The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, December 18, 2014.

New York Times: "The stock market began the week burdened by geopolitical worries, but by the close of trading on Thursday it had bounced back to achieve one of its biggest upswings in recent years. Soothing words from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, saying that it would be 'patient' on raising interest rates, drove the surge, analysts said. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index jumped 2.4 percent on Thursday, to 2,061.23 — its biggest one-day gain since January 2013. That came on the back of a 2 percent rise on Wednesday."

CNN: "U.S. airstrikes have killed two top-level and one mid-level ISIS leader, a senior U.S. military official tells CNN. Haji Mutazz was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's deputy in Iraq; Abd al Basit was his military emir in Iraq; and Radwan Talib was his Mosul emir. Their deaths resulted from multiple strikes going back to mid-November -- it has taken until now to determine conclusively they were killed."

AP: "Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, with the benchmark 30-year loan rate reaching a new low for the year. The rates' historically low levels could be a boon to potential homebuyers. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage dropped to 3.80 percent this week from 3.93 percent last week. It is now at its lowest level since May 2013."

New York Times: "A federal judge on Thursday refused to release Don E. Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, from prison as he continues to appeal a prosecution that Republicans say exposed pervasive corruption in state government but Democrats regard as a case pursued for political retribution."

Boston Globe: "Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stood in federal court in Boston this morning for a brief pretrial hearing, which was punctuated by an interruption in Russian and English from a woman in the gallery. Several journalists reported she exclaimed 'stop killing innocent people' in English as she was escorted out for yelling in Russian. The woman identified herself to reporters as a relative of Ibrahim Todashev: a friend of Dzhokhar’s brother who was killed by an FBI agent during an incident that arose from the investigation of a Waltham triple homicide."

AFP: "Two owners and 12 former employees of a US pharmacy were arrested Wednesday in connection with a 2012 outbreak of meningitis that killed 64 people across the country, prosecutors said. Barry Cadden and Gregory Conigliaro owned the New England Compounding Center (NECC), which lost its license in 2012 after inspectors found it guilty of multiple sanitary violations. the pharmacy, located in the city of Framingham, Massachusetts in the US northeast, voluntarily shut down and recalled all products following the unprecedented outbreak of fungal meningitis."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 18

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

A former resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, calls into outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick's last regular monthly radio call-in show:

Sixteen times Stephen Colbert broke character on his show. With videos.

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

Washington Post: "Scientists are 99.999 percent sure, in their most conservative estimate, that remains found in 2012 really do belong to King Richard III. These results, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, put a 529-year-old cold case to rest -- all thanks to some intense genetic detective work." CW: Let's hope one of the expert detectives wasn't Shaun Parcells. You may weigh in, Dr. Schwalb. ...

Welcome to Gramercy Park! -- "one of the most forbidden places in Manhattan." New York Times: Woody Allen couldn't get in to film, Robert De Niro couldn't get in, but Shawn Christopher, who was honeymooning in Manhattan, borrowed a key and "took three 360-degree panoramas using Photo Sphere, a Google app, and then uploaded them to the company’s ubiquitous Maps site. He had gotten into the park using another of his favorite technologies, Airbnb, where the room he rented included not only fresh linens and Wi-Fi but also one of the 383 coveted keys to the park. Mr. Christopher was unaware at the time that guests had to be accompanied by key holders on their visits and that commercial photography was prohibited." So take an insider's view of the park.

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Wednesday
Jul252012

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.

Marie

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:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1995/sep/21/to-keep-and-bear-arms/?pagination=false

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
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