Shorter Question Everything
The right may have thought it won a victory in trashing Susan Rice. I still think they haven’t won the victory they thought they did and that she isn’t going anywhere.
If you’re wondering why the Sandy Hook story isn’t on the top of this post, it’s because I can’t bear to have another senseless massacre, especially one involving children, be at the top. There have been too damned many of these. Too damned many.
• President Barack Obama was meeting privately Friday with Susan Rice, the embattled U.N. ambassador who abruptly withdrew from consideration to be the next secretary of state after a bitter, weeks long standoff with Republican senators who declared they would fight to defeat her nomination. And White House officials are leaving open the possibility Rice could ascend to National Security Adviser, a position that does not require Senate confirmation, over the next four years.
• President Obama will meet with Susan Rice this afternoon [Friday] in the Oval Office. It is their first face-to-face meeting since she has taken her name out of the running.
• Russia’s UN ambassador calls Susan Rice ‘one tough individual’: Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who on Thursday withdrew her name from consideration for Secretary of State, has a reputation for toughness. How tough? Her Russian counterpart, ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin, joked that he would request “double pay” if Rice stayed at the UN. Churkin, who is likely accustomed to diplomatic combat with Rice, called her “one tough individual” and said their relationship was “most of the time friendly.”
• “I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t mislead, I didn’t misrepresent, I did the best with the information that the United States government had at the time.” – Susan Rice in an interview with NBC News’ Rock Center with Brian Williams.
• President Obama Makes a Statement on the Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut
On Friday, we learned that more than two dozen people were killed when a gunman opened fire in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Most of those who died were just young children with their whole lives ahead of them. And every parent in America has a heart heavy with hurt.
Among the fallen were also teachers – men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.
So our hearts are broken today. We grieve for the families of those we lost. And we keep in our prayers the parents of those who survived. Because as blessed as they are to have their children home, they know that their child’s innocence has been torn away far too early.
As a nation, we have endured far too many of these tragedies in the last few years. An elementary school in Newtown. A shopping mall in Oregon. A house of worship in Wisconsin. A movie theater in Colorado. Countless street corners in places like Chicago and Philadelphia.
Any of these neighborhoods could be our own. So we have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this. Regardless of the politics.
This weekend, Michelle and I are doing what I know every parent is doing – holding our children as close as we can and reminding them how much we love them.
There are families in Connecticut who can’t do that today. And they need all of us now. Because while nothing can take the place of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need – to remind them that we are there for them; that we are praying for them; and that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their own memories, but also in their community, and their country.
• Sandy Hook: There will be no soul searching about why white men are committing these violent acts. In the present, mass shootings have been almost the exclusive province of white men. Once more the luxury of being white in the United States is the freedom to have your violent deeds be a reflection of a personal failing, as opposed to a cultural or racial one. On a practical level, White privilege is a set of taken for granted and unearned advantages in life. On an abstract level, white privilege also removes certain questions from consideration regarding such matters as social deviancy and crime. As we saw with James Holmes, and now today with Adam Lanza, an unwillingness to ask those hard questions about gun violence, white masculinity, and crime will only continue to hurt all of us across the colorline.
• Look for the helpers: ”When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers
• Re-Defining the Gun Argument: Ask yourself, punk: Do I feel lucky?… At some point, it seems, Americans became enamoured, even obsessed, with the idea that guns win arguments. Guns can certainly end arguments, including those held by damaged individuals with the voices in their heads, but rebuttal is not actually what guns were invented for. Guns are tools, dangerous tools, designed for blowing holes in things (paper targets, tin cans, game animals, people) just as chainsaws are tools designed to efficiently hack large things into smaller pieces. Someone could certainly use a chainsaw to guarantee themselves a seat on the bus, but people don’t line up to buy chainsaws as a response to crowded public transit. When we hear about a chainsaw tragedy, nobody says, “If only the victim had been holding another chainsaw, that tree couldn’t have crushed them!” Nobody insinuates that chainsaw owners are more patriotic than the rest of us, or that in a proper republic everyone would be required to own a chainsaw. Nobody considers safety features on chainsaws, or regulations restricting their use, as a dangerous abridgement of their god-given rights. Maybe this would be a happier country if we agreed to treat guns as tools, and not as magical icons that guarantee we’ll be winners, at least of arguments.
