The Charlotte News

Friday, September 6, 1940


Site Ed. Note: The piece this date from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch attacking Roosevelt as a dictator, violating the Constitution with the transfer of 50 destroyers to Great Britain in exchange for leases of British air and naval bases in Newfoundland and Bermuda, is instructive of the isolationist rhetoric abounding throughout the country, even a year after Britain had declared war on Germany after the invasion of Poland, even three months after the fall of France, even as the Battle of Britain had begun.

The rhetoric would build with America First rallies led by Charles Lindbergh, and which included many Bundists cheering not just isolationist rhetoric but pro-Nazi rhetoric, on into the spring and summer of 1941. Indeed, one of the likely collateral reasons for Hitler invading the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, besides the more immediate reason of seeking oil and wheat to keep the Wehrmacht running strong with sufficient reserve supply for an invasion of Great Britain, was to appeal to this isolationist crowd in America and Britain. For one of the chief arguments always set forth for support of the Nazis was that they would act to destroy Communism in the Soviet Union, an argument made tougher to set forth as long as Hitler, for the sake of insuring the attack on Poland without interference from Stalin, recognized the Nazi-Soviet Mutual Non-Aggression Pact signed in August, 1939.

So, as the editors point out with their disclaimer of belief in the rhetoric and substance of the editorial, it is nevertheless worth reading to understand fully why America was unable to go to war in 1939, in 1940, even in 1941, until the direct attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. It was not a viable option as too much of the country was opposed to it based on the isolationist rhetoric abounding. Armament production, after two decades of lassitude since the World War, fueled in part by post-war beliefs that armament production fueled warfare and in part, after the Depression, by lack of a sufficient tax base to support the building of a military machine which could viably compete with the Nazis, was another reason for not going to war. Moreover, a war with Germany meant a war with Japan, and thus a two-front war, one which was thought to be unwinnable and thus to be avoided at all costs.

Even after the attack on Pearl Harbor, of course, Roosevelt only sought and received from Congress a declaration of war on Japan, followed the next day by the declaration of war by Germany on the United States.

It was not because of Roosevelt's weakness or the weakness of the country, but because of Republicans and Democrats who were virulently anti-Communist Nazi-sympathizers, combined with many German-Americans and others, such as Father Coughlin, who believed in the Nazi cause based on their anti-Semitic views. Some of these America Firsters and isolationists simply hated Roosevelt and the New Deal, perceived the New Deal as socialist doctrine being sold to the American people, still believed in the absolute freedom of free enterprise and that free enterprise had been stifled under the New Deal, never minding that the Republican version of laissez-faire free enterprise during the twenties had led the country down the primrose path to depression and eventually 40% unemployment. They continued to believe that letting trickle-down economics be the order of the day would fix everything, some even believing that Herbert Hoover should have been the Republican nominee in 1940, some even continuing in 1941 to favor the isolationist Hoover, who joined in Lindbergh's message for awhile in spring, 1941, should be the nominee in 1944.

Speaking then of press criticism of public figures, though by no means do we mean to equate the two in this instance, we were reading some more about the new nominee of the Republican Party for Vice-President, Sarah Palin. For reading about her is about the only way to find out anything of this unknown quantity. The Republicans themselves only want to present a surprise package sans facts, lots of nice-sounding generalities, but short on record. We have to wonder why.

So, we find by reading an article in The New York Times that Ms. Palin, by her own statements, takes her orders from God, perhaps explaining why the Republicans have presented her as a "maverick". She believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible, but as guided by interpretation and analysis counseled by her little church in Wasilla, Alaska, her hometown and where she received the bulk of her political experience as mayor and a member of the city council for a decade, between 1992, when she was 28, and 2002 when term limits prohibited a third term as mayor.

