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The Great Man.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader woke up this morning and began toasting the greatest man of the 20th Century, and on of the greatest men ever to have lived Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born this day, at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, in 1874. We should all take a moment to remember his life and career. And thank God for him in the darkest hour in 1940.

Carry on.

Regrettable food.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was reviewing the Lileks website and stumbled onto the Regrettable Food area in the Institute for Official Cheer. Once again, your Maximum Leader laughed and laughed.

Carry on.

Holiday funnies.

Greetings again loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader likes a good laugh first thing in the morning. It makes the dull life of world dominiating go much easier. Your Maximum Leader just read Primal Purge and laughed and laughed. And read the Poet Laureate’s most recent ode… And Lileks is all wrong about Heidi Klum not playing Mrs. Claus in a thong. (A Maximum Leader thong? Ah to dream…) She should. Oh she should….

Carry on.

Thanksgiving plus one.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is glad to be able to type. He feared that the copious amounts of gravy he consumed yesterday would congeal in his arteries and cause his fingers not to bend. But, things didn’t turn out that way.

While your Maximum Leader was sitting back after his repast (with the Happy Thanksgiving messages being broadcast over the Villainschloss public address system), he turned on the news. And saw that President Bush had traveled to Baghdad to visit with the troops. What a great thing to do. Your Maximum Leader was quite impressed. (But he reads that Allah is not too impressed at a lost opportunity.)

Your Maximum Leader is saddened that other plans for world dominiation keep him away from the Minister of Agriculture’s farm today. He would like to partake of the ritual slaughtering of the fatted (organically fattened that is) steers.

Your Maximum Leader hops you all had a great day of feasting. Now get back to your minionly ways. Or better yet. Go shopping and boost the economy some. And before signing off, since when have the major news outlets publically broadcast this day as “Black Friday.” And that moniker is always followed very quickly by “the day that retailers go from the red to the black.” Your Maximum Leader will put on his “the regular media bias cap” for a moment. Your Maximum Leader has always watched the news, and this is the first day after Thanksgiving that he has ever heard the appelation “Black Friday” used to describe this day. Normally the tag “Black + [day of the week]” means the stock market crashed and thousands of brokers defenestrated themselves. Is this another plot to make Americans feel badly about the economy despite news to the contrary? Your Maximum Leader thinks so.

Carry on.

The ML and MOA are Moral Carnivores

The Maximum Leader has provided a link to Keith Burgess-Jacksonvvs discussion of the morality of eating turkeys. I suspect he was trying once again to prompt a post on organic farming from his Minister of Agriculture.

I havenvvt posted on agriculture before because I will have a terrible time achieving closure on any discussion of farming. I know this will shock those of you who have read my invariably short, remarkably reticent posts on gay marriage and guns, but the Minister of Agriculture is not always the soul of brevity. When talking about the soil, the MOA becomes downright voluble.

<< And yes Air Marshal, the Minister of Agriculture has once again succumbed to referring to himself in the third person. Oops! I did it again! Since this is the Maximum Leadervvs site, I have adopted to the prevailing style. >>

However, since the end of my lunch period artificially constrains me today, I will address KBJvvs theory that eating turkey makes one responsible for all the suffering that animal has suffered throughout its life.

I concur.

However, most consumers do not make their choice about meat products based on the treatment of their dinner. They look for cheap meat.

Due to the economies of scale and a remarkably asinine United States agricultural policy, most animals in America are raised inhumanely.

This is bad for the animals.

More importantly, it is bad for farmers and bad for the environment.

Ivvll leave that assertion alone for now; when time permits Uncle Mark will gather all of his children around and tell them the story of how dairy farming changed from families who cared for 20 milk cows to corporations that hire workers from Mexico to industrially manage 1400 genetically modified milk factories on the hoof. Milk is cheap, but family farms are gone, the animals suffer, and the erosion and pollution that inevitably result from large-scale grain monoculture rape the environment. This paradigm shift has been so productive that the government pays farmers (read: corporations) to produce less milk and buys milk to destroy. Excellent work, you %^&*(@ Washington bureaucrats. But going into the transformation of the milk vv industryvvp is a multi-page post. This is about eating meat.

