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Guns and The New Paternalism

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg      Photo credit: The New York Times 

Longtime reader and blogfriend Eddie Beaver sent me a link to an article by NYT columnist, Ross Douthat. In my view, Douthat has written a fairly important observation of a political dynamic that is broader than the simply the new push by the elite for new and stringent gun control legislation:

Bloomberg, LaPierre and the Void

FOR a week after the Newtown shooting, the conversation was dominated by the self-righteous certainties of the American center-left. In print and on the airwaves, the chorus was nearly universal: the only possible response to Adam Lanza’s rampage was an immediate crusade for gun control, the necessary firearm restrictions were all self-evident, and anyone who doubted their efficacy had the blood of children on his hands.

The leading gun control chorister was Michael Bloomberg, and this was fitting, because on a range of issues New York’s mayor has become the de facto spokesman for the self-consciously centrist liberalism of the Acela Corridor elite. Like so many members of that class, Bloomberg combines immense talent with immense provincialism: his view of American politics is basically the famous New Yorker cover showing Manhattan’s West Side overshadowing the world, and his bedrock assumption is that the liberal paternalism with which New York is governed can and should be a model for the nation as a whole.

….Unfortunately for our country, the Bloomberg versus LaPierre contrast is basically all of American politics today. Our society is divided between an ascendant center-left that’s far too confident in its own rigor and righteousness and a conservatism that’s marched into an ideological cul-de-sac and is currently battering its head against the wall.

….The establishment view is interventionist, corporatist and culturally liberal. It thinks that issues like health care and climate change and immigration are best worked out through comprehensive bills drawn up by enlightened officials working hand in glove with business interests. It regards sexual liberty as sacrosanct, and other liberties — from the freedoms of churches to the rights of gun owners — as negotiable at best. It thinks that the elite should pay slightly higher taxes, and everyone else should give up guns, SUVs and Big Gulps and live more like, well, Manhattanites. It allows the president an entirely free hand overseas, and takes the Bush-Obama continuities in foreign policy for granted.

Douthat’s criticism of a reflexively angry but unimaginative and politically inept Right is correct, but class trumps mere Left-Right distinctions regarding gun control, with celebrity pundit Fareed Zakaria and conservative press baron Rupert Murdoch aligning with fellow Manhattan West Side billionaire and gun control zealot, Mayor Michael  Bloomberg  and various worthies in calling for UK style “gun bans”.

Britain of course, does not have a 2nd Amendment or, for that matter, a written Constitution that acts as a bar to government curtailment of civil liberties and both Parliament and British courts have different views on the limits of basic rights of free speech, self-defense (not just with guns), property and other liberties than the American norm. In light of the  2nd Amendment and District of Columbia vs. Heller, that sort of draconian legislation that makes gun ownership a privilege of the very few, would be obviously unconstitutional. If Illinois, for example must comply with a Federal Appellate Court order to permit citizens under new legislation to carry concealed guns, it is rather unlikely the Federal courts will entertain a confiscatory national gun control law that would trample not only the 2nd Amendment, but the 4th, 5th and 14th along the way. Nor would the governors of a majority of American states be on board for this, nor most Congressmen from rural states or the high tens of millions of Americans who own guns and reside in zip codes outside of Georgetown and Manhattan.

However, a healthy disregard for the strictures of Constitutional law and the liberties of ordinary citizens is a hallmark of the New Paternalism of our increasingly oligarchic elite, composed of superwealthy billionaires, hedge fund managers, Fortune 500 CEOs and the technocratic-political-legal class sporting ivy league pedigrees. They are even worse on the 4th Amendment and individual privacy than on gun rights look disapprovingly at the First, which constrains their ability to censor and punish unenlightened opinions or political criticism. Outside of gay marriage and abortion, I am hard pressed to think of a single individual liberty our elite holds in unqualified esteem or at least in as much esteem in their own presumed competence to rule.

As Douthat noted, this not merely about guns, but of this small group having a searing contempt for the way the majority of Americans live their lives and a manifest, bipartisan, desire to regulate them for their own good in matters great and small. To decide how other Americans should educate their children; whether they should go to college and if so, what they should be permitted to study;  how much and what kind of food they should be allowed to eat or drink; whether their religion should be treated with deference in public policy or dismissed for the greater good; where they should live and how far back their “middle-class” living standards should be cut or pensions reduced, transformed or eliminated for the benefit of those whose incompetently  mismanaged companies, banks and   equities firms were so recently bailed out by taxpayers and the Federal Reserve.

