Brought forward from yesterday afternoon's Commentariat: "My column in the New York Times eXaminer is titled "Praise the Lord & Pass the Ammunition," & is a critique of Ross Douthat's & David Brooks' responses to the Newtown massacre.
In the coming weeks, I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens -- from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators -- in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can't accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard? -- President Barack Obama, in Newtown, Connecticut Sunday evening. Full transcript here.
** Joseph Califano, in a Washington Post op-ed, urges President Obama to draw "from the experience of Lyndon B. Johnson -- the last president to aggressively fight for comprehensive gun control -- ... Demand action on comprehensive gun control immediately from this Congress or lose the opportunity during your presidency."
** Michael Moss & Ray Rivera of the New York Times: "... recent efforts by the [Newtown, Connecticut] police chief and other town leaders to gain some control over the shooting [in woodsy areas] and the weaponry turned into a tumultuous civic fight, with traditional hunters and discreet gun owners opposed by assault weapon enthusiasts, and a modest tolerance for bearing arms competing with the staunch views of a gun industry trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which has made Newtown its home."
Ann Flaherty of the AP: "Democrats say meaningful action in the wake of the school shootings in Connecticut must include a ban on military-style assault weapons and a look at how the nation deals with individuals suffering from serious mental illness. Several Democratic lawmakers and Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman said it was time to take a deeper look into the recent spate of mass shootings and what can be done to prevent them." ...
... AND How about This? Kevin Robillard of Politico: "West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin -- who has an 'A' rating from the NRA and is a lifetime member of the pro-gun rights group -- said Monday that it was time to 'move beyond rhetoric' on gun control. 'I just came with my family from deer hunting,' Manchin said on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe.' 'I've never had more than three shells in a clip. Sometimes you don't get more than one shot anyway at a deer. It's common sense. It's time to move beyond rhetoric. We need to sit down and have a common-sense discussion and move in a reasonable way.' ... All 31 senators with an 'A' rating from the NRA declined to appear on Sunday's 'Meet the Press' to discuss gun control, according to host David Gregory." CW: apparently the nation's leading tough-guy he-men are not brave enough to stand up to D. Wussy Greggers without their firearms. Here's a Manchin 2010 campaign ad:
... Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times: (Dec. 16, at 9:54 pm ET) "New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, joining Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other elected officials, called on Sunday for Congress to pass tougher gun laws in the wake of the Newtown shootings."
E. J. Dionne: "If Congress does not act this time, we can deem it as totally bought and paid for by the representatives of gun manufacturers, gun dealers and their very well-compensated apologists.... What, minimally, might 'meaningful action' look like? We should begin with: bans on high-capacity magazines and assault weapons; requiring background checks for all gun purchases; stricter laws to make sure that gun owners follow safety procedures; new steps to make it easier to trace guns used in crimes; and vastly ramped-up data collection and research on what works to prevent gun violence, both of which are regularly blocked by the gun lobby.... We must act now to curb gun violence, or we never will."
Michael Grunwald of Time doesn't think gun control legislation will pass with Republicans controlling the House & effectively controlling the Senate with their filibuster: "... politics is more than gaffes and memes. It's life and death. And if this massacre really is different, if Americans decide they really do want to do something about guns, they'll need to elect different politicians to Congress."
Let's Play "Ask a Philosopher." Firmin Debrabander in the New York Times: "... an armed society ... is the opposite of a civil society."
... Ben Armbruster of Think Progress: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) "suggested that had the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary been armed with assault rifles, they could have prevented Friday's massacre and saved lives.... Pressed by ["Fox 'News' Sunday"] host Chris Wallace on why ordinary citizens need semi automatic weapons that shoot 5 bullets per second, Gohmert said that any restrictions on fire arms could lead to the slippery slope of full prohibition and said that American amass weapons to protect themselves from the government." With video. ...
... Robert Parry on why "Republicans -- and particularly Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush -- hold primary responsibility for the kinds of horrors that have claimed innocent lives in places like Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Columbine, Virginia Tech and so many other locations whose names will long be associated with butchery."
