Monday, April 28, 2014

Elisabeth Warren

Calvert City, KC – In 2012, the favored person to win the Massachusetts Senate Seat was the incumbent, Scott Brown. He lost to a figure who had not been heard from before on a large scale in the public forum at this level.
Elisabeth Warren, a former college professor with some argument about her claiming Native-American Heritage from some, became the first female senator ever from the state of Kennedy. She won with just over 53% of the total vote.
Her first bill would have allowed students to borrow money from the federal government at the same rate as the banks do, saying that students should get the same bill. She had run on a platform that included attacks on Wall Street CEOs, saying they had wrecked the economy,
According to the Washington Times, she seemed to suggest at one hearing that, due to the rise of worker’s productivity over the years, the minimum wage should be at least $22 per hour. She then said at least 10.10 would be doable.
There has been, in recent months, interest in her running for the presidency. Although she said she is not running right now, she has not said she will not run at some point in the future. According to some she is more liberal than Hillary Clinton, which is saying something. Some have even suggested she may need to run to rally the more liberal Democrats.
Andrew C. Abbott

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Washington D.C v. Heller

In 1976, the District of Columbia City Council passed the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, banning residents from owning handguns, among other types of guns, and also demanding that all guns kept in the home be "unloaded, disassembled, or bound by a trigger lock or similar device.”
In 2,002, Robert Levy, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute decided to challenge the laws, and found six plaintiffs willing to do so. They included a women who was a former nurse, and who worked against drugs, attempts had been made to break into her house on numerous occasions. Also another man who had once been accosted by a gang of about 20, but when he pulled out his handgun, they ran. Another plaintiff was Dick Heller, who as a security guard carried a gun, but could not have one at home.
The District Judge dismissed the lawsuit, but the appellate court was willing to reverse that dismissal. They stated that some of the regulations of the law were unconstitutional, but they were questioned as to whether the six plaintiffs had the standing to sue. Of the six, only Heller, who had actually applied for a license, and been denied, was ruled to have standing to sue the law.
The dissenter in the case for the appellate court claimed that the District of Columbia was not a state, and that, as the second amendment to the constitution states being necessary to the security of a free “state” the law was constitutional.
The city of Washington DC then appealed their case, having lost to Heller in the lower courts, to the Supreme Court. The case became a national debate, with Dick Cheney joining in. As well as current candidate for the governorship of Texas, Greg Abbott.
The court released its decision as District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008). The dissent held that the second amendment referred only to the states and their militias, but the majority of the justices disagreed in the official decision. It stated:
 We start therefore with a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans.
It further went to state that the dissenting opinion and arguments on the right to bear arms did not belong “this side of the looking glass.” The lower court’s ruling was affirmed, and Heller could have his gun.

Andrew C. Abbott

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Killed for the Greater Evil

French Lick, IN – It was June 28, 1914, and catastrophe was about to strike. The first in line for the throne of the ailing emperor of the Austria-Hungarian Empire, Franz Josef, was Archduke Franz Ferdinand. He was a saddened member of the famous and infamous Hapsburg family, as it was, his wife had been snubbed by the very emperor, and because she was not royalty, their children would never sit on the throne.

That throne, such as it was, was over an empire as ailing as its emperor was, now in his eighties. Austria-Hungry was what its name implied. The two people groups of Austria and Hungry melded together, with two capitols, in Budapest and Vienne, and two allegiances, and they did not meld very well. There was constant infighting, and work in the bureaucracy never seemed to get done. A new, young worker said no one seemed to care if he got there late, left early, and did nothing while he was there. The army was strong, but they had a strong enemy to the north in Russia. At their back they had their friend Germany, but to the country it seemed that they were the only ones they had in the world.
To make matters worse, one this day, June 28, in the town of Sarajevo, the capitol of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, at the age of fifty-one, would be assassinated by a boy, who, when caught, was legally too young to be executed.
As his car passed along the road in procession, the third car in line, a bomb was thrown at it by a member of The Black Hand, a radical group. The bomb bounced off and landed under the car behind the duke’s, blowing up there instead. The duke survived, but, according to a press report, twenty were wounded in the surrounding crowd.
The motorcade continued to the Town Hall where the duke was to have made a speech. But he found his notes were wet with blood of the wounded. He and his wife then decided to visit those who had been wounded at the hospital. His driver made a wrong turn on the way there, driving straight up to Gavrilo Princip, another member of the conspiracy. He probably could hardly believe his dumb luck. He fired point blank, the duke folded over, saying something to his wife.
Both were quickly pronounced dead, and the empire went into an uproar.
The assassins, who were caught, were from nearby Serbia. The enraged magistrates of Austria-Hungry had been wanting to go to war with them for a while. They then couched an ultimatum to Serbia which, if not accepted, they said would cause them to be forced to break off all diplomatic ties.
The ultimatum, according to the wife of one of the men at the foreign office, was written in terms so as to not be acceptable to Serbia. She later said were husband got up constantly during the night before the day he had to send it, unable to sleep, to add one more clause, and then another, just to be certain it would not be accepted.
The much smaller country of Serbia wanted nothing like war with its much larger neighbor. The ultimatum came, and they had forty-eight hours to respond. They did respond, begging to be allowed to negotiate. They were willing to say yes to every one of the clauses of the document, except those that quite literally made them no longer a sovereign nation.
The other powers of the world hastily attempted to intervene, but to little avail. Austria-Hungry would go to war with Serbia. The Tsar of Russia, a cousin of both the king of England and the Kaiser of Germany, attempted to call for peace, but the Kaiser thought he was only trying to buy time, and himself told Austria-Hungry he had their back. He wrote in the margins of a telegram the Tsar sent him, asking for peace, saying he was stalling Germany for time, and Germany would not be denied.
There had in recent years, been many European crises. Something like a large group of boys in adolescence, all trying to figure out how their new found bodies and physical power works, and banging and jostling into each other in the process. But always before, in Austria-Hungry, there had been a voice for peace. Ferdinand himself had been the greatest friend the Serbs had, but now he was dead, and there was no one left to speak for them. The same day that he died, the Russian pacifist near the throne, the almost mythical Rasputin, was stabbed in the stomach by a mad woman, and incapacitated.
Austria-Hungry declared war on Serbia. Russia declared war of Austria-Hungry. Germany declared war on Russia. Then they invaded France to protect their other border. To get at France they went through Belgium. The British, outraged at the invasion of a small country without protection, declared war on Germany, and the world was at war.
The one man who perhaps could have stopped it, was dead, shot by nationalists of the very country that would be destroyed by this coming war they could not sustain. More than eight million deaths later, Gavrilo Princip, the assassin who was too young to die but not to kill, died in prison, unrepentant about the massive bloodbath he had unleashed.
The bullet fired from his gun brought down the Russian and German dynasties, and ended the world as it was then known. The planet was torn in visible ways, such as the great long gash of trenches between Switzerland and the sea, stretching for many miles with shell craters, decaying bodies, and worse, all along the ground.
But it was scarred in invisible ways as well. The old era was officially gone. What was perhaps the last great cavalry charge in history happened in the fall of the first year, cavalry charging down on parked planes somewhere in France. Those European boys had grown up, watching their schoolmates fall and die all across a massive killing front. But no one really learned, it seemed, and barely two and a half decades later, they would do it again. The now disgraced and banished Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, said of the rising star he was hearing of, Adolf Hitler “It will run away with him, just as it ran away with me."
Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, April 14, 2014

