How the NRA suckered its membership into financially supporting international arms dealing
Saturday July 28th 2012, 4:22 pm

The NRA is crowing about their influence after the UNODC was unable to get an international small arms trading treaty ratified. The NRA’s line to the rank-and-file membership is that this treaty would allow the UN to take guns out of the hands of US citizens. Yep, ‘Obama & the UN are comin’ fer yer gunnnnz- so give us money!’

Except they’re not.

But NRA supporting members’ dues certainly did pay for this NRA lobbying effort.

One little problem with the NRA’s claim; the 1957 landmark Supreme Court case Reid v Covert established that US treaties with foreign nations do not supersede the terms of the US Constitution. The treaty would have had no effect whatsoever on US citizens’ rights under the 2nd Amendment.

So, if there was no possibility for the treaty to interfere with 2nd Amendment rights, what was the NRA’s interest in this UN international small arms treaty?

US gun manufacturers and sellers most definitely have an interest in international trade- and the NRA is their peak lobbying body. The NRA were protecting gun rights- the rights to massive profits from international small arms sales.

But, the punters bought the NRA’s scare story. You see it over and over again on Twitter; ‘Oh yes, the NRA has SAVED our gun rights again!’

Except they didn’t.

Yet NRA members made NRA President Wayne La Pierre a millionaire again this year. You’d think the ever-passionate La Pierre would put some of his not inconsiderable wealth back into fighting the good fight, as it were… but he has never put in a penny.

Well played, NRA- and by that, I refer to the way the NRA played their membership like a cheap fiddle.


US presidential elections: The practical effect of voting your conscience
Sunday July 01st 2012, 9:39 am

The two-party US electoral system is rubbish. It does not afford minority representation as does a Parliamentary system. Voting for a 3rd party candidate in US presidential elections is, in the most generous of estimations, the same as not voting at all.

Some of Obama’s policies are morally indefensible, specifically the use of drones in Pakistan etc, where pretty much anyone killed beyond the predetermined targets is counted by the US military/CIA as an ‘enemy combatant’ anyway.  I’m no happier about this than any other progressive voter.

However, if one’s intent by voting for a mathematically unelectable yet progressive/left 3rd party candidate is to drive the political landscape further to the left than Obama, know that the practical effect of such a wasted 3rd party vote is a vote for Romney. Your ineffective protest vote simply puts Romney one vote closer to victory.

Romney is unlikely to change the drone usage policy- if anything, given how beholden Romney is to big money interests such as the military industrial complex, such a program will be stepped up.  It’s equally likely that Romney will follow his puppetmasters’ desires for more war in general, with boots on the ground, likely in Iran.  At that point, your 3rd-party vote not only didn’t support your idealistic aims, it will be directly responsible for even more death and destruction, but now including US armed forces personnel.

Further to that, there’s no small likelihood that there will be some US Supreme Court retirements during the next 4 years:

Justice Ginsburg, a stalwart of the court’s liberal bloc, has been treated for pancreatic cancer. Justice Antonin Scalia, the court’s most visible conservative, is 76. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, frequently the swing vote, is 75. And Justice Stephen G. Breyer, like Justice Ginsburg a Democratic appointee, is about to turn 74.

The median age for retirement of Supreme Court justices is 78.4 years.

When you consider the extremely narrow escape for the Affordable Care Act and the wrack and ruin of the US political landscape- the outright legitimisation of political corruption- wrought by the Citizens United decision on party lines by conservative SCOTUS appointees, the importance of as many as four potential Obama appointments to the top court cannot be understated.

Idealism is wonderful. You should be idealistic. However, you must consider the practical effect of your idealism, given the fetterment of the US electoral system. Your idealism may well have the precisely opposite effect to your intent- if not worse.