Another 5-4 Ruling in Favor of Handguns

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that a law banning handguns in Chicago is unconstitutional.  Homeowners in McDonald v. Chicago want to be able to keep a handgun in their homes as a means of self-defense and assert this as a right guaranteed under the second amendment and protected or incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment.   The ban originally enacted 28 years ago has done little to control gun violence in the windy city.  People do not feel safe and want to pack some compact household heat.

The second amendment says nothing about the right of an individual to use a handgun for self-defense.  Nor does it imply that an individual has the right to pack any heat at all.  Rather, it gives the states the right to form a well-regulated militia to protect its citizens.  We can see this in state defense forces and in modern times our local and state police forces.  Here is the actual text:

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.

Lifting the ban means more handguns will be in circulation in ChiTown which in my view makes the city even more dangerous.  If I were a Chicagoan, I would challenge the ruling on the basis that allowing and thus encouraging people to possess concealed weapons is a threat to life, liberty and property.

It is important to note that the ban was never a ban on arms.  Folks in Chicago have always been able to keep a registered shotgun or rifle in the house, as long as it is out of the reach of a minor.

A firearm is not the only means of self-protection.  A good alarm system can bring piece of mind and security.  911 works too, and with a cellphone, you can remain in contact with the authorities.  A text message can quietly provide details.  Record it.  Put up a sign saying house under constant video surveillance.  A fearful granny could sleep alongside an ax.  An aluminum baseball bat packs a punch.  And one of the best deterrents I know is a barking dog.

I do not adhere to a strict interpretation of the constitution based on what the founders were thinking.  I believe the constitution should evolve and be applied reasonably to address modern societal issues.   I think law abiding adults should have a right to own a registered gun for lawful purposes.  But I also believe the states and municipalities have a fundamental obligation to try local solutions to keep their citizens safe.  I don’t believe a federal ruling should trump a local approach to a unique urban problem.  It is true that gun violence is on the rise in Chicago, but with this SCOTUS ruling which surely delights members of the NRA, the powerful gun lobby, I expect gun violence to skyrocket.

All South American Final

I was rooting for Chile against Brazil, and thought they might have a chance.  Brazil had shown some vulnerabilities in the tournament.  In the last game of first round action in Group G, Portugal played them to a scoreless tie.  A scoreless tie!  But against Chile, Brasil looked invincible, like a team out to show the world that they are the ones to beat.  Posting a 3-0 win against a tough and talented Chilean team, Brasil looks ready to take on the Dutch and the world.  But they just might not have to take on the world if things roll a certain way.  They may only have to take on their neighbor, Argentina in an all South American final.  I’d like very much to see that happen.

Kagan Not The People’s Choice

I’m not the biggest Elena Kagan supporter.  I don’t know why the President didn’t nominate a more progressive voice.  He could have.  There were a number of other candidates I’d have preferred over Kagan – Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Sydney Thomas, Diane Wood.  And wouldn’t it be interesting, and highly entertaining if he had picked someone like Sean Penn, or Sean P. Diddy Combs?  Could you imagine the confirmation hearings?

My biggest problem is not the elitism argument, though I’d have preferred a man or woman of the people, a public school graduate, someone like a Judge Sydney Thomas of Montana.  There’s more to diversity than gender or skin color.  And I  don’t think the candidate has to have judicial experience to be a good judge.  Just because you’ve been one, doesn’t make you a good one.  And to use the experience argument is flawed because no candidate who has ever been put up had ever served  as a U.S. Supreme Court justice before.

My biggest problem with Kagan is that she may be too moderate, and that’s not what we need on the court at this moment in time.  I’m for balance, but a moderate is never progressive and being in the middle with little influence over the conservative ideologues would led to 6-3 rulings.   And that is a scary proposition.  Chock another one up for corporate America and the gun lobby.

Constantly touting the founding fathers, the zealots on the court are out of touch with twenty-first century America.  I’ve got news for them:  the founders are dead and they put into place a living document, not one forever fixed in time.  The Supreme Court needs to wake up and evolve with society, like the founders intended.  Or could it be that the 4 reactionaries on the court don’t believe in evolution?

Soccer Needs PA Music

When I saw President Clinton and Mick Jagger at the US Ghana match I got an idea about how to spice up soccer/football/futbol at the World Cup.  By now, everyone is surely tired of blowing on the vuvuzela.  In the last few games I’ve watched, I haven’t heard that frenetic buzzing sound as much.  Maybe ABC has figured out a way to filter out the drone of the plastic Dr. Seuss like trumpets.  What the game needs is a PA system to blast music.  This sounds ridiculous, I know, but HEAR me out.

Seeing President Clinton brought to mind his 1992 campaign song, Don’t Stop, the classic Fleetwood Mac hit from 1977.  I was thinking, a PA system could have blared the song when team USA had the ball in the second half, trying to come back from a 2-1 deficit against the mighty upstart squad from Ghana.

And seeing Mick again in the stands during the knockout match between England and Germany, I’d have liked to have heard the Stones tune, Start Me Up when Germany was up 3-1 to get the Brits back on track.

This would also serve the purpose of drowning at the droning vuvuzelas. So here’s how it would work.  Each team would select about 10 songs that could be played at various stages of any match.  Let’s say a song for when the match is tied, one for when the team is behind, one for when it is way behind, one for when it is ahead and so on.

