The Ledes

Tuesday, July 28, 2015.

Guardian: "Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Libya’s former dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, has been sentenced to death by a court in Tripoli. Saif, once seen as his father’s heir apparent, was condemned to death along with eight other figures from the former dictatorship, including the former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi and Gaddafi’s last prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi."

Reuters: "FIFA boss Sepp Blatter deserves a Nobel Prize for his stewardship of soccer's governing body, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview aired by Swiss broadcaster RTS on Monday."

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, July 27, 2015.

Boston Globe: "Boston’s Olympic bid is dead. In a joint statement, United States Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun and Steve Pagliuca, chairman of bidding group Boston 2024, characterized the decision to pull the plug as a mutual one."

New York Times: "Peg Lynch, who wrote and starred in 'Ethel and Albert,' one of television’s earliest situation comedies, died on Friday at her home in Becket, Mass. She was 98.... Ms. Lynch, who wrote nearly 11,000 scripts for radio and television without the benefit of a writer’s room committee (or even a co-writer), was a pioneering woman in broadcast entertainment. As a creator of original characters and a performer of her own written work — every bit of it live! — she might be said to have created the mold that decades later produced the likes of Tina Fey and Amy Schumer."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 28

6:35 am ET: President Obama speaks to the African Union

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Fuck off! I’m done with you. -- Jon Stewart, to Wyatt Cenac

... Alex Jung of New York: Jon Stewart repeatedly yelled at Wyatt Cenac when Cenac questioned a "Daily Show" segment meant to be a defense against Fox "News" allegations that Stewart's Herman Cain imitation was racist. ...

... Maron's WTF podcast of his interview with Cenac is here. ...

... CW: Here's the thing, black people. When you confront white liberals with accusations of racial bias, WE WILL NEVER ADMIT IT. We will remind you that we have been fighting for black civil rights for 50 years (Bernie Sanders). We will tell you all lives matter (Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley). We will tell you that white people are responsible for expanding your rights (Hillary Clinton). We will deny your accusations (Every one of us). And all the while, we will be highly insulted, even if we don't tell you to fuck off. Because white people's feelings matter. And, after all we've done, we can't believe you would accuse us of racism.

Even when they're only lip-syncing, some entertainers are pretty damned talented. I'm not much of a fan of Tom Cruise's, but ...

Tech Crunch: "It’s no secret that Google+ didn’t quite work out the way Google envisioned and now, after already moving Google Photos out of the service, it’s starting to decouple Google+ profiles from its regular Google accounts."

Stupid Pet Tricks, Reptile Edition:

Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: NBC News Chairman Andy Lack is replacing MSNBC's Ed Schultz with -- Chuck Todd. [CW: Excellent decision! Let's change "MSNBC" to "VPN" -- "Village People's Network."] "The only programs that appeared safe from disruption were Morning Joe..., hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski; Hardball ... with Chris Matthews; and The Rachel Maddow Show at 9 p.m. Those programs have performed respectably...." ...

We live in a time when much of the corporate media regards politics as a baseball game or a soap opera. Ed Schultz has treated the American people with respect by focusing on the most important issues impacting their lives.... I am very disappointed that Comcast [the parent company of NBC & MSNBC] chose to remove Ed Schultz from its lineup. We need more people who talk about the real issues facing our country, not fewer.... At a time when a handful of large, multi-national corporations own our major media outlets, I hope they will allow voices to be heard from those who dissent from the corporate agenda. -- Sen. Bernie Sanders

Washington Post: "The latest update from NASA's Kepler space telescope — designed to spot distant exoplanets — adds more than 500 new possible planets to the fray. That's in addition to the 4,175 planets already found by Kepler. And of those 500 new potential planets, scientists say, a dozen could be remarkably Earth-like. That means they're less than twice as large as Earth, are potentially rocky and are at the right distance from their host stars to harbor liquid water." ...

... Guardian: "Scientists on the hunt for extraterrestrial life have discovered 'the closest twin to Earth' outside the solar system, Nasa announced on Thursday."

Worst Person Ratings in the World. Andrew Kirell of Mediaite: Rumors are a'flyin' that MSNBC is headed for another line-up shake-up, which could include the Return of Dr. Olbermann, who is departing ESPN -- again. Because their third place in cable ratings wasn't as bad as their third place is now (sometimes 4th, behind Al Jazeera). And because the New Olbermann is now a suits-licking pussycat, unlike the Old Olbermann from way last week.

