Veronique Pozner, whose son, Noah, was killed at Sandy Hook. Read this, from Naomi Zeviloff of the Forward:
Veronique told me that Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy visited her in the funeral home, and she brought him to see Noah’s open casket. I asked her why it was important for her and for the governor to see Noah’s body. “I needed it to have a face for him,” she said. “If there is ever a piece of legislation that comes across his desk, I needed it to be real for him.”
Veronique continued on in this vein for a few minutes. But I still felt that I didn’t understand why she, asa mother, chose to see Noah’s body, so I asked her again: Why, for her? “I owed it to him as his mother, the good, the bad, the ugly,” she said. “It is not up to me to say I am only going to look at you and deal with you when you are alive, that I am going to block out the reality of what you look like when you are dead. And as a little boy, you have to go in the ground. If I am going to shut my eyes to that I am not his mother. I had to bear it. I had to do it.” Several family members also chose to view Noah’s body.
Then, unprompted by me, Veronique described what she saw: “We all saw how beautiful he was. He had thick, shiny hair, beautiful long eyelashes that rested on his cheeks. He looked like he was sleeping. But the reality of it was under the cloth he had covering his mouth there was no mouth left. His jaw was blown away. I just want people to know the ugliness of it so we don’t talk about it abstractly, like these little angels just went to heaven. No. They were butchered. They were brutalized. And that is what haunts me at night.”
David Corn had a very good quote last night on Ed Schulz: I'm like Diogenes with his light, Corn said, searching for one Republican, just one, who'll acknowledge that maybe a couple of these Obama proposals are good ideas.
That will never happen, I guess. Or will it?
First of all, there are 15 House Republicans who represent districts Obama won, and there are 70 from states that Obama won. On the Senate side, there isnt much. Susan Collins, Mark Kirk...Rob Portman is from a blue state, but he doesn't seem so likely a candidate.
Here's a thought. I see from today's Times poll that a pretty dern large majority yet again supports the NRA idea about armed guards in schools:
Conservatives’ appalling response to Obama’s gun-control proposals shows just how out of touch they are with America, says Michael Tomasky.
Among the moon-howling reactions to the president’s surprisingly bold gun-control proposals on the right, the one that most struck me was the boiling indignation that he had the temerity to speak of, and surround himself with, school children. Rush Limbaugh led the way as usual: “He’s using these kids as human shields ... He brings these kids who supposedly wrote letters to the White House ...” And so on. It was a shocking rant, even for that flatulent pile of gelatin, and amazingly out of touch with how the country feels about what happened in Newtown, and what is happening in our political culture generally. And it made me realize: they’re going to lose. Their excess outrages America, and even if they prevail for the time being in Congress, in the long run, they’re cooked.
President Obama after a press conference Wednesday to introduce proposals to reduce gun violence. (Jim Watson/AFP, via Getty)
The president surrounded himself with children? One has to be sensitive about how one does such things, of course. But in this case, I should hope so! This is about children. If those 20 children in Newtown hadn’t been killed, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. An event like that leads to a simple choice for a society, and make no mistake that it is a moral choice, as profoundly moral a choice as a society can make. Either you try to do something or you don’t.
If those lives were real to you, you try to do something. Obama keeps that one girl’s drawing up on the wall of his private office? Thank God for that. She is real to him; her classmates are real to him, the event is real to him. That he is trying to do all this—up to and including the assault-weapons ban, the executive orders, all with the sure knowledge that the Republicans might not only block him but then find some grounds on which to impeach him—is evidence enough for me that it’s real to him.
A very big thing happened last night in the House of Representatives. For the second time this month, Boehner broke the Hastert Rule. The issue was Hurricane Sandy relief, a follow-up vote to a smaller package approved earlier this month. It passed, but the important thing is how it passed:
Yeas: 241 (192 Democrats, 49 Republicans)
Nays: 180 (Rep. Jim Cooper + 179 Republicans)
That is to say, with a minority of the majority. The first time was on the fiscal cliff, and now it's happened on hurricane relief. (By the way, bravo, Republicans; what a disgrace. I really never thought I'd start saying things like this, but it really is a shame that Democrats are too soft and decent to tell Kansas or Louisiana to go fuck off the next time Mother Nature gives them a snootful.)
Anyway, as Jed Lewison notes at Kos, strike one, strike two...the handwriting is on the wall. Boehner will do the same on the debt limit. After the Koch brothers' little warning shot yesterday, it seems virtually guaranteed. In addition to all this, did you notice yesterday that Chuck Todd tried a few different times to ask high-ranking GOP Congressman Greg Walden, the guy who thinks the platinum coin would sink the Titantic, if Boehner would honor the Hastert Rule, and he refused to answer.
The NRA’s new ad is beyond anything we’ve seen, in political propaganda terms, in the modern history of this country. The text goes as follows:
Are the president’s kids more important than yours? Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school? Mr. Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, but he’s just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security.
'The NRA's new ad takes aim at President Obama's daughters.'
