11:40: President Obama delivers remarks on common-sense measures to protect children from gun violence; VP Biden also attends
12:30: Press Briefing by Josh Earnest
2:10: The President welcomes President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves of Cape Verde to the White House
Michael Tomasky: Matters look bleak indeed when 50 senators vote for a measure requiring that any bill changing gun laws get a two-thirds majority. Nothing else, not taxes, not anything (except some internal Senate rules), requires a two-thirds vote. That 50 senators voted this way — including six Democrats — shows what a collection of cowards and lickspittles these people are on the issue. If the NRA said gun bills should only be passed after sundown on Tuesdays between Columbus Day and the Ascension of Abdul Baha, they’d rush in with amendments stipulating that it also had to be raining. And yet, there is still a chance — yes, even with the assault-weapons ban dead — that the Senate at least will pass some fairly decent legislation. The NRA can still lose here. It’s important that you know this. They don’t want you to.
Steve Benen: The steady and heartening progress we saw earlier in the year on initial unemployment claims appears to have hit a discouraging bump:
The number of people applying for new unemployment-insurance benefits rose 16,000 to 357,000 in the week ended March 23, reaching the highest level since mid-February, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday….
It’s hard to tell just yet, but it’s worth watching in the coming weeks whether (and how much) congressional Republicans’ sequestration cuts are responsible for pushing these numbers higher.
Steve Benen: A couple of months ago, we talked about a preliminary report showing the U.S. economy shrunk slightly in the last three months of 2012. Today, that figure received its second and final revision, and though it’s hardly great news, the economy at least fared better than previously believed.
….. without the “unusually large drop in government spending,” economic growth would have been significantly stronger.
It’s with this news in mind that congressional Republicans are arguing that the nation will benefit if they slash public investments further and take additional capital out of the economy.
Jonathan Bernstein: Here’s how myths get started. Over the weekend, Alyene Senger at Heritage ran an item called “Obamacare at Three Years: Increasing Cost Estimates.”….
…. she has a chart showing estimated new costs rising from $898 billion in March 2010 to $1.6 trillion in February 2013…..
The chart is important, because it’s easily exportable. So David Frum today ran an item which was just the chart; the only thing Frum added was a one-sentence introduction, “The estimated costs of Obamacare keep rising.”
I haven’t looked, but I’m sure the chart will get plenty of play.
Charles Blow: Witnessing a historic moment is such an odd and exhilarating thing. It is hard to register the full scope of it because you are chest deep in it.
That is how I feel about the gay-marriage arguments made before the Supreme Court on Tuesday and Wednesday.
However the court rules on California’s Proposition 8 and the federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act, there is no denying that something historic has just happened: an aggrieved group has taken a stand and given voice once again to the American — and indeed Democratic — ideals of justice and fairness and freedom.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto meets with President Obama at the White House, November 2012
Statement by the Press Secretary: President Obama will travel to Mexico and Costa Rica May 2-4….
In Mexico, the President looks forward to meeting with President Peña Nieto and welcomes the opportunity to discuss ways to deepen our economic and commercial partnership and further our engagement on the broad array of bilateral, regional, and global issues that connect our two countries.
In Costa Rica, the President looks forward to the opportunity to meet with President Chinchilla as well as heads of state of the other Central American countries and the Dominican Republic, whom President Chinchilla has offered to host
Greg Sargent: John Boehner’s office is circulating Charles Krauthammer’s column, which argues that Republicans should call Obama’s sequester “bluff” and make no concessions whatsoever in revenues to avert the sequester. This is still more confirmation that the GOP’s explicit position is that allowing the sequester to happen – which Republicans themselves say will gut the military and tank the economy – is preferable to compromising at all with Dems, and that they will use the threat of disaster to force a solution that averts the sequester only by giving Republicans everything they want.
….. we’re back to exactly where we were during the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling fights. Republicans are explicitly and openly using the prospect of serious harm to millions and millions of Americans to force Democrats to agree to a deal that gives Republicans everything that they want, while requiring them to make no concessions whatsoever….
