The Red Hat

On that Sunday in mid-June, when Fathers are celebrated and given gifts they will probably never use, along with a portable golf ball heater, Dave Roth’s son Jeff proudly presented his father with a red baseball cap emblazoned with the words “MAKE DONALD DRUMPF AGAIN.” Dave was thrilled. I can’t wait to wear it,” he said. “Be careful Dad, you may run into a Bernie supporter who will mistake it for the real thing and beat the crap out of you,” Jeff said half jokingly, knowing how rabid Bernie supporters could be. “Don’t worry Jeff, I can defend myself, after all I was captain of my college baseball team and I’m still in great shape.” “Please Dad, that was fifty years ago, get serious.” “Besides, in this Liberal neighborhood such a thing is highly unlikely to occur,” answered Dave smugly.

Later that afternoon, Dave came out of Zabar’s and stopped to check his receipt. He noticed that a light, chilly rain was beginning to fall. “I’m glad I wore my new hat,” he thought as he pulled it down tight around his ears. “It will keep me dry until I get home.” Suddenly a burly man came up to him quickly and said stridently in a loud voice, “A Trump hat! What the hell is that? Why are you wearing a Trump hat?” “Oh this is just a parody of a Trump hat,” said Dave. “You see Drumpf was the old Trump family name.” The man answered quickly,”I don’t understand a word you said. What the hell is a parody? Are you making fun of me?” Then in one swift motion he ripped Dave’s hat from his head, threw it in the gutter, and smacked Dave in the face, breaking his glasses. Dave fell backward into the wall, feeling his legs give way. As he slumped forward he felt that old familiar pain in his chest, the shortness of breath, the dizziness, the nausea, and before his knees hit the ground his last mortal thought came to him, “I should have felt the Bern!”

Poetry

My first contact with poetry was when I was 10 years old and went to the public library for the very first time. I went by myself on the bus. My grandmother gave me my carfare, and checked to be sure I had on clean underwear just in case “something happened to me.” I went to the Westchester Square  branch, about a 20 minute ride from our house in the Bronx. When I arrived I was immediately taken by the enormity of the place. The stacks of books were much taller than I and the light from the tall casement windows lit up the room. This was a far cry from the Bookmobile, the portable library inside a dark and narrow truck that visited our remote corner of the Bronx every 2 weeks. The librarian, sensing a first time visitor, welcomed me and asked if she could help. She suggested as my first book, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. It was one of those classic works, probably published in the 1920’s with magnificent colored illustrations and a gilt lettered spine. I carried that book back home on the bus with a sense of pride and the expectation of what I would discover inside. Thus began my love of books and libraries. On opening the book for the first time I saw an epigraph poem on the frontispiece whose first stanza went like this:

If sailor tales to sailor tunes, storms and adventure, heat and cold,

If schooners, islands, and maroons, and buccaneers, and buried gold,

And all the old romance, retold exactly in the ancient way,

Can please, as me they pleased of old, the wiser youngsters of today,

So be it, and fall on!

I was immediately taken by this poem and read it so many times that I learned it by heart. A year or so later I came upon a TV series called “The Adventures of Long John Silver” and I heard the poem recited at the beginning of every episode in the voice of Long John Silver himself as voice-over to the black and white images of a 3-masted ship sailing over the waves of our 12 inch TV. I immediately got hooked on the series, which ran only for one year, and even recited the poem along with him, inserting his hearty laughter, “Har, har, har!” between the last 2 lines. That singular experience led me to a lifelong love of poetry in all its forms, best of all the iambic pentameter of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Many years later I had the opportunity to take a 3-day acting Shakespeare workshop with Patsy Rodenburg of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the coach to Anthony Hopkins, Judi Dench and  Helen Mirren. I asked Miss Rodenburg why she thought a 10 year old kid would be so struck by Stevenson’s poem that it would lead to a lifelong love of poetry?  I was prepared for a deep, psychological understanding and explanation of my query, but all she said was, “You liked it, Edward. You simply liked it.”  That was a life lesson. Since then I’ve come to understand that a lot of  the things I’ve liked in my life I’ve liked simply because I’ve liked them.

