The Ledes

Sunday, February 7, 2016.

New York Times: "Defying warnings of tougher sanctions from Washington, North Korea launched a rocket on Sunday that Western experts believe is part of a program to develop intercontinental ballistic missile technologies."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President discussed climate change and how the most ambitious climate agreement in history is creating private sector partnerships that are advancing the latest technologies in clean power.":

Hill: "President Obama will send a budget to Congress that increases the amount of funding toward clean energy research and development by about 20 percent, he said Saturday."

White House Live Video
February 5

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Timess: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

New York Times: "Twitter is experimenting with introducing a longer form of tweet, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans, in what would be another gradual move away from the simplistic design sensibility that the service was originally founded upon. The project, which internally has been referred to as 'beyond 140,' is still in its testing phase and is not set to be introduced until at least March...."

Washington Post: "Four newly discovered elements managed to squeak their way in[to the periodic table] just before the end of 2015, filling up the table's seventh row and marking the first additions since 2011." CW: Since I know squat about chemistry, let me say here -- in the fullness of my ignorance -- that the periodic table should stick with elements that occur in nature. If chemists want a "sub-periodic table" to show off their lab-created, unstable elements, let 'em have it. I don't see how an "element" can be artificial. Anyone who knows what s/he's talking about is free to set me straight.

TPM: "Twitter announced Thursday it's bringing back Politwoops, the popular gaffe-tracking transparency tool that tracked politicians' deleted tweets, after unceremoniously killing off the service earlier this year.... Twitter revoked developer API access for the project, a venture of The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, in August 2015."

If you are interested in what George Lucas thinks about the "Star Wars" series & other stuff, you can find out here, presuming Charlie Rose doesn't monopolize the conversation (okay, silly presumption). ...

... Later Lucas said he was sorry he said some of those nasty things.

... Hank Stuever of the Washington Post: The "final episodes of 'Downton Abbey' are among the show’s best since the first season — and they’ll reassure those hoping for the happiest possible endings for nearly every character."

BBC News: "A monument from a temple in the ancient city of Palmyra destroyed by so-called Islamic State (IS) is to be recreated in London's Trafalgar Square. The 2,000-year-old arch is all that remains of the Temple of Bel, part of the Syrian Unesco World Heritage site, captured by militants in May. It will be recreated from photographs, using a 3D printer. The institute behind the project hopes the arch will draw attention to the importance of cultural heritage." ...

... John Brennan & Sarah Knapton of the (Irish) Independent: "Ireland's saints and scholars were descended from farmers and bronze metalworkers from the Middle East and modern-day Ukraine, scientists have found. Researchers have sequenced ancient Irish human genomes for the first time. They discovered mass migrations to Ireland thousands of years ago resulted in huge changes to the ancient Irish genetic make-up. A team of geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queen's University Belfast made the findings, which show a massive shift in our genetic mix over the course of just 1,000 years. They believe the genetic influxes brought cultural change such as moving to settled farmsteads, bronze metalworking - and may have even been the origin of western Celtic language." ...

... CW: One trouble with denigrating certain ethnic groups: we're all cousins. Sorry, "white" people.

Contact the Constant Weader

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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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