Steve Benen: When it comes to the looming, automatic sequestration cuts, there seem to be two broader debates happening simultaneously. The first, more important question deals with what’s going to happen with the policy itself, and the scope of the damage it could do to the economy, the military, and the country.
The second question is a little pettier: who came up with this awful idea in the first place? A Republican National Committee spokesperson, echoing his party’s favorite new talking point, insists this is all President Obama’s fault.
…. Does the GOP have a point on this? Was the policy actually Obama’s idea? No. The argument is not only wrong, it’s dependent on the entire political world having a very short memory …. Since this has become such an important element of the larger fight, let’s take a minute to set the record straight…..
Business Insider: …. Charles Krauthammer writes that Republicans should “call Obama’s sequester bluff.” It’s being passed around by Republicans and other conservatives on Twitter and in email blasts. His argument – which exemplifies a typical conservative shift on the sequester recently – is that Republicans now have leverage on the sequester over President Barack Obama…..
…. Krauthammer wasn’t always so bullish on using the sequester as a tool for leverage. Last May, he warned in an appearance on Fox News that letting the cuts go into effect would be a “catastrophe” for the nation’s defense…..
…. The conservative editorial board of The Wall Street Journal advanced a similar argument on Thursday. In an editorial entitled “The Unscary Sequester,” the editorial board disputed Washington’s “collective fit of terror.”
…. Then there’s the editorial the board wrote not even seven months ago. It used the same language as Krauthammer – “catastrophe,” which it wrote was “playing out in slow motion.” The board also said that Obama had the leverage, and that it would be a “dangerous game” to play with the sequester.
RollCall: President Barack Obama has agreed to do more than just raise money for House Democrats’ effort to win back the majority in 2014: He is also going to help with candidate recruitment.
Obama will headline eight fundraising events in 2013 for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and more fundraisers are planned for 2014. But Obama’s agreement to help DCCC Chairman Steve Israel of New York make the sell to would-be candidates in targeted districts is also significant.
“It’s transformational,” Israel said in an interview, adding that House Democrats are “firing on all cylinders like I’ve never seen before.”
The president’s efforts to assist House Democrats politically are more than Israel initially even asked for.
Ari Berman (The Nation): In 2006, Congress voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for another twenty-five years. The legislation passed 390–33 in the House and 98–0 in the Senate. Every top Republican supported the bill …. Civil rights leaders flanked George W. Bush at the signing ceremony.
Seven years later, the bipartisan consensus that supported the VRA for nearly fifty years has collapsed, and conservatives are challenging the law as never before. Last November, three days after a presidential election in which voter suppression played a starring role, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to Section 5 of the VRA, which compels parts or all of sixteen states with a history of racial discrimination in voting to clear election-related changes with the federal government. The case will be heard on February 27.
The lawsuit, originating in Shelby County, Alabama, is backed by leading operatives and funders in the conservative movement, along with Republican attorneys general in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas….
Washington Post: First lady Michelle Obama will join some of Illinois’ most recognizable politicians and clergy Saturday to mourn a 15-year-old honor student whose death has drawn attention to staggering gun violence in the nation’s third-largest city.
But Hadiya Pendleton’s family says her Saturday funeral service won’t be about politics, but about remembering a girl who loved to dance, once appeared in an anti-gang video and died just days after performing at one of President Barack Obama’s inauguration events.
None of the dignitaries are slated to speak during the service. The teen’s pastor and brother will talk, and the musical group Pendleton was a member of will perform.
NYT: Among the victims of gun violence who will be sitting in the House chamber on Tuesday night when President Obama delivers his State of the Union address will be a teacher who survived the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Natalie Hammond, who reportedly took bullet wounds to the leg, foot and hand but narrowly escaped with her life, will attend the speech as the guest of her congresswoman, Elizabeth Esty, the representative for Newtown, Conn.