Let’s start with the ad’s broken logic. A, the Obama family has Secret Service protection; B, other American families do not; C, because of this, Obama is an elitist and a hypocrite. It’s pretty ludicrous. Malia and Sasha Obama get lots of things because their father won the presidency. They also have a chauffeur; get to ride on a big fancy airplane free of charge and don’t have to endure any TSA-related indignities; live in a beautiful big house rent-free; and so on. By the ad’s logic, all of these are instances of hypocrisy.
Chuck Hagel, in a typical mid-nomination self-abasement ritual, now finds that he really really likes the gays. He now supports don't ask, don't tell repeal, and he vows that if given the chance to serve, he'll move heaven and earth to extend full family benefits to gay families.
I think that sounds pretty swell. The Log Cabin Republicans are only partially assuaged. Amanda Turkel in HuffPo:
"For years the Pentagon has been dragging its feet with regard to extending benefits to the families of gay service members," said Gregory T. Angelo, interim executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said in a statement to The Huffington Post. "To ensure that action is taken on this front, we need to be sure that there is a champion for our cause at the helm of the defense department. There is nothing in Hagel's record to suggest he will be that champion.
"While Senator Hagel's recent professed support for gay military families is encouraging, it stands at odds with his record of opposition to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and his broader record of opposition to equality for gay and lesbian Americans," Angelo continued. "We look forward to the confirmation hearings when the Senator will be able to explain his apparent epiphany in greater detail. We continue to remain cautious about his nomination until that time."
It's hard even to know what to say about this one. John Fugelsang, hosting Viewpoint these days on Current until the show runs its course, had a commentary last night that is just mind blowing.
Remember how back in December, Wayne LaPierre blamed shooting like Newtown on our violent culture--video games, Natural Born Killers? For example:
And here's another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.
Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here's one: it's called Kindergarten Killers. It's been online for 10 years.
Do House Republicans actually want to shut down the government? Michael Tomasky fears that is the case.
This tweet, which arrived midafternoon yesterday from the redoubtable @LOLGOP, really does say it all: “The GOP is rebranding itself from a party that accidentally blows up the world economy to one that purposely blows up the world economy.” How quaint today seem George W. Bush and his economic minions, with their endearing good intentions! We learn now from Politico that the current crop is ready to take the country, and the world, down to the gates of hell. Many of them have now passed the point of wanting to get their way. On some twisted level, they want not to get their way—to blow up the building just to see what happens.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio waits for the start of a Joint Session of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill, Jan. 4, 2013. (Susan Walsh/AP)
There is no other rational way to interpret the following quote from the Politico piece, which is by the way another of those textbook Politico pieces in which the entire moral universe of these debates consists of little more than perception and positioning. If Politico had been around in 1934, it would have been entirely capable of sentences like, “Even the young chancellor’s opponents, while citing his maneuver’s apparent illegality, concede that his move to wrest power from the ailing von Hindenberg may prove to be a political masterstroke.”
In any case, it seems that many Republicans are willing to risk default for the sake of making their point. But if somehow John Boehner folds on default and helps the president and the Senate prevent it, he may at least have to throw his rabids the bone of a government shutdown. “We might need to do that,” a GOP aide said, “for member-management purposes—so they have an endgame and can show constituents they’re fighting.”
It caught a lot of people's ears just now when Obama said, "We are not a deadbeat nation." What some may not know is that he's referring to Marco Rubio, who used the phrase in a Jan. 6 letter to Obama. That letter is worth a quick review.
As I wrote in The Wall Street Journal in March 2011, I will oppose a debt ceiling increase unless such an authorization is accompanied by a real plan to tackle our debt. Ideally, such a plan would feature both pro-growth elements and spending restraints, including fundamental tax reform, regulatory reform, meaningful cuts to discretionary spending, a balanced-budget amendment, and reforms to save Social Security and Medicare.
If we had done this in mid-2011 when we last debated the debt ceiling, we could have set America on a path to economic growth and prosperity. This would have led to more jobs and, in turn, to more duly employed taxpayers generating more growth-driven revenue to help us pay down our debt. Instead, you failed to lead, punted the tough decisions and, in doing so, our credit rating was downgraded for the first time in our history. It's a tragic reality but, on your watch, more and more people have come to believe that America is becoming a deadbeat nation inevitably heading toward a European-style debt crisis.
You're going to be hearing a lot in the next month from Republicans about how Obama got all these billions in tax increases in the cliff deal, and so now it's only fair that we cut cut cut, and it's going to sound reasonable as they say it.
And it is reasonable, provided history goes back only to Jan. 1. In fact, Obama has already agreed to nearly $1.5 trillion in spending cuts prior to the cliff deal. Of that amount, $900 billion is to domestic programs, and $600 billion to defense. So if you set all those numbers alongside the $600 billion in revenues, that's still a long way from balanced.
At his press conference just concluded, the main point of which was to emphasize that he is not finished yet with revenues, Obama invoked these numbers. He said that $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years is still the goal, and we've done so far $2.5 trillion, so we're getting there.
He also went after Congress again on the debt ceiling. He laid out the costs of default, from maybe not paying soldiers to spiking interest rates, at some length. "They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy," he said of congressional Republicans. This is pretty different from 2011, when he was much more passive and largely let the Repubicans set the tone. He's playing this pretty well.