For example, with a 3 goal lead, Germany could have played something from the Brandenburg Concertos, an airy piece fit for a merry stroll in the park.  When tied, they might chose a Dokken tune (wait, they aren’t German), ok, let’s say a Scorpions’ tune.  And when team Germany wants to rub it in, say it’s near the final seconds and their opponents are 2 or more down, they could play 99 Luftballons.

Moribund World Cup Broadcast in English

The English speaking broadcast of the World Cup match between England and Germany was like listening to a golf match.  They whispered.  It was Ian something or other, a monotone, crestfallen Brit, who sounded suicidal after Germany’s 4th goal.   I had no particular interest in the outcome, but I myself was becoming disturbingly depressed and nearly fell asleep at the 60 minute mark so I had to find the Spanish speaking broadcast to wake me up so that I could really fully appreciate the spirit of the game.   GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!

Team USA Ran Out of Gas

It’s all over for team USA in the 2010 World Cup.  They had a good run, playing England to a tie, winning their group and advancing to the knockout round, where they fell to a young Ghanian team…again, 2-1.  The match was statistically close, but Ghana seemed to play with confidence, especially after the German born midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng scored right off the bat in the 5th minute.  That goal came on a mistake, akin to an interception in American football where the defensive back runs it back for a score.   The U.S. eventually tied the game to send it into overtime, but were burned again early after another miscue and just didn’t have the energy or the legs left to answer.

The U.S. may have had the better team.  They had the experience, lots of momentum and confidence, the best goal keeper and a prolific scorer in Landon Donovan, but they played sloppily with heavy legs.  Ghana on the other hand looked fresh, controlled the ball with crisp and precise passing and used their speed and keen anticipation to take advantage of every U.S. miscue.  And they had the home field advantage, and will have it from here on in as the last African team standing.  There was a lot riding on the game for Ghana and they rose to the occasion.  They will face Uruguay in the Quarterfinals.  If I were an Uruguayan player,  I’d be worried.

Of BP, Yachts and Moratoriums

I know I’m a little late on all this, but a federal judge ruled to overturn Obama’s deep water drilling moratorium.  Don’t we ever learn? (BTW, Don’t You Ever Learn? is one of my favorite Todd Rundgren songs).  And Obama was accused of a BP shakedown.  Surprisingly there are a number of BP supporters out there; BP’s Heyward vacations on the Isle of Wight to watch his yacht race (presumably to get his life back) and was scheduled to give a keynote at an oil conference on big oil responsibilities.  He cancelled but sent an underling to give the speech in his place.  What the…..

No Wins for the English Speaking

Did you know that English speaking countries have yet to win a game in the World Cup?  England, team USA, New Zealand and Australia are a combined 0-1-7.   By contrast, South American teams are undefeated going 10-0-2.  Already Uruguay and Argentina have made it to the second round.  Add in Mexico, and 3 of the 4 teams that have advanced so far are from Latin America.

South Africa at Free State Stadium

It will be a big day for the host nation today in World Cup action.  France is desperate for a win against South Africa to keep a sliver of hope alive in Group A, but will struggle against the host nation at Free State Stadium.  The French will blame the loss on the mighty vuvuzela.  South Africa has a chance to advance, but they’d need to shut out France and score something like 7 goals in the game, certainly not unprecedented if you’ve been paying attention lately.

Nigeria would like nothing more than to post their first win of the tournament.  If Greece loses decisively to Argentina, Nigeria could advance in Group B with a convincing win over South Korea, like Portugal’s win over North Korea.

So far, Latin America teams have dominated the tournament going 9-2-3, the highest winning percentage of any delegation.  Honduras is responsible for both losses.  European teams are 10-8-8.  These results are somewhat misleading though because in some groups Latin American teams have faced off (Chile v Honduras and Mexico and Uruguay today) and European teams have competed against one another as well (Holland v Denmark; Spain and Switzerland and later Slovenia v England).  That said, winning percentage is a good marker of dominance and to date, Latin America takes the prize.

US Open Put-Put at Pebbles Beach

That golf course at Pebble Beach is messed up.  It should be renamed Pebbles Beach of Flintstone fame.   I half expected Dino and Fred to emerge in a golf cart. The thing is like a put-put course, with weird slopes, moldy greens of astroturf and quirky hole placements.  The professional amateurs they had out there prior to the final round – remember, Gretsky, Drew Brees and Danny Wahlberg – were goofing around shooting quadruple bogeys, having fun, as if the course were some sort of mini-golf tourist attraction near a strip of motels.

I have some ideas to spruce up the course for the next U.S. open at Pebbles Beach.  Make each hole a tribute to some of the home countries and states of the qualifiers.  Build a giant wine bottle on its side for the Argentine Angel Cabrera.  You have to roll the ball into the lip of the bottle.  If you break the bottle on your first shot, it’s like a hole in one.  For the Spaniard Sergio Garcia, build a giant raging bull with an open mouth.  For South African Ernie Els, I suggest a diamond mine replica.  And I propose a fiberglass whale from SeaWorld for the native of San Diego, Phil Mickelson.  Players would have to hit the ball into the blow hole on the fly.

Fun for the players, fun for the whole family.  And TV ratings would be off the charts!