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Why I Voted for Obama

“A party that presided over a war in which our troops did not get the body armor they needed, or were sending troops over who were untrained because of poor planning, or are not fulfilling the veterans’ benefits that these troops need when they come home, or are undermining our Constitution with warrantless wiretaps that are unnecessary?

“That is a debate I am very happy to have. We’ll see what the American people think is the true definition of patriotism.”

This was his response to Republican allegations that he lacks patriotism because he doesn’t wear the little American flag pin on his lapel everywhere he goes.  And that response uses precisely the strategy I’ve been waiting for someone to use for years.  Under identical circumstances, I’m fairly confident that Hillary would have responded by listing the patriotic things she’s voted for and how many GOP proposals she’s supported or championed, etc.  In other words, the same old tired Democratic capitulation to accusations from the right regardless of how absurd they are.  By responding to such stupidity the defender lends credence to the accusation and is automatically at a disadvantage.  Obama rejected the Republican framing of the flag pin issue entirely, as he should have, and turned the issue on its head, as it should have been.  I know it’s just election year politics but the mere suggestion that the flag pin somehow determines patriotism, especially when it’s leveled by the people who capitalized on public fears to send our military to fight an unnecessary war for an indefinite period of time with no planning beforehand, is nauseating.

I’m no Obamamaniac, but I recognize the power of an individual who draws millions of new young voters into the process.  A massive influx of idealistic, not-yet-disenchanted voters can provide the energy and momentum necessary to start changing the political dialog in this country.  Perhaps this will end up being the Bush administration’s biggest domestic legacy – infuriating so many people to the point that they finally decided enough is enough.

Gun Control

An interesting issue to say the least.  Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case challenging Washington DC’s handgun ban, we should have a guaranteed controversial decision by the end of next summer.  Either cities and states will have to stop enforcing existing gun bans, or they’ll get the green light and many more will undoubtably follow.

This is a hard issue for me to contemplate because I grew up in the suburbs of New Orleans in a gun-free home.  I didn’t know anyone who hunted, outside of extended family and some acquaintences from school, and I never went along with those who did.  In fact the only time I’ve ever held a gun was to shoot clay pigeons with a 12 gauge when I was chauffeuring my little brother to his hunting license class one summer.  I don’t really have any experience from the pro-gun side of the issue, but I think I have some idea of its importance to many people.  I certainly understand the desire to protect yourself and your family if you live in a less-than-desirable location.

Unfortunately for those people, as the 2nd Amendment is written it really does appear that guns were meant for militias only.  In the bygone days of the minutemen this distinction was meaningless, as soldiers were quartered in their own homes.  The founding fathers nevertheless included the “well-regulated militia” phrase in the amendment to account for the eventual likelihood of permanent armies separate from citizens.

With that in mind I believe the correct decision for the Court is to interpret the Second Amendment as it is written – members of the armed services and the National Guard are the only individuals authorized by the Constitution to carry firearms.  It’s the only conclusion consistent with the law as it stands.

Hold on, that’s not the end of the story so don’t assault me just yet.  Remember that courts are charged with interpreting the law as it is, not as it should be.  The founders probably never envisioned the extent or even the existence of the gun crimes that we see in inner cities, and they certainly would not have agreed with leaving citizens with no means to defend themselves in such an extreme environment.

With that in mind, Congress should immediately begin work on a new federal law that allows possession of firearms for protection and for hunting/sport/etc.

It would be a huge mistake to simply round up all firearms and destroy them; there is truth in the old adage “when guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.” A new federal statute is needed to strike an appropriate balance between protection of both self and community. Ironing out the details of such a law would be a messy, extended battle, but in the end clearing up the issue for cities and states will help us put a lot of animosity and wasted effort behind us.

To conclude, the Second Amendment does not protect the individual’s right to own or possess firearms, and the Supreme Court would be justified in interpreting it that way.  If this is indeed the conclusion they reach, a federal law allowing possession should immediately follow to clarify and codify the de facto compromise agreement between pro- and anti-gun lobbies that exists today.

And now, on to world hunger…

Jeff

Jeff

It’s been 7 years but we still miss you lil’ bro.