Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims – men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families, What makes America America is that we offer that chance. -- President Obama
White House: "In this week's address, the President wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving, and reflected on America’s history of welcoming men and women seeking a safer, better future for themselves and their families":

The Ledes

Thursday, November 26, 2015.

Guardian: "Sex abuse allegations against priests at St John’s Abbey in Minnesota were revealed in stark detail on Tuesday with the release of confidential documents concerning five priests accused of child sex abuse."

Reuters: "A 23-year-old Indiana man has pleaded guilty to breaking into a medical museum and stealing preserved human brains that he then sold online. David Charles, of Indianapolis, pleaded guilty to six charges including receiving stolen property and burglary in a Marion county court. Magistrate Amy Barbar sentenced him to one year of home detention and two years of probation, county prosecutor spokesman Anthony Deer said."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, November 25, 2015.

Attention, Costco Shoppers. E. coli in the Salad Cooler. Washington Post: "Federal health officials are investigating an outbreak of deadly E. coli bacteria that has sickened 19 people in at least seven states, mostly in the west.... Preliminary evidence suggests that rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores in several states is the likely source of this outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

White House Live Video
November 25

11:15 am ET: Vice President Biden delivers a joint summit statement with President Grabar-Kitarović of Croatia, President Pahor of Slovenia and European Council President Tusk in Zagreb, Croatia (audio only)

2: 45 pm ET: President Obama pardons the national Thanksgiving turkey

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.


Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (October 26): "A research division of the World Health Organization announced on Monday that bacon, sausage and other processed meats cause cancer, and that red meat probably does, too. The report by the influential group stakes out one of the most aggressive stances against meat yet taken by a major health organization, and it is expected to face stiff criticism in the United States."

New York Times (October 20: "The American Cancer Society, which has for years taken the most aggressive approach to [breast-cancer] screening, issued new guidelines on Tuesday, recommending that women with an average risk of breast cancer start having mammograms at 45 and continue once a year until 54, then every other year for as long as they are healthy and likely to live another 10 years. The organization also said it no longer recommended clinical breast exams, in which doctors or nurses feel for lumps, for women of any age who have had no symptoms of abnormality in the breasts."

Domenico Montanaro of NPR with everything you never wanted to know about the strange tradition of presidential "pardons" of turkeys.

Frank Rich reviews "Carol," the film based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt, published under a pseudonym. As usual, Rich goes deep.

New York Times: "Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award for nonfiction Wednesday[, Nov. 18,] night for “Between the World and Me,” a visceral, blunt exploration of his experience of being a black man in America, which was published this summer in the middle of a national dialogue about race relations and inequality.... The fiction award went to Adam Johnson for 'Fortune Smiles.'..."

Slate: Carly Simon told People magazine that "You're So Vain" is about Warren Beatty. CW: Somehow I think I knew that a long time ago.

Guardian: "Gawker, the gossip website..., is giving up on reporting gossip in order to refocus on politics and 'to hump the [2016 presidential] campaign'. The site, founded by British journalist Nick Denton in 2003, announced on Tuesday that Gawker was steering in a new direction that would “orient its editorial scope on political news, commentary and satire'.”

Washington Post: Actor "Charlie Sheen confirmed on Tuesday that he is HIV-positive, as rumored in recent days by an onslaught of tabloid stories. Sheen told Matt Lauer on the 'Today' show that he is going public with his illness for multiple reasons, including that he’s been blackmailed for upwards of $10 million since he was diagnosed four years ago."

... For about $880,000, you can purchase Julia Child's excellent little house in Provence; her kitchen is intact, except for the stove.

New York Times: "Archaeologists have over the years cataloged the rocks [forming Stonehenge], divined meaning from their placement — lined up for midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset — and studied animal and human bones buried there. They have also long known about the other monuments — burial chambers, a 130-foot-tall mound of chalk known as Silbury Hill and many other circular structures. An aerial survey in 1925 revealed circles of timbers, now called Woodhenge, two miles from Stonehenge." With slide show.