Wasilla, we find from reading up on it elsewhere, among its current population of somewhere between 5,400 and 9,800, depending on which census is accepted, is, as of the 2000 census, 85% white, with about 25 African-Americans, 250 Native Americans, 150 Hispanic-Americans, and 60 Asian-Americans--as we said, homogeneous, mainly white people, very unlike the rest of the United States which Ms. Palin would have to help govern if elected. (We haven't looked at the overall Alaskan population, but we assume it is similar; we stress, however, Wasilla in this regard because it is there that Ms. Palin received all except 22 months of her political experience.) Wasilla is comprised mainly of people who moved to Alaska during the oil pipeline construction boom of the late seventies. The household median income is fairly high for the United States, about $48,000 per year, in other words, middle class. Average per capita income is $21,000.

Thus, Ms. Palin has governed throughout most, if not all, of her political career in a nice little bubble, devoid of poverty, homelessness, minorities, and the rest of the varied realities which pervade most of the lower 48 states, except nice little communities like Wasilla.

Beyond that, we find that Ms. Palin, when she became Mayor of Wasilla, in addition to firing the police chief for political reasons, also fired the head librarian, also for political reasons. (She subsequently withdrew the order under political fire.) We stress this point because this appears to be characteristic of Ms. Palin. After she became Governor, she fired, just two months ago in July, 2008, the Commissioner of Public Safety. She claimed that the firing was because of ineptitude, but he claimed that it was for political reasons, that he refused to succumb to pressure from Ms. Palin's family to fire her brother-in-law who was in a child custody dispute with her sister.

She has stood by indicted Senator Ted Stevens, a political ally, but has denounced as corrupt her political foe for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2006, Frank Murkowski.

Thus, this is how Ms. Palin's "clean government" ideals appear to work: if the fellow be agin her, she be agin him; if the fellow be for her, she be for him. Very simple.

We also learn that she was a communications-journalism major at the University of Idaho, from which she graduated in 1987, after spending time at three other colleges. In 1988, she took a job as a tv sports reporter for an Anchorage tv station.

Ms. Palin "takes on", she tells us, the big oil companies as Governor during the last 22 months since becoming Governor. The only thing we find, however, about her taking on the oil companies is her support of oil and natural gas drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, that is on the North Slope of Alaska. She bragged at the convention of being responsible as Governor for the natural gas pipeline from the North Slope, which she signed into law this past June. While it is true that natural gas burns cleaner, with fewer carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere than gasoline, it is also a fossil fuel which nevertheless emits CO2 and therefore contributes to global warming, just to a lesser extent. But, where does Ms. Palin promote natural gas vehicles and an infrastructure to support them?

She has, incidentally, awarded the contract to build and run the 26 billion dollar pipeline to TransCanada Corporation and provided the company half a billion dollars in initial government funding to begin operations. In other words, she favors Canadian oil companies over United States oil companies-- standing up to big oil.

She also thinks there is no need to increase protection of whales in Cook Inlet where oil and gas production has been favored.

She seems to believe in global warming, however, but also does not think it is produced by man.

God did it, maybe. Or, the Devil? Or is it the result too much over time of exchanging one devil for another? Time saving for speed of travel, requiring, once there, however, faster and faster work or play for the regimentation of the society giving custom to speed in the going and doing, necessitating only time-limited pauses in same for recreation? If this phenomenon is not the result of action by man, who? Breaking that pattern is the first step.

Try incremental tax credits, substantial and meaningful tax credits to those who can demonstrate, by DMV certified annual odometer readings on all registered gasoline vehicles in the individual's or household's name, less than x number of miles per year of driving. So much credit for less than 5,000 miles, so much for less than 10,000, for instance. There, a creative suggestion. Try it. It doesn't hurt anybody while providing direct incentive not to drive. Save gas and taxes at the same time. Much better than some across-the-board penny-ante tax rebate.

Well, that is about all the print fit to nous which we have been able to accumulate about Ms. Palin in the past eight days. But, as we indicated, we continue to keep an open mind and await eagerly the debates.