Next week I will attend a reading of the poetry of  the Polish poet and Nobel Prize winner, Wislawa  Szymborska, Why? Because I like it.

People I Knew When They Were Alive: Dolores Quinton

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Dolores Quinton was my friend and teacher. She changed my life. She was very good at that. She was my champion. She encouraged and supported me. She made me courageous. She gave me heart, her heart. She was one of the very few people in my life that I felt really understood me. Because that was the way she was, it came naturally to her. “Thinking makes it so,” she would say. That was her mantra. “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” in Hamlet’s words. (Act II, Scene ii). She loved Hamlet. I can see her excitement now as she quoted his direction to the players. “That is the only acting book you will ever need,” she would say. “He directs us, he tells us what to say and what to do and how to do it and it is all in the text.” She could quote whole speeches from the plays, men’s as well as women’s. She had had a full, active and successful life in the theater as an actor, producer, teacher, and coach. We would often share a cab home from functions together, and on one of those occasions I figured out that this woman who coached Peter Sellers in one of his major film roles just might coach me, who had been acting for about 15 minutes. She was thrilled to take me on and so began a relationship that I will always cherish.

Dolores was passionate about the theater and she had a special love for theater history. She spoke about the great American Shakespearean actor Louis Calvert as if she knew him, and yes she could quote him as well. Although he died before she was born, she knew about him through “The Professor” Randolph Somerville who ran the drama department and theater program at NYU where she trained after her time dancing with Martha Graham at Bennington. She adored The Professor. And she often spoke about him with great respect for his talent and as one who taught her so much. So I had the benefit of learning from all of these masters, through her who channeled their craft. She was especially proud of her producing achievements and often spoke with such joy about her many collaborations. After I had landed a role in an Off-Off-Broadway Sam Shepard play, and the play closed after receiving very good notices, she called me and said “I am sending you to the Players Club!” “Why I asked?” “As a reward for all your hard work, I am so proud of you. I am sending you to Booth Night. The Players Club reeks of Booth, he is everywhere there!” And so I went off to the Players Club. The next day I had to give her a complete review of the evening’s events. And of course she wanted to know every detail. But that was just one example of the full measure of her devotion and generosity.

The morning she died I was walking in the theater district on the way to my first Equity principal audition for a Broadway show. I was thinking about her when my phone rang. It was our friend Elizabeth with the news of her death. My inclination after hanging up was to go home but I could hear her telling me to go on. Which of course I did. Sitting on the bench between 2 actors waiting my turn, I was thinking about her when all of a sudden I heard her say to me “Don’t think of me, think of your monologue, prepare to go in there. Thinking makes it so.” And so I did just that. It was the best audition I ever had. Of course I didn’t get the call back, but that’s show biz. I knew she was very proud anyway.

She often quoted Louis Calvert’s principles for the Actor: Imagination, Desire, Humanity, Generosity, Compassion and Persistence. She embodied and lived these virtues every day of her life, and she instilled them in me. Life is a series of choices, and choices begin with thoughts. She always had the best of both. She also lived a life of deep and abiding faith. I knew this from the chats we had about her daughter, Patricia, who died at age 6. She was her little angel who made her own faith remarkably strong. These stories gave me great comfort and strengthened my own, sometimes, doubting faith.

At the end of our work together she was helping me with a difficult speech from “The Winter’s Tale.” We had met to go over it the week before she died. I had trouble with the line, “I have heard, but not believed the spirits of the dead may walk again.” (Antigonus, Act III, Sc. Iii) We spent a long time on that line but when I got it, she almost leaped out of her chair, “That’s it, that’s it, you’ve got it,” she said laughing and shouting at the same time. I believe Dolores’ spirit will walk again, of that I am sure. Nothing can or ever will restrain her spirit.