For those of you who want to know how your beef is raised, Michael Pollan wrote an excellent article in the magazine section of the New York Post:

http://www.nehbc.org/articles.html

This is very well done. It doesnvvt buy into the whole PETA hysteria and judgmentalism. It just lays out how the industry works. It will take a while to read, but I highly suggest following that link.

I raise beef a little differently.

I raise Holstein calves that would otherwise go for veal (donvvt even get the animal rights people started here). They donvvt have a lot of value for beef producers because they grow more slowly and take more grain than a beef breed would vv but that is okay since my animals eat a natural grass-based diet. The extra cost of grain they would have in a traditional operation is irrelevant to me. They are also relatively cheaper than beef-breed feeders largely due to the tremendous marketing success of the Angus breed association (100% Angus beef!).

The Holstein beef is indistinguishable from the Angus beef, no matter what Madiosn Avenue tells you. State Ag Extensions have conducted several consumer tests that have shown that consumers cannot distinguish between Holstein and Angus steaks. Meat quality is much more directly influenced by the condition in which the animal is reared than the particular cattle breed.

I rear my claves entirely on grass. They lead a natural life and are well-treated. I take the time to offer them treats (apples and pears from the orchard) and to scratch their chins. This does make it a bit harder on me when it comes time to send them to the butcher, but it does make them happier and certainly easier to handle. For example, when a tree came down and punched a hole in my perimeter fence, my lads escaped. For many farmers this would lead to a long afternoon of excitement and frustration. I just stood at the gap and called them. They came right back for their chin scratches.

The Maximum Leader might have had one other reason to put up a link to a philosopher attacking the cruelty generally applied to meat animals: He will be able to eat steaks and hamburgers with a clean conscience this December. He is one of my customers. One side of one of my boys will fill the Maximum Leadervvs freezer.

Bon apetit, supreme commander!

Respectful Contempt.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader continues to be more impressed with Dr. Keith Burgess-Jackson. His post today excerpting a passage about Respectful Contempt is very good. (And any discussion that centers on the philosophy of Robert Nozick can’t be all bad.) And quite topical. Ah, what a good find to stumble onto his blog one day…

Carry on.

Peers

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader deep inside that dark and sinister place he calls his heart he is a bit of a monarchist. While he goes on and on about democracy and our American Republic (and honestly is a real patriot), there is some little corner within him that loves monarchy. And in addition to loving monarchy (in the abstract at least), he is an Anglophile. That knowledge should allow you to recognize why your Maximum Leader weeps over this.

UPDATE: I have had to edit this post about 4 times for grammar errors… I must need some sleep.

Carry on.

Rule of law vs. rule of judges…

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been reading over the posts on this site and will try to wrap a whole bunch of issues into one big post. This process began when your Maximum Leader read over the Foreign Minister’s last post. One can certainly understand how reading the court sources being bandied about by the Minister of Agriculture and your Maximum Leader can do little to inspire confidence. Then your Maximum Leader had a little serendipitous moment. An underlying, but common, theme in many of the recent posts on this space (and over on the Poet Laureate’s site) have to do with the problem your Maximum Leader will call the problem of the rule of law versus the rule of judges.

The Minister of Agriculture has mentioned a few times in the ongoing discussion on guns that he respects the rule of law. Indeed. Your Maximum Leader (until he rides the wave of power and establishes the MWO) also respects the rule of law. Respecting the rule of law is a good Anglo-American tradition. But we have in the United States a problem. It is not directly about the rule of law, but the rule of judges.

Some of you may know that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has a sign in his office which reads: vv Please do not emanate into the penumbra.vvp This tongue-in-cheek sign is meant to show Justice Thomasvv commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to the foundersvv intent. (Justice Thomas, and others, are dismayed by the fact that recent court decision have found there are new individual rights that vv emanate from the penumbravvp of enumerated rights in the Constitution.) This is the jumping off point of my discussion. At what point have we moved from the rule of law to the rule of judges.