"In Checkmate" provides a quick digest of the strategies being practiced between Japan, still officially neutral, and the German-Italian side of the Axis. As we have suggested before, one can reduce the entire war with Japan down to a single issue: trade with the United States in silk to produce silk stockings and underwear in exchange for trade with Japan in oil, scrap iron, copper and steel, copper being necessary for bullets, the rest for obvious war machine development. Du Pont was busy developing rayon and nylon to replace silk, and eventually, by August, 1941, silk imports were stopped from Japan, and Japan's assets in the United States frozen, which also effectively prevented the sale of oil which had otherwise gone unchecked through July, 1941 and still continued into the fall to be allowed without a direct ban, if abated by the lack of capital with which to effect the trade.

The editorial's chart below on necessary commodities trade to Japan from the United States tells much about the reasons for the war with Japan, as that trade slowly was curtailed and cut off in summer and fall, 1941. But the ultimate reason, of course, was Japan's desire to develop an empire in the Pacific, the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. It had been doing so with its war in China since 1931, stepped up in intensity beginning in the fall of 1937, stepped up with further intensity after July 2, 1941 when the Japanese High Command, in meeting with Emperor Hirohito, determined to move south to Indochina, Thailand, Burma, the Dutch East Indies, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Had Japan been willing to withdraw from China, as demanded by the United States finally, to avoid the trade cessation in silk, had not made its move to occupy French Indochina in late July, 1941, the trade issues would never have arisen in the first place. But the blockage of trade to the island nation ultimately was the immediate cause of Japan having to move south for supplies to continue warring on China, and to supply the Reich with needed oil and rubber for its war machine bogged down during the Russian campaign. The last two sentences of "In Checkmate" explain why it was so important for Japan to attempt to deliver a decisive, crippling blow to the United States Fleet at Pearl Harbor.

"A Tragedy" suggests again what happens when society permits easy access to handguns. Recently, for the first time, the Supreme Court has directly confronted the issue of whether the Second Amendment allows the possession of guns for purposes other than participation in a "well regulated militia". In the 5 to 4 decision handed down in late June, 2008, the Court in D.C. v. Heller struck down the D.C. ordinance prohibiting the possession of handguns, leaving intact the provisional exception that a special permit may be issued by the police chief, and also striking down the part of the ordinance banning the possession of any firearm even in the home without a trigger lock. The decision largely uses semantics to reach its result.

It throws out the introductory clause of the sentence, "A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State..." and calls it a "prefatory clause" intended only either to resolve an ambiguity in or to enunciate the purpose of the "operative clause" but not to limit it, i.e., in this case merely to state gratuitously an introduction, not the operative language of the amendment, which the Court held to be in the concluding "operative clause", that is "...the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The Court thus held, by rendering nugatory the "prefatory clause", the D.C. law to infringe the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for a lawful purpose, such as self-defense in the home. (So, if you happen to deliver milk to the homes of any of the five majority justices, beware.)

Justice Scalia, who in 1989 delivered the opinion upholding the right of free political speech in flag burning cases, delivered the opinion of the majority of the Court.

The majority determined that "the people" referred to in the operative clause is a broader class, those who have "developed sufficient connection with this country to be considered part of that community", (which appears of itself to suggest something other than merely being a citizen, but we leave that aside), than "the militia" in the prefatory clause. Thus, though not clearly stated this way, the majority concludes that the prefatory clause is defining of purpose only. If the First Amendment had said, however: "It being necessary to the maintenance of a free press in a free state, the right of the people to freedom of speech shall not be infringed," we posit that such a limiting prefatory clause would have led to far different results in interpretation than the actual language of the First Amendment; since the First Amendment, however, does not say that, we cannot prove it, any more than the majority in this opinion may read out the limiting prefatory clause regarding militias by concluding that it is a narrower class than that in the operative clause, and thus only meant to state the defining purpose of the Amendment, not its limited class of applicability.

