed site to see what the British claim for their code breakers.

            I know what the Bill of Right is as a limitation on government. The Second Amendment says Congress may not outlaw ownership of firearms across the board (that’s the only limitation), but that doesn’t mean that the people retain the right of “taking up arms against the usurpers of the people’s power.” (your words) The people have the right to keep and bear arms because of the need for militias to be formed to defend the nation and its government. The body of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to determine who in the population has that right when it says Congress has the power to “arm the militia.”

            This so-called right to rise up in rebellion against the nation is the same old anti-constitutional rhetoric of the National Rifle Association. It’s not valid.

          • Kurt CPI

            Well, that certainly trumps my expertise, wouldn’t you say? Yet you still haven’t commented on Shay.

          • ThomasBonsell

            And you haven’t quoted the Constitution where yiou claim to find a right to wage insurrection against the nation under the Second Amendment

          • Kurt CPI

            You got me there! But if you were to read Jefferson’s response, you couldn’t deny that, at least at the time he wrote it, he believed that armed insurrection was not only permissible, but indeed that “”a little rebellion now and then is a good thing” for America”, and added, “The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution…The basis of our government being the opinions of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right…Cherish therefore the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention.”
            Now does that mean a full-fledged revolution is a sanctioned right? Of course not. Nothing could be more self-defeating. My point (back when it still had some relevancy to the article) was that we reel against the Kochs for spending untold sums to influence politics, but applaud Bloomberg simply because he delivers an “acceptable” message. Reporters will print mountains of articles supporting the watering down of the second amendment, but cry bloody murder at the suggestion of anything other than the literal interpretation of the first amendment – at least as far as it affects the press. From my standpoint, every bit of power wrested from the people is a step toward tyranny.

          • ThomasBonsell

            Of course I know what Jefferson said about periodic revolution when the ruling elites misuse the government they were selected to run. But neither he or the drafters ever wrote that into the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, and that is the difference in our exchange of ideas. The “right to keep and bear arms” does not extend to armed rebellion against the government.

            Besides. the first order of business in the new Congress was to appoint a committee headed by James Madison to write and propose a Bill of Rights. At the time Jefferson was still in France as, what passed at the time as our ambassador, so he had no input included in the Constitution or Bill of Rights even though he agreed with most of what was there.

            A Bill of Rights was not included in the original Constitution because, as Alexander Hamilton said, if such a listing of a few rights were included Americans would come to believe that those were the only rights protected by the Constitution. The Ninth Amendment is an extension of his belief because it says rights not written down are just as protected as those that are in writing. He was right, of course, because even though the Ninth is included many Americans claim the only rights protected are those written in the Bill of Rights. Those people are called conservative. The phrase “retained by the people” is intended to expand on John Jay’s statement in the Federalist Papers that Americans would be giving up some rights so the new government would have its requisite powers.

            Writing a Bill of Rights was among the first things done because in order to get state ratifying conventions to adopt the new Constitution the drafters had to promise to include one. May have been the last promise from government carried out to meet exactly the request.

            Additionally, the result of the Shay’s Rebellion is exactly what I have been saying all along. It was an example in which the militia was called to action to suppress an insurrection (as Article I, Section 8, paragraph 15 states is its function). The Rebellion in no way illustrated the right to be armed also included the right to engage in armed conflict with the government. The Founders gave us other methods of carrying out a new revolution, such as periodic elections and the right to amend the Constitution whenever we see fit.

          • Kurt CPI

            “The right to keep and bear arms does not extend to armed rebellion against the government.”

            Nay, but it guarantees access to the means.

          • Kurt CPI

            Self-Reply: I will probably be labeled an NRA troll for that comment! I didn’t mean it to support revolution, only to provoke discourse. I do get tired of the same old patting of backs and choir medleys that permeate like-minded political forums. It’s more fun to stir the pot…

          • CamCubed

            And speaking of Shays’ Rebellion…

            During that incident, Jefferson expressed the standard anti-statist opinion that those poor fellas in Massachusetts were exerting their constitutional and self-evident rights for liberty. John Adams — the guy you say was in cahoots with TJ over this kind of thing — wrote back and essentially said, “Tommy boy, you’d be singing a different story if these hooligans were down there in Virginia”.

            But then, as brilliant as Jefferson was, he sure loved to talk about shedding blood and killing for freedom when he couldn’t be arsed to do it himself during the Revolution. He was too busy throwing extravagant parties on his plantation that he couldn’t even afford (and yet, conservative fiscal policy is said to derive from his party, bwahahahah). Sure, several other Founders (including Adams) also failed to enlist. (Franklin could be forgiven, he was too old.)

            And yet, when Washington and Hamilton spoke of military matters, their chicken hawk contemporaries disregarded their experience wholesale and entirely because they somehow knew better. Smh.

  • charles king

    Critical Thinking By, For, and Of the People are the best approach to removing MONIES from our governing system. Who? are these greedy Capitalistic Pigs Who? defide the Peoples needs, VOTE them out by going to the polls and Voting them OUT. Where? is your Democracy gone because You the People has became too conplacent and allow those with MONIES to decieve you and take over your government. Wake up America because the Plutocracts are now selling off your assets(Your Democracy) this is the only ruling system in this world that can beat MONIES so keep the (VOTE, UNIONS, JAZZ, and all the things that represent Freedom) Thank You are the magic words with me. I Love Ya All. Mr. C. E. KING