It would be one thing, of course, if these high minded New Paternalists intended to live under the laws they eagerly want to impose on the rest of us, but largely they intend a different set of rules for themselves. They are ardent gun-control advocates who pack heat, public pension reformers who loot their employee’s pensions to enrich themselves, ed reformers who send their kids to posh private schools , crusaders against obesity who love junk food, zealous environmentalists with giant carbon footprints and advocates of tax reform whose corporations pay no taxes. Their mismatch between words and deeds is so vast as to almost be admirable – say what you like about this cabal’s lack of humility or sense stewardship, they hit the jackpot when it came to chutzpah.

If Hubris mated with Hypocrisy, their offspring would look much like the present American leadership class.

46 Responses to “Guns and The New Paternalism”

  1. Nathaniel T. Lauterbach Says:


    Solid post.  Very solid.  This is veritably a post of hypertext art, too.  Well done.
    Now, the substance.  It seems to me that the basic program of the right needs to be a stolid defense of individual rights and liberties, combined with anti-corporatism and anti-comprehensive-anything.
    Though this tide of paternalism is certain to fail, much the same way that paternalism in previous generations failed, it’s never a good process to have to go through.  It leaves behind legal and economic baggage that’s too much to bear, not to mention bureaucracies and new interest groups.
    I’d much rather see this stuff nipped in the bud.  And it’s a long shot, but I’d like to see some previously-known rights restored and/or deregulated.

  2. Madhu Says:

    The paternalism doesn’t even accomplish its goals of safety, in most instances….#FAIL
    Watching Cory Booker on one of those morning shows, lauding Mayor Emmanuel. “Huh”, I think. Time for trying to lure the Olympics. Time to host NATO. But no time to figure out how to get cops on the trains now that hospitals and mental health centers are apparently emptying out and some poor souls have nowhere to go but ride the trains? To the alarm of many a passenger? The Guardian Angels have started showing up on radio and television shows, talking about protecting the public, and there is a reason for that.
    The same crew that cries about trying to control guns stolen out West or down South by Gangs cuts the number of cops first, before it cuts its airy fairy social engineering make-work jobs….
    At any rate, a most pleasant and prosperous New Year to you Zen, and you JScott, and you Charles, and all the other regular readers and lurkers. 

  3. Madhu Says:

    It would be one thing, of course, if these high minded New Paternalists intended to live under the laws they eagerly want to impose on the rest of us, but largely they intend a different set of rules for themselves. 
    Yup. That’s the part that really stings. In some cities, cops are assigned to the very local politicos that cut primary services first while still hosting whatever “We Are A Global City” marketing conference, paid for by local leaders and local funds that could be used to improve the daily lives of workers, commuters, real people, yeah? 

  4. Carl Says:

    Gee, Zen. I didn’t know you was so eloquent. That was great.

    I am not so sanguine about the superzips not succeeding, or at least not being able to make life really miserable for us proles. There will be at least one or two vacancies on the Supreme Court to be filled in the next four years. Those nominated will be from deep within the heart superzipistan. Once they are in, the agenda will be very hard to stop short of state gov led civil disobedience, which would be a very big step.

  5. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    So far, I haven’t noticed a marked difference in my life wrt the activities of these elite, beyond a somewhat stagnant income flow.  But then I look at, say, a Justin Bieber and think that maybe I’m just doing it wrong. 😉  Damnable Canadians!
    There often seems to be a bit of fuzziness surrounding the issue of rights.  Considering the existence of the 2nd Amendment and the large number of GOP-controlled state governments, the hullabaloo about “They coming to take all our guns!” often seems to me like a bit of overblown hysteria barely masking more deeply held frustrations that probably have very little to do with whatever these elites or their government have done or are likely to do.  But then again, “rights” are so fuzzy a concept, and maybe the hysterics are justified if “right” means being able to do whatever the hell we want to do, no holds barred—and includes a little bit of jealousy directed toward those who, bank accounts flush, seem to be able to do whatever the hell they want.  The mere idea of being told that you can’t buy a Big Gulp might be totemic, an example of paternalistic nannyism; but as for me, I wonder why should suffer the discomfort of having my panties in a wad over my lost & dearly beloved right to buy a Big Gulp.   Slippery-slope arguments may or may not influence me, depending on my own biases—and I say this even remembering good ol’ Purpleslog’s use of the metaphor of the boiling frog.

  6. carl Says:

    You know that may be a philosophic gulf that can’t be bridged; the one side objecting to being told how big their soda pop can be and the other side not seeing what the big deal is.

  7. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    I try not to let the idea of a thing upset me.  I spent far too much of my life doing that, until I realized that most ideas turn out to be pathetically impotent in comparison to the reality all about us.
    Mind you, not all ideas.  I think there’s a certain necessary vigilance.  Ideas can shape reality, depending on the persons they influence.  I suppose though that I see most lines-in-the-sand as being more often illusion than not:  It’s just sand, and this too shall pass.   That sort of thing.