The decision then goes on to interpret from eighteenth and nineteenth century state constitutional provisions that "bear arms" included expressly in those state constitutional provisions the right of individual self-defense. But that reasoning takes from certain state constitutions of the time an expressed phrase which was not adopted in the Federal Constitution and then assumes the Founders intended the Federal Constitution, which eliminated the self-defense language of these contemporaneous state constitutional provisions, to have nevertheless implicitly intended that language.

That appears as a fallacious argument, exactly reversing normal rules of constitutional analysis: since the Founders eliminated language found in other state constitutions of the time, such as that cited by the Court, "bear arms in defense of themselves and the state" or "bear arms in defense of himself and the state", that omission would necessarily imply that the Founders intended the right to bear arms in the Federal Constitution instead to be limited by the prefatory clause re militia service, not the reverse of including implied but unexpressed language from these state constitutional provisions. Indeed, the decision recognizes as much by expressing, "It is always perilous to derive the meaning of an adopted provision from another provision deleted in the drafting process," in reference to the argument by Justice Stevens in dissent that James Madison had originally proposed the amendment with an additional clause, "...but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person", as being instructive of the original purpose of the amendment, i.e., keeping and bearing arms for use in the well regulated militia.

The opinion sets forth next that there is no linguistic evidence from the time of adoption that "keep arms" was limited to military use. It rejects Justice Stevens's argument that "keep and bear arms" was a term of art at the time, similar to "hue and cry", that the terms were often used as a phrase to mean one thing, the possession of arms. The majority simply rejects this analysis by saying it lacks evidence and that, even if so, there is no evidence to suggest it was limited to keeping arms for military usage, again ignoring, however, the prefatory clause as written. Then the Court adverts to other uses elsewhere of "keep and bear arms", namely a debate before the House of Lords in England in 1780 wherein Lord Richmond argued that disarming the citizens was "a violation of the constitutional right [in England] of Protestant subjects to keep and bear arms for their own defense." This, the majority opines, suggests contemporaneous usage of "keep and bear arms" in relation to individual citizens' rights of self-defense, not therefore limited to the military usage context.

England. 1780. The House of Lords. Pray tell, pray tell: Where on earth "this side of the looking-glass", as the majority opinion once attacks the dissent's reasoning as obversely being, did the majority come up with this logic worthy of the Mad Hatter? which it also suggests as representative of the dissent at one point in its analysis. Down the rabbit hole, maybe?

We are now citing to debate in the House of Lords during the Revolutionary War for some interpretation of our Second Amendment ratified as part of our Constitution to establish a democratic republic after fighting a Revolution to void our subjection to the House of Lords?

It is England, not America, which is shaped as a rabbit. And Mr. Carroll came from Cheshire in England, where they have the cat with the grin. (We mean by that no insult to our British cousins or the Beatles--one of whom was shot to death by a lunatic Fundamentalist-trained fanatic from South Carolina, with an easily obtainable handgun on December 8, 1980, outside the Dakota apartment building across from Central Park in New York City. And had John Lennon been so reckless or warlike as to carry a handgun for "self-defense", which surely, being a public figure with death threats in the past from just such Fundamentalist lunatic fanatics, for his "more popular than Jesus" comment of August, 1966, he could have likely obtained had he so desired, even in such a strictly controlled gun ownership locale as New York City, it wouldn't have done him an ounce of good as he was assaulted from out of the darkness by this person lying in wait for him in an alleyway approach to the entrance to Mr. Lennon's home. And his name was not Daniel, and just what song was playing in his head, God only knows, but it wasn't that of the Beatles or John Lennon, which mainly dealt with getting along with each other peacefully and lovingly, an honest and sane credo, but one which does not exclude debate, even fierce debate, short of fisticuffs and guns and knives and bows and arrows and other weaponry of the ghoulish wights and carrows.)

The opinion proceeds to analyze "bear arms" and concludes that, based on contemporaneous language current at ratification, it has no idiomatic meaning limiting it to military service unless accompanied by the preposition against. It concludes that to interpret it otherwise would lead to the absurdity that the right "to bear arms" implicitly means the right to wage war or to be a soldier, which, being non-existent, would be ludicrous.

