The Ledes

Thursday, May 21, 2015.

New York Times: "John F. Nash Jr., a mathematician who shared a Nobel Prize in 1994 for work that greatly extended the reach and power of modern economic theory and whose long descent into severe mental illness and eventual recovery were the subject of a book and a film, both titled 'A Beautiful Mind,' was killed, along with his wife [Alicia], in a car crash on Saturday in New Jersey. He was 86."

New York Times: "Anne Meara, who became famous as half of one of the most successful male-female comedy teams of all time and went on to enjoy a long and diverse career as an actress and, late in life, a playwright, died on Saturday in Manhattan. She was 85. Her death was confirmed by her husband and longtime comedy partner, Jerry Stiller, and her son, the actor and director Ben Stiller."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President commemorated Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to our country":

The Ledes

Saturday, May 23, 2015.

New York Times: "The United States and China on Friday escalated their dispute over contested territory in the South China Sea, after the Chinese repeatedly ordered an American military surveillance plane to abandon flights over areas where China has been building artificial islands.The continued American surveillance flights in areas where China is creating new islands in the South China Sea are intended to challenge the Chinese government’s claims of expanded territorial sovereignty. Further raising the challenge, Pentagon officials said they were discussing sending warships into waters that the United States asserts are international and open to passage, but that China says are within its zone of control."

Guardian: "An inflatable dam in drought-stricken California was damaged on Thursday, causing the loss of nearly 50,000,000 gallons (190m litres) of water. Police said vandals caused 'irreversible damage' to the inflatable dam in Fremont, a city in the San Francisco Bay Area. The vandalism caused water meant for local residents to instead flow into San Francisco bay."

Washington Post: "The man convicted in the 2001 killing of federal intern Chandra Levy is likely to get a new trial after prosecutors on Friday dropped their long-standing opposition to defense efforts to have a new jury hear the case. Since 2013, attorneys for Ingmar Guandique, 34, have argued that a key witness in the 2010 trial had lied when he testified that Guandique, his onetime cellmate, confessed to him that he killed Levy."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (May 22): "A salmonella outbreak that’s probably linked to raw tuna from sushi has sickened at least 53 people across nine states — the majority in Southern California, health authorities said."

White House Live Video
May 22

10:00 am ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the U.S. Naval Academy commencement ceremony (audio only)

11:00 am ET: President Obama speaks at the Jewish American Heritage Month celebration

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Washington Post: "One of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments was written in soot on a strip of goatskin found among the trove of biblical material known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, widely considered to be one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century. Penned on parchment by an unknown scribe more than 2,000 years ago, the scroll fragment is ... so fragile that its custodians rarely permit it to be moved from the secure vault where it rests in complete darkness. But for 14 days over the next seven months, the Ten Commandments scroll, known to scholars as 4Q41, will make a rare public appearance at the Israel Museum as part of a new exhibit called 'A Brief History of Humankind,' a show based on the international best-selling book by Israeli polymath Yuval Noah Harari."

Erik Loomis of LG&M: "It looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal has had her Last Fuckable Day at the ripe old age of 37:

... Sharon Waxman of the Wrap: "Every time we think things are getting better for women in Hollywood, something comes along to remind us — naaah. Maggie Gyllenhaal ... revealed that she was recently turned down for a role in a movie because she was too old to play the love interest for a 55-year-old man."

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker: "Now that [David] Letterman’s a flinty codger, an establishment figure, it’s become difficult to recall just how revolutionary his style of meta-comedy once felt. But back when I was sixteen, trapped in the snoozy early eighties and desperate for something rude and wild, Letterman seemed like an anarchist."

     ... Here's the Realtor.com page for the property.

AP: "The suburban New York home where F Scott Fitzgerald is believed to have written The Great Gatsby is for sale. A spokeswoman for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said on Wednesday that the asking price for the manor home on Long Island was just over US$3.8m (A$4.8m).... The home is in the village of Great Neck Estates, about 20 miles (32km) from Manhattan.

After years of signing "-BO" at the end of @BarackObama to signal the tweets he crafted himself from an account operated by the Organizing for Action staff, the President now has his very own handle @POTUS, tweeting for the first time: 'Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.'... Per a statement from the White House, the @POTUS handle 'will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him.'"

The $5MM Ankle. New York Post: "Shakedown artist Al Sharpton’s eldest child wants $5 million from city taxpayers after she fell in the street and sprained her ankle, court rec­ords show. Dominique Sharpton, 28, says she was 'severely injured, bruised and wounded' when she stumbled over uneven pavement at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway downtown last year, according to a lawsuit."

My friend Jan C. sent me a list of actual complaints made by dissatisfied travelers who had gone on excursions organized by the British Thomas Cook Vacations. An example: "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."