Allow me to begin by saying that I have no problem with judges clarifying points of law, or taking a decision between two differing but equally plausible interpretations of a law. What I find I have more and more difficulty with are courts deciding questions that historically have been left to legislatures. Our on-going gay marriage discussion is one such question that is looking like the courts (not the legislatures) will decide.

Not too long ago the Poet Laureate asked for my opinions on the legislative vs. judicial implications of the gay marriage decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Well here it is. I believe that gay marriage is so very contentious not only because of the uncomfortable confluence of religious and political spheres but because the major decisions are all being made by courts.

Now a pox should fall on all vv housesvvp in this political debate. Liberals, Conservatives, Democrats, Republicans all are using the courts to win political battles. But these battles shouldnvvt be fought in the courts. They should be fought in the state and federal legislatures. Issues involving such momentous (or potentially momentous) societal changes should not be determined in a court, but in a democratically elected deliberative body. I firmly believe that the gay marriage debate needs to be happening in state legislatures or in the Congress. (And gay marriage is only one debate that should be solved outside of courts, it just happens to be the topical one now.)

Now before the cat-calls of vv well you are only saying that because Republicans who favour your position control the Congress,vvp are levied let me say that I donvvt really care who controls the Congress. My opinion would stay much the same. We have allowed our legislatures to become lazy. Seats in Congress arenvvt always contested. Incumbents avoid decision taking because it gives them a record that someone could use against them. And ultimately, we as voters (you are a voter arenvvt you?) bear the responsibility. We donvvt demand that the hard questions be solved in the logical place. This permissiveness allows the courts to step right in and answer the questions. But this is not healthy for a democratic society because so few people are actually involved in the decision-making process. When a court decision is handed down, the question is answered and there is not much anyone can do about it, except wait to see how it turns out on appeal.

This cycle of waiting for the courts to rule on the questions of the day doesnvvt promote closure (so to speak) on the questions of the day. It leaves them open-ended. They are open ended because vv the peoplevvp didnvvt ever really decide anything. And frankly, vv the peoplevvp werenvvt even consulted in taking a decision. Furthermore waiting for courts to decide weighty questions causes the appointment of judges to the bench to become a wretched horror of a process that no decent person (of any political stripe) should have to endure. Why? Because judges take the flak for the political hacks in settling the questions of the day.

Let us take the question of gay marriage. Court after court, it appears, will be soon deciding if gay people can get their marriagevvs recognized by the civil authorities. The very fact that courts are taking this decision, I believe, polarizes the population. Currently, a majority of people oppose extending the defined institution of marriage to include same sex couples. Regardless of which polls you read, the majority still exists. (It only seems to vary in size.) If that majority feels that their voice wasnvvt heard by the courts, they will become resentful of the courtsvv decision. And that could very likely lead to a public backlash against gays. Currently a majority of Americans (myself included vv in case you were guessing) agree with recent decisions of various courts (including the US Supreme Court) holding that homosexual behaviour is not illegal. This is a good decision, but frankly one that should have been avoided by legislatures repealing the problematic laws. In the case of gay marriage the courtsvv decisions are polarizing the public and could cause the general feeling of good-will towards gays to evaporate.

If, however, there were to be a serious debate in Congress (or in state legislatures) about the status of gay marriage and an up or down vote were to be taken; there would be much less or even no backlash. Why? Because Americans believe in fair play, and when we lose a fair fight we admit it. And once you gain a right in our system, it is pretty damned hard to lose it. (But that sometimes happens when people are not vigilant.)

But, alas, our elected politicians do not do us a great service by being more concerned about re-election than really making lawsvѬ This brings me to two other points I wanted to get in (and now is about as good as any).

Re: Slippery-slope arguments. We have all read a lot about slippery slope arguments recently. I have even made some. But the key to understanding the slippery-slope is subtlety. The proponents of gay marriage (for instance) are not really trying to eliminate all barriers to marriage (as some opponents of gay marriage claim). The vast majority of them are really only looking to right what they perceive to be a wrong. The slippery-slope is not an actual conspiracy to do more than someone (or group) claims. The slippery-slope is a result of unintended, or denied, consequences.

