Articles by " adolce"
28 Mar
2011
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When the Second and Fourth Amendments Collide

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Interpreting this text, the Supreme Court of the United States held this Amendment provides the individual with the personal and fundamental right to bear arms subject to reasonable restrictions/regulation courtesy of the government (District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)). Thus, while a government may require a person clear a background check, get fingerprints, and register for the gun in question (to laypeople like me, “jumping through all the red tape”), it may not create a blanket prohibition against their purchase altogether.

Following the Tucson shooting, this decision the right it explained came under fire. Since Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot straight through the head by a deranged looney-toon, the argument followed, then surely gun laws in this country are too lax. If a 22-year old sociopath could get one, that is, then there’s something eerily wrong going on.

Now, this argument has always gone back and forth: the “guns don’t kill people; people kill people”-crowd measured against the “the only good gun, is a dead gun”-bevy. It’s amazing how these basic thoughts frame the big picture. A conservative with a healthy respect for the Second Amendment views the right to bear arms as a hefty responsibility. A liberal with a cynical view of the Second Amendment – “it was only crafted for use by a militia, and in America we don’t have militias anymore” – believes loose gun access only gives criminals an easier ability to commit their crimes. The former believe criminals will get guns regardless – as time and time again, a criminal typically uses an illegal gun in the commission of their felonies.

I personally think the greatest way to curb crime is to give responsible people easier access to guns. If I’m a criminal, I’m less likely to stick-up a person or break into a house if I have reason to believe the person or owner of that house is just as armed as me and justifiably dangerous. But consider something that generally gets lost in the debate on gun restrictions – the Fourth Amendment. Let’s assume guns are necessary for an orderly world (“walk softly, but carry a big stick”); that criminals will continually have access to these guns by virtue of the black market; and strict gun restrictions will apply to everyone while disproportionately affecting the common citizen. With these assumptions, if one curtailed the individual right to own and bear a firearm across the board, the Fourth Amendment would actually work as a catalyst to heightened criminal behavior.

To wit:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

This Amendment is the cornerstone of security in our homes and persons. It applies to all citizens, but is generally invoked in criminal contexts by defendants; for obvious reasons, of course. A person arrested is literally seized, and any evidence gathered against that person is also searched out and seized for use against them. The policy behind a judicial warrant is to make sure that person is protected against overzealous portions of the government and its propensity for abuse (as is its wont).

So here we are, in a hypothetical world where guns are flatly banned. They would still get manufactured, though; by our country or another. Assuming criminals – as criminals customarily use illegal means to get illegal ends in furtherance of even more illegal ends – still have access to these guns, the eradication of the Second Amendment would also require we curb the protections of the Fourth Amendment in order to be effective. If the only people who have access to guns would be criminals, it would take arbitrary searches to root out their gun possession before said guns were used. What good, after all, is a regulated gun after that gun is used in a robbery, attempt, or murder?

It would obviously take a more in-depth analysis how the Second Amendment and the Fourth Amendment interplay with each other. But it would be foolish to assume they don’t at all – particularly when there are debates occurring on the full use and right created by the former (and whether the use and right is appropriate).

11 Jan
2011
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A Personal Letter to Paul Krugman

You’re smart. I get it. New York gets it. Apparently, the New York Times also gets it since they let you publish, pretty much without reserve, anything you deem relevant. You did win a Nobel Memorial Prize in economics, and you did receive undergraduate and doctorate degrees from the nation’s most prestigious universities. You’ve also published boat-loads of books, articles, and theories. But wasn’t/isn’t your specialty trade theory and international finance? I’m curious how trade and finance, which I absolutely know has a political base to it, empowers you to advocate liberal policies and their byzantine governmental purity over us conservative troglodytes and our antiquated notions of a limited, constitutionally-backed republic. I guess I want that same gumption; I practice law, but have always wanted to diagnose Adult-onset Diabetes.

Anyway, in light of the Tucson tragedy and your superior economic pedigree, could you just for once shut your mouth? Just shut it. Maybe no one at the Times has the cajones to say it, but you’ve derailed magnificently. There is nary an article written by you that makes rational, coherent sense (objectively speaking; I’m sure you’re convinced. After all, as the great George Constanza once said: it’s not a lie if you really believe it). Stick to numbers. Finance. Anything. I don’t care. Do more cameo work on buddy-comedies like you did in Get Him to the Greek. Jonah Hill’s dad liked “your sh*t.” I’m sure more fictional characters will because, frankly – that is, hopefully, – very few, actual people do. I think I speak on behalf of all of America, with the exception of the Upper West Side, when I say you’re the smartest dumb person we know.