Polonius’ parting words to Laertes, as he began his journey came to me as her farewell:

“The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stay’d for. There; my blessing with thee!
And these few precepts in thy memory
See thou character.”
(Polonius, Hamlet, Act I, Sc. iii)

“Punch out those consonants. The consonants have all the energy and power!,” she would say with great gusto.

“Blossom, speed thee well.”
(Antigonus, The Winters Tale, Act III, Sc. iii)

9/11

A clear, crisp September morning, sparkling blue cloudless sky: the beginning of a perfect day.
I was padding around my apartment, cup of coffee in one hand, the New York Times in the other, unemployed and preoccupied with thoughts of a business meeting in a few hours with a potential client.  I was jolted out of my reverie by the sound of my phone ringing. It was my youngest sister , Margaret, calling from Chicago. “You’re ok!,” she screamed, “Oh my God I thought you might be down there.”  “ Down where? What  are you talking about?” I said. “A plane just hit the World Trade Center, turn on the TV.” I hurriedly turned on the TV just in time to see a plane strike the south tower.  Thinking at first it was a replay, I quickly realized that what I was looking at was a second strike. I later learned that the time had been 9:03 am. The date was September 11, 2001. In the coming days and months, and for years to come, for all its horror and complexity, the day would be known simply as 9/11.
The next day I went downtown to visit some friends. The subways were not running so I took my bike and headed down Lexington Avenue. There were no cars and in the eerie silence of a deadened city I made good time. I was startled by the roar of two FA-18 Strike Fighters circling overhead. When I got toward 23rd Street I could see an crowd of hundreds in front of the armory at 26th Street. As I had to walk my bike through the crowd I noticed that they all seemed to be carrying pictures and flyers of missing loved ones hoping that someone would recognize them and direct them to where they might be found. Such hope in that outdoor market place. The armory was set up as a center for loved ones and family members to register their missing persons but the crowd was so large it spilled over onto Lexington Avenue.
A couple of weeks later I asked my friend Russ who drove a truck ladder if I could do anything to support his firehouse which had lost nine men. “We’re selling hats and sweatshirts,” he said, “Come on down and buy some.” So I went there and arrived just in time for lunch and a piece of chocolate cake. As I was finishing my cake, the alarm sounded and within a minute the engine and the truck were out the door fully crewed. They waved to me as they rolled and said. “Finish your cake, Eddie, we’ll see you later.”
As I stood there in the silence, I looked around and saw all their shoes scattered around the floor exactly where they had left them when they jumped into their boots. And then the image flashed in my mind that this was the scene on 9/11 when the men returned to find the shoes of their missing comrades in the lacunae of that firehouse floor..

Inside Job

The one who lacks peace, with all his possessions, the property of this earth or quality of mind, is poor even with both. … True wisdom is to be found in the peaceful, for peacefulness is the sign of wisdom. It is the peaceful one who is observant. It is peace that gives him the power to observe keenly. It is the peaceful one, therefore, who can conceive, for peace helps him to conceive. It is the peaceful who can contemplate; one who has no peace cannot contemplate properly. Therefore, all things pertaining to spiritual progress in life depend upon peace.
To attain peace, what one has to do is to seek that rhythm which is in the depth of our being. It is just like the sea: the surface of the sea is ever moving; the depth of the sea is still. And so it is with our life. If our life is thrown into the sea of activity, it is on the surface. We still live in the profound depths, in that peace. But the thing is to become conscious of that peace which can be found within ourselves. … the first thing is to seek the kingdom of God within ourselves, in which there is our peace. As soon as we have found that, we have found our support, we have found our self. And in spite of all the activity and movement on the surface, we shall be able to keep that peace undisturbed if only we hold it fast by becoming conscious of it.
from http://wahiduddin.net/mv2/I/I_IV_6.htm
The bliss found in the solitude is hidden within every human being; he has inherited it from his heavenly Father. In mystical terms it is called the All-pervading Light.
from http://wahiduddin.net/mv2/VIIIa/VIIIa_1_5.htm
How can one attain to the deeper side? … One method is to acquire the knowledge from the life without, and that is going to school and attaining the knowledge in that way. Another method is quite different; it is not going to school or institution and study, but closing the door of one’s room, sitting in solitude, closing the eyes, being oneself once again, and trying to put one’s mind within, seeking the source within, getting the knowledge which be gotten only from within.
~~~ “Message Papers, December 17, 1923”, by Hazrat Inayat Khan (unpublished)
~~~ Wisdom is attained in solitude.