Ms. Hammond, the school’s lead teacher, and another school employee were the only two people to survive after being shot by the gunman, Adam Lanza. Ms. Hammond will be one of the many victims of gun violence who will attend the State of the Union address.
WH: On Friday, February 15, President Obama will welcome the recipients of the 2012 Citizens Medal to the White House for a special ceremony to recognize their efforts to serve their communities, and inspire others to do the same.
Neil Heslin with his son Jesse Lewis, aged 6 – Jesse was one of the 20 children killed in in Sandy Hook
CTPost: A false fire alarm, 45-minute waits to get into the Capitol complex, even the heckling of a bereaved parent of a Newtown shooting victim marked Monday’s day-long legislative hearing on gun control.
“The Second Amendment!” was shouted by several gun enthusiasts in the meeting room as Neil Heslin, holding a photo of his 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, asked why Bushmaster assault-style weapons are allowed to be sold in the state.
“There are a lot of things that should be changed to prevent what happened,” said Heslin, who grew up using guns and seemed undisturbed by the interruption of his testimony…..
President Obama signs executive orders on gun violence flanked by 8-year old letter writer Hinna Zeejah (L), 10-year old letter writer Taejah Goode (3rd L), 11-year old letter writer Julia Stokes and 8-year old letter writer Grant Fritz (R)
Julia and Taejah’s letters
President Barack Obama signs letters written by Hinna Zeejah, Grant Fritz, Julia Stokes, and Teja Goode backstage in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building’s South Court Auditorium after unveiling new gun control proposals as part of the Administration’s response to the Newtown, Conn., shootings, and other tragedies, Jan. 16. The children wrote to President Obama in the wake of the Newtown tragedy expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety. (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama in the Connecticut Post: As a society, our first task must be to care for our children – to shield them from harm and give them the tools they need not only to pursue their dreams, but to help build this country. That is how we will be judged. And in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, it’s clear we have a long way to go.
That’s why, last month, I asked Vice President Biden to lead an effort to come up with concrete steps we can take right now to keep our kids safe, help prevent mass shootings, and reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country. And on Wednesday, I put forward a specific set of proposals based on Joe’s recommendations. Because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence – if even one life can be saved – we have an obligation to try.
As President, I’m committed to doing my part. That’s why I signed 23 executive actions giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals, and the public health community the tools they need to help reduce gun violence.
Tomorrow – Wednesday – the President will announce the ‘most sweeping gun reform attempt since 1968’, so we know the level of hate and bile that is about to be spewed on him from the NRA and their supporters.
President Obama at an interfaith vigil, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Dec 16 (Photo: Olivier Douliery)
NYT: President Obama this week will embrace a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence that will call for major legislation to expand background checks for gun purchases and lay out 19 separate actions the president could take by invoking the power of his office, lawmakers who were briefed on the plan said Monday.
Lawmakers and other officials said that the president could use a public event as soon as Wednesday to signal his intention to engage in the biggest Congressional fight over guns in nearly two decades, focusing on the heightened background checks and including efforts to ban assault weapons and their high-capacity clips. But given the difficulty of pushing new rules through a bitterly divided Congress, Mr. Obama will also promise to act on his own to reduce gun violence wherever possible.
NYT: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and lawmakers agreed on Monday to a broad package of changes to gun laws that would expand the state’s ban on assault weapons and would include new measures to keep guns away from the mentally ill.
The state Senate, controlled by a coalition of Republicans and a handful of Democrats, approved the legislative package just after 11 p.m. by a lopsided vote of 43 to 18. The Assembly, where Democrats who have been strongly supportive of gun control have an overwhelming majority, planned to vote on the measure Tuesday.
Steve Benen: The White House is set to release a series of recommendations from Vice President Biden’s task force on gun violence, which will no doubt face intense criticism from groups like the NRA and their allies. But two new polls suggest that a month after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, there’s a growing public appetite for meaningful gun reform.