As pertains to the gay marriage debate, let us take a few examples (provided to us by many different sources, but the Volokh Conspiracy happens to list a number of them all together in one easily linkable group) of arguments made while the Equal Rights Amendment was being debated.

The first:
“What foes of ERA contend were valid arguments and what advocates claim were emotional scare tactics also seemed to sway sentiment among the women against the amendment [in North Carolina]. Opponents, for example, suggested passage of ERA would mean abortion on demand, legalization of homosexual marriages, sex-integrated prisons and reform schools — all claims that were hotly denied by ERA supporters.” U.S. News & World Report, Apr. 28, 1975

The second:
“The vote in Virginia [against the ERA] came after proponents argued on behalf of civil rights for women and opponents trotted out the old canards about homosexual marriages and unisex restrooms . . . .” Wash. Post, Feb. 19, 1982 (column by Judy Mann).

I could list more, but just read the links if you like. Here and here.

What make these arguments so interesting to me is that they clearly illustrate one point I have been making during this whole discussion. If you remove the barrier prohibiting gay marriage, how will you stop polygamous marriages, boy/man marriages, or even incestuous marriages? There is no logical reason to do so. While I am not claiming that the intelligent advocates of gay marriage (the Poet Laureate, the Minister of Agriculture, and Andrew Sullivan among others) are really secretly desirous of polygamous, child/adult, or incestuous marriage; I am saying that once you go down this road you have very little reason to stop at some other arbitrary point along it.

Re: Federalism, DOMA, and Full Faith and Credit Clause.

The Poet Laureate (aka the Big Hominid) has a long post about these items. In it he asks some questionsvѬ Here is one:

vv If the FFCC is “supreme,” and “prevents” states from enjoying the full benefits of the federalist ideal, how did DOMA get on the books?vvp

Easy, Congress passed it. Just because Congress passes a law doesnvvt mean it is a good law. Indeed, the speed with which the DOMA was passed precludes it from being good law in my book. (Ditto the Patriot Act.) And DOMA, as I understand it, is a little more limited than some people think. Regardless, I believe it would run afoul of the FFCC.

Now, it is only because I grow very tired now that I donvvt feel I am going to do a good job summarizing my positions on the Poet Laureatevvs post, but I will give it the ole college try.

As I said earlier, the whole matter of a Constitutional Amendment comes about (I think) because the courts are making the decisions here. And ultimately, the only way you can be sure your side wins a legal argument of this magnitude is to make sure the ultimate law of the land supports your side. Both sides feel they have to enshrine their positions in the Constitution. But neither side will be able to do that. And frankly, if they did it wouldnvvt be pretty. The Amendment the Hominid didnvvt reference was the 18th. That was the Prohibition Amendment. (The 18th was eventually repealed by the 21st Amendment.) One generally doesnvvt do well when you try to enshrine a particular moral position in the Constitution. And frankly, one doesnvvt do well when you start tampering with the Constitution. Furthermore, I think all proposed (or conjectural) amendments concerning gay marriage should be opposed by all sensible citizens.

Of course, the Congress could invoke the little used and even littler known Article III, Section 2, Paragraph 2 exclusion rule. For those of you who may not know this it goes:

In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.

This section of the Constitution has been interpreted to mean that Congress can restrict the type of case that could be appealed to the Supreme Court. (And I hope it shows that the legislative branch should have a check against the power of the judicial.) It is possible that Congress could pass a law indicating that the Supreme Court would not be able to hear cases involving the FFCC and gay marriage. But the downside to that would be lots of different decisions by lots of different courts with no overarching precedent. Congress then, might be free to pass whatever law they might to clarify their position in this matter.