People I Knew When They Were Alive: Rudolf A. H. Bergmann

I first met Rudi about 1978 in a support group for an illness from which both of our wives were suffering. Initially our communications surrounded our deteriorating situations and we would often go out for coffee or have lunch. At the time he was about 60 years old. We discovered that we both enjoyed tennis and we played often. Guys at the tennis club I belonged to called him “Pop” or “Granddad” because he was about 5′ 4″ tall and he had a very distinguished handle-bar mustache, and an odd accent. He rode his bicycle every where, including work and he swam every day. He lived to be 91 years old and died in 2009.

At the time that I met him, Rudi was working for Drexel Burnham Lambert as a stock broker. He soon became my broker and as I had just finished my MBA and considered myself to be a stock picker, he and I collaborated on some very interesting, and profitable ideas. On Black Monday in October 1987, I was long OEX puts and had held the position over the weekend anticipating oil problems in the Middle East. When Iranian gunboats attacked American warships in the gulf, the market tanked on Monday morning. I made a ton of money and Rudi was always there to take my call. The market was 2 hours behind on quotes and I had a vague idea of my position’s worth. I trusted Rudi to sell at 3:00 p.m. which he did. I treated him to a fine champagne dinner in celebration of our success.

Rudi was Dutch. A Dutchman he would say and very proud of it. He was very close to Maurits Edersheim, Chairman of DBL who was close to the Royal Familiy of the Netherlands. Rudi managed a lot of Dutch and European money for the firm in their international department.  But there was much more to Rudi than stockbroker-swimmer-bike rider-tennis player.

Rudi graduated from the University of Leyden in 1939. His father was a successful merchant and businessman. Rudi studied the classics and prepared for a career in the Dutch foreign service. He learned Indonesian and trained to serve in the Dutch colony of Indonesia. He remembered the day, May 10, 1940 when the Nazis invaded Holland. He particularly remembered the parachute landings in Rotterdam after the terrible bombing of that city. The country fell in only 6 days as the Dutch army was much too small to hold back the blitzkrieg. And he told me about the first day he had to wear the star and how the noose slowly tightened around Jews by imposition of regulations, laws, and procedures aimed at segregating and persecuting them, eventually collecting and destroying them.

Rudi joined the underground. A bar hangout of those days where plans were formulated was Hoppe. I was in Amsterdam several times and each time Rudi encouraged me to go there and drink to the boys. I haven’t been back since Rudi died but when I do I will drink one to Rudi. He and a pal decided to walk out of Holland and some how get to the Dutch government in exile in New York City so they could join  the Dutch exile army and participate in the invasion of Europe. They embarked on their journey, traveling only at night and got as far as Paris where they were grabbed by collaborators and promptly turned over to the Germans. Now Rudi had false papers and he did not look Jewish so he was sent to the south of France, that is to un-occupied France, free France a stroke of luck, and placed in a labor camp where he spent 9 months. He was sprung from this camp by the Dutch consul from Marseilles who sent him on his way this time with valid  papers. The consul recognized his value from his connections, education and the sense that he would be more valuable to the Dutch government in exile than sitting in a forced labor camp.