This story, compiled by Josh Marshall of TPM, on Nancy Lanza's motives for stockpiling guns & ammo -- if the elements are true -- is pretty illuminating. What I found most revealing with the interview of the sister-in-law, which is in the embedded video. She appears to be comfortable with the survivalist thing & parrots the NRA talking points. It appears to me these people were reinforcing each other's fears, likely with a little assist from the National Geographic Channel. (No, I'm not kidding.)
According to NextGov.com, "A petition asking the White House to immediately press Congress for tighter restrictions on gun ownership became the most popular ever posted to the White House's We the People website after less than 48 hours online Sunday." CW: at 9 am ET today, the petition has 140,287 signatures. There should be more. If you haven't signed, please do so here.
Lori Montgomery & Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "House Speaker John A. Boehner has offered to push any fight over the federal debt limit off for a year, a concession that would deprive Republicans of leverage in the budget battle but is breathing new life into stalled talks over the year-end 'fiscal cliff.' The offer came Friday, according to people in both parties familiar with the talks.... Boehner's offer signals that he expects a big deal with sufficient savings to meet his demand that any debt limit increase be paired dollar-for-dollar with spending cuts." ...
... Jonathan Weisman & Jackie Calmes of the New York Times (Dec. 16 at 3:52 pm ET): "Speaker John A. Boehner's latest offer to President Obama to allow tax rates to rise on incomes over $1 million has already changed the terms of negotiations to avert a fiscal crisis in January, and both sides on Sunday expressed new optimism that a deal could be reached this week." ...
A ONE TRILLION DOLLAR Deficit! Paul Krugman: "Federal debt was higher at the end of the Clinton years than at the beginning -- that is, the deficits of the Clinton administration's early years outweighed the surpluses at the end. Yet because gross domestic product rose over those eight years, the best measure of our debt position, the ratio of debt to G.D.P., fell dramatically, from 49 to 33 percent.... You should recognize all the hyped-up talk about the deficit for what it is: yet another disingenuous attempt to scare and bully the body politic into abandoning programs that shield both poor and middle-class Americans from harm."
Nicholas Confessore & Monica Davey of the New York Times: "Where the big-spending conservative groups active in this year's presidential race had little to show for their millions of dollars, the state efforts were strikingly successful. While Mr. Obama was winning onetime red states like Virginia and swing states like Michigan and Ohio, Republicans made large gains in state offices in many of the same battlegrounds. Starting next year, Republicans will have one-party control in almost half of the state capitals in the country."
A New Cabinet Just Like the Oldest Cabinet. David Sanger of the New York Times: "President Obama is leaning strongly toward naming John Kerry ... as secretary of state, according to administration officials and friends of Mr. Kerry. But the announcement will be delayed, at least until later this week and maybe beyond, because of the Connecticut school shooting and what one official called 'some discomfort' with the idea of Mr. Obama's announcing a national security team in which the top posts are almost exclusively held by white men."
New York Times: "Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, who went to Washington at the birth of his state in 1959, dominated public life in the Hawaiian islands for more than 50 years and became a quiet voice of national conscience during the Watergate scandal and the Iran-contra affair, died on Monday in Bethesda, Md. He was 88. A statement by his Washington office said he died of respiratory complications at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. His last words were 'Aloha,' the statement said." The Washington Post obituary is here. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser obit is here. President Obama's statement is here.
AP: "South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is announcing a replacement for U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint ... at noon Monday...." ...
... Update: "South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley picked U.S. Rep. Tim Scott to be the state's next U.S. senator Monday, making him the only black Republican in Congress and the South's first black Republican senator since Reconstruction."
Guardian: "A bomb dropped by a Syrian air force jet killed and wounded scores of Palestinians on Sunday in the largest refugee camp in Damascus, sending thousands of residents fleeing for other areas of the capital now besieged by civil war."
Guardian: "Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has claimed victory in the first round of the country's bitterly divisive constitutional referendum, with opposition forces complaining of large-scale rigging and violations."