The Hominid also revisits his musing where he reflects on why marriage (which he claims to be a civil right of a greater magnitude than voting) is not enshrined in the Constitution, but only sanctioned at a state or local level. This is an interesting point that I would like to comment upon. First, in a democratic republic, I believe the civil right of voting does supercede the civil right to marriage. But that point is really academic. The heart of the question goes straight to the heart of the question of federalism. Why are certain institutions sanctioned at a state/local level? Because, as Tip OvvNeill once put it, all politics are local. The founders did believe in separation of powers between the Federal and State governments as much as they believed in the separation of powers within the Federal government. Neighbours getting together on county councils or in state legislatures were much more effective at judging the standards and will of the community than were remote representatives in Washington DC. Most laws in this nation are state and local laws. Individuals have more influence over (but paradoxically less interest in) local politics than national politics. Local laws are supposed to be more responsive to the will of the people than national laws. And going even further to the heart of the matter, according to the Constitution, rights not enumerated in that document are understood to be reserved to the people (Amendments 9 & 10.) And the intent was for the states (or local governments) to spell out those rights as it was required.

Anyway. This post has rambled on long enough. I am tired and shall retire now.

Carry on.

Great Site!

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was directed to this site by a very loyal minon. Gotta love being educated and wanting to expand your horizons. Now pg mo thin, and get outta here.

Carry on.

Wow…. suddenly I feel kinda dumb…

Ok now remember, I am just a lowly biology type here, but all this Supreme Court stuff does not give me much confidence.

Remember, we just had the Dems determine that x, y, and z judge could not be on various courts and what not, not because they were voted down, but because they used “procedure” to deny a vote from happening.

Basically, each side takes turns stacking the judicial vote in their favor. First abortion is bad, new judges come in and abortion becomes good. Another set and it will be bad again.

My beef is that when “I” read the 2nd Amendment, “I” see that the FM has the right to own a gun (even the ones hollywood says it hates but puts in every movie).

And as most people see it, they have that right as well. I just want it left at that. If Bob doesn’t want to own a gun, that is fine for him but if the “courts” determine it isn’t a right, it will be a LONG time (if ever) that that right would be returned.

You guys are smart… what am I doing (thinking) wrong here?

FM

Emerson’s M-16

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wanted to thank the M of A for a good post on the M-16. To address some Emerson issues… The Supreme Court does have the final say in interpretation (except in cases where the Congress uses its power to keep the court from deciding a case). But, when the Supreme Court declined to review a case from an Appellate District, that Appellate Case holds the same authority until reviewed by the Supreme Court (if that ever happens). Furthermore, your Maximum Leader doesn’t believe that his position has changed. He has always maintained that it is an individual right to gun ownership. And as for writing about the M of A’s “proverbial arse…” Your Maximum Leader just likes typing the word arse, especially when refering to the Minister of Agriculture.

And as for the journey of a thousand miles… The journey of a thousand miles sometimes ends very, very badly.

Carry on.

Emerson!

You can always tell when the Minister of Agriculture is giving tests to his students. He has way too much time on his hands to blog.

Thanks to the Maximum Leader for the Emerson case vv rather than skipping it, I just missed it. But Miller does highlight the very clear vv militiavvp interpretation of the Second Amendment issued by the Supreme Court. At any rate, thanks to the ML for finding the case name. I couldnvvt for the life of me remember the name of the case that had prompted my original concession to the ML. Ivvll have to take a look at that DISTRICT case. (I canvvt remember, Mike, which court has the final say on the Constitution vv the District, Appeal or Supreme Court?)

I was hoping that we might have an adjustment of the Maximum Leadervvs position; but once again we have a shift vv vv what I really meant to say wasvѬ vvp We did squeeze a small concession out of the Maximum Leader. Rather than the militia interpretation being something out of my vv proverbial arse,vvp it now appears the issues are vv muddy.vvp

Progress.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

– Smallholder

The M-16 and the Lessons of History

The M-16 needs to be replaced.
It may be more accurate than the AK. It may have a longer range.
But it is intolerant of dirt and moisture.
It is the ideal weapon for ideal conditions.
Itvvs just too bad that we donvvt ever fight under ideal conditions.
Kim Du Toit made me aware of another limitation; the length of the M-16 makes it awkward to use inside of a vehicle. Another reason to scrap it.

Instead of moving to a more technological (read: fragile) model, we should use an assault weapon that is simple, lightweight and durable under a range of weather conditions.

Those requirements seem to be describing the AK-47.