Mediaite: On Monday night, CNN host Piers Morgan paid a visit to Stephen Colbert …. As the pair started chatting about how people in the UK just don’t have guns, Colbert asked whether Morgan hates America’s constitution (“Do you hate the United States constitution?… Do you speak English?”) — helpfully providing the CNN host with his own pocket-size copy of the document.
…. Morgan said he was simply pointing out that in his country, “where we have no guns,” there are few gun murders. “I think when 20 young children get blown to pieces, Americans should say something has to be done,” he added, prompting Colbert to call out his “cheap shot to bring up the subject that we’re talking about.”
Colbert offered a better approach: take some time, “reflect, and eventually forget.”
LA Times: Obama appears to gain ground in spending battle – The president delivers a forceful defense of his position in a White House news conference, as Republicans increasingly appear divided over the debt ceiling.
With the government just weeks from running out of money to pay its bills, President Obama and prominent Republicans have started to act as if the White House has the upper hand in the current round of the battle over federal spending.
In recent days, Obama rebuffed suggestions that he consider ways to sidestep the need to raise the limit on the government’s debt, reinforcing his demand for a congressional vote. On Monday, he repeated that stand in a hastily announced news conference, criticizing Republicans for threatening to “blow up the economy” and insisting that “no simpler way” exists to deal with the debt ceiling.
Republicans for months have pointed to the moment the nation runs up against the debt ceiling as their point of maximum leverage to force spending cuts, but now seem increasingly divided. Some leaders appear to be looking for a way out of the confrontation, suggesting the party would be wiser to fight Obama over cuts when less is at stake for the economy. Influential GOP strategists are warning that a repeat of the fight they waged in summer 2011 could backfire.
Deaniac: Twilight of the Liberal Elite: Smearing Jack Lew and Barack Obama for Deregulation that Began with Jimmy Carter
….. I can understand the liberal elite’s problem with Jack Lew. You see, I don’t think it has much to do with policy. I think it has much more to do with him embarrassing them. When every liberal elite political rookie – including Paul Krugman – in the country was howling about the president’s “weak” negotiating performance during the 2011 debt limit deal, it turns out that the president and his team completely floored John Boehner, without Boehner even realizing it. A key member of that team that did it to them? Jack Lew. Not to mention how that deal shaped the complete Republican surrender in the recent fiscal cliff deal. If I didn’t know that the howling Left is incapable of feeling embarrassed, I would contend they are opposing Jack Lew because of that embarrassment.
USA Today: Q&A: Myrlie Evers-Williams on the inauguration
Q: Did you ever imagine as you worked with your husband Medgar Evers on civil rights that one day there would be a black president?
A: Of course, we all knew, we hoped, we worked, we prayed that one day there would be a man or a woman of African-American descent who would become the president of the United States of America. That has been a dream come true but if we look at the politics leading up to particularly his second term, there were blocks that came during this time of getting people to register and to vote that are reminiscent of some of those actions that took place 50 years ago to keep people of my race and others away from the polls.
Steve Benen: … Florida Gov Rick Scott has offered the political world a valuable lesson: if you need a campaign prop, don’t use a dog:
Shortly after winning the GOP nomination in 2010, Scott announced to the world through Facebook that his family had rescued a Labrador Retriever. And, with help from his Facebook friends, Scott gave it a name: Reagan.
It was just a few months before the gubernatorial election, and Scott seemed to think this was a smart idea. Adopting a dog – a rescue dog, at that – made the Republican look compassionate, and naming the dog “Reagan” helped him pander shamelessly to his base….
Mediaite: Jon Stewart took on the controversy surrounding President Obama‘s recent cabinet nominations in a segment he dubbed “Zero Dark Appointees,” and noted that the outrage might be somewhat misplaced because Obama is “somewhat diverse himself.”
Stewart examined why Obama may not have nominated Susan Rice for Secretary of State, which would have easily diversified his cabinet: “Lady and minority, triple word score!”
“Oh right,” he said. “McCain!”
…. He then aired the New York Times photo in which it was claimed Obama was standing with only white men and proceeded to point out a black man ….. “And there is another black guy who appears to be running the meeting.”