  • Angel Perea

    KEEPING IT THOUGHTFULLY HONEST: Not Even Close! Big and Dark Money now creates more than ever legalize Political Prostitution: So according to News reports, the Koch brothers were born with a golden spoon in their mouths and using their “given riches” to secretly fund Freedom Partners and the right wing radical advocacy groupAmericans for Prosperity to under-mind and destroy our American democracy!
    “The historical factual hypocrisy, one that the Kochs don’t like to repeat
    in public: the family’s initial wealth was not created by the harsh, creative
    forces of unfettered capitalism, but by the grace of the centrally-planned
    economy of the Soviet Union. This deserves repeating: The Koch family,
    America’s biggest pushers of the free-market Tea Party revolution, would not be the billionaires they are today were it not for the whim of one of Stalin’s comrades.”
    So I will use MY FREE SPEECH (my money) to do my part as an American consumer by NOT BUYING their products! No longer on my shopping list are: Angel Soft and Quilted Northern, Brawny and Sparkle paper towels, Dixie cups (& napkins & plates), Vanity Fair, Mardis Gras napkins, Zee Napkins and Perfect Touch cups, paper products! PlanetPOV references Levin’s website, The Exiled, in his Peoples’ History of the Koch Industries: “the Tea Clown Party revolutionaries fear and hate socialism as much as the Anti-Christ. Which is funny because the Tea Party movement’s dirty little secret is that it owes it’s existence to the granddaddy of all antichrists: The godless empire of the USSR.” Levine’s research that “Fred Koch basically made a pile of money working for the Bolsheviks in the 20’s and 30’s building refineries, training Communists and laying down the foundation of the Soviet oil infrastructure.”For more details, Levine wrote a series there called, “A Peoples History of Koch Industries: How Stalin Funded The Tea Clown Party Movement.” Together with Mark Ames they set up a website which has a treasure trove of information on the Clown Tea Party and the Koch family. Their work has been praised by Vanity Fair and MSNBC. I highly recommend their site in addition to other media in understanding this scourge on our country.” For the record, I am just the Free Speech messenger! Go to a complete list:

  • Allan Richardson

    Surely 300 INTELLIGENT people could come up with a compromise between the right of GOOD RESPONSIBLE people to own guns for protection, and the need for society to ensure that BAD OR IRRESPONSIBLE people can be held to account, or preferably PREVENTED from making that one wrong move that makes them a criminal and someone else dead? We could, except that one industry, interested in selling MORE AND MORE guns and ammunition each year, puts a fortune into promoting the idea that ANY regulation, even the most REASONABLE, is tantamount to treason against American ideals.

    Is it too much to ask that people who keep guns are both TECHNICALLY and MORALLY competent not to abuse them themselves, and to prevent others such as children and people who are mentally unstable from accessing those guns? We license drivers and register cars in every state, but the AAA does not lobby against “confiscatory” regulations that “abridge our freedom of movement” by enforcing traffic laws.

    This is not the Wild West, where people live miles apart (and for those states where it IS more like the Wild West, I would expect a bit more leeway); when people live in densely populated cities, the more guns there are in the environment, the more people feel they have to have their own gun, which means more guns are available to steal, etc. The gun that Mom or Dad bought to protect them against a criminal has a bigger chance of turning one of THEM into a criminal, because it is handy during a heated argument (a kitchen knife is much easier to dodge than a bullet), or contributing to a suicide, or killing a child who finds it unlocked, or being stolen by a burglar and used to kill someone else, or giving an unstable person the tools to go on a rampage like Sandy Hill, Aurora, Columbine, Tucson, or too many others to name, than actually hitting a criminal during an attack. For one thing, criminal attacks are rare, except in high crime areas. And for another, the criminal will probably get in the first shot, while the defender will probably miss his or her shot due to panic and inexperience.

    As for fighting off an oppressive government, IF our legitimate government should ever become oppressive (and I don’t mean by trying to collect its legitimate bills from freeloaders), the weapons available to private citizens would not be nearly enough to counter professional soldiers with military weapons, including air support. And the idea of freely available Stinger missiles on the open market, for terrorists or crackpots to buy, would make air travel too scary for any reasonable person (some idiots have been caught shining laser pointers at aircraft, which can cause a crash by blinding the pilot; are they necessarily too smart to point a missile at them if they had one? as a prank?). It might be great for Amtrak, though.

    It’s about time Americans negotiated on a reasonable middle ground instead of saying that the Second Amendment means there is no way to prevent murders by reasonable regulations. Oh, and if “they” ever wanted a list of gun owners, there’s one that would be very handy if “they” were that eager to get it: the membership list of the NRA.

    • CamCubed

      Ahem, not to mention, Stinger missiles and the threat they pose to trained pilots has been overhyped. They’re more dangerous than RPGs, but only slightly. We’ve lost only a few helicopters in Afghanistan over the past decade and most of them were by accident, not small arms fire or missiles. (Don’t forget, the Taliban has Stingers because we gave them to them back in the 80s…though I have doubts even now that a Stinger could knock down a HIND.)

      Yes, I agree on the competence. I’m not sure why anyone would be opposed to competence-based regulations, unless they know they’re incompetent.

      • Allan Richardson

        I was referring to airliners, not military aircraft. There is no airport in the country (or the world) where some publicly accessible stretch of land is not close enough to an airport to see the planes before they get up to cruising altitude. In fact, that is what makes the innocent pastime of watching them take off and land possible. But someone with a Stinger or equivalent could pick off any flight on takeoff (with collateral damage to neighborhoods, downtowns, or even, GF, a nuclear power plant) or landing (with collateral damage to the airport itself, possibly setting off fueled planes on the ground).

        Anyway, the point is that, since something like an RPG or a Stinger is the only thing that would have a CHANCE against our military, and these fanatics want a Second Amendment that would allow them to rebel against our own government, it stands to reason that THEY would want to deregulate even such military grade weapons. But not just the militia fanatics, but ANYONE, even a Lee Oswald type, could get one (and look at the damage he did with JUST a sniper rifle).