• Former Republican presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, who likes to pretend that he’s not as crazy as the rest of the Republican party, today proposed that prayer in school would have saved the lives of the twenty mostly-five-to-ten-year-olds who were killed in a shooting rampage in a Connecticut elementary school: “Well you know, it’s an interesting thing. We ask why there’s violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools have become a place of carnage? Because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability. That we’re not just gonna be accountable to the police of they catch us, but one day we stand before a holy God in judgment. If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that. And I sometimes, when people say, why did God let it happen, God wasn’t armed, he didn’t go to the school… maybe we ought to let him in on the front end and we wouldn’t have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done at the back end.”
• Fischer: God Didn’t Stop CT School Shooting Because He’s a ‘Gentleman’ Who Doesn’t Go Where He Is Not Wanted: Bryan Fischer spent the first hour of his radio program today discussing this morning’s truly horrific shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, which he, of course, blamed on the fact that prayer, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments are not taught in public schools. Fischer said that God could have protected the victims of this massacre, but didn’t because “God is not going to go where he is not wanted” and so if school administrators really want to protect students, they will start every school day with prayer
• New York Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler called for a “war” on the National Rifle Association in light of the mass shooting in Connecticut today in an interview with Salon, saying the gun lobby group is the “enabler of mass murderers.” “Al-Qaida killed 3,000 people in the World Trade Center in 2001. The United States went to war because of that. Because of the NRA, we’ve lost 10,000 people last year unnecessarily. It’s time we went to war,” he said. “And you have to say the National Rifle Association is the enabler of mass murderers. And we’ve got to stomp on them instead of kowtowing to them.”
In other news
• With their nation’s future at stake, Egyptians lined up Saturday to vote on a draft constitution after weeks of turmoil that have left them deeply divided between Islamist supporters of the charter and those who fear it will usher in religious rule.
• Canada’s Supreme Court Friday unanimously upheld the country’s anti-terrorism law, rejecting the contention it limits freedom of religion and speech. In explaining the high court’s dismissal of the appeals on a 7-0 vote, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote the purpose of the law doesn’t infringe on freedom of expression, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. “While the activities targeted by the terrorism section of the Criminal Code are in a sense expressive activities, most of the conduct caught by the provisions concerns acts or threats of violence,” the court said.
• After a contentious closed-door vote, the Senate intelligence committee approved a long-awaited report Thursday concluding that harsh interrogation measures used by the CIA did not produce significant intelligence breakthroughs, officials said. The 6,000-page document, which was not released to the public, was adopted by Democrats over the objections of most of the committee’s Republicans. The outcome reflects the level of partisan friction that continues to surround the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other severe interrogation techniques four years after they were banned.
• Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday U.S. and NATO troops should withdraw from villages and transfer power to Afghan forces as soon as possible.
• President Obama told ABC News in an interview that prosecuting marijuana users in the two U.S. states that have legalized its recreational use is not a “top priority.” “It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal,” Obama told ABC News’ Barbara Walters in an interview published Friday. “We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” the President added.
• AIPAC, Hard-Right now Setting Their Sites on Chuck Hagel: Even before their victory-dance over allegedly derailing the hypothetical nomination of Susan Rice to become Secretary of State ends, Republicans have to decide whether to follow right up with a similar campaign against former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel’s hypothetical nomination to succeed Leon Panetta at the Pentagon.
• Do you want to bet he votes Republican?: A Southern California judge is being publicly admonished for saying a rape victim “didn’t put up a fight” during her assault and that if someone doesn’t want sexual intercourse, the body “will not permit that to happen.” The California Commission on Judicial Performance voted 10-0 to impose a public admonishment Thursday, saying Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson’s comments were inappropriate and a breach of judicial ethics. “In the commission’s view, the judge’s remarks reflected outdated, biased and insensitive views about sexual assault victims who do not ‘put up a fight.’ Such comments cannot help but diminish public confidence and trust in the impartiality of the judiciary,” wrote Lawrence J. Simi, the commission’s chairman. Johnson made the comments in the case of a man who threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of his ex-girlfriend with a heated screwdriver, beat her with a metal baton and made other violent threats before committing rape, forced oral copulation, and other crimes.