“You’re All Wrong: Obama’s Not Mullah Omar, He’s George McGovern!”

Yesterday John Podhoretz admonished his fellow conservatives to “get serious” about Barack Obama. “Obama is very possibly a world-historical political figure,” wrote Podhoretz. He’s not, he explained, a nice guy in over his head. And he’s not “the reverse-negative image of that delusion…a not-so-secret Marxist Kenyan with dictatorial ambitions and a nearly limitless appetite for power.”

Podhoretz is being a bit disingenuous in suggesting that “Obama’s a nice guy over his head” is a conservative delusion; almost nobody in conservative circles actually believes that, it’s just something they said during the recent marketing campaign in which they temporarily increased their market share from 45% to 47%. But a lot sure do believe the Marxist (and I’d add Muslim) Kenyan wannabe dictator.

How does Podhoretz think a serious person should see Obama? As “a conventional post-1960s left-liberal with limited interest in the private sector and the gut sense that government must and should do more, whatever ‘more’ might mean at any given moment.”

The notion that Obama is a dangerous extremist helps him, because it makes him seem reasonable and his critics foolish. It also helps those who peddle it, because it makes them notorious and helps them sell their wares. But it has done perhaps irreparable harm to the central conservative cause of the present moment—making the case that Obama’s social-democratic statism is setting the United States on a course for disaster and that his anti-exceptionalist foreign policy is setting the world on a course for nihilistic chaos. Those are serious arguments, befitting a serious antagonist. They may not sell gold coins as quickly and as well as excessive alarmism, but they have the inestimable advantage of being true.

Do you see the problem here? If not, look a little closer: yeah, there it is: Podhoretz is admonishing his fellow conservatives for believing their inaccurate caricature of Obama (and the nation that has twice elected him president), and imploring conservatives to instead embrace his inaccurate caricature of Obama, and of America. Or, rather, the post-Vietnam caricature of all liberals and Democrats, a caricature created in no small part by John Podhoretz’ parents.

Podhoretz is a legacy. He’s the editor of Commentary. Commentary’s longtime editor and now editor emeritus is John’s dad, Norman Podhoretz, who frequently published pieces by Midge Decter, John’s mom. After Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz is probably the most (in)famous and influential neconservative, at least among the polemicists. A leftist critic of liberalism in the early sixties, by the late sixties Podhoretz was a bellicose & often bigoted rightwing critic of liberalism. By 1968 he was railing against effete liberal intellectuals of the kind he’d once consorted with but whom he believed disdained him because of his hardscrabble background in working class Brooklyn. (Of course it’s surely a coincidence that this flip to cultural conservative came almost immediately after his 1967 memoir “Making It” was savaged by liberal intellectuals such as his one-time time friend Norman Mailer.) By the late 1970’s, Podhoretz and Decter were, according to Jacob Heilbrunn’s They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons, alleging that “cultural changes like the rise of feminism and increased tolerance for homosexuality would sap the vitality of the United States and lead it to perdition, a key reason that the neconservatives would later find common ground with Christian evangelicals.” In The Rise of the Counter-Establishment, Sidney Blumenthal less charitably described Decter as “a thunderer against the sins of the feminists, other miscreants from the 1960’s, and crypto-Stalinists.”

The neocons retained a nominal allegiance to the Democrats into the 1970’s, but they eagerly embraced Ronald Reagan and have been intellectual troops–or, one might say, polemical hacks–for the GOP ever since.

But it wasn’t only being dissed by the liberal intelligentsia that led Podhoretz and Decter to go to war with the radical left, the counterculture, and liberalism–terms which over time they practically used as synonyms. Israel and anti-communism loomed much larger in their politics after the 1967 war, and they thought liberals had gone soft on both. But the gateway from abrasive leftism to their reactionary cultural whoring warring was race. Podhoretz’ issues with race were visible at least since 1963, when he published his essay “My Negro Problem–and Ours”:

 With his February 1963 Commentary essay “My Negro Problem—and Ours,” Podhoretz created a furor. The article concludes with a plea for racial intermarriage, but it is mostly remembered for being a blunt recollection of Podhoretz’s childhood terror of the black children and teenagers who, at times, beat him to a pulp. “In my world it was the whites, the Italians and Jews who feared the Negroes, not the other way around,” he writes. “The Negroes were tougher than we were, more ruthless, and on the whole they were better athletes.”