We find that interpretation illogical. The sentence simply means, rearranged a little from its eighteenth century floridity, that the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed so that the well regulated militia, necessary to the security of a free state, will be maintained. The so-called operative clause is dependent upon the so-called prefatory clause--in ordinary English usage, the rule of interpretation applicable to the Constitution absent special meanings, not in issue here. The reason that the right to keep and bear arms was expressed was based on the nature of militia service at the time, one requiring that members have weapons at the ready in their homes and on their persons. Thus, it was an expression of an individual right subservient only to a collective right, or "corporate" right as the majority terms it. The right is not to serve in the militia per se, but to keep and bear arms for that purpose only. Otherwise, the prefatory clause becomes superfluous language, which runs counter to a primary rule of statutory and constitutional construction that all words of a constitutional provision or statute have meaning and are not to be deemed superfluous.

The opinion next states, implicitly in conjunction with the Ninth Amendment's omnibus statement that rights "enumerated" shall not be construed to deny or disparage "others" retained by the people, but also ignoring the distinctions in this language between the rights thus enumerated and those others not so enumerated, that the Second Amendment, as with the First and Fourth, only suggests a pre-existing right not to be infringed by laws, not granting the right. The Court cites for that proposition U.S. v. Cruikshank, 92 US 542 at 553, (one of our old friends from Bush v. Gore) a Louisiana case from 1876 striking down as defective the indictments of members of the KKK for conspiracy to deprive African-Americans of the right to vote and the right to bear arms, among other things. That case states in this regard:

The right there specified [in certain counts of the indictment] is that of 'bearing arms for a lawful purpose.' This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed; but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress. This is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government, leaving the people to look for their protection against any violation by their fellow-citizens of the rights it recognizes, to what is called, in The City of New York v. Miln, 11 Pet. 139, the 'powers which relate to merely municipal legislation, or what was, perhaps, more properly called internal police,' 'not surrendered or restrained' by the Constitution of the United States.

So, assuming this language to stand for that proposition, even if implicit in the language of not infringing a right is, ipso facto, by the expression of "right" the expressed establishment and recognition of the right, as limited here by the prefatory clause, that still does not take into account the prefatory clause regarding the purpose of the amendment being to provide for the establishment of a well regulated militia and thereby limiting expressly the "right" not to be infringed, whether pre-existing in some manner or ratified by the amendment. Parenthetically, the pre-existing nature of the right was examined by Cruikshank, as it also held with respect to the right of assembly, for determination as to whether the right was one granted afresh by the Constitution and which could not therefore be infringed by the national government. At the time, the Bill of Rights was considered not to operate on the states, only the national government. But, since Cruikshank, as is obvious to every lawyer and recognized by Heller, the cases interpreting the application of the Fourteenth Amendment have held it to operate on the states to assure the fundamental rights granted in the Bill of Rights. The right of assembly, for instance, now is considered to operate on the states as well, though not so at the time of Cruikshank. Thus, the Heller majority's assumption that the pre-existing nature of the right, prior to ratification, now, in light of modern 14th Amendment application, has determinative force in whether the Constitution grants the right or merely prohibits infringement of the pre-exisiting right, appears defective, not to mention--or maybe to mention--anachronistic.

Moreover, that prefatory clause, we assert, was thus meant to define more precisely the pre-existing right for the very reason of avoiding the suggestion that the Ninth Amendment's grant of other rights not so enumerated in the Bill of Rights would be interpreted to mean an unrestricted right to keep and bear arms. That is to say that the Second Amendment ratifies a pre-existing right, but delimits the right in so doing by stating its limited purpose. So no law may infringe the right to keep and bear arms which are borne or kept for the purpose of participation in the well regulated militia.

Implicit then in the police powers of the state, interpreted historically by the Court to be within the Tenth Amendment, enabling the states to pass laws for the maintenance of the health, safety, morals and welfare of the people, is the ability, without infringing the Second Amendment, to limit the keeping and bearing arms for other purposes than the maintenance of the well regulated militia. Why else would the prefatory clause be there?