  8. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    Incidentally, I’ve always wondered why that class — using the term lightly — why that class that stresses personal responsibility, individual gumption, and so forth spends so much time blaming others for the environment they have to work within.
    Ex., a metaphor:  Why isn’t regulation, elitist influence, and so forth looked at in the way a railroad engineer might look at a mountain, as surmountable obstructions or even inspiration for creative solutions?
    True, it’s more complicated than that.  But, still. 

  9. carl Says:

    The nature of the mountain isn’t going to change, so it is a simple problem of engineering.  Maybe not so simple to execute, but relatively simple to figure.  The whims of the supezips change.  And they can send men with guns to arrest you and put you in jail.  The environment the superzips make is a creation of man, not God.
    One thing Charles Murray says about the superzips is they don’t preach what they practice.  For example, they have strong family structures but they don’t preach the importance of strong family structure.  They talk up things they don’t do.

  10. Justin Boland Says:

    Isn’t “Fareed Zakaria” more of a brand than an author? I was under the impression he just runs a staff of CFR kids and they take care of the little picture stuff like research, analysis, thinking and writing.
    Thanks for the heads-up on this Charles Murray piece:
    Agreed with Curtis — this is indeed some hypertext art. Excellent Jerimiad.

  11. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    Seems to me that our system promotes the rise of those so-called “superzips.”
    If you don’t want to move the system toward a more socialist or even communist configuration (among other potential alternatives), you are going to end up with an elite.  (Even in those social configurations, you’ll end up with an elite.)
    The fact that the whims of the superzips change is not surprising.  Any casual observation of polling would show that the whims of the population change.   Weather also changes, yet engineers have been fairly successful in meeting the demands of a changing environment.  Capitalism, consumerism, democracy:   If you are wanting mountains that are stable, unchanging, you are wanting stagnation, absolute predictability, and whatever else will make the struggle upward easy, at a cost of limits to capitalism, consumerism, and democracy.  A handout.
    Now of course, even those superzips have had to negotiate the environment.  They have been better at it than most of us, and I can see how that might stoke the fires of jealousy and envy.  Perhaps the environment has suited their particular penchant, their preferred method—and their method is abhorrent to you.  This is one of the singular frustrations I have felt at various times in my life, the idea of having to play dirty, use dishonesty, be hypocritical, and so forth in order to have success.   The solution then is to change that environment to better suit your needs, or to enable you to achieve similar success without having to achieve it in the same way that these others have achieved it.
    But remember that you, too, are merely a man making changes to the environment.   The pretension of godliness, that you are only correcting what these changeable superzips have wrought in the world and that you are doing so according to a god-directed plan, is sure to turn some off—or against your very endeavors!
    The wheel turns.

  12. carl Says:

    Our system does indeed promote the rise of superzips.  The question is whether that is good for the country, or bad for it.
    We have had elites in the past but the important distinction between those elites and the superzips is that the old elites shared cultural values with the non-elites.  Mr. Murray points out that isn’t the case anymore.  If the superzips don’t share cultural values with the rest of us, that is a situation more akin to an old world aristocracy or a mandarinate.  That isn’t so good.
    One thing the superzips don’t value that at least some of the old world aristocracies did value is military service.  They won’t fight.  That started in during the Vietnam War and has, to my knowledge continued.  If you were to contrast the number of Yalies and Harvard men who died or got hit in Afghanistan and Iraq to the number of Aggies or Alabama State guys who got hit or died, I think there would be a rather large difference.
    No, weather doesn’t change, or rather general weather patterns don’t change.  If you are going to run a railroad through those mountains, you know there will be the seasons.  With each season comes a certain type of weather.  You look at the data, add a safety factor and plan.  You are dealing with knowns within a range.  There is no comparison with that and trying to predict what the next fashionable political position will be.  And that mountain range doesn’t send men with guns after you to prevent you from using the best engineering practices because they aren’t PC.
    Mountains are easy to work with compared to corrupt political systems because corrupt political systems are backed by organized groups of men with guns.  It is easy to say change that system, change that environment.  It ain’t so easy to do.  We ain’t traveled so far down that path yet…yet.
    I couldn’t care less if my using God’s name in an illustration or an argument turns somebody off.

  13. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    “And that mountain range doesn’t send men with guns after you to prevent you from using the best engineering practices because they aren’t PC.”
    Have you had men with guns come after you because you aren’t PC?  That would be a fascinating story!  If I am to be enlightened on these matters and extend myself beyond my own limitations, I should probably hear that story.  If you are willing.