Podhoretz, Kristol, Tom Wolfe and other effete coastal intellectuals of their ilk helped create and employ the nasty stereotype of effete coastal intellectuals who indulged and empowered everything that went wrong in America in the 1950’s: the undisciplined kids who occupied universities; the radicals who cavorted with Jane Fonda, Ho Chi Minh and the Black Panthers; the eggheads who indoctrinated  teachers in new math, phonics and cultural relativism; the bra burners who were destroying the family and raising boys to be sissies; the experts who built freeways on top of neighborhoods and bussed kids to the other side of town; the hippies who took drugs & were experimental sexual libertines; the savages who took drugs & rutted like animals; the muggers who turned liberals in to conservatives; the multi-lateralists, internationalists and defeatists afraid to assert our national interest around the world, and thus make us unsafe at home; the savages who set fire to cities and ruined the old neighborhoods; and the queens, both the queer kind as well as the lazy kind who popped out babies and wouldn’t work because they could sit around collecting welfare from the taxes paid by the silent majority. Fully emancipating blacks turned the South from a Democratic bastion to the Republican heartland. It was these stereotypes–used by Richard Nixon, perfected by Lee Atwater, and still somewhat useful to Karl Rove–that Republicans used to win elections in the urban and suburban north and in the Sunbelt west for three decades.

By 1980 or so, Podhoretz, Decter, Kristol and the rest of their cadre abandoned Jimmy Carter and the Democratic party and threw in 100% with Ronald Reagan. And that’s where they’ve remained, and where they’ve found employment for their kids. And it’s Jimmy Carter, and Walter Mondale, and Teddy Kennedy and the urban planners and affirmative action hires and Vietnam war protesters and attorneys springing criminals from prison and the Black Panthers and Malcolm X and all the “other miscreants from the 1960’s” they’ve continued to fight. And they believe several of their stereotypes, about single mother parenting, elite education, affirmative action, community organizing and machine politics, that they believe mutated and created the embodiment of so much that they see wrong with America: Barack Obama and his liberal, Democratic enablers and supporters.

Since his parents gave birth not only to him, but in large part to these social and cultural slurs that served as the GOP’s campaign themes, it’s no surprise that John Podhoretz falls back on them to explain Barack Obama. According to John Podhoretz, “Barack Obama and his liberal followers have been doing very serious work over the past four years, and the same cannot be said, alas, of far too many people who oppose them.” He might have instead written, paraphrasing his father, that “Barack Obama and his liberals are tougher than we are, more ruthless, and on the whole they are better campaigners and politicos than we are.”

Podhoretz the Lesser, invoking Sun Tzu, says “you need to know your political antagonist if you are to prevail against him—and you need to know yourself.” I haven’t read Sun Tzu, but I suspect he also says it’s at least kind of important to know the terrain on which you’ll wage battle. We knew Podhoretz inherited his father’s job; now we see the patrimony also included the intellectual weaponry and battle plans of his father’s wars.  But those battle plans were devised for a time when the electorate was over 90% white, almost entirely native-born, Christian, almost entirely straight or closeted, if not speaking English than speaking Italian or Polish, working heavily in manufacturing, and just undergoing the changes of desegregation, and more importantly, of feminism. The ideas that drove liberals and Democrats, the weapons they deployed, and the electorate they engaged were dramatically different than today. But the GOP has not adapted to the new adversary and new environment, and until they make fundamental changes–such as distancing themselves from rightwing fundamentalists–they’re at risk of being overrun.

By sticking with his parents’ view of America, John Podhoretz is actually telling conservatives to keep doing exactly what they’re doing wrong: viewing liberals and Democrats, as well as the electorate, as having remained unchanged since the 1960’s and 1970’s. Rather than invoke Sun Tzu, Podhoretz should be thinking about a different adage about war: generals always prepare to fight the last war. John Podhoretz wants conservatives to get serious about fighting the last culture war, that Republicans long ago lost, in an America that no longer exists.