Americavvs need to get fancier and fancier with our infantry weapons reminds me of the small arms race at the end of the last century. As a shift to bolt-action magazine-fed rifles sparked the race. Industrial countries with the exception of France, Germany, and England* began issuing weapons of smaller and smaller calibers vv increasing muzzle velocity (accuracy) and reducing ammunition weight (which simplifies logistics).

* France did not rush to develop new weapons vv they figured that a reliance on firepower would reduce the lan, or fighting spirit, of their troops vv a position favoring moral over material factors that eerily foreshadowed 1930s Japanese military procurement. France actually chose NOT to distribute machineguns to infantry companies because it was feared that lugging the heavier weapon would slow attack speeds. They would pay for this refusal to modernize in the Great War.
Germany did not join the smaller caliber race largely because of their efficient study of military technology vv rather than simply worrying about logistics, their research (somewhat confirmed by their observations of the Crimean conflict) showed that at a certain point, smaller calibers became much less capable of incapacitating enemy personnel. The smaller bullets were moving too fast and punched through flesh quickly, rather than slowing down, deforming, and creating the mushroom effect that leaves behind hideous exit wounds.
England did not move to the smaller caliber because their engagement in colonial conflicts led them to emphasize larger bullets that had stopping power. America eventually followed this model vv switching to larger calibers (the .45 pistol) when the Philippine Insurrection showed you had to do more than kill the insurgents; you had to knock them down to keep them from falling into your trench and taking you with them as they died.

Both Russia and Japan learned the folly of worshipping accuracy and weight above impact; both sides small arms were relatively ineffective during their 1904-05 conflict.

But the United States didnvvt seem to learn that lesson (does it surprise you that our military staff system is modeled after the French, not the Germans?) when they adopted the M-16.
And it doesnvvt seem that we have learned from Vietnam and the Gulf Conflicts either. Rather than moving to a more reliable weapon, we are building a better mousetrap with all the bells and whistles. Letvvs hope sanity wins out.

It was the blogger! The blogger ate my baby!

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is rather put out today. He went home last night with brain filled with bloggy goodness and proceeded to log into Blogger and blog away on guns and the 2nd Amendment. But then, as many of you might know… Blogger decided to fart, become persnickedy or something. Needless to say, many many many words and some fine ideas were lost… Your Maximum Leader would like to recreate the blog, and might try later tonight, but let me hit some of the highlights.

RE: Churchill. The great man did certainly change and tweak position based on new circumstances. But, it should not be inferred that a small group of core principles did not endure.

RE: 2nd Amendment. Yes, your Maximum Leader did in fact read all of the Volokh sources and provided no unwitting information. But here is where the M of A is wrong. There is a difference between saying that there is no individual right to own a gun and saying that Congress cannot regulate or restrict some types of gun ownership. As the M of A knows, your Maximum Leader, while not a great supporter of gun control at all, doesn’t deny that Congress can enact restrictive legislation. (Just as other rights enumerated in the Constitution can be “tweaked” by legislative action and interpretation of the courts. For example “Hate speech” codes that have been upheld although your Maximum Leader feels that most of what is categorized as “hate speech” should be protected by the First Amendment.) And allow your Maximum Leader to get pedantic on the M of A’s proverbial arse… The M of A clearly likes to ignore the part of the Second Amendment that reads “…, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” If you would like, the first part “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,…” is a dependent clause to the main clause. While it is modified, the main clause clearly states that the right of the people shall not be infringed. And furthermore, in US v Emerson 2003, the right of individuals to keep and bear arms was affirmed. BTW, this case was linked at the bottom of the source page on Volokh. I suspect the M of A just chose not to read it. Start down in Section V. concerning the Second Amendment, and see what the court said concerning stare decisis and the Miller case that the M of A quotes extensively. Emerson was not reviewed by the US Supreme Court (although it was appealed to them) and the decision stands unmodified. At best, one can now say that the constitutional waters supporting the argument the M of A is making are muddy.