New York Times: "The most striking geographical pattern on marriage, as with so many other issues today, is the partisan divide. Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America — especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington — makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado." ...

Matt Seitz in New York notes that the pilot for "Mad Men" repeatedly points to the series' conclusion. ...

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Tomorrow morning [Wednesday, May 13], in what marks a tectonic shift in the publishing industry, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a long-awaited partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant.... According to people familiar with the negotiations, the Times will begin publishing select articles directly into Facebook's news feed. Buzzfeed, NBC News and NatGeo are said to be also joining the roll out, among others. The deal raises all sorts of knotty questions for the Times." ...

... New York Times Update: "— Facebook’s long-rumored plan to directly host articles from news organizations will start on Wednesday, concluding months of delicate negotiations between the Internet giant and publishers that covet its huge audience but fear its growing power. Nine media companies, including NBC News and The New York Times, have agreed to the deal, despite concerns that their participation could eventually undermine their own businesses. The program will begin with a few articles but is expected to expand quickly.... Most important for impatient smartphone users, the company says, the so-called instant articles will load up to 10 times faster than they normally would since readers stay on Facebook rather than follow a link to another site." ...

.... Here's Facebook's announcement.

Nell Scovell in New York: Dave Letterman' former writers reminisce about jokes they wrote & pitched but which Letterman rejected. Letterman comments.

Vermeil placecard holders, a favorite "souvenir" of White House guests.... Washington Post: Petty thieves show up at White House state dinner -- all the time. Many guests at state dinners & other functions just can't resist taking home mementos, some of them pricey. "While the chief usher’s office monitors exactly what goes out with each place setting when the first family entertains, there is no formal accounting of how much taxpayers must pay each year to replace items that are gone by the end of the night."

Washington Post: The law finally catches up with Frank Freshwater, who escaped from prison in 1959.

Washington Post: Tesla plans to market a home battery system that draws power from solar panels or the power grid to use during outages. It holds up to 10 kw-hours, about 1/3 of what it takes to power an average home for a day. Tesla plans to make the system avalable by the end of this summer.

Conan O'Brien in Entertainment Weekly: "Not one single writer/performer in the last 35 years has had Dave [Letterman]’s seismic impact on comedy.... In today’s’ world of 30 late night programs, it’s tempting now to take Dave for granted. Do not. Dave was a true revolution.... Like all revolutions, it was such a seismic shift that it was disorienting and a bit messy at first, and it has taken us time to realize the sheer magnitude of the shift."

White House: "For a new state china service, First Lady Michelle Obama wanted it to have modern elements, but also for it to be practical, in the sense that it would be complementary to the preceding historic state services. The Obama State China Service consists of eleven-piece place settings for 320":

Timothy Simon of "Veep" gets ready to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is Saturday, April 25:

... Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live will headline the event.

MOOCS! Washington Post: For $45, anyone can become a freshman at Arizona State University. "Students can take classes online for a fee, then decide whether to pay reduced tuition for the credits."

The Sex Life of David Brooks is apparently intensely interesting to Villagers who do not participate in it.

Washington Post: "Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental." During a competition in Dubai, the Georgian grandmaster allegedly hid an iPhone in the bathroom, then consulted a chess app during play.

CBS News: "'Face the Nation' Host Bob Schieffer announced Sunday that CBS News political director John Dickerson will become the new host of 'Face the Nation' this summer when he retires." CW: So "Face the Nation" is going to become even worse. Follows the well-established pattern of Sunday morning "news" shows.

New York Times: "Bob Schieffer, a television anchor who has worked at CBS for nearly half a century and interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon, announced Wednesday night that he was retiring this summer. Mr. Schieffer, 78, made the announcement while giving an address at Texas Christian University, his alma mater." CW: This will be a great disappointment to Charles Pierce, as regular readers of Pierce's posts will recognize.

I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years.... We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.... We are not talking about little green men, Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes. -- Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA

It's definitely not an if, it's a when. -- Jeffery Newmark of NASA

... The L.A. Times story, from which the above citations come, is fascinating.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

Guardian: "Allegations that a 17-year-old was forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew, which prompted a crisis at Buckingham Palace earlier this year, have been removed from a federal court case by a judge in the US. Judge Kenneth Marra ordered Virginia Roberts’s accusations about Andrew, the Duke of York, to be struck from the record and denied her attempt to join a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the prince and a convicted sex offender. 'At this juncture in the proceedings, these lurid details are unnecessary,' Marra wrote in his order, issued at the US district court in southern Florida on Tuesday morning.... Andrew and Buckingham Palace vehemently deny Roberts’s allegations."

Washington Monthly: "Today [April 7] marks the centennial of Billie Holliday’s birth."

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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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