Thursday, 20 December 2012

Season Greetings (Conditional!)

IF the Maya were wrong

AND Time does NOT stop after the 21st of December

THEN we wish you all a Merry Christmas 
and a Happy, Prosperous 2013 !



Alfred B. Mittington

Brian Whelan: The Three Magi

In the unlikely case that the world does continue, 
Metis Meets Mittington 
will be back in the first week of January.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Second Thoughts on the Second Amendment

Metis Meets Mittington is not supposed to turn into one of those tiresome Polemic Blogfields, of which there are already too many, with too many participants, and too much waste of good pixels. Nevertheless, I will for once make an exception, and add some comments and thoughts to the running discussion on gun control that has surged over the last few days in the wake of the Connecticut shooting, simply because the subject is so very serious. And I propose to do so in the most respectful manner possible towards all sides, simply so as not to antagonise or provoke anybody into harsher, more unrelenting positions.

Let me make a thing or two clear from the start. I am not an American citizen. I no longer reside in the USA. As such, my opinion on such matters counts for little, and must be understood merely as the thoughts of a well-educated member of the human race, gifted with a goodly bit of common sense and a large experience in life.

Let me make another thing clear right away. Like any superpower nation, America, and the Americans, have their faults and their weaknesses; faults and weaknesses which are inevitably inflated and made worse by being on top in the geopolitical reality. Nevertheless, the place is a functioning democracy with a solid base. And I wish to make clear, from the very start, that I have the highest regard for the American Constitution, which – much as it is imperfect as anything that Man makes – has done an admirable job over the last two hundred and thirty-four years.

Does this imply, however, that I squarely support the Second Amendment, which forbids the government to stop its citizens from bearing arms? Well, yes and no. As long as it is in place, and interpreted the way it is presently being interpreted, one must, when in America, abide with it. But constitutional law is not wholly writ in granite, dear reader. An amendment, and – yes – even an original article, may be changed or repealed; as was done in the case of the amendment forbidding the drinking of alcohol, for instance, and in case of the shameful article which counted Afro-Americans as only 3/5 of a human being (when allotting seats to Congress) and as unworthy of the vote at all (in the electoral rules).

Would there be a reason to change or repeal the Second Amendment? Well: it is my firm opinion that there is certainly reason to update it, to bring it better in line with the changed reality in the USA today. Let us be frank. What, do you think, would fellows like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Ben Franklin, to name but a few of the ‘Gods’, think if they were to return to the USA today? Don’t you think they’d be aghast at the spectacle of disturbed citizens shooting up kindergartens, schools, movie-houses and hospital waiting rooms with sub-machine guns bought in a local drug store on the corner? And would they not be shocked to see that half the nation is willing to condone and accept such massacres, in the name of constitutional rights? If you answer this question in the negative, I wonder if you understand the nature and character of your own admirable Founding Fathers, who were not only great thinkers, but men of deep feeling and common sense.

What exactly does the Second Amendment stipulate? Well, it says this:

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

That text is pretty clear as to the plain intention of the authors. It does not say: anybody has the right to possess any sort of weaponry he fancies, to do with as he pleases, for fun or self-defense or intimidating his neighbors, or – even – to defend himself, his family, and the rest of the community, against the evil hordes who soon will invade suburbia. It speaks clearly of the intention to maintain a ‘well regulated militia’, i.e. a military force consisting of the free citizens of the country, with a stake in the survival of the state, able and willing to stand up to foreign invaders. That, and that only, was the intention of this amendment.  

The inspiration for this was, of course, the American Revolution, in which those same Free Citizens stood up against the standing army of England sent to subdue them and bring them back into the colonial fold. America, dear reader, was something new in the 18th century. It was a country run by Burghers, by commoners, by folk like you and I. And this was the essence of the thing. In the old continent, ever since medieval times, commoners were forbidden to bear arms, which was a privilege of the nobility, meant to guarantee aristocratic hegemony. The Second Amendment clearly meant to break ruthlessly with the vestiges of that tradition. This made plain sense. It was what the times demanded, for the survival of the nation.

