Category Archives: Meet the Press

You say you'll change the constitution


I happened to be flicking through the channels this past weekend. C-SPAN 3 was showing a 1958 interview of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas for the ABC show Mike Wallace Interviews. Wallace asked Douglas, who was very strong on First Amendment rights, where he stood on the classic case of a man yelling fire in a crowded theater. Douglas didn’t take the interviewer’s bait. He stated that it would be an incitement to riot, that it was illegal and should be illegal. That example is one often used to show that there are restrictions, even on things as fundamental to the American experience as the Bill of Rights.

As a recipient of a lot of right-wing material, you would think that the Second Amendment was imperiled. This is just a taste:

Dear Concerned American,

The great pay-back has begun, and it’s going to be ugly.

Liberals in Congress are paying back the anti-gun extremists who put them in office, and Barack Obama’s H.R. 45 is the first step…

…and it’s a big step….

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that gun registration is the first step on the road toward totalitarian confiscation of all firearms by a federal power.

In fact, the most brutal dictators of the last century were famous for their gun registration and confiscation schemes.

It was easy work for Hitler’s brown-shirt Gestapo to confiscate the firearms of German citizens because years earlier, well-meaning liberals had forced all guns to be registered with the government … all in the name of safety.

When Hitler came to take their guns, he had a list of who owned every gun and where they lived!

Ah, the Hitler comparison. Again.

If a two-day waiting period, a written exam and a gun tax aren’t infringing our rights, I don’t know what is!

This harangue despite a major victory in the Supreme Court last session.

Here’s the thing: the Second Amendment rights aren’t without limits either. We restrict guns to minors, to convicted felons (boy, I wish that actually worked better) and certain other groups of people.

Which brings me to those folks who somehow believe that packing heat when the President comes to town should be protected. Here’s, of all people, “Morning Joe” Scarborough on the August 23, 2009 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press:

And, and it seems to me that leaders on both parties, Democrats and Republicans alike, have a–have an affirmative responsibility to step forward and speak out against this hate speech and speak out against people carrying guns to rallies…As a guy with a 100 percent lifetime rating with the NRA, I can tell you that not only hurts those of us who believe in Second Amendment rights, it makes the job of the Secret Service so much harder and our law enforcement personnel so much harder.

Joe is, of course, right. I think it’s insane for antagonistic people to be packing heat around the President. Think of the history of this country: four Presidents assassinated, all by the gun; at least five attempts on Presidents using firearms. Not to mention two prominent candidates in my lifetime shot four years apart: Bobby Kennedy in 1968 (assassinated) and George Wallace in 1972 (paralyzed).

My great fear ids that either the President will get shot at (or worse), or the Secret Service will end up shooting a guy with a gun when he makes what they perceive to be a threatening move; the brouhaha after THAT debacle would make the summer town meetings look like a picnic.

I’d rather the Secret Service restrict the use of firearms around POTUS rather than have him risk his life trying to prove that he isn’t going to take away their guns; they already believe he’s stripping them of their weapons regardless.

ROG

Don and Jackie


The thing I got out of the Sunday morning talk shows was that many in Big Media were enablers of Don Imus. On ABC’s This Week, host George Stephanoplolous admitted to appearing on the show. On NBC’s Meet the Press, host Tim Russert and David Brooks of the New York Times noted their appearances on the show. One of them mentioned that high-profile media and politicians were happy to get that demographic of mostly young people who don’t watch the traditional news or attend political rallies. Apparently, the conversation within NBC over the “correct response” to Imus’ comments was rather intense; next week’s TV Guide suggests that Al Roker’s “it could have been my daughter” speech held the day. Brooks was self-admittedly being disingenuous when he claimed that he didn’t know what was on the Imus show, except for his own segment. Given that both Time and Newsweek had cover stories on in the late 1990s, this perhaps seems not credible.

But as the conversations inevitably headed in the “Who can say what?” territory, I did find a bit of possible, albeit lame evidence. Some folks noted that politicians have embraced rappers who have used the same kind of language. It is true for me that I don’t listen to a lot of rap, specifically because of the lyric content that denigrates women, lifts up thuggery and dismisses education; I hear it, and I turn it off. I’d be hard pressed to identify any rapper to a specific song since the early 1990s, save for a few that were so popular or so controversial that I couldn’t help but to know. And yes, I know that other music can be misogynistic and that not all rap is.

This, it has occurred to me that with a three-year old, I’m going to have to start listening to more music and radio that I don’t particularly enjoy, if only to be in touch with the messages she may be subjected to. That’s what PBS’ Gwen Ifill does for her seven-year-old goddaughter, she noted on Meet the Press. Eh. I haven’t listened to Imus since he was a local DJ in the 1970s, though I certainly knew his rep.

I also got specifically annoyed with George Will on ABC, who though one of the Rutgers players as harmed for life as disingenuous. I don’t think he understands the context: denigrated initially, then denigrated again for, in the minds of some, getting Imus fired, receiving hate mail and threats. A 20-year old feeling threatened is not the advancement of the “victim market.”

Sunday, of course, was also the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first major league appearance. Some 200 players, managers and coaches were wearing Robinson’s number 42, which had been retired a decade earlier. (Unfortunately, a goodly number of east coast games, which were free on cable just for the weekend, were postponed because of the rain, but I did enjoy seeing the commercials on FSN South and especially FSN Bay area – what is that store logo that looks like SpongeBob SquarePants?) I found the tributes, especially the pregame before the Dodgers-Padres matchup on ESPN, when Jackie’s widow Rachel was given an award by the baseball commisioner, to be surprisingly moving.

My wife asked if anyone had made a link between Don Imus and Jackie Robinson. Actually, ABC News did, as it named Jackie Robinson its Person of the Week, noting that much had been accomplished, but with much more to be done. Oh, and I discovered that Rachel Robinson’s birthday is July 19, 1922 – looking very spry – while Don Imus’ is July 23, 1940.

Oh, BTW, GayProf, guess which one of the 16 baseball teams of the 1940s and 1950s was the last to integrate? (Answer is within the labels to this post.)
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My prayers to the Virginia Tech community, and to us all.


ROG