Aaron Swartz

Adnan Latif (Photo: Wikipedia)

Today’s show highlighted some sad realities. I talked about two deaths in which the US government was undoubtedly complicit.

Aaron Swartz, a brilliant young man who was being targeted by the DoJ for something many (including me) contend was not a crime, was facing decades in prison and battling lifelong depression, committed suicide.

I didn’t know Aaron and, although I knew of his work, did not know his name until I learned of his death.  But I watch as Chris Hayes yesterday paid tribute to his friend and former classmate…  At one point, while discussing depression, Hayes said, “You should know if you are depressed, you are not alone, that there are literally millions of people out there suffering from depression and that help is available.”.    But he then moved on without saying where or how to go about getting help.  That’s a big problem, one which we discussed on the show.

Of his prosecution, Huffington Post reports

Swartz spent the last two years fighting federal hacking charges. In July 2011, prosecutor Scott Garland working under U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, a politician with her eye on the governor’s mansion, charged Swartz with four counts of felony misconduct — charges that were deemed outrageous by internet experts who understood the case, and wholly unnecessary by the parties Swartz was accused of wronging.

Swartz repeatedly sought to reduce the charges to a level below felony status, but prosecutors pressed on, adding additional charges so that by September 2012 Swartz faced 13 felony counts and up to half a century in prison.


The second picture at the top of this post is of Adnan Latif, a Yemeni citizen who, through a tragic comedy of errors and bad timing, wound up as one of the first detainees held by the US  in Guantanamo Bay, and died in September.  Truthout’s Jason Leopold has written a series of articles about his death and the politics that led to this point, culminating with “A Guantanamo Prisoner is Buried as New Details About His Death Begin to Surface,” published Friday, which marked 11 years that Gitmo has been used as a prison camp for “enemy detainees”.

And the corporate media is silent on the matter. Horribly wrong.

Today on the show, I also read this article.  Two different listeners emailed me about this story, brought to their attention by Thom Hartmann on his Friday program.  This “Hidden History of the Second Amendment” suggests that James Madison wrote the Second Amendment to assure the southern states that Congress would not undermine the slave system by disarming the militia, which were then the principal instruments of slave control throughout the South.

Aside from the ironic fact that the thesis is authored by a professor with the surname Bogus, it sounds feasible.

… In his 99-page article, Professor Bogus argues that the evidence — including an analysis of Madison’s original language, and an understanding of how he and other founders drew on England’s Declaration of Rights — strongly suggests that Madison wrote this provision for the specific purpose of assuring his constituency that Congress could not use its newly acquired power to deprive the states of an armed militia. Madison’s concern, Professor Bogus argues, was not hunting, self-defense, national defense, or resistance to governmental tyranny — but slave control.

The “hidden history” of the Second Amendment is important for two reasons. First, it supports the view that the amendment does not grant individuals a right to keep and bear arms for their own purposes; rather it only protects the right to bear arms within the militia, as defined within the main body of the Constitution, under the joint control of the federal and state governments. At the time, the southern states extensively regulated their militias and prescribed their slave control responsibilities. Second, the hidden history is important because it fundamentally changes how we think about the right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment takes on an entirely different complexion when instead of being symbolized by a musket in the hands of the minutemen, it is associated with a musket in the hands of the slave holder.


In hour two, Crooks and Liars’ Nicole Belle joined in for our “Fools on the Hill” segment.  She watches the Sunday talking head shows so we don’t have to, and brings us clips and analysis of what we missed.

Digby calls them Villagers. Atrios calls them Very. Serious. People. We call them the Beltway Cocktail crowd. Any name you choose, these are the people who frame the issues for us and discuss the solutions they want. Not necessarily all solutions are on the table, and frequently, the most obvious and sensible solution is never even brought up.

So when Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt wants to talk about how we can make the country safer from gun violence, we don’t need to ‘waste our time’ with background checks. No, we should get rid of gun-free zones, because then people can carry everywhere. Because that will make us much safer than the ‘false security’ of making sure that people looking to purchase guns don’t have a history of violence, criminality or mental health issues.

Tennessee congressperson Marsha Blackburn agrees with Pratt, but comes at it from a different angle. For Blackburn, gun safety regulations like background checks aren’t effective because people can kill each other with hammers and hatchets , which don’t require registration.

Bill Kristol thinks that all this talk about address gun safety is a waste of time. After all, President Obama did not campaign on gun safety, so the Congress won’t feel compelled to work with him on it. Because you know, they’ve been so willing to work on his stated agenda up until now.

Speaking of working with President Obama, Sen. Bob Corker told George Stephanopoulos that the president’s choice for Secretary of Defense is not going to have an easy confirmation process. Apparently, Corker believes there are questions about Hagel’s temperament. This from the party that boasts John “You kids get off my lawn” McCain and Dick “Go f@#% yourself” Cheney.

And Peggy Noonan apparently emptied the mini-bar fridge in the ABC greenroom of all the alcohol, because she gave the most odd word salad endorsement of her latest column in which she advised Republicans be pirates (no, I’m not kidding) and steal Democratic ideas to revive the popularity of the Republican Party.

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