RE: Warren Burger. He was retired when he said those comments. (And your Maximum Leader would argue - going mad at the same time. He made some very weird constitutional statements during his retirement that (luckily) never found their way into case law.) And if he believed in his position so strongly, why did he not accept a case (of the thousands) for review while Chief Justice that would allow a more comprehensive explaination of the Court’s view known?

Regardless… Your Maximum Leader fears that he doesn’t have the time now for a comprehensive review of that which he wrote (and lost - curse Blogger!) last night.

Carry on.

The Minister of Agriculture: Flip-flopping or Signs of Intelligence?

One definition of intelligence is the ability to modify behavior in reaction to stimuli. If the stimulus changes, the rapidity of an organismvvs response is one measure of intelligence.

Why is that when public officials react to new information (stimuli) and change their policy positions (intelligence), instead of being lauded for their acumen they are widely pilloried for their vv flip-flop?vvp

The Maximum Leader and I concur in our admiration of Winston Churchill, one of the greatest figures of the Twentieth Century. Churchill was a study in changing positions based on new information. The country would be better served if our politicians were able to react to changed circumstances and evidence rather than acting as a demagogue debating society.

Perhaps this is the heart of the difference between folks discussing policy. Some folks examine the evidence and find a position, but are willing to change that position based on new evidence. Other folks choose their position in a vacuum of information, and then stubbornly defend their deeply held belief regardless of other information that arrives.

In an earlier post I admitted having changed my earlier opposition to rifle ownership. With additional stimulus vv living in the country vv I became aware that there are legitimate uses for rifles that do not threaten the common weal. Thus, I modified my position.

I did not modify it based on faulty Second Amendment myths. I also did not modify my belief that the government has the ability to and ought to limit the private ownership of weapons vv to vv well-regulatevvp if you will.

The Maximum Leader chooses to ignore the grammar of the Second Amendment and argues that the Amendment applies to individuals. To counter my argument that the courts have consistently ruled against that position, The Maximum Leader unwittingly provided ammunition for the other side. I hope that since he has accepted the authority of the Volokh Conspiracy, he will look at the following two rulings, and having been exposed to new stimuli, er, information, will change his reaction (this is not to say that he needs to change his position against gun control vv I am not quibbling with that vv my issue is with the erroneous belief that gun ownership is a right).

The Maximum Leader has helpfully provided links to the Volokh Conspiracy. Listed in the Second Amendment resources on the Volokh Conspiracy site is the case of United States v. Miller. So as not to be accused of selective quotation, the entire discussion from Volokhvvs site is below. My comments are indicated by the vv *vvp

V.C.:
United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939)
[The only extensive modern discussion of the Amendment]
An indictment in the District Court Western District Arkansas, charged that Jack Miller and Frank Layton “did unlawfully, knowingly, willfully, and feloniously transport in interstate commerce from the town of Claremore in the State of Oklahoma to the town of Siloam Springs in the State of Arkansas a certain firearm, to-wit, a double barrel 12-gauge Stevens shotgun having a barrel less than 18 inches in length [contrary to the National Firearms Act] . . . .”

* The issue here: Can Congress regulate firearms OR is the Second Amendment inviolate?*

V.C.:
A duly interposed demurrer alleged: The National Firearms Act is not a revenue measure but an attempt to usurp police power reserved to the States, and is therefore unconstitutional. Also, it offends the inhibition of the Second Amendment to the Constitution — “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The District Court held that section eleven of the Act violates the Second Amendment. It accordingly sustained the demurrer and quashed the indictment.

* A low level court initially agreed with the argument that the Second Amendment applies to individuals HOWEVER, the Supreme Court, on review of the case (U.S. v. Miller): *

V.C.:
In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a “shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length” at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense. Aymette v. State, 2 Humphreys (Tenn.) 154, 158.

* Aha! The next court then rules that since the sawed-off shotgun is not necessary to the vv preservation of a WELL REGULATED militia,vvp Congress DOES have the power to limit gun ownership. *

V.C.:
The Constitution as originally adopted granted to the Congress power — “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.” With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view.