The majority says it is to establish the purpose of the right. We agree. But why do that at all if it is not also a delimiter of that right? Why not simply phrase it, consistent with the plain grant of the rights under the First Amendment, viz., "The Congress shall make no law infringing the right of the people to keep and bear arms"?

The opinion is quite long and intricate, and we admit that we have not yet finished reading it with thorough analysis in mind, but having studied the issue quite a bit before, we think we have a fair understanding of its points. Nevertheless, we shall return to it in time and try to analyze the rest of it as well.

The opinion expressly does not forbid the regulation of handguns; it merely says that the District cannot ban them or require locks on them in the home. It also expressly recognizes the problem of handgun violence in the country. It says that regulations such as prohibiting possession by felons or the mentally ill or prohibiting the carrying of firearms in sensitive places, such as schools and government buildings, and laws establishing conditions for commercial sale of firearms, are not to be cast in doubt by the opinion. But how does that regulatory aspect not squarely run counter to the freedom which the Court recognizes to keep and bear arms for self-defense, irrespective of any purpose for participation in a well regulated militia? That is akin to saying that you may have them without government infringement because there is an absolute right to them for self-defense, but only as limited by government regulation reasonably mandated (presumably under the Tenth Amendment). While we agree that the latter is the case certainly, the whole thing devolves to a non-sensical rationale, if reading in a self-defense clause not present in the amendment, while essentially reading out the plainly delimiting language on a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state. It appears to negate the original intent of the Founders and replaces it with what is deemed by the Court to be appropriate limitations--legislating, in other words, from the bench.

The opinion expressly upholds the only previous Supreme Court case on the Second Amendment, U.S. v. Miller, 307 US 174, from 1939, holding that a sawed-off shotgun was not protected by the Second Amendment and stating that the Second Amendment only protected those weapons "in common use at the time" of ratification, looking at the common weaponry kept for purposes of participation in the militia. Specifically, that earlier Court, still quite conservative in 1939, held that unless there was evidence showing that the weapon in question bears a "reasonable relationhip to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia", the Second Amendment does not guarantee the right to keep and bear the arm. The Heller decision upholds a ban on "dangerous and unusual weapons". It also recognizes that we do not have militias per se anymore, as were necessary at the time of the founding, replaced now by a standing army, the National Guard, and police forces.

Reading those sentences from Heller together, with the plain language of Miller, we conclude that if you keep a Revolutionary War era musket or powder-charged pistol which fires one shot at a time and requires a ramrod and powder bag for its usage, you probably would be alright. A revolver, however, did not exist in 1789; neither did rifles with telescopic sights. And so we take it that a well-drafted ordinance not banning the possession of all "handguns", but limiting its ban to "revolvers", "automatic handguns", "semi-automatic handguns", "those weapons which have come into existence since 1800", etc., for instance, might indeed pass the scrutiny set forth by Heller and Miller.

Is the problem then with the D.C. ordinance only that it was not properly drafted to limit its proscription? Time will tell.

Try it, Mr. or Ms. Legislator, and the result cannot be anything but salutary. And that being so even if the bare majority of the Supreme Court might think you Mad Hatters for drafting it. We are only relying on their expressed language in suggesting it. And, if you are a Mad Hatter keeping innocent kids alive from the tortures of handgun violence, then better to be that Mad Hatter than a lunatic fanatic who believes that in this day and age it is just alright to carry a revolver or rifle to work or school for "self-defense" because it happens to be legally acquired after the proper waiting periods and registration.

The opinion states that it cannot rule the Second Amendment outmoded, even in a time with police forces and a standing army in place of the well regulated militias serving instead the purpose of collective defense at the Founding. (It was after all George Washington, himself, who warned of the dangers of a standing army.) But, was the Court actually constrained to rule that the Second Amendment is outmoded, or was it being asked to interpret the full language of the Amendment to include the prefatory clause? We think the latter was the limited logical question before the Court.

