washingtonpost.com — President Obama went big in offering a remarkably comprehensive plan to curb gun violence, and good for him. But his announcement Wednesday is only the beginning of a protracted struggle for national sanity on firearms. Extremists have controlled the debate on guns for many years. They will do all they can to preserve a bloody status quo. The irrationality of their approach must be exposed and their power broken. Far from acting as if his work was now done, the president made clear that he is fully invested in seeing his agenda realized — and fully prepared to lead a national movement to loosen the grip of resignation and cynicism in the face of brutality and carnage. Gun violence is not some “boutique” issue, as it is occasionally called. We are in danger of having mass shootings define us as a nation. As a people, we must rise up against this obscenity.
washingtonpost.com — One dimension of the debt-ceiling debate that hasn’t gotten enough attention is how split Republicans are on the idea. While the working assumption in Washington is that the GOP will try to hold the debt-ceiling hostage in return for some (heretofore unspecified) spending cuts, quite a few influential Republicans are begging and pleading with the party to find another strategy, warning that it’s a hostage Republicans can’t shoot and that the two possible outcomes are 1) an embarrassing cave or 2) an economic disaster that the public blames on the GOP.
guardian.co.uk — The gun lobby may have won on legislation, but they have not won the argument. Even without prominent voices making the case, a plurality of Americans is for greater gun control, and a clear majority is in favor of banning assault weapons. That shows there is an audience out there that can be mobilized. Turning that tide starts not with winning the issue, but by raising it and fighting for it. Politics may be the art of the possible, but what is possible should not be confused with what is necessary. And leadership, to be worthy of the name, demands the courage and foresight both to imagine new possibilities and to meet the changes that are necessary. Here, Obama showed leadership. In the weeks and months to come, we'll see how far the country is prepared to follow.
nytimes.com — One of the most profound lessons to emerge from the Newtown tragedy is the power of voice. Americans refused to cede the discussion to the N.R.A. and other gun interests. They refused to buckle to fear or be swayed by propaganda. Yet too many politicians still quake at the mere mention of the N.R.A. They are more interested in protecting their jobs than protecting society. The public must make them quake at the idea of doing nothing on this issue. We must never forget what happened in Connecticut last month and we must never forget what happens in Washington in the coming months. The tragedy of Newtown must herald the dawn of a new America.
nymag.com — On the Sandy bill, a mere 49 Republicans voted aye, against 179 nays. Now why, you might ask, would Republicans tolerate the passage of a bill they overwhelmingly oppose? They didn’t have to pass it — they could have kept it off the floor and only brought a bill that had their party’s support, or possibly no bill at all. It appears they decided the negative publicity, and the damage to the party’s brand, outweighed their own preferences. House Republicans wanted to vote no so they could signal opposition to their own base, and protect themselves against a possible primary challenge, but they didn’t care enough to actually stop the bill. The unanswered question here is whether they care at all, or how much they really care. Perhaps Republicans have been told they can’t afford to drive the party into a public confrontation, so they quietly accede to compromises, while frustration builds beneath the surface.
alternet.org — The teachers are rising up again—and this time, they’re going after standardized tests. In Seattle, a boycott against the national Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) tests is spreading across high schools. At Garfield High School, where the boycott began, 19 teachers called a press conference to announce that they would refuse to give the tests because they are a waste of time and resources for the students. The test scores do not affect the students’ grades or ability to graduate, and the test’s material itself has nothing to do with the students’ classes or curriculum—meaning that students rarely take the tests seriously. Despite this irrelevance, however, teachers in the Seattle school district learned that this year, the MAP test scores would be used to measure their teacher evaluations—spurring frustration and anger
economix.blogs.nytimes.com — “Too big to fail is too big to continue. The megabanks have too much power in Washington and too much weight within the financial system.” Who said this and when? The answer is Peggy Noonan, the prominent conservative commentator, writing recently in The Wall Street Journal. As Timothy F. Geithner prepares to leave the Treasury Department, most assessments focus on how his policies affected the economy. But his lasting legacy may be more political, contributing to the creation of an issue that can now be seized either by the right or the left. What should be done about the too-big-to-fail category of financial institutions?
motherjones.com — Driven to act by last month’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, President Barack Obama on Wednesday called on Congress to pass new laws banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and targeting gun traffickers, and he announced 23 steps his administration is taking to better enforce existing law. With Republicans threatening to block any legislation—and some extreme GOPers calling for impeachment if Obama acts alone—reform, as could be expected, will not be easy. But should Obama gets what he wants, he'll face another major challenge: his own Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Over the last three decades, gun activists and lawmakers have purposefully hindered the BATF and carefully molded the agency that enforces gun laws to serve their own interests, stunting the ATF's budget, handicapping its regulatory authority, and keeping it effectively leaderless. The bureau Obama is counting on to lead his gun control push is a disaster...by Republican design.
Washington, DC – Robert Borosage co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future urges President Obama to “provide new direction and hope for a beleaguered people” in his upcoming inaugural and State of the Union addresses. more »
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huffingtonpost.com — When you've lost the Koch brothers, you've lost the game. Republicans intent on smashing through the debt ceiling in order to wring some spending concessions out of President Obama are finding themselves awfully lonely these days, but they've kept soldiering on. The latest ally to abandon them may be the toughest to ignore, though. The president of the group Americans For Prosperity, bankrolled by Charles G. and David H. Koch of Koch Industries, yesterday said the group wants spending cuts, but warned Republicans that screwing around with the debt ceiling "makes the messaging more difficult," the Financial Times writes. The AFP president also warned Republicans not to be seen as "hostage takers." That's a marked change from the summer of 2011, when AFP objected to a debt-ceiling deal because it didn't cut spending enough.