The N.R.A. and gun-rights advocates are quick to use the Constitution to defend unfettered access to even the most lethal firearms. But before the Constitution there was the Declaration of Independence, which asserts that we are endowed with certain unalienable rights, including those of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It continues, "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted..."For more on the latest stories of the day, head below the fold.
It is time now for government to protect our right to life from the threat of gun violence. It is time for politicians to put this right on the same pedestal they afford the right to bear arms. It is time for them to heed Supreme Court Justice Scalia, who said, "like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited." [...]
Common sense regulation is urgently needed to protect the lives of Americans in their places of work, houses of worship, shopping centers, movie theaters, parks and schools. [...] But little is going to change unless concerned citizens speak out and demand action from politicians.
You probably heard about the Missouri bill introduced that would make introducing any gun control measure a felony. Tony Messenger urges folks to take the bill seriously as an indication of how crazy Missouri's gun lovers are and how they're controlling the process:
The National Rifle Association should send a letter to every Missouri lawmaker putting them on notice that every vote on House Bill 170 and House Bill 633 will be rated. That means that any vote against them would be a vote against the NRA and thus invite a primary challenge. So even though the bills are stupid and unconstitutional, Republicans would have to vote for them.The Washington Post has a must-read profile of a gun control advocate in North Dakota. She's not getting any support from the local Democratic party:
House Bill 633 isn’t a joke. It’s Ted Nugent being invited to the State of the Union speech. It’s Steven Seagal training armed vigilantes as school guards in Arizona. It’s the new Republican reality.
The state Democratic Party has not taken a position on the bills, and a spokeswoman said they are not likely to champion the issue of gun control.Paul Krugman at The New York Times looks at the "sequester of fools":
“From a party perspective, there is so much happening right now as far as funding milk for elementary-age kids, tax breaks for oil companies,” said Rania Batrice, a spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party. “To be completely honest, we’re very focused on that.”
There’s a silly debate under way about who bears responsibility for the sequester, which almost everyone now agrees was a really bad idea. The truth is that Republicans and Democrats alike signed on to this idea. But that’s water under the bridge. The question we should be asking is who has a better plan for dealing with the aftermath of that shared mistake.Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post echoes Paul Krugman on the absurdity of it all:
The right policy would be to forget about the whole thing. America doesn’t face a deficit crisis, nor will it face such a crisis anytime soon. Meanwhile, we have a weak economy that is recovering far too slowly from the recession that began in 2007. And, as Janet Yellen, the vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, recently emphasized, one main reason for the sluggish recovery is that government spending has been far weaker in this business cycle than in the past. We should be spending more, not less, until we’re close to full employment; the sequester is exactly what the doctor didn’t order.
The standoff over the package of budget cuts known as “the sequester” is the dumbest, most self-defeating fight between President Obama and Republicans in Congress since . . . let’s see, since the last dumb, self-defeating fight less than two months ago.The New York Times editorial board says raising revenue by increasing taxes on the wealthy is absolutely necessary:
Obama is winning this showdown but only in a relative sense. The truth is that everybody loses — Republicans a little more, Democrats a little less. And the American people, who have a right to expect adult behavior from their elected officials, will inevitably be the biggest losers of all.
To reduce the deficit in a weak economy, new taxes on high-income Americans are a matter of necessity and fairness; they are also a necessary precondition to what in time will have to be tax increases on the middle class. Contrary to Mr. Boehner’s “spending problem” claim, much of the deficit in the next 10 years can be chalked up to chronic revenue shortfalls from the Bush-era tax cuts, which were only partly undone in the fiscal-cliff deal earlier this year. (Wars and a recession also contributed.) It stands to reason that a deficit caused partly by inadequate revenue must be corrected in part by new taxes. And the only way to raise taxes now without harming the recovery is to impose them on high-income filers, for whom a tax increase is unlikely to cut into spending. [...]In case you missed it, there was a huge victory yesterday as the AP backed down on its discriminatory approach to describing legally married gay and lesbian couples. Nathaniel Frank at The Los Angeles Times analyzes the significance:
Raising taxes at the top is neither punitive nor gratuitous. It is a needed step, both to achieve near-term budget goals and to lay the foundation for a healthy budget in the future. As the economy strengthens and the population ages, more taxes will be needed from further down the income scale, both to meet foreseeable commitments, especially health care, as well as unforeseeable developments, from wars to technological challenges. But there will never be a consensus for more taxes from the middle class without imposing higher taxes on wealthy Americans, who have enjoyed low taxes for a long time.
The brouhaha is a lesson in why language matters in debates over gay rights — equal terms are precisely what we've been fighting for. [...] At a minimum, AP's decision not to automatically use "husband" or "wife" for gay spouses in states where same-sex marriage is legal created the perception that it was taking sides — and the losing side — in a culture war issue.
The point is, those who get married have already decided about terminology: They have chosen to become a husband or wife, and that's what they deserve to be called. Failing to recognize this means failing to recognize what the gay-marriage battle has been about: achieving equal dignity by accessing the same institutions, using the same terms as everyone else, sharing fully in American citizenship.