Europe, 1913

Terre Haute, IN – In 1913, if you looked in the right places, the new age had come. There was a new feeling in Europe, that war was finally over. The gigantic book by Normal Angell, which would eventually come to be called The Great Illusion, was four years old. It was wildly popular, and in it, Angell argued that industrial nations would no longer go to war, due to the advances in weapons, and the difficulty in funding such a thing, he believed that even if a war begun, it would fizzle out within weeks.
Hundreds of thousands of workers, members of the great “Second International” planned that, if the great powers ever went to war, they would all go on strike, causing arms production in these countries to grind to a halt, thus making war all but impossible. In France, the military estimated that if they called up the reserves, one in every ten men would refuse to show up.
In England, in one year, there were over five hundred strikes, and in Russia, according to one author; they were having more than twenty-five revolutions a year by this time. Everyone guessed that if the leaders declared war, then the people, at least many of them, would ignore it.
Barely a decade before, the World Exhibition had been opened in Paris. There were over 40,000 exhibits from all over the world. From all over the planet, they came, prepared to show the greatness of their country, but in ways besides fighting. There was an Ottoman Empire Pavilion, the empire that was crumbling; there were great displays of lights, this new novelty. There were exhibitions from France's old enemy Germany, showing that old rivalries must be dead. It was heralded, this exhibition, as a great statement of unity.
But this was if you looked in all the right places. But people in government do not often do that. And in 1914, if you looked where they were looking, in all the wrong places, you would see a different Europe.
Perhaps some of those who said that war would never come, should have remembered that just the year before, 1912, the ship Titanic would never sink, but it had. And now, in 1913, they were saying Europe would never go to war. Little did they know that within a year, the great armies of the Western World would be blasting each other to pieces in massive, bloody battles.
For, in Europe, despite all the rhetoric of world brotherhood, there was still nationalism. A lot of nationalism. In 1871 France had lost a war with Germany, a war that lasted, in effect, six weeks, before they were rolled up and their armies forced to surrender. Every year since, the graduating class of the cavalry academy would be brought to the heights above their shared border with Germany, and showed the hills they would one day charge down.
In Germany, a nation who saw itself as being surrounded by enemies, except for the divided, failing empire of Austria-Hungry, also had a plan, on how to invade France, down to how long it would take them to move a railroad car down the tracks between each tie. They knew exactly every component, and also planned to invade Russia.
There were two alliances in Europe. One was Russia, France, and England. The other was Germany, Austria-Hungry, and Italy. During the years after the great statement of European Unity, the World Exhibition, there seemed to be little but disunity. The Ottoman Empire was falling apart, and everybody wanted a piece. Soon, there began to friction over who got what. Beyond that, the far flung colonies of the great European colonies, began to also have arguments over who owned what.
It seemed that in every crises, everybody at once thought of war. Especially Germany, with its Kaiser Wilhelm I, a volatile character. But he certainly had someone to hold him down. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, next in line for the throne.
He was a more peaceful man with a tragic difficulty in that he had not married royalty. As a result, the line would not pass to his family after his death. But he would rather marry for love, and so excepted the ultimatum on the subject, and married anyway.
In Russia, there was also a voice for peace, Rasputin. A large, mysterious, sometimes almost frightening man, he was a pacifist, and in his country, he was the voice of peace. But someone was going to stab him in the stomach, at the time of Europe’s greatest crises, and there would be no voice in Russia.
The vast armies the nation’s had built up, one in Germany said, had to be used, or it would all have been wasted.
To be continued.

Andrew C. Abbott