Greg Sargent: So the big story of the day is that House Tea Partyers are vowing up and down that they may be willing to allow the country to default on its obligations to prove to Obama how serious they are about cutting spending.
Today, at his presser, Obama reiterated that there will be no negotiating over the debt ceiling….
…. even more so than the fiscal cliff battle, this year’s debt ceiling fight is shaping up as a kind of epic final confrontation — perhaps the Tea Party’s last chance to force Obama to do what the what American people emphatically declared in the election that don’t want, i.e., solve the country’s fiscal problems primarily by dramatically shrinking government, unraveling the safety net, and sparing the rich more sacrifice. And while we should reserve judgment until we see what happens in the end, Obama is certainly behaving like someone who is determined to break the Tea Party once and for all.
Charles Pierce: … Today’s action-packed episode is another in their continuing series: Stuff Republicans Tell Us That We Will Print Verbatim….
In this installment, our intrepid gumshoes manage to pry loose quotes from various vandals and dumbasses … to the effect that they have every intention of blowing up the American economy over the next few weeks if they don’t get absolutely everything they absolutely want. (There are drug gangs in Mexico who are more open to negotiations than these people.) ….
…. Presented with a clear example of how the Republicans have become demented …. Politico instead presents this information merely as a threat to the speakership of John Boehner, as though that’s all that’s at risk here. (This problem might have been solved if the two newshounds had talked to, you know, Democrats, but this is Politico, and y’all know better than that) ….
NYT: Several parents whose children were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting joined the national debate on gun violence on Monday, gathering to begin sketching their response to the massacre by helping start a nonprofit organization intended to help prevent the kind of bloodshed that turned this quaint New England community into a national symbol of grief.
In some of their first public statements since the Dec. 14 shooting that killed 20 children and 6 staff members at the school, the families of 11 of the children and adult victims appeared at a news conference and called for a national dialogue around issues of mental health, school safety and what their organization, called Sandy Hook Promise, described as “gun responsibility.”
Steve Benen: Though much of the right has been unhappy with Vice President Biden’s task force on gun violence, an unscripted comment Biden made last week caused conservatives to ring the alarm even more aggressively …. “The president is going to act. There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken….”
…. the right, without having seen the still-unwritten orders, accused President Obama of taking dictatorial actions on guns without congressional approval…
…. The fact that Bush/Quayle administration issued an executive order on guns, within its legal authority, did not mean the then-president had seized authoritarian power in a bloodless coup …. So can we stop pretending perfectly legal executive orders are evidence of creeping tyranny?
Greg Sargent: Yep: The NRA represents an extreme worldview. A new Post poll finds that 65 percent of Americans support banning high capacity magazine clips; 58 percent support an assault weapons ban; and a whopping 88 percent support closing the gun show loophole.
Also: 89 percent of Republicans support closing that loophole, and 69 percent of Republicans support requiring background checks on those buying gun ammunition.
Meanwhile, a new Pew poll finds solid to overwhelming majorities support background checks, a federal gun-tracking database, and bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazine clips….
Charles Pierce: The voices inside the head of Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin are unanimous in their dislike for Chuck Hagel … I think this is an unusual display of harmony for the voices inside Jennifer Rubin’s head since, during the presidential campaign just past, all the voices in Jennifer Rubin’s head had different opinions regarding Willard Romney. Was he merely awesome? Super awesome? Super-duper awesome? Super-duper-infinity awesome? Or was he a steaming super-duper-infinity awesome hunk of brilliantly coiffed man-meat who could make the bobsleds run on time while hitting Lady Liberty’s G-spot until she crooned “Columbia, The Gem Of The Ocean.” Now, though, all the voices hate Chuck Hagel. It must be a lot quieter around Rubin’s ears these days….
Ooooh, it’s nearly time again – get all the latest news at the Inauguration website
USA Today: President Obama’s second inaugural? There’s now an app for that. The Presidential Inauguration Committee plans to announce Monday it has created an iPhone and Android app that enables people to follow next week’s events as Obama is sworn in for a second term.