New York Times: "In an overheated art market where anything seems possible, a painting of an outstretched nude woman by the early-20th-century artist Amedeo Modigliani sold on Monday night for $170.4 million with fees, in a packed sales room at Christie’s. It was the second-highest price paid for an artwork at auction."

Artist's rendering of the main exhibition hall of the planned wing of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "In designing its $325 million addition on Columbus Avenue, the American Museum of Natural History has opted for an architectural concept that is both cautious and audacious, according to plans approved by its board on Wednesday. The design ... evokes Frank Gehry’s museum in Bilbao, Spain, in its undulating exterior and Turkey’s underground city of Cappadocia in its cavelike interior. The design, by the architect Jeanne Gang for the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, aims to unite the museum’s various activities, solve its notorious circulation problems and provide a multistory showcase for the institution’s expanding role as a hub for scientific research and scholarship.”

New York Times: "... Jon Stewart has signed a production deal with the premium cable channel HBO, the channel announced on Tuesday. As part of the arrangement, Mr. Stewart will work on some digital short projects that are expected to appear on HBO’s apps like HBO Now and HBO Go. Mr. Stewart could also pursue movie or television projects with the network. The contract covers four years."

Guardian: "Facebook has announced plans to water down its controversial 'real names' policy, after lobbying from civil liberties groups worldwide."

If you'd like to know whatever happened to former NYT food columnist Mark Bittman, the Washington Post has the answer.

Jennifer Senior of the New York Times reviews Notorious R.G.B., by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik: "It’s an artisanal hagiography, a frank and admiring piece of fan nonfiction."

Digital Globe photo, via NASA, republished in the New York Times. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.... New York Times: "Satellite pictures of a remote and treeless northern steppe reveal colossal earthworks — geometric figures of squares, crosses, lines and rings the size of several football fields, recognizable only from the air and the oldest estimated at 8,000 years old. The largest, near a Neolithic settlement, is a giant square of 101 raised mounds, its opposite corners connected by a diagonal cross, covering more terrain than the Great Pyramid of Cheops.... Described last year at an archaeology conference in Istanbul as unique and previously unstudied, the earthworks, in the Turgai region of northern Kazakhstan, number at least 260 — mounds, trenches and ramparts — arrayed in five basic shapes."

New York Times: "In a landmark study, scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands reported that they had conducted an experiment that they say proved one of the most fundamental claims of quantum theory — that objects separated by great distance can instantaneously affect each other’s behavior. The finding is another blow to one of the bedrock principles of standard physics known as 'locality,' which states that an object is directly influenced only by its immediate surroundings. The Delft study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lends further credence to an idea that Einstein famously rejected. He said quantum theory necessitated 'spooky action at a distance,' and he refused to accept the notion that the universe could behave in such a strange and apparently random fashion." CW: Everything is relative, Al.

Gizmodo: On Halloween, "a rather large asteroid — discovered less than three weeks ago — is set to to fly past the Earth at a distance not seen in nearly a decade.... NASA says that 2015 TB145 will safely pass by the Earth and continue to following along its exceptionally eccentric and high-inclination orbit — which may explain why it wasn’t discovered until only a few weeks ago. During the flyby, the asteroid will reach a magnitude luminosity of 10, so it should be observable to astronomers with telescopes."

For $299,000 you could buy the house where Bruce Springsteen wrote "Born to Run." It looks like a dump prone to flooding every time it rains, but it's a block-and-a-half from the Jersey shore beach.

New York Post: "During his time in the White House, President Richard Nixon — pug-nosed, jowly, irascible, charmless-yet-devoted husband to Pat — was known to awkwardly hit on middle-aged female staffers. In 'The Last of the President’s Men' (Simon & Schuster), veteran journalist Bob Woodward quotes Alexander Butterfield, Nixon’s deputy assistant, about the commander-in-chief’s sad seduction techniques."