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Forecast Calls for an Easy Solution

Columbia Journalism Review has a good piece on a very weak link in convincing the American public–the only public in a highly developed country still in need of convincing–that the earth’s climate is changing because of human activity: TV weathermen. It turns out that many of the people Americans trust to tell them the weather are climate change deniers. A recent survey of TV meteorologists showed that only one quarter believed in global climate change and that it is caused by humans, a quarter said they were “neutral” on the matter, and half rejected it. 29% even agreed with the claim that global climate change is a “scam.”

The piece goes on to discuss why this might be, and efforts being taken to change the views of TV meteorologists. This matter is controversial only in the US. It’s not an open question. So here’s an easy solution for any TV station that gives a crap about truth, and about the future of life on earth: do not employ any weather reporters who do not declare that they believe in man-made climate change.

That notion may strike some as offensive, as some kind of loyalty oath. One might invoke the right to free speech, or declare it’s wrong to tell journalists what to think. Such objections miss an important point: in journalism, there are already many beliefs that get you cast out of the profession. Would a sportswriter keep her job if she espoused the view that black athletes aren’t as smart as white athletes? A religion reporter wouldn’t get hired by a standard news organization if he declared Islam a gutter religion or said Mormons were members of a cult. Someone who pushed a truther theory about 9/11 or denied the Holocaust would get canned.

Declaring people who embrace and espouse widely discredited beliefs can go too far. It’s a matter of degree; some beliefs are minority views but not obviously ridiculous. But others are authoritatively refuted, and it’s the latter that are disqualifying. Or should be. If you want to be a meteorologist on TV, you should be forced to declare that you accept the scientific consensus that Earth is undergoing a human-caused climate change. Making a lot of money scaremongering about a two inch snowfall or telling people when it’s too hot to leave your pets in the car should be limited to people who don’t deny accepted scientific theories of reality.

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Such certainty:

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 9.56.18 AM

With respect to Nate Cohn, I prefer to assess the race with a bit more emphasis on stuff like this:

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 9.47.30 AM

In political analysis it is important to not relevant precedents & apt comparisons. But it is also important to note the absence of relevant precedents or comparisons. Unless someone can come up with similar search results for “Name of Candidate” + magazine + cover, I prefer to operate under assumption that an Ashley Judd candidacy would have no precedents or sound comparisons. As a result, I intend to be humble in my predictions.

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Richard Florida on Elections: Missing the State Forests for the City Trees

Richard Florida is the great proselytizer of the creative class:

[The creative class is] a fast-growing, highly educated, and well-paid segment of the workforce on whose efforts corporate profits and economic growth increasingly depend. Members of the creative class do a wide variety of work in a wide variety of industries—from technology to entertainment, journalism to finance, high-end manufacturing to the arts. They do not consciously think of themselves as a class. Yet they share a common ethos that values creativity, individuality, difference, and merit.

I’ve previously written about Florida’s work and how his insights help us understand US politics and elections. His work has value, but I think he and his like-minded theorists tend to look at correlations and attribute too much to their favored factors, ignoring others. This post from yesterday is a good example. He looks at population density, the mix of industry, racial composition and other factors that may answer his question: “what is it exactly that makes big cities vote Democratic?” But there are several problems with his question, and how he attempts to answer it.  First, there isn’t an “exact” answer to such a question; most American cities have been voting Democratic since the late 1920’s, long before there was any significant “creative class,” and when there were few sizable cities west of St Louis or south of Washington DC. History can’t be distilled to an “exact” answer. Furthermore, he asks about cities, but the data he analyzes is metro areas; those aren’t the same thing. And there are many correlations and comparisons he doesn’t consider, including the obvious correlation that almost all of the biggest metro areas are in Democratic states.