  14. Justin Boland Says:

    That Charles Murray piece contains one of the single dumbest passages I’ve read this year:
    “Why have these new lower and upper classes emerged? For explaining the formation of the new lower class, the easy explanations from the left don’t withstand scrutiny. It’s not that white working class males can no longer make a “family wage” that enables them to marry. The average male employed in a working-class occupation earned as much in 2010 as he did in 1960.”
    It started off on a very interesting tack but his argument is about as rigorous and factual as a Peggy Noonan op-ed. Having studied the elite families who shaped (and, essentially, owned) the United States, I also do not grant his premise. I think Bloomberg and the Rockefellers would have gotten along just fine, for instance. Carnegie was something of an outlier — most first generation robber barons were quite content doing the Nouveau Riche gig and keeping their libraries very much to themselves.
    His notion that the “reforms of the 60’s” are to blame is pretty limp, too, and I’m surprised he didn’t mention the draft. I would submit the end of the draft as a major, major cause of this culture gap, certainly more so than single mothers managing to survive on their own without becoming Church property.

  15. carl Says:

    Justin Boland:
    Ok.  Why is that “one of the single dumbest passages” you’ve read this year?  Comments about Bloomberg, the Rockefellers and Carnegie don’t address that.
    Mr. Murray also said that the “whys” of the divergence in cultural values aren’t so important.  The important thing is that it exists.
    The draft had some importance.  But it is a moot point because no superzip will ever ever again allow his boy to be subject to involuntary military service.

  16. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    “We have had elites in the past but the important distinction between those elites and the superzips is that the old elites shared cultural values with the non-elites.  Mr. Murray points out that isn’t the case anymore.  If the superzips don’t share cultural values with the rest of us, that is a situation more akin to an old world aristocracy or a mandarinate.  That isn’t so good.”
    How would you propose they be brought into cultural conformity?  Government is, in theory, accountable to the people.  Should private citizens also be accountable to the people?   —The answer is, yes, at least broadly speaking, if you allow that laws are a part of that equation.

  17. carl Says:

    Ah Curtis, ever the witticism.  But I open  myself up to it because I am not minutely specific.
    So I shall do my penance now and explain.  Let us say that the superzips decree that ammunition magazines holding 20 rounds are legal, but magazines holding 21 rounds are not.  If somebody persists in selling magazines with 21 rounds eventually somebody with a gun will be dispatched to get him.  If that somebody resists, he will be shot.  P.J. O’Rourke was the one who came up with that.  All those regulations and taxes and such eventually mean do it, or else somebody will kill you.

  18. carl Says:

    Mr. Murray’s point is that no gov regulation or rule can bring the superzips around.  They have to see the value of it and do it themselves, “one family at a time.”  I am hopeful that can be done but I won’t bet on it.  The system as it is developing may be too good to give up.
    Private people are absolutely accountable to the people.  But in this case not in the legal sense, more in the sense of being shamed, held in contempt or disapproved of.  Using the “there ought to be a law” tack won’t work, in my opinion.

  19. Justin Boland Says:

    Carl: apologies for not stating it nakedly. A: “Because making an economic argument that omits inflation and cost of living is…well, not making an economic argument, at all.” It’s why I was reminded of Peggy Noonan — it amounts to argument by non sequitur if you’re not even going to engage with the facts you’re invoking. The fact average wages have not moved in 50 years is, here in the real world, a major structural problem.
    Agreed that “the fact it exists” is far more important than scrutinizing competing narrative explanations. Still, I don’t think Murray’s conceit of boiling America down to two neighborhoods has any value, aside from padding his column inches. Simply looking at aggregate numbers for existing demographics has a lot more to teach than Murray’s convolutions.

  20. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:


    You are saying that lawbreakers will be arrested or, if they resist arrest with the aid of their trusty sidearm, killed.
    This is not a stunningly new revelation.
    This is in fact a feature of rule-of-law.
    Debating the fairness, or justness, of laws is a part of the democratic process.  Bad laws sometimes come into existence.  This is not a monolithic Mountain, but a changeable, multifaceted system.
    I don’t think we help things by blurring the line between “PC” and “law-abiding.”   I do think that the interplay between the two is interesting and important; but we can explore this interplay without conflating the two in order to draw our slipper-slope arguments for easy selling.

  21. carl Says:

    Read Mr. Murray’s book.  It is quite convincing.  No need to pad column inches for a newspaper article.

  22. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    I will say, however, that the appearance of arbitrariness in the law has always been a problem.