But do modern times still demand the same thing? Hmmm… Not really. Let us face it once again. The world, and America, have changed. Today, what is left of a Militia in the States plays a very minor role. National defense no longer depends upon it. America now has its own professional, standing army. And weapons have changed considerably. What the founding father envisioned was the honest citizen or pioneer, with a one-shot musket or rifle, mounted, at the most, with a bayonet. They certainly were not thinking of rapid-fire weapons that kill dozens of people in a matter of seconds, in the hands of any disturbed adolescent.

Why are these modern weapons allowed today? Only because of a most arbitrary criterion, dear reader. For, as I explained in my last posting, in a somewhat sarcastic manner: one might as well accept that ICBM rockets or battle tanks are weapons whose possession ‘shall not be infringed’. However, I have no doubt that no judge anywhere in the US would uphold that right; and I have no doubt that even the Supreme Court would rule that he was right to forbid private possession of nuclear warheads. Ecco: there are weapons whose possession, even under this constitutional amendment, the state may indeed ‘infringe’. And that is legal precedent. It opens the door to a stricter interpretation. One that forbids all assault weapons, all automatic and semi-automatic guns. Everything, in fact, more powerful or destructive than a handgun or a hunting rifle.

I still had some other thoughts I wanted to elaborate on, but this post is already long enough and time is short before I set out for my yearly Christmas destination off Madagascar. So let me just close this discourse with a simple reasoning which I hope you will all consider:

A madman with his bare hands, may kill one person. A madman with a knife may kill three. And a madman with a gun kills dozens of people before he can be stopped. Yes: it is people who kill people. But a person with a gun kills many more people than a person without one.

My apologies for a lengthy, and awfully earnest, post. And Peace On Earth to you all!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Guns don't kill people!

For in your back yard...

Mr Obama – that famously fellow-travelling card-carrying PC pink idealist – is contemplating perverse action in the wake of yesterday’s Connecticut shoot-out. You can just see it in his eyes. He is dreaming of Gun Controls, dear reader, and of limiting, if not revoking (imagine!) the constitutional right of carrying arms. As if the near infallible Founding Fathers had never consciously written and approved the Second Amendment!

I am shocked, dear reader, by such audacity. Does not this gentleman know that ‘Guns do not kill people’? People kill people, dear reader!

Guns also do not kill children. Children kill children.

It would therefore be a travesty of law to forbid people to buy, own or use (in a pacific way) handguns, shotguns and semi-automatic weapons. As a matter of fact, there is no reason to prohibit them to buy, own and put to good use (in a pacific manner, naturally) other weaponry either. Because, is it not a Truth Writ In Stone that

Hand grenades do not kill people…. People kill people!

M1 Abrams Tanks do not kill people… People kill people!

ICBM nuclear rockets do not kill people… People kill people!

Weapons of Mass Destruction do not-…  But must I go on, dear reader?? No, surely you have by now gotten the point, and I have no doubt that you agree with me, the National Rifle Association and the Military Industrial Complex that ALL weaponry falls under the Constitutional Freedoms of the American Constitution, and should therefore be freely available to all citizens. To buy, own, use and ENJOY!

In a pacific manner, naturally…

Alfred ‘the Patriot’ Mittington.

Friday, 14 December 2012

A splendid sense of humor

Say, do you know Mr Olli Rehn, a.k. in the corridors of Brussels Power as ‘All I Reign’? (1) No? Well, you really ought to take a look at him if you happen to be European. For this imperturbable, soft-spoken Finnish gentleman is probably the most powerful man on the old continent today. He is the Budget Czar of the European Commission, who wields unlimited power to make or break national budgets approved by (supposedly) sovereign, elected parliaments. A man whose ‘recommendations’ are in fact obligations to member states, whose subtlest hints must be understood as the iron diktats of an Oriental Pasha in Brussels garb.

The remarkable thing about Mr Rehn is that he has, in his humble, undercooled Finnish manner, a splendid sense of humour (and I say this, for once, without a trace of irony). It is a sight to see. For Mr Rehn cracks these jokes with an alabaster poker face, and then leaves it to the listener to discover that a joke has actually been made. No fanfare here, no trumpets or the rolling of drums to announce the stand-up comedy. No: just a quietly spoken wisecrack that hits home To Whom It May Concern.

