Monthly Archives: January 2013

Second Amendment and other constitutional rights are not absolute

Messaging Matters2

In the current gun violence debate, the National Rifle Association and its supporters often cite the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution for their opposition to sensible gun safety laws. However, as guest poster Kenny Pick recently wrote here, such a view falsely turns the Second Amendment into a “super right.” In fact, most individual rights under the U.S. Constitution, including the Second Amendment and other amendments in the Bill of Rights, are not so absolute; rather, they are subject to reasonable limits. Here is a brief and partial list of examples:

Read their hips, not their lips

Messaging Matters2

The best political communication in the world ultimately won’t help politicians if their actions don’t match their rhetoric. President George H.W. Bush learned this lesson when he campaigned in 1988 on “read my lips, no new taxes” and then lost both credibility with and votes from Republicans when, as President, he signed a tax increase. The Republican Party and President Obama each face similar challenges today.

Obama Inauguration Day speech calls for good government

President Obama‘s inauguration speech for his second term called for an active, effective federal (as well as state and local) government that provides “security and dignity” for Americans. Among the things President Obama said that government should help do or be involved in are:

Guest Post: The Super Right

Messaging Matters is pleased to present this guest post from Kenny Pick, creator and host of the “Turn Up the Night with Kenny Pick” political talk show. Kenny writes here about the conservatives’ erroneous treatment of the Second Amendment:

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Like many Americans, I’ve been thinking long and hard about the epidemic of mass shootings in our country – Desperately trying to grasp the reasoning behind the hyper reaction of 2nd Amendment purists regarding gun control. It seems that the NRA, Conservatives, some gun owners and manufacturers believe the 2nd Amendment guarantees what I’ve started referring to as a ’Super Right.’ A right that supersedes all others out of a selfish belief that there should be no limitations on the ownership of any type of weapon. It strikes me that every reasonable American should be comfortable finding a happy medium restricting what arms we all have the right to bear; Somewhere between a pocket knife and a doomsday device.

CNN’s big gun mistake

Many people are still talking about the recent Piers Morgan interview of Alex Jones on CNN. We’re not linking it here in order not to give Jones more publicity, but the interview is easy to find. In fact, “interview” is the wrong term. It was a one-way crazy rant by Jones on a national platform. CNN was ill-advised to invite Jones in the first place.

First of all, Jones is well-known for his ranting, raving and conspiracy theories, including the 9/11 “truther” conspiracy. There’s plenty of footage of Jones from his radio show, yelling, wailing, sobbing, anything but talking about issues in a civil way. Again, we’re not going to link to such footage here, but it can easily be found. Suffice it to say that Piers Morgan and his CNN producers knew or should have known that they weren’t in for an interview, but rather, a food throwing episode.

Secondly, the purported immediate reason for inviting Jones was that he was behind a petition to deport Piers Morgan after Morgan took on the NRA and gun rights advocates, and called for sensible gun laws in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings. It’s Journalism 101 that a tv news host should never make himself the story, yet that’s precisely what Morgan did by inviting Jones on his show. That’s in addition to the other seemingly obvious guideline that, just because a loony with an Internet connection starts a petition, it doesn’t mean he deserves a national television spotlight.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that CNN invited Jones on “Piers Morgan Tonight” as a publicity stunt, knowing that Jones would be his usual uncivilized, explosive self and that the interview would make for “good tv,” good ratings, and thus good money for CNN. Such a decision fails to move the serious debate over gun violence forward, or do justice to the Sandy Hook Elementary School children and teachers mowed down in Newtown.

Republican civil war spills into open

A couple of actions by Congressional Republicans hours apart this past Tuesday night and Wednesday morning demonstrated how the Republican Party is in open warfare with itself. First, House Republicans were sharply divided in their vote to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, atypically, did not make a speech on the House floor in support of the vote. Boehner’s second in command, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, not only voted against his speaker and the fiscal cliff deal, he spoke out against it for all to hear. The Republican fiscal cliff vote tally in the House went against Speaker Boehner, with only 85 voting “yea” and 151 voting “nay” (the bill passed due to the overwhelming Democratic “yea” vote). This follows an embarrassing failure by Boehner to bring his own fiscal cliff “plan B” bill up for a vote in the House on December 20.