The Washington Post thought it would be great journalism to feature Donald's Digs in their weekend edition.  You'll be happy to know that Trump's taste runs to the gaudy & garish. You can take the boy out of the boroughs but you can take the boroughs out of the boy. I'd call Donald's style Early Modern Lottery Winner. Here's a sampling:

... There's much more where that came from. Ugh. Here, by contrast, is the study in Michael Bloomberg's New York City pad. Bloomberg is quite a few $$BB richer than Trump.

CW: I've completely ignored the buzz about the film "Steve Jobs," so this was welcome:

... Sharon Shetty in Slate: "As the latest attempt to mine every last bit of meaning from the life of Apple’s late founder, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs will probably make lots of money and spark lots of debate. For those preemptively exhausted by that debate, there’s Conan O’Brien’s less controversial take on a tech biopic: Michael Dell":

AND contributor D. C. Clark was kind enough to remind us of Eva Cassidy:

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.


The Commentariat -- July 26, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on "Ross Douthat's Assault on Logic." (And an excellent response from reader maineprep.) The NYTX front page is here.

** Nicholas Kristof: "Federal law requires large theaters to have wheelchair seating, ramps as well as stairs, and bathrooms that are accessible to the disabled. Fire codes limit audience size. Emergency fire exits must be illuminated.... Indeed, on that horrific night in the theater last week, only one major element wasn't regulated: the guns and ammunition used to massacre viewers. As a nation, we regulate fire exits, but not 100-round magazines. We shield youngsters in cinemas from violence -- but only if it's on the screen.... If we impose rules on toy guns to make them safer, shouldn't we do the same with real ones?" ...

... Former Chicago policeman Michael Black in a New York Times op-ed: "We register automobiles and require proof of driving proficiency before granting driving licenses. Is it so unreasonable to consider a national or state-by-state registry for firearms? While I'm not totally opposed to concealed carry laws, why not require comprehensive background checks, psychological screening and training? And while it might be considered un-American to prevent an ordinary citizen from owning an assault rifle, would it be too much to ask why he needs to have a specially modified 100-round magazine?"

New York Times Editors: On a day Senate Republicans "generously" allowed a vote on middle-class tax cuts, then voted against it, they "also voted to raise taxes on 13 million low- and moderate-income working families ... [and] give wildly generous estate tax breaks to a few of the richest American heirs at a cost of $119 billion to the deficit."

Matthew Wald & John Schwartz of the New York Times (via NBC News): "From highways in Texas to nuclear power plants in Illinois, the concrete, steel and sophisticated engineering that undergird the nation's infrastructure are being taxed to worrisome degrees by heat, drought and vicious storms."

Gail Collins: life in Williston, North Dakota, where the unemployment rate is one percent, is still pretty horrible.

Craig Timberg & Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "Skype, the online phone service long favored by political dissidents, criminals and others eager to communicate beyond the reach of governments, has expanded its cooperation with law enforcement authorities to make online chats and other user information available to police, said industry and government officials familiar with the changes."

Linda Greenhouse wants Chief Justice John Roberts to get on the teevee & educate the public about the Supreme Court.

In Virginia, a conservative Republican county official goes rogue & channels President Obama & Elizabeth Warren on the importance of infrastructure to the country's future -- and the need to pay for it with tax dollars. CW: local officials of the GOP stripe, who get the pothole calls from voters, often also get the importance of infrastructure. Thanks to reader Lisa for the link.

Also on the Blue Virginia site, via Lisa:

Presidential Race

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "President Obama and Mitt Romney, who can have trouble connecting with voters on a personal level, are trying to define each other as detached from mainstream American life."

Wow! The President got his groove back. He said yes to gun control. Pretty amazing:

AP: "In one of his most expansive responses yet to gun crime, President Obama on Wednesday embraced some degree of control on the sale of weapons but said he would also seek a consensus on combatting violence." CW: be sure to read down to Romney's reaction to the Aurora killings. The AP lets readers know he's either a liar or pathetically uninformed. I think the press is finally getting its groove on re: Mitt's mendacity. ...