Let’s take, for example, your Op-Ed of January 9th entitled “Climate of Hate.” Following Jared Lee Loughner’s shooting of Rep. Giffords at a townhall-event in Tucson, AZ, you decided to draft a piece, a little over a day later, all but blaming right-wing conservatism for the assassination attempt and murdered corollaries. As if the person behind the shooting was a mere instrumentality in a greater, darker plot engineered by rhetoric, “vitriol” and “extremism.” Think of what a claim that is when considered in light of the facts as known: the shooter was deranged; he was young (22); his classmates described him as a “pothead,” a “liberal,” and “left-wing.” Yet you’re suggesting he took his marching orders from Fox; from Palin; from pretty-much anyone critical of leftist government. This is the equivalent of saying whales are better equipped for long-term hiking than meteors. Makes no sense. None whatsoever. You also seemed to have overlooked the most notable fact: that Loughner’s grudge against Giffords seemed to have been personal arising from an event in 2007. I’m not an economist or finance-guru, but I think 2007 comes before 2008 (which was the year Palin gained prominence). I’m open to counterarguments.

The truth is, and in spite of it all, it wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t so damn lacking in self-awareness. Day in and day out you pontificate this liberal hogwash, call it sugar, and get fumed when we don’t buy it all the while demanding civility whilst being uncivil. Then you name-call and label people like me homegrown extremists. God, at least be funny about it. I can be labeled a possible threat to the United States by Janet Napolitano; she makes me laugh with her Pete Rose-haircut. But you… there’s nothing funny about what or who you are.

And that’s the problem: you’re serious in your misrepresentations. I truly hope you believe them per Constanza. If not, you’re as irresponsible as they come. I guess I just wanted to say I don’t appreciate, as a conservative republican, being called an accessory to the murder of a federal judge, a child, the elderly, and to an attempted murderer of a politician.

Affectionately,

Adam

10 Jan
2011
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Murder by Rhetoric

It’s a terrible tragedy that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in cowardly fashion by a one Jared Lee Loughner (how quickly that middle name comes when you assassinate – or attempt to assassinate – public officials). There’s no doubt the Nation suffers when our political representatives are targeted for wanton and willful malfeasance. Yet no sooner than Rep. Giffords made it to the hospital, pundits and commentators alike were condemning the Tea Party, Right Wingers, and, particularly, Sarah Palin (she being the politician to “target” Giffords district in the last election cycle for a possible Republican upset). Apparently heated rhetoric can be the proximate impetus for murder. Goodbye, Brandenburg-standard. You had a good run, but apparently the bar for imminent lawless action just got a lot lower.

Here are the facts thus far (“thus far” used quite loosely since it’s been all of two days): a 22-year old kid (Loughner) – a loner with a deranged obsession with grammar, literacy, and making incomprehensive ramblings on YouTube) – showed up to Rep. Giffords’ event and starting opening fire on her and the crowd. A few people died; including a nine year old girl and federal judge. More were injured. Loughner’s now in custody and that’s… it. That’s all we know at this point.

So how does Sarah Palin and this Right Wing Conspiracy fit in? Apparently by superimposing a .jpg-“target” over Giffords’ district, mind you months ago, Sarah Palin indirectly (or, to some hopefuls, directly) caused Loughner to go on a killing spree. Combine this with the Glenn Beck(s), the Rush Limbaugh(s), the Tea Party rallying cries, the Second Amendment, and frustration over ObamaCare, and this kid’s psyche was obviously usurped and taken hostage by ganglion; red-hued tumors seeping of governmental mistrust fueled by hateful rhetoric.

As a member of said Tea Party, I take umbrage to the idea that I may have indirectly caused some whack-job to go on a killing spree. But here are some additional tidbits that I’d like to mention: his old classmates describe him as a “left wing radical.” I read in the Daily News he was a “left wing liberal.” I can’t put much stock in that, obviously, since the extent of his ramblings make it seem like he’s less inclined to have a black-and-white ideological baseline. But if he even has an inkling of a left wing-proclivity as his peers suggest he does, then this would be the first time in the history of political crime a liberal was incited to violence by right wing rhetoric… towards a fellow liberal!. It evokes Nancy Pelosi saying the Rebuke of 2010’s midterm elections was actually a referendum on [the] President… Bush. Makes no sense, but people are inclined to believe Big Lies as Hitler once suggested.

The good news is Loughner is still alive (the better news: so is Giffords). Right now, he’s “uncooperative.” I have a feeling that will change in the weeks and months to come. However, the portrait we now have is one of derangement – plain and simple. Let the Nation mourn a tragedy; to rush to [misplaced] blame is a fool’s errand that may arise to a level of slander and/or libel. I’m looking at you, Olbermann.