  23. carl Says:

    You said:
    “This is not a monolithic Mountain, but a changeable, multifaceted system.”
    Which was my point when saying an engineering project can’t be compared to dealing with a political system. 
    Sometimes laws are so bad that trouble ensues.  That is, in my view, more likely when the is a cultural gulf separating the political elite and the rest.  That the gulf exists is the point of the Zen’s post.

  24. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    I knew when saying that about the mountain that you would take the bait. 😉
    I would say, “Not even mountains are monolithic mountains.”
    But really, you can broaden your horizon to view other engineering projects, like engineering chimera via genetic engineering, or engineering new chemicals, or …. etc.
    I don’t think that because a person hasn’t tried to engineer success in our present system, he is justified in blaming so many others for his failure.  It is true that competition is a messy business, however.  I understand that and the fact that a super-elite can gain more influence over the system than little-ol’-me.   But again, I could look through history at every form of government that has ever existed and every social configuration, and I doubt I’d find a single one that didn’t give rise to elites.  There comes a point when blaming others just won’t work —e.g., trying to use social pressures rather than law to tame our present elites.  It might work; it is an ancient endeavor but far more likely to be effective now than ever before in history; but the energy required to do so may sometimes be more than the energy it takes to attempt success within the current system.  Dunno.  Cost-benefit analysis for each of us.  I think that complaining is fun and also a very old feature that can be found in most societies through history. 

  25. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    “I don’t think that because a person hasn’t tried to engineer success in our present system” —I meant, engineering his own personal success.
    Engineering a whole society or political system is a considerably more difficult process, I think. 

  26. carl Says:

    Yes it is mighty hard to outfox you.  You get up too early in the morning.
    I think somebody who wants to publish an independently of the gov or wants to have the right to keep the fruits of his labors is quite justified in complaining that it is somebody else’s fault if he lives in a state that won’t let him.  If your property is seized or your life forfeit for saying, doing or being that nature gives you the right to do, say or be, it is somebody else’s fault.

  27. Mr. X Says:

    Zen — 2nd best essay I’ve read at this site after Rise of the Creepy State. Bravo.

  28. Mr. X Says:

    “Have you had men with guns come after you because you aren’t PC?  That would be a fascinating story!  If I am to be enlightened on these matters and extend myself beyond my own limitations, I should probably hear that story.  If you are willing.” Dear Curtis, thankfully it has not yet reached that point but IF this Feinstein bill passes it surely seems intended to push more than a few ‘bitter clingers’ who will not turn in or register their firearms to that point. You say the states will resist? Why then have such extraordinary efforts been made to make more than half of many state budgets come from the federal government for important things like highways, byways, and health care for the indigent? Why nearly half of all working age people in certain states working for or receiving means tested or other benefits from the federal government (and I include Red States with large Indian reservations in this category)? Simple. Because the price of said revolt against even blatantly unconstitutional gun laws could be a painfully austere interregnum. The feds want to use their dependents as armies against the bitter clingers. It’s the old divide and conquer game that’s been practiced since Rome or Assyria.

  29. Mr. X Says:

    In other words, contra Hank Williams Jr’s song ‘Country Can Survive’ (boy did he call it on the Mississippi River’s going dry 30 years ago, didn’t he?) THEY can starve most of us out, in the sense of using health care, ‘you’d better not say that if you want a job in this high unemployment environment’, etc to get most of the population to comply. The problem is that a hardcore of 2-3% may not go along despite the costs. For them a small share of the zips as they’re referred to here are constructing their police state — their armored pillboxes, FEMA tanks, multi-billlion round ammo orders, cameras/Palantirs integrated systems, gigantic server farms for all NSA stored comms out in Utah, and the like.

  30. Nathaniel T. Lauterbach Says:

    “There often seems to be a bit of fuzziness surrounding the issue of rights.”
    I don’t know for sure, but it seems to me that the Bill of Rights makes this patently clear with regard to speech, religion, press freedoms, guns, quartering, searches and seizures, rights associated with law enforcement and litigation, and, as a catch-all, the 9th Amendment (perhaps the most-forgotten) covers pretty much everything they didn’t to mention.

  31. L. C. Rees Says:

    Bravo. A concise statement of the United States’ current grand strategy.

  32. zen Says:

    Please pardon my very delayed response, we had some severe technical difficulties this time.

    Thank you for the kind words, much appreciated. Some of you have probably read reports of Feinstein’s proposed legislation that attempts to by circuitous language, broadly interpreted, ban most commonly owned semi-automatic handguns and usurp from the states their primary role of firearm regulation. Unsurprisingly, the first major response to Newtown by liberal Democrats is an overreach 100% directed at law abiding gun owners. There isn’t even lip service about criminals or the mentally ill, just a raw Federal power grab and militant hostility.
    It is going to have a very tough time getting out of the Senate, if the bill’s language reflects Feinstein’s press release and will be DOA in the House.

