President Barack Obama pauses during a meeting to observe a moment of silence in the Oval Office at 9:30 a.m. in remembrance of the 20 children and six adults killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown. Joining the President, from left, are: Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer; Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett; Chief of Staff Jack Lew; and Pete Rouse, Counselor to the President. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Charles Pierce: The National Rifle Association held a press conference today at which it was determined that there would be no questions asked or answered, but the organization made it quite clear that they would be open to media questions next week, between Christmas and New Year’s. Then they trotted out Wayne LaPierre, who had bats flying out of both ears.
….. For all the hopeful rhetoric expended over the past week about how this might actually be a “tipping point” for the NRA, the organization is as dead set against rational gun laws as it was a week ago Friday.
… They have their plan, and its about more guns, period … Now we know where everybody stands. Clarity is a wonderful thing … [they] made it implicitly clear that they will fight any legislation that comes before the Congress as regards gun control, and that it will work (as always) to undermine the enforcement of that legislation should it become law. The country should realize all of that and move on ahead without them.
Alec MacGillis (TNR): For two decades now, the legend of the National Rifle Association has grown in Washington. They were the most feared lobby of all, as influential and professionally run as the AARP or AIPAC but with the literal firepower behind them to enhance the aura of intimidation. They could get just about everything they wanted…..
But this cloak of power was stripped away today at NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre’s press conference on the Newtown shootings, revealing the NRA as a lobby with no clothes, or at least nothing but a holster strapped to the ankle …. this was the first time many in Washington and across the country had actually focused squarely on him and his organization in a long time, and this newfound focus, combined with the post-Newtown context in which LaPierre was speaking, was enough to make the NRA seem utterly, surreally amateurish and out of touch. You could all but hear the question rising around Washington: We’ve been letting ourselves be led around by these guys?
Adam Serwer (Mother Jones): ….. LaPierre did not note that Columbine High School had an armed guard when two students went on a murderous shooting rampage there in 1999, and that Virginia Tech had an armed police force with its own SWAT team equivalent when one of its students killed 33 people in 2007.
In an open letter to parents, First Lady Michelle Obama offers some ideas for discussing the tragedy in Newtown with children and young people:
Like every American, Barack and I are absolutely heartbroken about the unspeakable tragedy that occurred last week in Newtown, Connecticut. And like so many of you, our first reactions were not as a President and First Lady, but as a Mom and Dad. We were asking ourselves, what if this had been our town, or our school, or our girls?
And we know that all across the country, it’s not just adults who are asking questions right now – our children are looking for answers as well. Like us, they want to know, why did this happen?
Could it happen again? And as parents, all of us can take the time to hold our kids close and talk with them about the things that truly matter: our love for them, the importance of extending that love to those affected by this tragedy, and how that love truly defines our great American community.
Charles Pierce: … Kerry is a good, safe choice for the job. He has made an entire Senate career out of taking on foreign-policy issues that nobody else – except Gary Hart – ever wanted to touch …. Here’s a bit on that from a profile I did back in 2004 (see post)…..
….. This is a man who knows where the bodies have been buried for the past 30 years …. if you’re casting about for a Democratic Secretary Of State from his generation of Democratic politicians, Kerry is the natural choice, even if you find the way he came to be nominated, through the slandering of Susan Rice, distasteful, as I do.
…. the key is the Swift Boats. If some senator brings it up and if the courtier press doesn’t emphasize at every moment that everything that was said about John Kerry and Vietnam in the 2004 presidential campaign was a lie and an embarrassment to American politics and the American media, then we have on our hands yet another case of journalistic malpractice, and we have had enough of those, thank you.
Steve Benen: There’s been quite a bit of economic news this week, and nearly all of it is quite good. Today, for example, we saw very encouraging news on consumer spending, personal income, orders of durable goods, and national jobless rates. The news comes on the heels of revised GDP data, which was also heartening.
In each case, the numbers aren’t just good, they’re better than nearly anyone expected…..
9:30 AM: President Obama observes a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Newtown shooting
10:30 AM: President Obama and VP Biden deliver remarks at the funeral service for Senator Daniel Inouye
NYT editorial: The National Rifle Association is scheduled to hold a news conference on Friday where it says it plans to provide details about its promise of “meaningful contributions” to prevent another a massacre like the one in Newtown, Conn.
We would like to believe that the N.R.A. will do as it says, but we have little faith that it will offer any substantial reforms. The association presents itself as a grass-roots organization, but it has become increasingly clear in recent years that it represents gun makers. Its chief aim has been to help their businesses by increasing the spread of firearms throughout American society.
In recent years, the N.R.A. has aggressively lobbied federal and state governments to dilute or eliminate numerous regulations on gun ownership. And the clearest beneficiary has been the gun industry – sales of firearms and ammunition have grown 5.7 percent a year since 2007, to nearly $12 billion this year….
Jonathan Bernstein: There was nothing but embarrassment for Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans as they were forced to pull the vote on Boehner’s “Plan B” tax bill at the last minute because, as Boehner said, they didn’t have the votes to pass it. The Speaker sent the House home for through Christmas, with the option of recalling them afterwards if there’s anything for them to do.
For tonight, it’s a debacle, and they look foolish. But I’d caution against reading too much into this episode….
…..other than everyone having good fun at the expense of the House Republican leadership — and no question, Boehner and the rest deserve it — it’s just not clear that tonight’s fiasco will change anything.
Steve Benen: The irony of last night’s drama on Capitol Hill was that the proposal at stake had far more symbolic value than substantive …. John Boehner pushed his “Plan B” knowing full well it would not, and could not, become law. Rather, Boehner hoped to use the measure to send a message.
Oh, he sent a message, all right. It’s just not the one the Speaker intended.
….. Boehner tried everything. He tried pleading with his Republican allies, threatening them, and offering them all kinds of goodies. The Speaker made appeals based on emotion, economics, loyalty, and pragmatism, at times, simultaneously.
But in the end, despite all the bravado and faux confidence, Boehner just couldn’t deliver. The party he ostensibly leads heard his impassioned pleas, and decided not to follow him.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle ride in a golf cart at an Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C, Jan. 20, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
AP: With his nation under financial strain, President Barack Obama is restricting the inaugural balls to the lowest number in 60 years, with just two official parties plus a concert honoring military families.
…. Both balls are being planned at the Washington Convention Center on Monday, Jan. 21, the evening of Obama’s public inauguration at the Capitol on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Under the Constitution, the president’s second term begins Jan. 20 at noon, but he’ll be sworn in privately at the White House since inaugural celebrations traditionally aren’t held on Sundays.
One party will be the Commander In Chief’s Ball …. Tickets will be free for invited guests, including active duty and reserve service members, Medal of Honor recipients and wounded warriors, among others, with troops overseas participating via video. The other ball, simply being called the Inaugural Ball, will be larger than usual and held across all the halls in the vast convention center…..