And we might ask rhetorically where the right of self-defense and defense of others, as relied upon by the majority to justify the result, necessarily implies the right to self-defense by use of a handgun, the primary weapon at issue before the Court under the D.C. ordinance.

C'est la vie. Such, too, is death by the handgun. Tell all the fancy semantic twisting and twining to the maimed or the relatives of the next dead victims of handguns which the bearer and keeper purchased legally, bore and kept for the expressed purpose of "self-defense", having in mind secretly the use of them for committing premeditated murder--such as Mr. Cho did at Virginia Tech in April, 2007. There will undoubtedly be more cases to be heard in the near future on this matter. We hope the practical result might be different, based on the principles already enunciated in this decision.

The dissent, we suggest, is not only not that of the Mad Hatter. For we do read the Second Amendment thusly: "The Right to Keep and Bear Arms being necessary for the security of the people in their homes and for self-defense, and a well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right shall not be infringed." Yet, that is the implication found by the majority.

Well, maybe on the bright side, try that re-drafting of those ordinances specifically to accord Miller and the adhering language at pages 54-55 in Heller, such that your ordinance prohibits only those weapons and their ammunition not in common use at the time of ratification of the Second Amendment, with a list of prohibited weaponry as specific and as lengthy as you wish to make it, as long as they were not of a type in use at ratification, and the Supreme Court might be constrained to uphold it. Consult your local antique gun collector for further specificity of the class of weaponry you cannot prohibit.

To the gun-toters, therefore, we suggest containing your celebration and keeping your powder dry and your ramrod handy.

Anyway, don't mind us. We've been reading too much Waverley Rudisill of late, probably. Speaking of whom, The Wave is back in today's prints. We read, incidentally, that he invented a new ingredient for Brylcream in the 1950's, "Duckwave", which gave rise to a short-lived fad in the culinary arts called ducktail soup, with its patented slogan, "If it, wave it like you won't to"; and that Danny of Danny and the Juniors was a personal friend. But that's only rumor. We don't wish to spread Columnbilious dissimulatable assembilizations about any body.

Got milk?

A Tragedy

Able Mack Hobson Begins His Career Badly

Tragic is the case of Mack Hobson of Dunn. And the judge who sentenced him to four months in jail must have had a tussle in making up his mind as to exactly what ought to be done with him.

The boy has hung up a brilliant record at the University of North Carolina and had every prospect of a brilliant career before him. He was undoubtedly laboring under the influence of powerful emotions when he entered the store and pulled out a gun--to shoot himself, he said, in front of the girl, Alease Tart; she says to shoot her if she hadn't grabbed the gun. And, by some ironic quirk of fate, it is precisely the brilliant who are most liable to violent emotional upsets.

On the other hand, and accepting his own account of his purpose (as the judge seems to have done), his act had endangered a large number of people and resulted in the wounding--painful if not dangerous--of two innocent bystanders. And to let him go simply because he is brilliant and because of understanding of the stress under which he operated would be grossly unfair and would set up a perilous precedent. There will be many people, indeed, who will think that the four-month jail term imposed on him was quite inadequate.

However, it is possible to hope that he will have learned his lesson, which is the main thing. And his punishment is actually far greater than the length of the prison term indicates. He has not perhaps absolutely estopped himself from the realization of his future prospects, but he has certainly loaded himself with a tremendous handicap to begin with. For four months in jail is a hard thing to forget or to be forgotten.

In Checkmate

Japan's Plans Come to Grief On British-U. S. Agreement

One of the most important results of the Roosevelt deal with Britain is that it frees our hands for a strong policy toward Japan. Since the British navy is not to go to Germany under any circumstances, we may feel secure in the Atlantic and extend the range of our navy's operations in the Pacific.

Already Secretary Hull has taken a firm stand with regard to French Indo-China, and the Japanese are said to have withdrawn an ultimatum to that rich province under which they would occupy it while pretending merely to use it as a passage way to attack China.

