17 August 2005

Tell Cindy Sheehan to Go Home

While soldiers in Iraq are putting their lives at risk, terrorists plan attacks against soldiers and civilians alike, and Iraqi politicians work hard to put the finishing touches on an Iraqi constitution, one woman from California has decided to camp outside president Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. She wants to meet with the president. Never mind that the federal government employs a number of well-trained individuals—known as the Secret Service—to keep uninvited guests away from the president and arrest them if necessary.

You would think that for all the media attention that has been diverted away from real news and instead focused on Cindy Sheehan, 48, that this woman has something very important to say to the president. The righteous anger in the tone of both Mrs. Sheehan and the media who cover her ill-advised camp out in the blazing Texas heat suggests that Mr. Bush’s refusal to talk to her amounts to a major diplomatic snub that will cause World War III to break out. A sickeningly biased article in the New York Times on Saturday (August 13, 2005) suggested as much. The president’s refusal to talk to Mrs. Sheeehan was presented as an inexplicable and callous neglect of duty.

So, why should Mr. Bush find time during his busy schedule to talk to Mrs. Sheehan? What important information that he has not received from his advisers—you know, people who run such quaint institutions as the Department of Defense and Homeland Security—does Mrs. Sheehan have that is so important for the country’s Iraq policy?

The answer is, of course, nothing.

Let’s not mince any words. Cindy Sheehan is just a crazy 48-year old, Left Coast woman who lost it mentally when her son got killed in Iraq. She has my sympathies. I hope she will soon give up this insane idea that the universe revolves around her and her grief. The same New York Times article by Anne Kornblut also mentioned that her marriage and her family are falling apart—not because of the death of her son, for which she blames the president, but because she has gone nuts and is stalking the president of the United States.

The scary thing is that the way this situation has been handled is symptomatic of the left’s view of Bush policy. While I make no secret out of the fact that I, too, disagree with Mr. Bush on many policy decisions, there is one important difference between my disagreement and that of the leftist politicians and media outlets. I disagree with Mr. Bush because I think he has made wrong decisions. They disagree with Mr. Bush because they think he is mentally deranged. It must be a frightening experience to wake up in their America every day, knowing that a man who talks to God has the nuclear button in his possession.

How else can you explain the enormous media attention for Cindy Sheehan’s crazy camp out? She could not be any crazier if she were wearing her underwear on her head and insisted on being addressed as ‘the emperor Napoleon.’ If this had not been about a war—and if we had had a different president, I suspect—there would be no cameras, no journalists, no attention. At some point, there would have been a few marked cars, an ambulance, and a few men in white coats. Mrs. Sheehan would have been quietly carted away to the nearest looney bin. But, hey, this is great Bush-bashing material, so let’s put some cameras and some lights on this woman!

It’s sickening and it’s pathetic. Mr. Bush should not, under any circumstances, meet with this woman. The president has appointed professionals to advise him on policy, who may or may not make mistakes. But he certainly does not need to have weekly town hall meetings to take pointers from Mrs. Baker, housewife, from Centerville, East Dakota, Mr. Kurtz, plumber, from Average City, North Virginia and the retired Easterman twins from Knowitall Rapids in North Florida, on everything ranging from the running of the National Reserve to military strategy in the greater Kirkuk conglomeration. Hello, wake up! He is the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. He doesn’t meet with just anyone who rings the doorbell. He is, like, kinda busy running the country right now!

Get over it, already and tell Cindy Sheehan to go home. There are elections in three years. Feel free to vote for Hilary. Until then, George W. Bush will be president. Thank you, and good riddance.

01 August 2005

The Troubling Adoration of The Second Amendment

Another last-minute decision by the Senate was to pass a bill that essentially gives immunity from law suits to gun sellers and gun manufacturers (Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (S.397)). Conservatives would add “frivolous” before the term “law suits” since they argue that those who legally and innocently sell a product that is protected under the Second Amendment should not be held accountable for what wicked, evil people do with their products.

Well, I agree. There is nothing inherently immoral about producing guns. In this fallen world there will be violence and people have a right to defend themselves. What is more, John Jay, writing in The Federalist, argued that “[a]mong the many objects to which a wise and free people find it necessary to direct their attention, that of providing for their safety seems to be the first” (essay no. 3). His essay included both foreign and domestic violence as threats to this safety and argues that it ought to be the prime responsibility of a unified state to guards its citizens against them. Thus, weapons are a necessary tool in defending the safety of the state.

It would be easy to laugh off the red-faced tirade of the senior senator from Massachussetts against Republican plans to pass this legislation as another looney liberal, anti-gun craze. But unfortunately, Mr. Kennedy is right on this issue. The legislation that was passed does “lock the courthouse doors to gun violence victims,” as president of the anti-gun Brady Campaign warned. Perhaps not all doors, but many are now locked.

So, how do we reconcile these two viewpoints? How can one hold that self-defense and defense of innocent citizens is a valid right while at the same time holding that it is unconscionable to exempt gun makers and sellers from lawsuits?

But look at the reasoning there. The allegation that such reasoning is contradictory is based on the premise that gun makers and sellers are somehow not a normal industry but are immune to all kinds of corruption and deviousness. The legislation the Senate passed declares not so much—as Republicans wanted us to believe—that this protects good and honest businesses from “politically motivated predatory lawsuits,” as the NRA put it, but rather that gun makers and sellers are canonized as saints and cannot be touched by almost any lawsuit. It preempts nearly all judgments by judges and juries by declaring the entire industry innocent of any charges that could possibly be lodged against them.

Now it is true, that lawsuits can stil be brought against gun manufacturers and gun sellers, but the burden of proof has now become so onerous that hardly any civilian will be able to avail himself of the legal expertise to meet that burden. In other words, the game is now rigged to such an extent that the gun industry is almost certain to win. Even if the actual words of the legislation allow for an escape hatch, that escape hatch only leads into a blind wall.

For that reason, we must agree—as much as it annoys me—with Senator Kennedy. He alleged that this legislation is nothing but a huge pay-off to the NRA. In essence, he claimed, the NRA are in control of the country. He is probably right. While no-one should ever dare to claim that citizens do not have the right to defend themselves, America’s religious adoration of the Second Amendment has made the country complacent about gun safety and responsible use of guns.

If the Founders had only seen fit to phrase the Second Amendment in terms of “the right to defend oneself” rather than a blanket approval to “bear arms,” we would still have had reasonable legislation defending the rights of good and innocent citizens while there could not have been a gun crazy NRA. Surely, you do not believe the NRA backs this kind of legislation for any reason except that it rakes in the cash from the sale and manufacture of guns, do you?