Obama: “Tears aren’t enough.”

Update: As of Tuesday, April 2, the number of Americans fatally shot since the Newtown massacre has risen to 3,292; that’s 239 additional deaths since the President spoke on the issue last week [see below], and it includes 4 year old  Rahquel Carr, shot in Miami-Dade in a parked car. For details on those statistics, please go to Slate; for Rahquel’s story, please go here.

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This morning, the President spoke about gun violence and the need for new laws:

I ask every American to find out where your member of Congress stands on these ideas. If they’re not part of that 90% who agree that we should make it harder for a criminal or somebody with severe mental illness to buy a gun, then you should ask them why not. Why are you part of the 10%?

There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t get this done. But the reason we’re talking about it here today is because it’s not done until it’s done. And there are some powerful voices on the other side that are interested in running out the clock, or changing the subject, or drowning out the majority of the American people to prevent any of these reforms from happening at all. They’re doing everything they can to make all of our progress collapse under the weight of fear and frustration, their assumption is that people will just forget about it.

…I want to make sure every American is listening today. Less than 100 days ago, [Newtown] happened. And the entire country was shocked. And the entire country pledged that we would do something about it and this time it would be different. Shame on us if we’ve forgotten. I haven’t forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.

There’s one thing that I’ve said consistently since I first ran for this office: Nothing is more powerful than millions of voices calling for change.

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I watch this man speak a lot. Every time he speaks on this issue, he is alight with righteous anger — and he is not backing down. I am so grateful.

In the [fewer than] 100 days since the Newtown massacre, 3084 Americans have been fatally shot. Yesterday, it was 3,053. That’s what we’re looking at: about 30 new gun deaths every single day.

If we want to make an effective change in those kinds of numbers, we have to let Congress know, because as he keeps reminding us, the President cannot do it alone.

Here’s what you can do (and if you’ve already done it once, please do it again):

  • Call the US House: 202-224-3121. If you’re not sure who your member of Congress is, find him or her by clicking here (if you’d rather send an email, you’ll find that information here, too).
  • Call the US Senate: 202-224-3121. If you’re not sure who your Senators are, find them by clicking here (if you’d rather send an email, you’ll find that information here, too).
  • Call the White House : 202-456-1111 Let President Obama know that  you support his efforts, and encourage him to continue to fight the fight.

Sample script/letter:

Hi, I’m calling from [location], and I just wanted to make sure that President Obama/Senator XXXXX/Representative XXXXX knows that I support the White House gun control initiative. I think that things like background checks, limits on magazine capacity, and a ban on assault weapons are common sense, and I think it’s so important to also work with inner city communities to address their particular needs — less than 1% of urban populations are responsible for about 70% of all shootings in cities, and it’s tragic that so many people are held hostage to that violence.

Useful resources:

Please call. The President’s righteous anger and dedication is not enough — this is our job. Please call.

h/t Steve Benen at Maddow Blog.

Call them. [UPDATED]

The President will be speaking about gun policy midday today. Please call Congress – all the numbers, links, and a brief sample script are right here (or you could just scroll down).

UPDATE: The speech was great and brutally honest and beautiful and moving, and the President said over and over again that we are responsible: “Government of, by, and for the people. We are responsible for each other…. Let’s do the right thing. Let’s do the right thing for [victims], and for this country that we love so much.”

This is our job. Please call Congress.

To read the 23 Executive Actions that President Obama signed, click here.

White House to roll out gun policy on Wednesday.

The Washington Post reports that President Obama will be introducing new gun control proposals “at midday Wednesday.”

The announcement, to be delivered at the White House, is also expected to include a slate of up to 19 executive actions [update: it turned out to be 23 - click here] that the Obama administration can take on its own to attempt to limit gun violence.  The White House has invited key lawmakers as well as gun-control advocates to appear at Wednesday’s policy rollout, according to two officials who have been invited to the event.

Please tell Congress and the White House that you support sensible gun legislation.

Michael Dimock from Pew Research told NPR on Monday that “Gun rights advocates tend to be much more engaged…. 15% of gun rights advocates say they’ve contacted an elected official to address the issue; that’s twice the number that you have among gun control supporters.”

Please call your US Representative: 202-224-3121 (If you don’t know who that is, click here).

Please call your US Senators: 202-224-3121 (If you don’t know who that is, click here).

And please also call the White House – it really matters that President Obama be inundated with support on this, because he is fighting an uphill battle: 202-456-1111.

If you’re not sure what to say: All you really need to say is some version of “I’m calling from [location or zip code] and just wanted to make sure that the Senator/Representative/President knows that I support sensible gun legislation and I hope that Congress and the White House will work together to move forward on the issue.”

It’s my deep, deep hope that the former community organizer from Chicago will not simply address issues like assault weapons bans and magazine capacity but will also address the violence visited on our cities every day, where 1% of the population tends to be responsible for about 70% of shootings (for more on that, please click here), but I guess we’ll know more tomorrow. For the time being, let’s just make sure they know that we want to get the ball rolling.