Lastly: do you think if Loughner were a Muslim man, the media response would essentially center on “let’s not rush to any conclusions – big or small?” In light of this and the Ft. Hood Shooting, it’s a fair question.

3 Jan
2011
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In a New York State of Snow

Hailing from Buffalo, I am accustomed to snow. Plain and simple. When City Slickers cry over inches, Upstate New Yorkers growl over feet. Then we shovel. And shovel. A plow would eventually come, and all would be right in the world. So when twenty inches were set to fall – now known as the fifth biggest snowfall New York City has ever seen – I didn’t give it two thoughts. I think my childhood in Buffalo solidified this [now mistaken] belief that sanitation crews do, you know, their jobs.

Oh, how I was wrong. New York City was a *snow*-show for a whole week. I was out the night the blizzard hit. It wasn’t until 230AM that Monday morning – when the storm was at its peak – that I discovered the horror. For starters, I made the mistake of driving my car to Greenwich Village. Little did I know that my car would be buried up to the windows with plow-compacted snow. By “plow-compacted,” I’m referring to snow that is so tightly packed it’s practically impossible to shovel off.

No gloves. No scarf. Nary a cloth to protect me but a hat, I endeavored to dig my car out and make it back to my apartment in Queens. I think I assumed that if I could release my car from the White Terror, and get on the road, that the BQE would be clear and somehow, someway, I would be able to park my car safely on a street in Astoria.

Taking about an hour – which, during the time, plows kept coming and I had to make a stand, Tiananmen Square-style, to divert the plows around my car – I had time to watch the City’s [read: government’s] response to a blizzard everyone knew was coming. For starters, plows were getting stuck on their own accord. Fire trucks were barely moving. One plowman, noticing I was digging out my car, stopped and asked if I needed to leave. “Yes,” obviously. He said he’d be right back to help. Guess Reagan was right with his nine words of caution… except that guy never came back.

By the time I was on the road, and cars were in gridlock from SoHo to the LES (and, presumably, everywhere else), I started noticing just how terrible the response was. I mean – terrible. It was like the Wild West. No one knew what was going on; cars were going everywhere (yours truly, included), and all the while the *help* became the helpless. I am not exaggerating when I say I saw more plows and fire trucks stuck than pedestrian cars. I even came across a car fully engulfed in flames. No idea how it happened, but I half-expected Kurt Russell to run-by me with an eye patch on, getting his Escape on.

I finally made it home by 530AM. I abandoned my car in TriBeCa and caught the last train out. Looking back, I don’t think I had it as bad as some (seven hours on an A-train?!). But then, I also didn’t plan on waiting for a plow/fire truck/Bloomberg to save me either. Which brings me to my point-

This storm revealed two major cultural and political truths that have been as self-evident since the dawn of social contracts and the term “self-evident.” First, governments are great about planning but terrible about implementing. They hold hearings. They call meetings. They use their bully pulpits and power to make all sorts of points and policy proposals. But throw them in a crisis – a Katrina; a BP-spill; a Blizzard – and you see firsthand that all bets are off. It was a private citizen that stopped the Underwear Bomber… that downed United 93… that alerted the authorities to the Times Square Bomber… that dug out most people/themselves following the latest snowfall. And yet, in times of crises many insist “regulation” is the answer. Which, when dissected, just means more red tape and more bureaucracy. So they plan, and plan, and plan… and plan. And then issue rules and regulations. Which would be great, honestly, if these rules and regs were strictly derived from the core functions of the governmental agency in question. Say, for example, plowing a street as a core function of the Department of Sanitation so, as a rule, cars should not be parked on main streets the night a storm occurs. Instead, we get citywide bike lanes for the six bicyclists that live in the five boroughs.

And number two: people will literally die waiting for the government. I saw people sitting in their cars waiting for plows to clear the streets. People complained at the Mayor’s Office that the plows didn’t even broach their neighborhoods (which they weren’t (and it’s shameful, if true, that many union plows were directed to avoid neighborhoods to send a message to the Mayor)). I personally shoveled my way out of my predicament. Many on my street did as well. Hell, James Gandolfini helped out cars in the West Village for crying out loud. On subways, people waited hours for trains that never came. Many got stuck on trains that never moved. Except my friend Manuel, that is. Manuel left work at midnight, and waited two and a half hours for a 1-train. It never came. He walked from 4th street in the Village to 149th street. In the blizzard. It took him two and a half hours, but he did it.

He didn’t wait for someone to help him – least of all, the New York City government.

17 Dec
2010
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The Problem with the Tax Cut Package

Is simple: the added debt. Tax cuts sound great, but if they’re being off-set by additional debt (i.e. not spending cuts), then what’s the point? We’re extending unemployment… again!? People can now list Unemployed as an intermediate career they’ve been on it so long. Just saying.