... Amy Gardner & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "President Obama promised Wednesday to lead a national discussion about gun control after the deadly mass shootings last week in Colorado.... The president's comments were striking because he has generally been cautious on the politically potent issue of firearms.... Obama said that laws should be better enforced and that guns should be kept out of the hands of people with mental illness. Although he reiterated his commitment to uphold gun owners' Second Amendment rights to responsibly bear arms, he blamed Congress for inaction on what he called common-sense restrictions to keep guns out of the hands of criminals [and the mentally ill]." ...

... Garrett Haake of NBC News: "Mitt Romney said Wednesday that more restrictive gun laws would likely not have prevented last week's deadly mass shooting at a Colorado Cineplex, and argued that it would take Americans changing their hearts, not their legislation, to prevent similar future attacks.... " With video.

Americans United for Change has put out this Web video zeroing in on Romney's LIBOR scandal connection. Too bad it's not running nation-wide:

Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times: Back in 2009, when Turbo-Tax Tim Geithner was in the hot seat for not paying his Medicare & Social Security taxes, "Mr. Romney ... thought tax records were fair game" & deliberate tax evasion was "disqualifying."

Commemorative pins for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, made in China & BangladeshIt's cheaper to get it from China. -- Mitt Romney, President of the Salt Lake City Olympics Organizing Committee, ca. 2002, on commemorative granite bricks manufactured in China "despite an abundance of granite in the nearby Wasatch mountain" ...

... Chris Good of ABC News: "After controversy arose over Ralph Lauren' 2012 U.S. Olympic uniforms' Chinese origins, Mitt Romney told ABC’s Jonathan Karl that the issue is 'extraneous' to the focus of the games.... 'I'm not going to get into the uniform issue.' Like the uniforms in 2012 and in 2002, when Mitt Romney ran the Salt Lake Olympics much of its official memorabilia was manufactured overseas, including a 9/11 commemorative pin and another fashioned in the shape of Romney's head. Salt Lake 2002 Olympics paraphernalia obtained by ABC bears 'Made in China' and 'Made in Bangladesh' stamps."

Anglo-Saxons -- some of Barack Obama's ancestors.Steve Benen: the Romney campaign sought to distance itself from an advisor's remark that President Obama didn't appreciate the "shared heritage" between the U.S. & the U.K. because he doesn't share "an Anglo-Saxon heritage" & "his father was from Africa." (CW: BTW, that is only half true. Obama has a number of ancestors who came to New England from England in the early 17th century. He might be more "Anglo-Saxon" than the Romney advisor, who has not been publicly ID'ed.) Vice President Biden has weighed in, & the Romney camp has not asked the Telegraph -- which reported the story -- for a retraction. ...

     ... NBC News Update: "'I can tell you that we have a very special relationship between the United States and Great Britain,' Romney said. '... But I also believe the president understands that. So I don't know agree with whoever that advisor might be.'" (See NBC News story on Romney & guns, linked above.)

** Dana Milbank: "There have been many mendacious moments in this presidential campaign, but it will be hard to top what Mitt Romney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars conference this week. President Obama is seeking 'an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would saddle the military with $1 trillion in cuts,' the Republican said.... If the defense cuts are Obama's, they are also John Boehner;s, Eric Cantor's, Mitch McConnell's and Jon Kyl's. The bill passed with the votes of a majority of House and Senate Republicans and the encouragement of -- wait for it -- Mitt Romney." ...

... Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy: Richard Williamson, "a top advisor to Mitt Romney's campaign on Wednesday accused U.S. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon of leaking classified intelligence information to New York Times reporter David Sanger.... 'There's been no administration that has been more aggressive in pursuing leaks than this one,' [Michèle Flournoy, an Obama advisor, said] pointing out that the administration has appointed two U.S. attorneys to investigate the leaks.... Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said Monday that the White House should understand the leaks were coming from within its own ranks, but she retracted that comment Tuesday and said she did not know who the leakers were."