Of the thirty largest metro areas in the United States–all but Las Vegas, at 1,969,675, have over two million residents–twenty-four are partially or entirely in states Obama won both times. Seventeen are in states that have gone Democratic in every election since 1992. And five–New York City, Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle and Portland–are in states that have been Democratic since 1988, when they went for Dukakis. But “metro area” is not the same as a city, and it isn’t a particularly useful measure of political geography. While Obama did lose the Houston and Dallas metro areas, he won the cities of Houston and Dallas. So in terms of cities themselves, almost every single one over 500,00 went for the Democrat. Partisanship of a metro area is most likely determined not by the votes in its core city, but by the votes in its suburbs.  If Florida is going to make statements about cities, he should analyze cities. If he’s going to analyze metro areas, he should make clear his claims aren’t about cities.

As for metro areas, according to Florida’s numbers, Obama won 150, Romney 214. But is that number meaningful? My Chicago neighborhood is less than 2 square miles and holds less than 1% of the population of the Chicago metro area. It’s one of the most racially, ethnically, religiously and linguistically diverse places in the world. And my little neighborhood has almost exactly the same number of people as are in the 168 square mile Carson City NV metro area.  Each of the 50 smallest metro areas has fewer than 120,000 people, and most are overwhelmingly white and homogeneous. The total population of those 50 metro areas–roughly 1.8 million–is about the same as the population of the 38th largest metro area, Columbus, OH, and less than one tenth the population of Greater NYC. Lumping Mankato, Minnesota and Pocatello, Idaho in with the Dallas and Boston metro areas doesn’t tell us anything that’s particularly useful about “cities.”

I love maps, so I spent some time looking at the map accompanying Florida’s post to see if there was something useful:

Richard Florida Map of 2012 by Metro AreasIn fact, there is something useful, just not what I think Florida had in mind. Look at the map, and imagine you decided to color in the rest of the map, using a red pen for the counties won by Romney, and a blue pen for the counties won by Obama. You’d barely use your blue pen; the blue areas would continue to look like islands, but the red puddles would become a sea of red: Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 5.02.03 PM But what about recent trends, you may ask? Well, trends are kind of important to look at if one is going to say economic change effects current voting. But Florida’s analysis is not a look through time, it’s a snapshot of the moment. We have no idea, if we look at only one point in time, what the trends are, if there are any. But if we look back at the last few elections, other than the the major shift from Democrats to Republicans in Appalachia and the Ozarks, the 2000 map looks pretty much the same (on this map, from the terrific web site run by David Liep,  red is for Democrats and blue is for Republicans): Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 3.28.23 PM

From election to election, the states contested for their electoral votes haven’t fluctuated much since 1996. Many big cities are in states that weren’t contested, while others–in particular those in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio–were bombed with ads and blanketed with canvassers and GOTV workers. One shouldn’t generalize too much about election results without considering that difference.

Rural America isn’t entirely white. The “black belt,” an arc from southeast Virginia through the Carolinas, Georgia and in to central Alabama is mostly rural and heavily African-American. It’s the same along the Mississippi River from Memphis and down through Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. In the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and in much of the mountains of New Mexico and Colorado there are significant populations of Hispanics, some whose families have been there for 400 years. And Native Americans are clustered on reservations across the west. But most of rural America is overwhelmingly white. And other than New England and some heavily Scandinavian and German areas of the Upper Midwest, rural America has been voting overwhelmingly Republican for decades. Looking at his data, Florida ends up in a familiar place,

America is divided between cities of knowledge and skill and the rest…This divide is as economic and geographic as it is partisan. America’s polarized politics is a product of its deeply-etched geography of class.

Maybe. But probably not. Big cities, even in conservative states, vote Democratic. Metro regions generally vote consistent with their state and section of the country. There isn’t a single geographic divide in America, and national section–South, Plains and Great Basin vs Northeast, Great Lakes and Pacific Coast–is probably a far stronger correlation to how a metro area votes than does it’s creative class economics and demographics. To see that, all you have to do is look at Florida’s map…and use your imagination to color in what’s missing.

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The Luxury of an Undisciplined Congressional Caucus

Last night the House of Representatives passed the bill that kept us from going over the so-called “fiscal cliff.” That was a huge story, but it’s already not the hottest daily political tussle that plays out on cable and in the DC press. Last night the House Republicans chose not to pass the bill authorizing funds for the areas heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Peter King is mouthing off about leaving the Republican Party–since he doesn’t get us close to a majority, I’d rather he stay in the GOP and screw things up from the inside rather than give Dems a racist caucus member–and Chris Christie unloaded on John Boehner.