  33. Saturday Afternoon Linkage » Duck of Minerva Says:

    […] An interesting piece by Mark Safranski: “Guns and the New Paternalism.” […]

  34. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    Nathaniel, where is the Big Gulp mentioned in the Bill of Rights?

  35. Terry B Says:


    Getting the dialog back on track, rocking post.  The Acela corridor is now officially part of my vocabulary.  It is a distinctly different thing to cross over from the shadow of that glass and steel edifice, taking the opposite route from Washington, to rediscover Americans who like what they like, do what they have done more or less for decades (even generations), and wish to be able to continue to do so in peace.  This does not seem like much to ask from a country that bills itself as “the Land of the Free.” 

  36. Mr. X Says:

    “It is going to have a very tough time getting out of the Senate, if the bill’s language reflects Feinstein’s press release and will be DOA in the House.” Thank God! But that won’t stop the two-legged drones on Twitter and other social media from continuing to demonize all gun owners and manufacturers as neoConfederate KKK members. See this latest example:


    Whether it’s amateur or professional ‘Cointelpro’ing I can’t say but I can say with 90% accuracy that any jackass who boasts of speaking to a neo-Confederate group while having “Blackwater” (when it’s been XE for several years) as a customer is probably either a fraud, a fool, or a paid provocateur like the late FBI informant Hal Turner who was never arrested for actually calling for violence against Jews, blacks and Hispanics because of his <i>federalny krysha</i>. 

    (I should also add as an addendum that in addition to demonizing the hated Ronulans/Paulists and defending their beloved Federal Reserve with barrages of tweets, these cliques are also fanboys of Jubhat al Nusra and other openly jihadist Syrian rebel groups…one of their other ‘tweeps’ who happens to be the daughter of Russian immigrants says she hopes Islamists attack Russia…and they have the nerve to call ME crazy!)

  37. L. C. Rees Says:

    Big Gulps fall under:

    Article Nine:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” 

    Article Ten:
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” 

    For example, under the Declaration of Rights in the Constitution of the State of Utah, the following rights are enumerated:

    “1. All men have the inherent and inalienable right to enjoy and defend their lives and liberties; to acquire, possess and protect property; to worship according to the dictates of their consciences; to assemble peaceably, protest against wrongs, and petition for redress of grievances; to communicate freely their thoughts and opinions, being responsible for the abuse of that right. 

    2. All political power is inherent in the people; and all free governments are founded on their authority for their equal protection and benefit, and they have the right to alter or reform their government as the public welfare may require.

    3. The State of Utah is an inseparable part of the Federal Union and the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land. 

    4.  The rights of conscience shall never be infringed. The State shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office of public trust or for any vote at any election; nor shall any person be incompetent as a witness or juror on account of religious belief or the absence thereof. There shall be no union of Church and State, nor shall any church dominate the State or interfere with its functions. No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or for the support of any ecclesiastical establishment.

    5.  The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless, in case of rebellion or invasion, the public safety requires it.

    6. The individual right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the state, as well as for other lawful purposes shall not be infringed; but nothing herein shall prevent the Legislature from defining the lawful use of arms.

    7. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.

    8. (1) All persons charged with a crime shall be bailable except:
         (a) persons charged with a capital offense when there is substantial evidence to support the charge; or     (b) persons charged with a felony while on probation or parole, or while free on bail awaiting trial on a previous felony charge, when there is substantial evidence to support the new felony charge; or     (c) persons charged with any other crime, designated by statute as one for which bail may be denied, if there is substantial evidence to support the charge and the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person would constitute a substantial danger to any other person or to the community or is likely to flee the jurisdiction of the court if released on bail.
         (2) Persons convicted of a crime are bailable pending appeal only as prescribed by law.

    9. Excessive bail shall not be required; excessive fines shall not be imposed; nor shall cruel and unusual punishments be inflicted. Persons arrested or imprisoned shall not be treated with unnecessary rigor. 

    10.  In capital cases the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate. In capital cases the jury shall consist of twelve persons, and in all other felony cases, the jury shall consist of no fewer than eight persons. In other cases, the Legislature shall establish the number of jurors by statute, but in no event shall a jury consist of fewer than four persons. In criminal cases the verdict shall be unanimous. In civil cases three-fourths of the jurors may find a verdict. A jury in civil cases shall be waived unless demanded. 