Congressional Races

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "The overall dynamic favors [House] Republicans, who look poised to maintain their hold on the House. More Democrats than Republicans have retired in districts where they were endangered, and more Republicans benefited from the decennial redistricting...."

News Ledes

AP: "Now that the Senate has voted to extend middle-class tax cuts, President Barack Obama is appealing to the GOP-run House to 'do the right thing.'"

New York Times: "The European Central Bank appears increasingly willing to throw around its weight in bond markets to hold down borrowing costs for Spain -- or at least wants traders to worry that it will. The euro and European stocks rose sharply Thursday after Mario Draghi, president of the E.C.B., said in London, “Within our mandate, the E.C.B. is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro.'"

New York Times: "... a federal appeals court in Philadelphia has rejected the [drug companies' price-fixing] arrangements by ruling that a payment aimed at keeping a low-priced generic copy of the drug off the market for a certain period of time is anticompetitive on its face. The Philadelphia ruling conflicted with decisions from at least three other federal circuit courts of appeal, setting up the issue for possible review by the Supreme Court.... A decision prohibiting arrangements could profoundly affect drug prices and health care costs."

New York Times: "Strong summer storms that pump water high into the upper atmosphere pose a threat to the protective ozone layer over the United States, researchers said on Thursday, adding that the risk of damage may increase as the climate warms."

Washington Post: "The first round of the 2012 presidential campaign is being waged in courtrooms nationwide, and one of the most important battles got underway Wednesday in the swing state of Pennsylvania, where challengers told a judge that a new voter-identification law violates the commonwealth's constitution."

New York Times: "The Senate narrowly approved legislation on Wednesday to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class but to let them lapse for more affluent households, in a surprise vote intended more to give both parties election-year cover than to produce a new tax law."

Washington Post: "University of Colorado officials on Wednesday faced questions about whether the suspect in last week's shooting rampage tried to warn a university psychiatrist about his grisly plan as much as a week before the incident. The questions came after Fox News reported that the shooting suspect, graduate student James Holmes, had mailed to a university psychiatrist a detailed journal that foreshadowed a gun-blazing massacre -- in a package that was not opened before the slayings." The Fox "News" story is here.

New York Times: The Japanese bank "Nomura's chief executive and his top lieutenant resigned on Thursday over recent revelations their employees abetted insider trading."

Reuters: "China has indicted Gu Kailai, the wife of deposed Communist Party politician Bo Xilai, for intentional homicide, in the latest development in a political scandal that has shaken the Party's once-in-a-decade succession."

AP: "Militants downed an Iraqi army helicopter on Thursday in clashes that have killed at least 19 people including 11 policemen, a regional official said, in what appeared to be part of an al-Qaida surge to retake one of its former strongholds."

Reader Comments (10)

"... I guess he had cookies disabled." brilliant! just perfect. thank you for that.

July 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralan

If someone just arrived for the first time and looked at the discussion of Barack Obama by Republicans they would be totally shocked to discover that his mother was white. Obama is 'black' because of his skin color (which by the way could have been 'white'). His policies are a reflection of the color of the skin or the place of birth of his father who he barely knew. His mother and grandparents who raised him are not part of the discussion. The fact that he has some 'black' genes make him questionable.

This whole issue demonstrates the depth of racism in politics. And it is barely hidden. It also shows that proof that there are people less than you is a basic need for many humans. Too bad they don't know that all human genes came from Africa. In other words, other than the minor variants that determine skin color, we are all 'black'.