Because their party screwed them and their constituents, the few remaining Congressional Republicans in New York and New Jersey may have a tougher time in the next election. But long-term, Northeastern Republicans are suffering from the same problem facing rural and Southern Democrats: regionalization of the parties and the narrow margins in the House of Representatives.

Compared to the 1960’s through 1980’s, Congress today is a more nasty and brutish place where the careers of members in competitive districts are often short. Members of Congress, particularly Republicans, are probably more ideological today than in, say, the 1980’s. But as realignment in the South has shaken out, and the conservative/liberal axis now closely tracks partisanship, it’s not always the ideological zealotry of members from competitive districts that endangers them in general elections. The problem for most members from competitive districts is that their caucuses need the votes of almost every member, on almost every single issue.

This is from a piece I wrote a couple years ago for The Boston Review:

Democrats didn’t just control the House: they dominated it. From 1959 through the end of Democratic leadership in 1994, the Democrats, on average, held a 93-seat majority. With so many votes to spare, Democratic leaders could tolerate weak partisan discipline yet still muster the votes needed to pass their legislative priorities…

In recent elections Republican presidential voters have become more likely to vote for Republicans for Congress. Democratic Congressional candidates won only 4 more districts than Al Gore, only 22 more than John Kerry, and only 14 more than Barack Obama. This development has dramatically changed the House. Now that Congressional results largely track presidential results, there are more safe Republican seats, many of them in the South. As a result, the House now has fewer conservative Southern Democrats. Thus, compared to the era of Democratic dominance, ideology now neatly tracks partisanship in the House. Majorities have fewer opportunities to pick up votes from their ideological allies in the minority caucus, so the majority requires more partisan discipline than Democrats required during their dominance. And now a shift of 50 or so seats affects not the degree of Democratic dominance but control of the House.

The “Hastert Rule,” by which Speakers Dennis Hastert and–until last night–John Boehner would not bring to the floor any bill they couldn’t pass with only Republican votes is a more brazenly partisan practice than what prevailed under Speakers prior to Newt Gingrich. But it’s also a result of their narrower partisan margins compared to those enjoyed by Democratic Speakers from the mid-fifties through the eighties. Undisciplined majorities were a luxury for past Democratic majorities, but a threat to the legislative agendas of today’s narrow Congressional majorities (and barring a huge political shock, this will be as much a dilemma for future Democratic majorities as it is for the current Republican majority).

Northeastern Republicans may take a hit because their increasingly regional party acts mostly on regional interests and not in the national interest. Even in strongly Democratic states there are strong Republican pockets, so just as their are a handful of Southern Democrats there will probably always be a few Northeastern Republicans. But over time, what is probably more likely to lead to the defeat of Republicans in districts like thos of Michael Grimm and Peter King is their party’s continued reliance on their votes for politics and policies popular with rural, evangelical and federal government-hating voters in the South, Appalachia, the Plains and Great Basin, but that are unpopular with voters in New Jersey and New York.

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Carl Levin and Process…Again

For most of my life I was represented by Senator Carl Levin. I know of few politicians in the last few decades who’ve conducted themselves with such integrity, and on almost all substantive policy issues he’s been right, and often prescient. I was lucky to have him representing me in the Senate. But he can sometimes be obstinate on process matters, like now, when he’s joined with John McCain in trying to torpedo meaningful reform of the filibuster. Ezra Klein summed up their proposal well:

If you think the Senate is pretty much working well as is, and the biggest threat are the folks who want to change the rules, then this is the proposal for you. It lets people say they’re doing something to curb the abuse of the filibuster without actually doing anything at all. But if you think the Senate is broken, there’s nothing in here that would even plausibly fix any of its problems.

In 1999 Congress grappled with a different procedural matter: the impending expiration of the law authorizing the United States Office of Independent Counsel. The Independent Counsel had proven to be a mess:

Two broad dilemmas lie at the heart of the problems with the statute. On one hand is the question of what balance to strike between the independence and accountability of the appointed prosecutor. On the other is how to grant the attorney general the discretion to make fair and necessary appointment decisions while minimizing the potential for conflict of interest.