Thus, the other day, he qualified the buying up of Spanish government bonds by the EMS as  ‘financial paracetamol’. Which is indeed precisely what it is: it alleviates the pain, but the disease is nowhere near cured by popping such pills. Chapeau, Mr Rehn! An excellent find!  

Another one, only recognizable to insiders, is his insistence, time and time again, that ‘the Stability Pact is NOT stupid’. Why this somewhat silly choice of words, more apt for a schoolgirl than a Super-Commissar? Would it not be better to say something like ‘It is not Ill-conceived’, ‘It is not Inefficient’, or more formal phrases of that kind? Well, yes, it would; but Mr Rehn uses this precise wording, because the remark thus formulated takes a neat little pot-shot at no one less than Mr Romano Prodi, the president of the Eurocommission back in the early days of the Euro, who barely a year into the common currency, declared – with all the dignity worthy of his high office – that ‘The Stability Pact is Stupid!’ Which was the signal for Germany and France to toss all the agreed rules about budget discipline and fiscal responsibility out the window, and start the happy-go-lucky spending, lending and bubble blowing which brought Europe to the catastrophe in which we find ourselves today

Now with a fellow like that, I guess the innocent observer must always be on his guard. When he makes a statement, is he being serious or not? The other day I frankly did not know what to think. For Mr Rehn observed, in public and for all to hear in the Financial Times Deutschland of 6 December, that The Worst Is Over For The Eurozone. The Crisis, he explained, reached its deepest dell last June, around the time of the Greek elections. But today, we see the reverse trend, and there are good reasons for optimism…

Now, I feel no shame to admit that Mr Rehn knows far more of finance than I do and surely he has much better information available. So that may be why he sees fresh green shoots where I only perceive a scorched wasteland burning below the topsoil. And I will gladly believe him it he says things are looking up, but would it not be a good idea, I wonder, in these uncertain nervous times, full of violence and despair, to explain WHY he thinks Europe is climbing out the mire? You see, otherwise the average man in the street - like me for instance - might get a totally wrong impression from the news items he encounters daily in the press and the media, based on the opinions of other rather well prepared individuals and institutions.

Since most of my readers are as allergic to numbers and averse to statistics, I will not include my examples here, but will put them in an Appendix to this text tomorrow, for the few courageous readers among you. But let me just say this: all over Europe, industrial output, building activity, car sales, investments, consumer spending and consumer confidence, are DOWN. Down on their scraped knees, as a matter of fact. Growth is nowhere in sight. Contraction of GDP has come in its place. Bankruptcies are ever more frequent. Unemployment is at all time highs, and still growing every month. Jobs are quickly disappearing, due to austerity. They are not being created at all. Ever more people are living below the poverty line. Many folks, unable to make ends meet, are selling off family property and heirloom jewels so as to survive; they are planting kitchen gardens, shun study, sell cars, and sometimes even economise on clothing and food.

And the famous recovery which throughout the last four years we were promised time and time again was only 9 months away, is strangely, this time said to be…. nine months away! The light at the end of the tunnel is receding as fast as we approach! Einstein could have made something cute of this Relativity Train.

Europe, in short, is dying a slow death, dear reader. And – if you ask me – the worst is not behind us, but still to come. Let us hope I am shockingly wrong…

As I said: Mr Rehn has a fine sense of humour. And I guess his assurance that The Worst Is Behind Us, is but another example of that exquisite comical soap opera that Brussels performs for us every day now.

If you won’t take my words for it, but dare to set your teeth into an even bleaker picture and a harder read: click here to see one of the latest articles by good old Ambrose E.-P.

(1) Finnish names are of course a complete enigma to any observer who comes to the language from a normal, boring, run-of-the-mill Indo-Germanic background. (One of its Prime Ministers was called Juho Kusti Paasikivi, for crying out loud! Another signed Pehr Evind Svinhufvud! There is a preacher listening to the name Ruotsalainen, and the roll call knows Kyösti’s and Väinö’s and Jäätteenmaki’s and if anybody knows how these Scrabble phantasmagorias are pronounced, I’ll give him a bloody medal!) Having done some homework, however, I must reject in the sharpest terms the suggestion made by the Spanish philosopher Hermenegildo Cabeza de Vaca on his blog of November 31st last, that Mr Rehn’s first name would be short for ‘Oligarchies’. Even Finnish Non Est THAT Omen!