Rudi continued his journey, walking and hitch hiking through southern France, over the Pyrenees and into Spain and Portugal. In Lisbon, a mysterious city filled with strangers and danger, he boarded a freighter in the arms trade bound for South America. He knew the ship would re-fuel in Curacao, the Dutch colony in the Caribbean. He planned to jump ship there and get on to a U.S. bound freighter which he did. And so in the fall of 1942 he found himself in Brooklyn and on the subway to the Dutch offices in Rockefeller Center. You can only imagine their surprise when this 24 year old young man showed up on their doorstep. The consul gave him $200 and told him to be back in the office on Monday morning (this being Friday afternoon.) A weekend in New York with $200 in his pocket! I can remember the sheer joy and exultation with which he recounted this weekend. He was sent to Canada to join the Dutch exile army in training for the European invasion. They made him a Lieutenant. But when they found out about his foreign service training and language skills, they changed their mind and instead put him on a troop train bound for San Francisco and into an unpleasantness known as the invasion of Borneo and New Guinea which campaign he participated in. At the end of the war he went into Indonesia and with 5 other guys received Indonesia back from the Japanese and  re-constituted the government. He lived in Indonesia until 1955 and returned to the U.S. to renew his ties to Mr. Edersheim who by that time was at DBL. After the war Rudi found out that he lost most of his family to the Holocaust, including his dear younger sister who was married to a physician. They were grabbed off a train trying to get to Switzerland and perished in one of the camps.

Rudi Bergman was a remarkable man and a hero. The fire in his belly was inextinguishable and he lived every day with the utmost energy and passion, even on those days during his cancer bouts when the treatments were not going so well. He was the only person I ever knew who said “Phooey!” when he strongly disagreed with something. In Dutch I believe it comes out “Pfui!” If I ever said that I thought I couldn’t do something he would chide me with that “Pfui!” Rudi, you were a brave man. I am happy to have known you and I will miss you. See you at Hoppe.

Investing In Education Tax

So now we are about to go over the “fiscal cliff” because the Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on how to penalize the rich. The Dems want to increase tax rates on the wealthy while the GOP want to constrain tax loopholes and deductions to achieve the same revenue goal: about $50 billion. This turns out to be an ATM fee on the total $1.3 trilllion deficit.  But why should we raise taxes on the wealthy while lowering them for the middle and lower income folks in the first place? Generally speaking the well to do tend to be better educated, have more knowledge, skills and abilities. They work very hard. THEY ALSO TEND TO BE THE JOB CREATORS. We live in the land of freedom and opportunity and these folks chose paths that required education, lots of it. By and large that education paid off. This is not to say that folks in the lower income strata did not work as hard as the wealthy folks. It is just that the wealthy ones took on more education, in some cases at great cost, which increased their skills and abilities, and paved the way to upward mobility. Why do we want to transfer their wealth?  Why penalize the wealthy for their education,  knowledge, skills and hard work ? The administration talks a good game about investing in education while at the same time making investing in a education a tax penalty.

Taxi Cab Economics

The New York City taxi industry always amazes me. I got into a cab at 110th Street and Amsterdam Avenue the other evening. It was raining and I had to wait a while for a cab. It was shift change time (more about that later), but he agreed right away to take me. As soon I got in I said hello to the driver and gave him my destination. The first thing he said was “Where are we?” I thought he was joking; he was not. He admitted that he was so mixed up driving around in circles he genuinely did not know what street he was on. Of course I told him and he did get me to where I wanted to go, safely I might add. This kind of thing happens all the time. But generally speaking, I learn a lot from cab drivers. I must admit I don’t often take a cab because of the expense and the poor service. But when I do I know I will meet a driver from one of 86 different countries and there is a lot to be learned. I rode with a Moroccan driver recently across 116th Street and he was playing the wildest Moroccan music on the radio, When I told him how much I liked it he said, “That’s nothin’ man, listen to this!” whereon he took out and tape cassette of Dolly Parton and popped it into an old battery player on the front seat. She was his favorite singer and so I rode into East Harlem with a Moroccan driver playing Dolly Parton. I’ve learned about Com Pas music from Haitians and Zouk music from black Caribbean drivers. And hearing about conditions in Mali up on the Niger border with the rebels, and in places like Ghana and Zimbabwe with their repressive governments. These places are not for the faint hearted. But the drivers are here trying to eke out a living, save a few bucks to send back to their families.