PLEASE CALL THEM. And if you’ve called them already — please call them again.

Obama on gun control: “I can’t do it alone. I need your help.”

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association put on a dog and pony show today in which he blamed everything on Earth for gun violence, other than actual guns (including, but not limited to, a shortage of guns). While he was doing this — literally, as Wayne LaPierre was talking — three people were killed and three wounded by a lone shooter in Pennsylvania; the injured were all armed state troopers; the assailant is also dead.

Earlier today, President Obama responded to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have signed We the People petitions calling for sensible gun control (video below). He said:

I can’t do it alone. I need your help. If we’re going to succeed, it’s going to take a sustained effort from mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, law enforcement and responsible gun owners, organizing, speaking up, calling their members of Congress as many times as it takes, standing up and saying: Enough, on behalf of all our kids. That’s how change happens. Because of committed Americans who work to make it happen. Because of you.

Please call your US Representative and your Senators - here’s that number again: 202-224-3121 – and tell them that you support sensible gun control legislation. I just called my Republican Senator a second time (my Democratic Senator and Democratic Congressman are among the legislature’s most progressive members, so I’ve only called them once) and the very friendly and helpful staffer asked me what I meant by “sensible gun control.” Here’s what I mentioned:

  • An automatic weapons ban
  • A limit on magazine capacity
  • Background checks
  • A national gun registry

These things strike me as straight-up common sense, which is what I said on the phone. It just makes sense to say to someone “I’m going to do a background check on you before I sell you this deadly weapon.” I made a point of saying that I have no issue with responsible gun owners, hunters and so on, people who use and store their weapons in a responsible manner, and when I was done, the staffer said “Thank you very much. The Senator will get this message this afternoon.”

As the President said: This is how change happens.

Please, please, please – CALL THEM: 202-224-3121

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A couple of useful resources:

1) from Mother Jones: Do Armed Civilians Stop Mass Shooters? Actually, No.

2) from the Washington Post:  Ten-country comparison suggests there’s little or no link between video games & gun murders.

You know what you need to do.

America is no different than any other collective of people and leaders: If we want our leaders to do something, we have to make them act, and the only way we have ever made our leaders act is by letting them know that we in our millions want them to act.

If we want to see reasonable, life-saving gun laws in this country, we need to support President Obama in the efforts he alluded to last night, and we have to tell our US Representatives and Senators that we support him. We have to flood them with calls and emails. Flood them.

Here are those numbers again:

White House: 202-456-1111

US Representatives & Senators: 202-224-3121

Please call.

Dear Democrats, Progressives, Liberals & assorted American lefties – settle down.

I’ve been seeing a certain amount of glee across my side of the internet lately over the fact that Willard McMittington Romney is a terrible candidate.

The Republican Party establishment doesn’t like him and never has — that’s been established time and again — and the Republican masses are avoiding him in droves. Whoot! They hate their candidate!

Here’s the deal: We knew that. We allllll knew that. The Left knew it, the Right knew it, the media knew it, the White House knew it, and I’m pretty dang sure McMittington himself knew it, and knows it still. How a man so thoroughly disliked convinces himself to continue running is beyond me, and I genuinely think it involves a certain mental dysfunction, but that’s not my point.

My point is this: The fact that that the GOP has selected a terrible Presidential candidate, who (barring disaster, and disasters do sometimes happen) will lose to the Democratic incumbent is not news. It’s not even useful information. Because the point now is Congress.

If the GOP had found someone who could genuinely threaten to unseat President Obama, that would be a very important conversation to have. But they didn’t — which means there’s a very powerful possibility that a large percentage of our folks will simply sit the election out, confident that our guy is safe.

Yet if we have learned nothing else over the past three years, surely we have learned that our guy — and more to the point, the agenda we elected him to bring to fruition — will never be safe from a group of people dedicated to his/its complete failure; plus which, there’s this little thing called “The Legislative Branch.”

The Democrats’ current slim majority in the Senate is not enough to overcome the Republicans’ favorite non-legislative tool, the filibuster, and you might recall that we lost the House in 2010. Which is to say: If we want to not only see President Obama re-elected but to actually see our own goals (writ large) achieved — we have got to do all we can to claw back some seats.

The forces arrayed against us are not insignificant: A) Romney may be weak, but the Republican Party and its moneyed backers are not. They are throwing every dirty, nasty thing they can at Democrats, politicians and rank-and-file, to scare us away from the voting booth, not to mention doing all they can to just straight-up bar the door; B) disasters (see: above) are not unheard of in history and/or politics, and when there exists even the slimmest possibility of a Romney Presidency, with the current GOP at his back, we must not take the threat lightly; C) incumbents are re-elected at a genuinely alarming rate in American politics — to the tune of 80-95% (for a truly sinus-clearing visual of what 80-95% re-elction rates look like, click here).

If we don’t gird our loins and do our damndest to get more Democrats into Congress this fall, we might as well just sit back and await more of the kind of dehumanizing, anti-economic-recovery, pro-big-business shenanigans at which the GOP has excelled since 2008. It’s really that simple.