July 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Marie: Excellent piece on Ross Douthat's anti-gun control screed. When I read comments like Senator Johnson's (the 2nd Amendment protects buying unimited rounds of ammunition, etc) I would laugh if it wasn't so serious an issue. After all, the Amendment existed for over 200 years before the Supreme Court ever found that it protected an individual right, and as you say in your article, it did not characterize that right as unlimited. The Court has simply not addressed issues of massive ammo sales or assault weapons, because the cases have not presented themselves. Yet the gun lobby and its apologists keep insisting that everything connected with guns is a "right."
Some of the rationale of the gun nuts as to why regulaton of things like ammunition purchases would be just terribly unfair to them are jst downright laughable. I actually heard a man say that his rights would be infringed because he likes to purchase ammunition at a sale price, and he couldn't do it if quantities of purchase were limited by law. He really thought his right to a bargain trumped our rights to safety!

July 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

I forgot to mention that the perfect experiment has been performed to prove that who you are is far more about culture of upbringing than genetics. It's called Snooki, who was born in Chile.

July 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Re; more than just a tool. From Marie's essay: "Douthat concludes … the gun control debate offers liberals a chance to experience something that social conservatives often feel: The mix of confusion and alienation that comes with sensing that your country has somehow slipped away from you, and that your convictions don’t have a place in the unfolding of the American idea."
I was on the sidelines of a exchange between two friends; one a right wing nut case, the other a progressive. After asking what presidential regulations had personally hampered the right wingers life and getting no good answer the leftie went on to pose this question to wingnut. If, for arguments sake, Romney was colored black and Obama was colored white would you still harbor the same resentments you have? The answer given was, that's not possible, Romney's white.
My thought was, how very strange that aside from the color tone of the Presidents skin, wingnut has much more in common with Obama than with Romney but because of the color tone of Obamas skin he is forever a alien to wingnut.
So along comes Ross and in a single sentence giftwraps my thought for me. Thanks Ross, you're right, having a black president is alienating and confusing to many Americans. But Ross, poopoo head, (term of endearment) the unfolding of the American idea is not the unfolding of crisp lily-white table linen. We've gone to a multi-cultural calico and you and my friend wingnut are going to have to suck it up and overcome your confusion.
Poor social conservatives, so confused, so alienated, finding comfort only in the cold steel of an assault rifle. Oh, and a really white colored president.

July 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Off to help someone move today, something that people of a certain age (mine and his) shouldn't have to do when we've had most of a lifetime to accumulate an overwhelming quantity of stuff while our knees and backs simultaneously achieved their present sorry state.

Before I leave tho', wanted to thank Bonnie for her addition to my short list of factors that keep us separate. Television (and much of the time we spend on the internet, one by one, the sense of contact with others often more false than real) certainly contributes to our isolation. I did not think my list complete and as Akhilleus said, the issue does call for more thought.

This morning's addition: Douthat's claim that the locus of our expanding gun rights lies the same increasing worship of the individual that has brought us gay rights and marijuana legalization is another false equivalency. Beyond the (one would think) obvious facts that an inborn sexual preference, inscribed in one's DNA, is more basic and unalterable than any written Constitution, or that we seldom kill people by shooting marijuana at them, is a more fundamental reason for the country's (and the Right's) turn toward gun worship.

As people become more psychologically isolated and economically powerless, less and less able to construct a fulfilling life because they are increasingly subject to forces over which they have no control, often set in motion a world away, there's nothing like an assault weapon to fill the gaping void. My life may be shit and I may not be much myself, but I have a really big gun.

Hot cars used to do it for us, but today they guzzle too much gas, the freeways are too crowded, and most people can't afford to own or drive them. But everyone can have a gun. In that limited sense, our democracy remains alive and well.

July 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

"so lazy they can’t be bothered to pull the trigger more than once"

I think you're confusing the term "semi-automatic" with "automatic". A semi-automatic weapon requires pulling the trigger for each shot.

July 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

@David: thanks for clearing that up. I'm relieved to know Wisconsin hunters aren't as lazy as I thought. I've made the correction on my NYTX column.