* Dear Maximum Leader, I invite you to reread that last sentence. The Supreme Court in Miller v. U.S., clearly ruled that the Second Amendment MUST be interpreted and applied with the end of protecting state militias. It just canvvt get any clearer than this. *

V.C.:
The Militia which the States were expected to maintain and train is set in contrast with Troops which they were forbidden to keep without the consent of Congress. The sentiment of the time strongly disfavored standing armies; the common view was that adequate defense of country and laws could be secured through the Militia — civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.
The signification attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. “A body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.” And further, that ordinarily when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time. [Citing further sources, e.g., the Virginia Act of October 1785 providing for a Militia of “all free male persons between the ages of eighteen and fifty years,” with certain exceptions.]

* A vv body of citizens enrolled for military discipline. This isnvvt private individuals. *

Ivvll leave off the Volokh discussion for a moment.
Gentle reader if you wish to follow the links the Maximum Leader noted below and actually read the court cases, I invite you to do so. Also pay attention to Lewis v. U.S., the only major Second Amendment issue to reach the Supreme Court in the last 25 years vv 1980. The Supreme Court ruled ONCE AGAIN that the Second Amendment does NOT apply to individuals.

There have been numerous instances of lower courts upholding citywide bans on handguns vv again on the principal that the Second Amendment does not apply to individuals.

Although the NRA does not include that inconvenient fact in their pamphlets, the legal team of the NRA knows this to be true. They do not challenge gun laws on the basis of the Second Amendment because it is a sure loser. When they have had success, it has been based on the federalism issue vv overturning federal laws that place an undue burden on state law enforcement.

In my earlier post, I said that there had only been one success (in a lower level court) for the individualistic interpretation of the First Amendment:
Earlier MOA:

(Note: Last year, I had to send the Maximum Leader a congratulatory note; an appeals court actually overturned a gun law on the basis of the Second Amendment. Since I support the rule of law, I have to now concede that the Second Amendment does give some protections to an individual’s right to own firearms)

Note that I was actually acting intelligently here vv The position I had argued for so long had been changed by a new court ruling vv new information. Instead of applauding the intelligent reaction to new information, the ML used this admission of the facts to get in a cheap shot (oh, the poor oppressed MOA! Do I deserve another Undersecretary yet?):

The ML wrote:

vv Of course, my favourite part of the post is right at the end of that 8th paragraph where the M of A deliciously writes: “Last year, I had to send the Maximum Leader a congratulatory note; an appeals court actually overturned a gun law on the basis of the Second Amendment. Since I support the rule of law, I have to now concede that the Second Amendment does give some protections to an individual’s right to own firearms.” Your Maximum Leader just loves what the M of A can put into a note… Allow your Maximum Leader to summarize for the rest of the minions who may not have been reading too closely: the Minister of Agriculture said that there was no individual right to gun ownership; then said there is. Humm… Can’t get much clearer than that can we?vvp

Earlier in the note, I was accused of talking out of my vv proverbial arsevvp on the court rulings. I hope I have demonstrated that the very links the ML used to support his individualistic fantasy actually support my contention about the courts consistently ruling for the militia interpretation. Except of course for that pesky ruling a couple of years ago. I would really love to know the name of the case vv please e-mail the ML if you know it so we can look it up.

But leaving aside the court cases, lets check in with someone who is, one might argue, more familiar with Constitutional issues than your Maxmimum Leader, his Agricultural Minister, or even Professor Volokh:
In 1991, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger referred to the Second Amendment as “the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word vv=fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.. .[the NRA] ha(s) misled the American people and they, I regret to say, they have had far too much influence on the Congress of the United States than as a citizen I would like to see vv and I am a gun man.” Burger also wrote, “The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon…[S]urely the Second Amendment does not remotely guarantee every person the constitutional right to have a vv=Saturday Night Special’ or a machine gun without any regulation whatever. There is no support in the Constitution for the argument that federal and state governments are powerless to regulate the purchase of such firearms…”
In conclusion, we can argue all day about the reasonableness and efficacy of gun control legislation, but we should move beyond the empty fraud that the individual gun ownership is a right. Just like all other topics, decisions should be made based on the common weal, not pseudo-historical crap.

– Smallholder

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