    11. All courts shall be open, and every person, for an injury done to him in his person, property or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, which shall be administered without denial or unnecessary delay; and no person shall be barred from prosecuting or defending before any tribunal in this State, by himself or counsel, any civil cause to which he is a party. 

    12.   In criminal prosecutions the accused shall have the right to appear and defend in person and by counsel, to demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a copy thereof, to testify in his own behalf, to be confronted by the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process to compel the attendance of witnesses in his own behalf, to have a speedy public trial by an impartial jury of the county or district in which the offense is alleged to have been committed, and the right to appeal in all cases. In no instance shall any accused person, before final judgment, be compelled to advance money or fees to secure the rights herein guaranteed. The accused shall not be compelled to give evidence against himself; a wife shall not be compelled to testify against her husband, nor a husband against his wife, nor shall any person be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense.
         Where the defendant is otherwise entitled to a preliminary examination, the function of that examination is limited to determining whether probable cause exists unless otherwise provided by statute. Nothing in this constitution shall preclude the use of reliable hearsay evidence as defined by statute or rule in whole or in part at any preliminary examination to determine probable cause or at any pretrial proceeding with respect to release of the defendant if appropriate discovery is allowed as defined by statute or rule.

    13. Offenses heretofore required to be prosecuted by indictment, shall be prosecuted by information after examination and commitment by a magistrate, unless the examination be waived by the accused with the consent of the State, or by indictment, with or without such examination and commitment. The formation of the grand jury and the powers and duties thereof shall be as prescribed by the Legislature.

    14. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or thing to be seized.

    15.  No law shall be passed to abridge or restrain the freedom of speech or of the press. In all criminal prosecutions for libel the truth may be given in evidence to the jury; and if it shall appear to the jury that the matter charged as libelous is true, and was published with good motives, and for justifiable ends, the party shall be acquitted; and the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the fact.

    16. There shall be no imprisonment for debt except in cases of absconding debtors.

     17. All elections shall be free, and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage. Soldiers, in time of war, may vote at their post of duty, in or out of the State, under regulations to be prescribed by law.

    18. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be passed.

    19.  Treason against the State shall consist only in levying war against it, or in adhering to its enemies or in giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act.

    20.  The military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power, and no soldier in time of peace, shall be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war except in a manner to be prescribed by law.

    21. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within this State.

    22. Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation.

    23. No law shall be passed granting irrevocably any franchise, privilege or immunity.

    24. All laws of a general nature shall have uniform operation.

    25. This enumeration of rights shall not be construed to impair or deny others retained by the people.

    26. The provisions of this Constitution are mandatory and prohibitory, unless by express words they are declared to be otherwise.

    27. Frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is essential to the security of individual rights and the perpetuity of free government.

    28. (1) To preserve and protect victims’ rights to justice and due process, victims of crimes have these rights, as defined by law:
         (a) To be treated with fairness, respect, and dignity, and to be free from harassment and abuse throughout the criminal justice process;     (b) Upon request, to be informed of, be present at, and to be heard at important criminal justice hearings related to the victim, either in person or through a lawful representative, once a criminal information or indictment charging a crime has been publicly filed in court; and     (c) To have a sentencing judge, for the purpose of imposing an appropriate sentence, receive and consider, without evidentiary limitation, reliable information concerning the background, character, and conduct of a person convicted of an offense except that this subsection does not apply to capital cases or situations involving privileges.     (2) Nothing in this section shall be construed as creating a cause of action for money damages, costs, or attorney’s fees, or for dismissing any criminal charge, or relief from any criminal judgment.     (3) The provisions of this section shall extend to all felony crimes and such other crimes or acts, including juvenile offenses, as the Legislature may provide.
         (4) The Legislature shall have the power to enforce and define this section by statute.

    29. (1) Marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman.
         (2) No other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect.”

    The right to a Big Gulp (at least for a citizen of the State of Utah) is found in its lack of enumeration in Amendment 9 and 10 of the U.S. Constitution and Article I Section 25 of the Utah State Constitution.

    The most prominent flaw in the current U.S. Constitution is found in its amendment process. The Constitution should allow legislatures to pass amendments to the United States and if 2/3rds of their fellow state legislatures concur than the U.S. Constitution can be amended without involving the U.S. Congress or calling a constitutional convention which could lead to all sorts of mischef.

  38. Mr. X Says:

    L.C. Rees — thanks for that comment. While my own focus has been on the propaganda offensive preparing to make it trendy for the government to do very nasty things to millions of Americans, I do think it’s very important to return back to the basic rights in both our federal and state constitutions, which further reveals how lawless these people in power have become.