How does the taxi industry work? Simply, there are a fixed number of car licenses called medallions that adorn each of the cabs that are on the street. At the time a car is licensed the owner buys a medallion, a license fee so to speak. But this supply is fixed and is rarely increased by the city. There are about 30,000 medallions out there. So in the secondary market the medallions increase in value. A medallion today is worth around $1.0 million. So a fixed number of medallions means a fixed supply of taxi cabs. Now to the demand side. There is practically unlimited demand regardless of price as there are more people looking for cabs than there are cabs on the street. This is particularly so during rainy weather or during “shift change” time when cars are running with their “off duty” lights on while they are going back to their garages. If they see you some will slow down and ask where you are going and will deign to carry you if not too far out of their way. This usually sparks a spirited negotiation between the fare and the driver as to what constitutes “too far out of the way.” When the City, through its regulatory body, the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) raises its rates, demand dips slightly then rises back to the level that it was at pre-raise.

So we have covered supply and demand. What about pricing? Well the prices are fixed by the government (City). Sound like something from pre-1989 Russia. Well it is. In addition to the base prices for getting into the cab, and for each fraction of a mile and waiting time, there are additional fees. A $0.50 evening fee and a $1.00 late afternoon fee were supposed to be an incentives to keep more cars on the streets at off hours. But when they imposed the $1.00 late afternoon fee, they did not change the driver shifts so there are still less cabs on the street for a $1.00 more in fare. There is a new fee called the MTA fee which is a $0.80 fee which goes to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) what what we do not know. It does not come back to surface transportation in New York City. The drivers are responsible for collecting this fee, which effectively makes them tax collectors for the state for which they do not get paid.

Lastly, there is an unlimited supply of labor. If a driver quits in disgust there are a lot of others waiting to take his or her place. The owners know this so they take advantage of the drivers. It costs a driver about $200.00 to take a car out of the garage, with the lease fee, gas, payments and tips to the manager, etc.

So there you have it, a business that is regulated by the city, with a protected limited supply, unlimited labor, fixed prices and in-elastic demand. A good buiness? For the owners sure, for the drivers and passengers” Forget abbout it. And for the Mayor a terrific business, since the owners represent one of the largest sources of industry campaign contributions.

Mars

 

Tomorrow night, PDT, early Monday morning EDT, Rover Curiosity  will land on Mars. This one-ton vehicle, about the size of an SUV, will spend (time) exploring the surface of the planet, driving around like a tourist, taking pictures and videos, soil and atmosphere samples which it will process in its on board lab. The purpose of all this is to determine the existence of conditions to support microbial life including the chemical ingredients of life. What a remarkable achievement. The mission is managed by the folks at the Jet Propulsion Lab, or JPL as it is affectionately called. JPL is located in Pasadena, CA. 

The trip is a short one in inter-stellar travel time. The vehicle took 8 months to make the 350 million mile journey. Lots of frequent flyer miles there. If humans ever get to go make sure you get a window seat. Pales in comparison, though, to the two Voyager spacecraft which left Earth in 1977 to visit the outer reaches of the solar system. They have travelled 90 billion miles and just arrived a few months ago. Lots of frequent flyer bonus miles there.
 