Her new memoir gives us something more compelling than a rags-to-riches story: a portrait of a genuinely interesting person.
The person at the center of the rags-to-riches story always follows a certain script that is expected of her: She is humble, earnest, and more often than not completely humorless. What’s refreshing about reading Sonia Sotomayor’s new memoir My Beloved World and watching her on 60 Minutes last night was the degree to which she departs from that script.
When a woman of her generation is called a “tough bitch” by a male law-firm colleague, the woman is supposed to take five kinds of predictable umbrage. Sotomayor acknowledged to CBS’s Scott Pelley that the colleague was “probably not” far off. However you feel about her politics, you have to like that.
You also, I think, couldn’t help but be moved if you watched Sotomayor and Pelley stroll through her old Bronx neighborhood in the rain and you studied the looks on the faces of people—including her NYPD security detail, wearing their nervous smiles—posing for photos with her or snapping her picture with their cell phones from their windows. The people from the hood were clearly overwhelmed to be in her presence, and why not? It’s not every day that people from a rough urban neighborhood see a Supreme Court justice walking down the street, let alone one who grew up there. In fact, until Sotomayor, this has happened roughly never.
Sotomayor is telegenic, she’s funny, she laughs at herself. And her story, as she tells it in the book, is pretty remarkable. She’s one of those interesting people, for whose presence the world is so much richer, who grew up asking “why?” from the time she could ask anything, who always said to herself: “I love these people dearly, but this life ain’t for me.”
Michael Tomasky on the nonsensical, unbelievably offensive argument that gun rights help protect minorities from oppression.
They still save the Hitler invocations for the special occasions, so you could tell earlier this week when Matt Drudge went with his absurd Hitler and Stalin homepage about Obama and guns that we are at what the paranoid right thinks of as a watershed moment. Let’s hope to God it is. Drudge’s page was of course crazy: the whiff of fascism in this gun debate sure isn’t emanating from the White House, but from the direction of the forces using the techniques for which Hitler was famous during his rise to power—accusing the other side of doing precisely what he and his henchmen were doing, inverting the truth on its head in ways that offended common sense and morality at every turn.
President Obama promised there would be change to gun laws after the rampage at a Newtown school. Political columnists David Frum and Michael Tomasky break down the debate.
Let’s start with yesterday’s news about Gun Appreciation Day, the invention of a certain Larry Ward. He is planning the big day to coincide with the president’s inauguration, set for Monday, Jan. 21. When reminded by a CNN interviewer that this was also the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Ward, like all propagandists, was ready with an answer: “I think Martin Luther King Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.”
It’s always a tip off when they say King “would have agreed with me.” We’re about to endure another round of this when King Day comes and conservatives dish out the obligatory “King would be a conservative today” columns. It’s completely ridiculous, as is the idea that armed slaves would have managed anything more than the wholesale slaughter by their far better-armed masters of many of their number.
I've been puzzling for a while now about ways to ease us into non-political conversations. Maybe this will do the trick. Every Friday afternoon, I'll post an item ranking some collection of things. Could be anything. Movies, records, cars, great speeches, types of cuisine, cuts of beef, you name it. Then you have the weekend to weigh in.
This being the week the Oscars were announced, let's start with movies. Alfred Hitchcock, astonishingly, never won an Oscar. Here are what I think we might all loosely agree are his 10 best films, in no particular order.
Psycho; Vertigo; Rear Window; Shadow of a Doubt; Dial M for Murder; Notorious; Rebecca; North by Northwest; Strangers on a Train; The Birds.
For starters I'm sure many of you will disagree with that list, and if you do, of course, say so in the comments. The Man Who Knew Too Much? I could see it. But I had to narrow it down somehow. All of these are just...wow. Okay. Below the fold, my own rankings.
I was sad but not surprised to see that Jay Rockefeller is retiring as the senior senator of my home state. I would suspect the seat is likely to go Republican, to House member Shelley Moore Capito, the daughter of the old, corrupt GOP governor who defeated Jay in his first gubernatorial run in 1972.
Jay came to the state as a Vista volunteer in the early 1960s and stayed. I believe his first run was for secretary of state in 1968, as I remember the little round campaign sticker for him that my sister had plastered onto her flute case. Dad liked him, and they stayed in touch over the years, such that when Dad got sick, Jay and his office were very helpful to us.
It was after that first loss, interestingly, that he won over West Virginians, because most people figured that he was using the state as a stepping stone to the presidency, and that once he lost and that plan seemed foiled he'd be off like a shot to Manhattan.
But he lost, and he stayed, and he became the president of a small university, not even the state university but a rinky-dink religious college, and that's when people took a second look. By 1976, after Arch Moore was exposed as what he was, Rockefeller won the governorship and served two terms. In the Senate, his great accomplishment was SCHIP, the children's health program.
The only surprise here is that this hasn't happened sooner. With the Obama administration trying to defend itself amidst multiple scandals, the Tea Party queen went on the attack, questioning the IRS's ability to oversee Obamacare and wondering about 'potential political implications.'
Advice for Obama: Forget “Bulworth.” Try “Rambo.” By Michael Tomasky.