Our interest in the Far East is much less to protect our possessions and financial interests there--they aren't worth the risk of a fight--than to see that we are respected in the world as a people able and willing to act when necessary, and which means what it says, and to see that the Japanese do not succeed in creating the great Far Eastern slave empire they hope for. Such an empire could and would flood the world with goods so cheap we cannot hope to compete. And it would guarantee that we would have to fight in the end, to keep the Japanese out of South America, upon which they have quite as definite designs as the Nazis themselves.

If we must fight, it would be better to fight before this empire came into existence, not afterward. But chances are we won't have to fight if we move with the vigor and the decision which now seems to be developing.

Japan is actually at our economic mercy. In 1938, for example, the percentage of essential war materials which she got from us was:

Copper ............................................ 90.9

Scrap iron and steel .........................90.4

Ferro-alloys .....................................82.7

Aircraft and parts ............................76.9

Petroleum and products ..................65.6

Automobiles and parts ................... 64.7

Lead ............................................... 45.5

She can secure these things nowhere else, now that England is at war and the continent of Europe is blocked off from the seas. More than that, we are her main customer for her silk, which she must sell in order to raise foreign exchange with which to buy war materials.

What Japan has counted on has been a swift Nazi knockout of England, resulting in the hasty removal of the Navy to the Atlantic. Meantime she has counted on anti-war sentiment in the country to insure that the ground for the rapid building of her empire, after England's fatal fall, could safely be prepared by grabbing Indo-China and afterwards the Dutch East Indies and Singapore.

The outlook is now a great deal different. And if she is faced with the clear understanding that we will act, if necessary, it is not likely that she would try to go ahead with her plans. An encounter with the American Navy is the last thing Japan wants, for the odds are that she would lose. And if the Japanese navy were destroyed Japan would sink back from her present estate of a first-ranking nation to that of a group of islands no more important than the Philippines.

Minority Rule

House Truckles to Pressure With Election in Mind

It is sometimes said that the House is more immediately responsive to the will of the people than the Senate.

We have said it ourselves. But the fact is probably only that it is more immediately responsive to organized minority pressure groups.

Reports out of Washington indicate that the letters and telegrams opposing the draft are reaching Congressmen in larger numbers than those favoring it. That is in direct conflict with the various opinion polls, the close accuracy of which has been demonstrated, and which indicate that popular sentiment in favor of immediate conscription is more than two to one.

There is something else which indicates that it is minority pressure groups which are responsible for this--the fact that so many of the letters and telegrams have identical wording.

These minority pressure groups are of many kinds. Some of them have Communist and Nazi backing. Others are made up of honest enough but chuckle-headed people.

Is the House foolish enough to believe that they actually represent the majority will? Of course it isn't. Merely Congressmen know that these minority pressure groups will rigidly hold it against them if their will is defied, whereas the unorganized majority is nearly always sure to forget within a few days or weeks. In short, for insurance of their re-election at the polls in November, it is far safer to flout the unorganized popular opinion than the organized minority opinion.

And it is precisely on that cynical basis that the House yesterday amended the draft bill to defer conscription for 60 days in favor of the voluntary system which has already been tried and found sadly wanting. The 60-day period, you observe, will be just long enough to get the Representatives over the election hurdle, after which they can go back to consulting something besides politics for a while.

It is exactly the sort of thing which has made so many nations abandon the democratic system in disgust.

One-Job Man*

Post Office and Party Under New Management for a Spell

The name of Frank C. Walker, New York City lawyer and theater-owner, has been sent by the President to the Senate for confirmation as Post Master General. Mr. Walker, a former treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, will bring to his new job some of the political aptitude which distinguished Jim Farley's career in the place.

It is likely, too, that he will make about as good an executive head of the Post Office Department as Jim made, although he may not be quite so ingenious at explaining away the perennial deficits.

But in any case, for the moment at least the country may enjoy the unusual circumstance of a Post Office Department being run by a man who is not at the same time his party's political overseer.

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