The app will provide livestream video of inaugural events, including the Jan. 21 swearing-in ceremony. There are also schedules for nationwide events associated with the inauguration, including the National Day of Service on Saturday.
Update: President Obama will hold a news conference at 11:15 a.m. today
11:0: VP Biden meets with Members of the House of Representatives
12:0: Jay Carney briefs the press
2:30: The President and VP meet with Secretary of State Clinton
3:0: President Obama participates in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony (closed press) – Ambassadors from Poland, Japan, Zambia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Paraguay, Tuvalu, Maldives and Mexico will attend
TPM: Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with House Democrats’ task force to reduce gun violence at 11 a.m. ET Monday. The House members joining Biden are: Rep. Mike Thompson (CA), Rep. Bobby Scott (VA), Rep. Chaka Fattah (PA), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (NY), Rep. Jackie Speier (CA), Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT), Rep. William Enyart (IL), Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO), Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS), Rep. John Conyers (MI), Rep. John Dingell (MI), Rep. Ron Barber (AZ).
Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will also attend the meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
NBC: Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe has a message for the White House: “Ban assault weapons, restrict those magazines that so have so many bullets in them, shore up any loopholes in our criminal background checks,” he said in an exclusive interview with NBC News.
As Vice President Joe Biden prepares to present his gun violence proposals to the White House this week, the residents of Newtown — including first responders and some families of the victims — are speaking out on gun policy for the first time.
Few have a more personal connection to the issue than Kehoe: He was one of the first on the scene at the Sandy Hook Elementary School …. as a veteran law enforcement officer, what was most striking to Kehoe was that the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, had heavier firepower than Kehoe and his officers. The police had Glock pistols with 14-round magazines; Lanza had a Bushmaster assault-style rifle, two handguns and multiple 30-round magazines that allowed him to squeeze off an estimated 150 shots….
Washington Post: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will seek to institute some of the nation’s strictest gun-licensing requirements, ban assault weapons and restrict visitor access to schools in one of the most expansive government responses sought to last month’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Perhaps most controversially, O’Malley (D) will ask the General Assembly to force prospective gun owners to provide fingerprints to state police, complete a hands-on weapon-familiarization and gun-safety course, and undergo a background check to be licensed.
And the governor is seeking new measures to keep guns out of the hands of those with mental illness who show violent tendencies…..
TPM: The White House’s weekend ultimatum that Congress either lift the debt ceiling cleanly or take responsibility for default puts Republicans in a bind over their goal of reforming entitlement programs.
In ruling out all executive options, such as minting a high-value platinum coin, the White House put the onus on congressional Republicans to agree to raise the nation’s borrowing limit — without spending cuts or strings attached — or permit the first ever credit default. President Obama has steadfastly rebuffed their calls to cut social spending in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, and Democratic leaders support his position.
Washington Post: President Obama recently said he would love to hire a top executive into his administration. But for the job of Treasury secretary, he didn’t pick a corporate executive, a famous economist or a former politician – he has decided to tap a trusted adviser, White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew, an expert on the nation’s ongoing budget wars.
Obama on Thursday plans to nominate Lew to take over from Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, the president’s longest-serving economic adviser, a White House official said. The selection, to be announced at 1:30 p.m., signals that Obama’s second term will not initially focus on big new ideas to create jobs or expand government investment in the economy. Rather, it will involve a sustained conflict with congressional Republicans over the nation’s finances….
NY Mag: Jack Lew, President Obama’s reported pick to replace outgoing Treasury secretary Tim Geithner, is known as a no-nonsense backroom negotiator with wonkish tendencies, who is admired on the left and grumbled about on the right.
A lesser-known but extremely pertinent fact about Lew is that he has the world’s worst signature. And pretty soon, that signature could be on every single one of your dollar bills.