Fine. I’m thrilled that the Republican Party, macro- and micro-, hates their candidate.

Can we get down to business now?

Debunking a very little bit of Netanyahu’s speech before Congress.

Right then. Given my conquest of all the foreign airwaves — the BBC on Friday, Russia Today this morning — on matters Israel/Palestine, Obama and Netanyahu, I have been feeling a certain moral obligation to blog about Bibi’s speech before Congress today.

But I have finally just read it (he was delivering the speech as I was finishing my little bout of punditry this morning. Coincidence? Probably) and oh my good Lord — I was exhausted beforehand, and now I’m exhausted and my head hurts. The arrogance, the hubris, the lies, the sheer, balls-to-the-wall chutzpa — and the US Congress applauded, and applauded, and applauded again. I’m glad I didn’t actually hear that part. It was dispiriting enough to read it. Especially the parts where the word “applause” was proceeded by “cheers.” Cheap political points, y’all, just hanging there, ripe and for the taking — and take them, the United States Congress did.

I just don’t have it in me to write about Bibi’s speech now. Bibi’s speech knocked the will to write about Bibi’s speech right out of me.

I did make several points about it on Twitter as I was reading, however, and so I’ve decided to meet myself half-way: I’ll present below the entire transcript, with added notations. Beneath the transcript, you’ll find fleshed out versions of those tweets — I’ll flesh them out in such a way that you can read them without having to dive into the transcript, if you don’t feel like it (it was a very long speech, though, so keep scrolling to get to my notes!).

Tally ho! Speech and comments about same, after the jump.

(more…)

On the essential American-ness of Muslim Americans.

Once again, thanks to the Twitter (in this case, @ggreenwald), I’ve been made more aware of an important issue than I might otherwise have been.

Apparently the reprehensible Rep. Peter King (R- Ignoramus City NY) is holding hearings next month regarding the threat American Muslims pose to their own country. King maintains that “over 80 percent of the mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams,” and that when it comes to combating terror and times of war, Muslims are not “American.”

I’d heard about these shenanigans, but wasn’t really following very closely. Then this morning Glenn Greenwald (a man with whom, it must be noted, I do on occasion have my disagreements!) tweeted a link to that first story I referenced above, writing

This Peter King hearing on American Muslims is certain to be one of the most disgusting spectacles seen in some time.

And I just thought: Yes. Yes it is.

Awhile back, I posted a short compilation of Muslim statements categorically rejecting terrorism, which might prove informative here, and ThinkProgress has done great job of debunking the King nonsense:

King’s assertion that American Muslims aren’t cooperating with authorities and that Muslim organizations in the U.S. aren’t denouncing terrorism is simply false. At an event sponsored by the Center for American Progress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) reported that, “About a third of all foiled al-Qaida-related plots in the U.S. relied on support or information provided by members of the Muslim community.” …

But the hearings/investigations aren’t really about establishing fact. They’re about establishing an idea: Muslims are dangerous.

King is planning a show, a game, a series of entirely symbolic events, all with one aim: To establish in the mind of the average Real American [tm] that Muslim Americans aren’t Real Americans — that they are, in fact, a threat to Real Americans. Why, if a member of the US Congress believes these people to be dangerous enough to warrant hearings, by gum, they must be dangerous!

As such, facts — as written on paper or blinking on computer screens — aren’t really what will outmaneuver such an effort. No, what’s called for here are good optics. What’s needed is something, or somethingS, that will be more symbolically powerful than the implications of a Congressional hearing.

After seeing the Greenwald tweet, I immediately began thinking of all the ways that I would try to combat the hearings’ message, were I the Person In Charge of Public Relations for Muslim Americans.

How about sending Muslim veterans in uniform to the hearings (possibly from among the more than 200 Muslim Americans to be awarded combat action ribbons)? Or newspaper commentary by those who knew Muslims killed in action? How about interfaith prayer vigils across the country? Or maybe just Muslims declaring themselves in some public place outside the hearings, ala the Rally to Restore Sanity: “I’m a Muslim doctor,” “I’m a Muslim teacher,” “I’m a Muslim dad.” (I’d love it if singer Kareem Salama would chime in with his own sign: “I’m a Muslim country/western singer” — Kareem, call me!).

Sadly, I am not the Person In Charge of Public Relations for Muslim Americans.

But I believe I’m going to try to run with these ideas, or push them along, or put them out into the general political ether. How, I’m not sure. By what means, also not sure. But I have some ideas about that, too.

I’ll let you know!

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In the meantime, if you have some thoughts about the essential American-ness of Muslim Americans, let your Senators and Representatives know! The best way to do that is via letter — letters take forever in the nation’s capital (really – security, and all), but we’ve got a little bit of time before the hearings, so knock yourselves out! The second best way to contact your elected representatives is by phone, followed by email. But however you do it, please do it! You can find contact information for you Senators here and your Representative here. This is especially important if your Representative is on the Homeland Security Committee – check here.

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.

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