Currently, much criticism among members of Congress, former prosecutors, and legal experts centers on the idea that the statute is biased toward granting too much independence to the prosecutor and too little discretion to the attorney general.

Such criticism has grown with the four-year-old, $40 million Starr investigation [which began as an investigation of the Clintons’ Whitewater investment but eventually led to the Monica Lewinsky frenzy], but was also directed at earlier probes. Lawmakers “are so upset about Starr, and probably to a lesser extent about me,” says Lawrence Walsh, the independent counsel during the 1986 Iran-contra investigation.

Congress let the law expire. But there were a few who had tried to keep it alive:

Today, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., and a bipartisan group of colleagues are set to introduce legislation that would rework the statute they want renewed to maintain the independence of investigations into possible corruption by the highest government officials.

But that foursome — Lieberman will be joined by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., Susan M. Collins, R-Maine, and Arlen Specter, R-Pa. — is in a distinct minority. Most members of Congress and even the administration seem content to let the post- Watergate reform fade into history.

It’s not clear to me why Carl Levin clings to procedural inertia long after the need for change is apparent. But he often does, so his opposition to filibuster reform is not a surprise.

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Every Man His Own Militia

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed

It’s hard to come up with a fair-minded, non-ideological reading of the Second Amendment that doesn’t lead to the conclusion that it wasn’t intended to be an absolute right of every individual to own a personal arsenal for vigilantism. Rather, it was to ensure there would be sufficient numbers of appropriately armed men to serve in local militias mustered in response to invasions, Indian raids and rebellions.

Militias weren’t considered some haphazard gaggle of yokels with guns. The Militia Act of 1792 was very specific about how militia men should be outfitted:

every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack

When the Second Amendment was adopted, a “well regulated militia” was composed of men armed with muskets that in the hands of an experienced shooter could fire about three rounds per minute. Musket He was supplied with 20-24 rounds. The basic small fighting group, as described in the Militia Act of 1792, was a company, composed of 64 privates commanded by about a dozen officers and non-commissioned officers. If all were firing their weapons at an average rate, a company could fire about 225 rounds a minute, and the killing range of their muskets was about 80-100 yards.

Compare the musket’s lethal effectiveness to that of the AR-15. AR-15 The AR-15 was one of the weapons used by Aurora murderer Aurora murderer James Holmes, was the sole weapon of last week’s Oregon mall murderer Jacob Roberts. It is very similar to the Bushmaster carbine found in the car of Newtown murderer Adam Lanza and used by Beltway Snipers John Muhammad and Lee Malvo. The AR-15 has an effective range of over 500 yards, over five times the range of a musket. Standard clips hold 20-30 rounds (although they can be fitted with drum magazines that hold 100 rounds). Even with smaller capacity clips, like used by Holmes, they can fire a tremendous number of highly lethal bullets (far more lethal than the balls of lead flung by eighteenth century muskets). In one minute Holmes fired more than 50 rounds in to the Aurora movie theater.

When the Second Amendement was adopted, it took 16 or 17 men to fire off as many rounds in one minute as one deranged lunatic fired in to a movie theater. If those 16 or 17 men with muskets advanced toward one person with an AR-15, they would have to walk a quarter of a mile under lethal gunfire from one person with an AR-15 before they could get in range to fire a lethal shot from their musket. It they advanced across an open field against a skilled marksman, they would all be killed before they ever got close enough to fire a shot from their own weapons. And four James Holmes’–or two pairs of Muhammad/Malvo or Harris/Klebold–with weapons easily acquired today, could mow down an entire “well regulated militia” before that militia would have been in range to fire a shot.


The Second Amendment ensured that Americans could arm themselves with a musket. But the courts have repeatedly concluded that Americans aren’t entitled to arm themselves with a Browning .50 caliber machine gun. I’d like to think Scalia and his majority on the Supreme Court would stop being blockheads and acknowledge that an AR-15 or a Bushmaster is much closer to a .50 caliber machine gun than it is to the muskets of the militiamen of 1792. But I’m not holding my breath.

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