Some Would Be Heroes. Washington Post: Coast Guardsman Darren Harrity swims a mile in choppy, fuel-slicked sea to save four men in a leaky lifeboat.

New York Times: "What Pet Should I Get?" -- an aide to Dr. Suess's widow found the manuscript in a box. Dr. Suess -- Theodore Geisel -- died in 1991.

     ... Via BuzzFeed, for the fun of it.

Washington Post: "On Monday, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner held a news conference in London to announce their new project: injecting $100 million and a whole lot of brain power into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, an endeavor they're calling Breakthrough Listen." ...

... CW: What a waste. You know all they'll find is angels hovering around a pantheon of some sort & maybe, if they're lucky, their long-dead pooches floating around Pet Heaven, which is real & wonderful.

New York Times: "In a pair of legal filings on Friday, two nuns who object to [singer Katy] Perry’s proposed purchase of their order’s convent on eight acres [in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles] disclosed an email describing any sale to the saucy pop singer as a breach of their sacred vows.... The court papers include claims by several of five surviving nuns in the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the archdiocese is betraying them and bullying them into supporting a sale other than their preferred transaction with [another buyer]."

NASA: "In the latest data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto’s icy mountains, in the center-left of the heart feature, informally named 'Tombaugh Regio' (Tombaugh Region) after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930."

Hill: "President Obama is making a final 'Daily Show' appearance before host Jon Stewart leaves the political comedy program after 17 years. Obama will sit down for his final chat with Stewart on Tuesday, the White House confirmed Friday."

For an actual feel-good moment, Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post tells the story of 16-year-old small-plane crash survivor Autumn Veatch. Veatch, who was injured in the crash that killed her grandparents, walked untold mild through rough terrain until she came to a public road & parking area.

Washington Post: "Nearly two months after a molestation scandal prompted TLC to pull reruns of the popular reality program '19 Kids and Counting' from the air and online, the network announced that it has officially canceled the program."

Washington Post: "Filmmaker George Lucas, singer-songwriter Carole King and dancer-actress Rita Moreno are among an unprecedented six honorees to be saluted at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. Seventies rockers the Eagles, actress Cicely Tyson and conductor Seiji Ozawa will also be honored at the Dec. 6 event, Kennedy Center officials said Wednesday. A major fundraiser for the arts center, the gala celebration will be televised on CBS on Dec. 29."

Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker reviews Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. ...

... Laura Marsh of the New Republic: "Scolars have been pointing out Atticus Finch's racism for years."

New York Times (July 15): "It was the last day of business at F. A. O. Schwarz on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan."

New York Times: "A day after its successful flyby, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft sent back the first close-up photographs of Pluto, revealing a young surface dotted with ice mountains. The piano-size spacecraft traveled nine years and three billion miles to study the dwarf planet and its five moons." Includes one close-up photo from 25 miles out. More on NASA's site.

New York (July 14): "We're halfway through July, but until this morning, there was still snow on the ground in Boston. The last of the city's historic snowfall, a disgusting frozen mass of dirt, snow, and trash, was officially pronounced melted this morning"."

Here are time-lapse photos of the long melt:

Sean Hollister of Gizmodo: "The Mozilla Firefox web browser now blocks Flash by default. And when I say “blocks,” I don’t mean it asks you nicely if you’d really like to use Flash. I don’t mean it automatically pauses Flash videos like Google Chrome. I mean Mozilla has decided that Flash is going down.... Why such a hard-on for Flash? Why now? Well, it could be that the world just rediscovered just how prone Flash is to nasty, nasty vulnerabilities. When the Hacking Team — an Italian security company that sold intrusive spy tools — got hacked, one of those tools got out into the wild. A nasty hole in Flash that Adobe has yet to patch.... It’s probably worth noting that [Monday July 13], Mozilla’s Facebook’s chief security officer publicly asked Adobe to kill off Flash once and for all.... Update: Adobe has already released a newer version of Flash, 18.0.0.209, which Firefox doesn’t block by default. You’ll want to manually download it."

Contributor Nisky Guy takes us back in time to February 2006, when Lewis Black complained, "I can't wait that long":

Washington Post: "On its approach to Pluto, the spacecraft [New Horizons] obtained the most arresting image yet of the dwarf planet. Pluto is not a bland and featureless ball of ice, but rather a complex, variegated, mottled world with broad snowfields, structures that look like cliffs or fault lines, and a strikingly bright heart-shaped area that could be the eroded remnant of a giant impact crater."

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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