  39. Nathaniel T. Lauterbach Says:

    The right to the Big Gulp is most eloquently not mentioned in the Bill of Rights (ie it is not enumerated.)  Ergo, the right to the Big Gulp belongs to either with the several states or to the people.
    LC Rees-
    Thank you.  Well said.

  40. seydlitz89 Says:


    Very nice post.  Happy New Year!
    Twenty-twelve’s been a ride.  It’s been fun . . .
    You’re nearing my own political perspective?  Bait and Switch . . . ?  And what so ever little beyond that . . . ?
    As to the comments.  No comment.  Happy New Year all!


  41. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    Very surprised that anyone would mention the 9th Amendment.
    It usually falls by the wayside in the rush to the 10th.
    We can argue whether that is as it should be, given the very vagueness and expansiveness of the 9th.  I’ve held it up on more than one occasion, myself.  It was added, I believe, to satisfy those who disagreed with the idea of adding an enumerated list of rights—for good reason.  However it has often been overlooked even by SCOTUS, because it can be used so easily to apply to anything whatsoever.
    The moment a question about rights re: Constitutionality arises, so do a horde of lawyers emerge from the soil:  Little toadstools on the lawns of liberty.   Everyone has an opinion, and SCOTUS does not seem to resolve anything quickly or lastingly (although, true, some resolutions last longer than others.)  Anyone who argues that the Bill of Rights is not fuzzy is merely pushing a particular interpretation to be used as a giant hammer to smash so many other toadstools into the ground.
    But by either measure, the 9th or the 10th or both, the local law in New York concerning the Big Gulp — fits.   Does it not?  Working as intended. 

  42. zen Says:

    Hi Seydlitz,
    Hope that you are well and Happy new Year!
    I used to think the deficit in American strategic thinking was a result of educational changes in elite universities in the late 60’s and 70’s when the undergrad canon was replaced by the current a la carte gen ed system, lack of rigor and focus on au courant esoterica  by the professoriate, the era in which today’s 50 + leaders matriculated. I still think that is part of the equation, however I’ve been toying with the idea that the powerfully self-aggrandizing nature of oligarchic mores/culture -which I see as increasingly prevalent in the top tier of American society – are themselves obstructive/destructive of clear strategic thinking. The prospect of grifting short term personal gains from the system, the fear that if you don’t grab now some other clever person will, are an unbearable temptation for the oligarchs even at the expense of their long term self-interest, much less national interest. A creeping civic sickness, if you will.
    On the positive side, there are still large parts of the population for whom better values and a belief in the American dream are strongly held and most people coming here for a better life do so out of those convictions. A turnaround is politically possible and in the long term, likely. 

  43. joey Says:

    Hmm, interesting post, those paternal elites don’t seem to be that paternal from where i am.

    I would say that its not just the “Elites” that want more gun control, there’s a hell of a lot of regular folks that want it too.  Just sayin.

  44. L. C. Rees Says:

    The problem may not be a deficit in American strategic thinking. If the policy goal is entrenching today’s elites on top of a neutered population that provides steady private rents through public mandate then there is no strategy gap. The current state of the Union is the state a strategy serving this policy goal would seek to bring about. If that’s true, the problem is not be a strategy gap but a policy gap.

  45. zen Says:

    If the policy goal is entrenching today’s elites on top of a neutered population that provides steady private rents through public mandate then there is no strategy gap.”
    True, but an oligarchy that is too narrow rather than broad unites the rest of society against it, making it a poor long range strategy for regime survival. Theramenes may have been executed by Critias for making this argument but it must be noted that Critias did not long outlive him, thus proving his victim’s point.
    those paternal elites don’t seem to be that paternal from where i am.

    I would say that its not just the “Elites” that want more gun control, there’s a hell of a lot of regular folks that want it too.”
    The rub is not where elite views are in sync with the local culture but in the elites having the Federal government impose them where they are not.
    Regarding gun control, polls reveal a greater % desire for more regulation but an overwhelming (and new) majority % level of opposition to gun bans.
    There’s a significant caveat, however, Ms. Saad continues: “Views toward banning semi-automatic guns or assault rifles are unchanged, and – possibly reflecting Americans’ desire to defend themselves given the rash of high-profile gun violence – a record-high 74 percent oppose preventing anyone but the police or other authorized officials from owning a handgun.”



  46. carl Says:

    Zen & L.C. Rees:
    Regarding the superzips inability to think strategically.  That is worrisome but what is more worrisome to me is their apparent amorality, their lack of a moral foundation or character.  I think you can get away with poor strategy if you got the backbone to rise up and fight again.  I don’t think they have it and since they control the reins of power, we don’t have it.  That will not stand us in good stead when the next big international test comes.  And it always comes.

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