Rover Curiosity is on board a spacecraft called the Mars Science Laboratory and its job is to get Rover Curiosity there and safely landed. This will be a most difficult undertaking, and perilous to say the least. Touchdown is scheduled for 10:31 p.m. PDT on Sunday night, 1:31 a.m. EDT, Monday morning. NASA already has two satellites observing Mars close up. The Mars Odyssey Orbiter will provide communications during the landing since the Earth will have set beneath Mars’ horizon, about two minutes before landing, just like the Sun sets below our horizon. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter watches the weather on Mars and already knows that there will be a dust storm in Southern Mars but will be dissipating as the landing process begins.
 
Now here is the scary part. As we write,  Curiosity is on final approach at a speed of 8,000 miles per hour. As it finds Mars’ gravitational field it will speed up to over 13,000 miles per hour. The three part sky crane will slowly deploy parachute like structures.  The craft has to bleed off 12,999 miles per hour since it has to touch down at 1 mile per hour so as not to sustain damage to itself and its lab instruments. All this takes place in the last 7 minutes of the flight! And in the last twenty two minutes of flight Curiosity will be out of radio contact due to Mars’ gravitational force and atmospheric conditions. The folks at JPL will be at their consoles and control stations waiting for the landing signal in the blind. A nail biter!The Curiosity mission will last a Martian year, which is two Earth years.
 
I like the name of this vehicle:  Rover Curiosity. Humans are curious by nature. We want to know more about things. We want to know what is in that locked box in Grandpa’s cellar, what’s over the next hill, The Wright Brothers were curious, so was Henry Ford, Guglielmo Marconi, Alexander Graham Bell, Jonas Salk, Thomas Edison, just to name a few. And yes, we can add Columbus, Magellan, Galileo, who figured out the Sun did not move, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein who played with light and gravity, and last but not least my favorite science rock star, Benjamin Franklin. So let’s all hope and pray that the mission will successful, that the sky crane JPL designed to let Rover Curiosity down safely will work. Let’s applaud all the scientists and engineers at JPL and NASA for an American achievement, and honor their and all Curiosities.

Gun Control

We saw yesterday the House of Representatives, with heads bowed in prayer, remembering and praying for the people killed and injured in the Aurora, Colorado shootings. This is a familiar sight; we saw the same in the wake of the Gaby Gifford shootings. Everyone weeps and remembers. There are the usual calls and cries for gun control. Yet nothing is done. For one the politicians find it politically inexpedient to pursue such a track. And the people themselves are less than enthusiastic about gun control. 

I remember much to my chagrin in 2008 when the Supreme Court ruled that the preparatory clause of the  Second Amendment that begins, “A well regulated militia…” does not limit  or amplify the clause that comes after, ” the right of the people to bear arms.” Despite the fact that I am a strict constructionist, I disagreed with that. When the founders wrote the Second Amendment, the states maintained militias, which were called up on a moment’s notice. It was required of an able bodied man to keep a firearm on hand to be used in the event of such a call up. There were no armories or state militia training facilities where arms were kept.
The anti-Federalists were also concerned that a check and balance was needed against the Federal government to prevent it from declaring martial law and/or war upon the states. So the citizen was given the right to bear arms in conjunction with participation in a well regulated state militia. Today there are no militias, and therefore no need for an able bodied man to keep a firearm at home. And it is highly unlikely the Federal government will declare martial law or attack any of the states. Well, maybe California.

But by de-linking the preparatory clause from the rest of the amendment, the Supreme Court’s decision let the “right of the people” clause to stand alone, thus allowing citizens to acquire and possess as many firearms of any type that they choose. This is a dangerous and intolerable situation. If the Congress and the American people are serious about gun control I believe a two pronged approach needs to be taken to remedy the situation. One, efforts must be undertaken in the Congress to repeal the amendment and simultaneously in the states to ensure that strong gun control laws are put in place. This will require a long, arduous state by state campaign. Perhaps a Bill Gates or George Soros would step up to fund a a 50 state effort to do this? And, dear reader, are you up to it?