Charles Blow: This time, nearly a month after the horrible mass shooting in Newtown, the public attention hasn’t ricocheted to the next story. On the contrary, sorrow has hardened into resolve.
This time, something can and must be done. And it looks as if something will….. as we move into this season of change on gun policy, let’s take a moment to better frame the debate.
First, let’s fix some of the terminology: stop calling groups like the National Rifle Association a “gun rights” group. These are anti-regulation, pro-proliferation groups. They prey on public fears … while helping gun makers line their pockets.
(Sturm, Ruger & Company’s stock has gone up more than 500 percent since President Obama was first elected, and Smith & Wesson’s stock is up more than 200 percent.)
…..Groups like the N.R.A. aren’t as much about rights as wrongs. The money being churned is soaked in blood and marked by madness…..
NYT: One of America’s largest pension funds began on Wednesday to divest itself of firearms holdings, a response to the schoolhouse shooting in Newtown, Conn., that other pension funds could follow.
The California State Teachers Retirement System, known as Calstrs, voted unanimously to begin its formal divestment process. The vote occurred at a public meeting where teachers said they did not want their retirement nest eggs placed with companies like the Freedom Group, the maker of the Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle that authorities say Adam Lanza used to kill 20 first graders and six adults at the Sandy Hook elementary school on Dec. 14.
TPM: Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) on Thursday offered a vote of confidence in Vice President Joe Biden’s efforts to institute new national gun laws. Malloy said he had a “great conversation” with Biden on Wednesday, adding that the vice president “understands what we need to do” to curb gun violence.
“I had a great conversation yesterday with Vice President Biden and I know he is preparing his recommendations to the president,” Malloy said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I don’t want to get into the details of the discussion but he’s got this down pretty well. He understands what we need to do to make it less likely that these things are going to happen in our cities and towns, and these mass murders could be limited at least going into the future if some common sense things are taken.”
TPM: Advocates on both sides of the gun control debate are prepared to make a lot of noise about the future of gun regulations in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shooting. That’s the message from the first of House Democratic gun violence pointman Mike Thompson’s violence-focused town halls this week.
On Tuesday night, Thompson hosted the first of three gun violence town halls in his northern California district. As they vowed to do, gun control opponents showed up in force to make their case against new regulations. But, according to local reports of the meeting, they were met with equally impassioned gun control proponents. It’s a preview of what might happen after the White House and Thompson reveal their post-Newtown legislative proposals: opposition to gun control is likely to be met by vocal support for new gun regulations that is just as loud.
John Kerry, left, in 1969 and Chuck Hagel in 1968 during their service in the Vietnam War
NYT: With the selection of a new national security team deeply suspicious of the wisdom of American military interventions around the world, President Obama appears to have ended, at least for the moment, many of the internal administration debates that played out in the Situation Room over the past four years.
He has sided, without quite saying so, with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s view – argued, for the most part, in the confines of the White House — that caution, covert action and a modest American military footprint around the world fit the geopolitical moment….
Gone for the second term are the powerful personalities, and more hawkish voices, that pressed Mr. Obama to pursue the surge in Afghanistan in 2009… The new team will include two Vietnam veterans, Senator John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, who bear the scars of a war that ended when the president was a teenager…..
MSNBC: Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will not return in President Barack Obama’s second term, the White House confirmed Wednesday.
Solis, formerly a California congresswoman, said she made the decision to step down from her role over the holiday season.
…. In a statement, Obama called Solis “a tireless champion for working families”. “Over the last four years, Secretary Solis has been a critical member of my economic team as we have worked to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and strengthen the economy for the middle class,” he said. “Her efforts have helped train workers for the jobs of the future, protect workers’ health and safety and put millions of Americans back to work.”
While we’re waiting for a resolution to all this madness, my most-loved photo(s) from 2012:
President Obama greets World War II veteran Archie Hackney, 90, of Newton, (Archie’s first greeting of a sitting president) after remarks at TPI Composites, a wind manufacturer in Newton, Iowa (May 2012)
Look how determined Archie was to stand, as a demonstration of his respect.