July 26, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

On the matter of the NRA interpretation of the Second Amendment, it is worthwhile looking at the actual historical background including the specious and often laughable antecedents called upon by so-called academics in thrall to the almighty NRA. (Is it only me who thinks of the term "right-wing scholar" as oxymoronic?)

This has been done in typically assiduous and meticulous style by Garry Wills in a NYRB article back in 1995 when a series of “academic proofs” of the NRA position appeared. Since then the NRA and its sycophants have considered the matter closed, to the point where anyone even considering a different interpretation than the one they use to support their every gunmetal plated wet dream (in fact, they don’t even talk of their position as an interpretation; it’s simply correct), should be declared a crank or a socialist, liberal, pansy stooge and hater of America. They’ve been pretty successful with that too.

So here’s what you learn when you read Wills’ deconstruction of the seminal articles and arguments on which the entire Potemkin village of gun rights advocacy rests: it all collapses into a heap of gibberish with the tiniest bit of investigation. Pull on any thread and it all unravels. Pitiful, really. Just pitiful.

Wills begins by stating what is obvious to any eighth grader not already brainwashed by the right. The literary form of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights has a certain formula to it. A position is stated, a phrase or sentence establishing the grounds on which the argument for a certain right rests, and is followed by the resultant explication of that right.

In the case of the Second Amendment, the premise is this:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state,…

This, Wills states, can only be interpreted as referring to military matters. Not hunting, not target practice, not shooting up the neighborhood. Military. Full stop.

That premise of the need for a well regulated militia (military), the purpose for the right, is followed by an explicit description of that right:

the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Furthermore, Wills, as is his wont, looks at the historical use (still current) of the very specific (and specifically selected) phrase “bear arms”. This too can only be seen in the context for which it was surely selected, that of bearing arms against an enemy during a state of war or imminent state of war. It doesn’t mean hunting or target shooting or jerking off or any other damn thing. As Wills puts it, “you don’t bear arms against a rabbit.”

As for the NRA’s interpretation of “bearing arms” as meaning a singular arm, say a concealed Saturday Night Special, Wills pulls back the curtain hiding the thoroughly risible, corkscrew logic employed by NRA scholars (whose work is incredibly tautological and incestuous. They all quote each other as learned sources thereby providing, according to each of them, unassailable support for the NRA’s position. It’s as if you and I, both Red Sox fans, agree that the Yankees suck. Why? Because I quoted you as saying so and you quoted me saying the same, and declaring that this is some kind of quod erat demonstrandum.) for this entirely unsupported and unsupportable supposition.

The bottom line is that the current crop of gun rights screamers, legislators, and hands up in the air whadaya we gonna do about it assholes like Ross Douthat (nice smackdown, Marie, by the way), have all but ruled out any revisiting of the silly casuistries employed by their “scholars” whose work is now considered so sacrosanct as being beyond reproach, when in fact, the bases for their “brilliant analyses” are not even as solid as a house of cards. And yet the right has decided that the book is closed shut on any further analysis of the Second Amendment.

Read if for yourselves. It’s long but Wills is a spellbinder:


One other personal note, something I’ve ranted on about before. The right is nothing if not consistent in their selfish sense of individual rights. They go on and on about rights, but never a word about responsibility. Nor regulation. Remember the line about “well regulated militia”? That must only be for liberals. More on that later

July 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Uh oh...Mayor Bloomberg is "throwing" his support behind Scott Brown in Massachusetts--because Brown has supported gun-control legislation that would prevent out-of-state people from bringing assault weapons into NY. Bloomberg plans to "throw" a biggie fundraiser for Scotty that will pull in many millions.

And why does Mikey not like Elizabeth Warren. Why that uppity female has taken on Wall Street and wants to regulate them. This would definitely not help Bloomberg accumulate another billion--which he desperately needs!

What is the lesson? Rich is rich is rich and getting richer. Good intentions pave the road to losing elections. The best candidate will not win. Sigh.

July 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.