HUFFPOST HILL - America's Got Problems

12/14/2012 05:11 pm ET | Updated Feb 13, 2013

Twenty children were killed in a tragic shooting today but the White House wants to talk about gun control sometime toward the end of the next Mayan calendar cycle. In fact, so few politicians want to have a meaningful debate about guns in the wake of this nightmare that the NRA's head of communications might actually have an early night. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, December 14th, 2012:

CONNECTICUT MASSACRE: WORST SCHOOL SHOOTING IN COUNTRY'S HISTORY - "Authorities in Connecticut responded to a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday morning, the local NBC station reports. Police reported 27 deaths, including 20 children, six adults and the shooter, according to the Associated Press...Reports say that he carried four weapons, and wore black clothing as well as a bullet proof vest. He died on the scene." [HuffPost Liveblog]

Speaking to reporters in the White House Briefing Room today, President Obama choked up as he discussed the shooting. "Each time I learn the news I react not as a president, but as anyone else would -- as a parent. And that was especially true today," he said. "I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do." He continued, "They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own," Obama said, tearing up. "Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping children fulfill their dreams." We were touched by his emotional response. And we appreciate that he doesn't want to react as a president. But he is the president. Can somebody please do something? [HuffPost]

Gun control advocates gathered outside the White House for a direct action this afternoon. The U.S. is far from the only country burdened by lunatics who inflict senseless violence on innocent people. But it's our gun laws that make the difference. A knife-wielding maniac attacked school children in China today. 22 injured, but none dead. [The Atlantic]

Sam Stein attended the rally: Among those who had come down to Pennsylvania Avenue to light a candle and call on the president to do something with respect to anti-massacre legislation was Jennifer Oko. A D.C. native, Oko was the mother to a five and a seven year old, who were in kindergarten and first grade. She said she was torn as to whether to go home and see her kids immediately after work or to come to the White House to attend the vigil. "I felt I needed to show solidarity," she explained. But the unstated reason may have been nerves over how, exactly, to talk to her kids about what had happened in Connecticut. "Isn't that the question?" she said, when asked what she would tell her children. "The five year old, I don't know how much she can understand it. I think we may just need to tell them that we will do everything we can to make sure they will live safe lives."

Michael Tomasky endorses our new term -- anti-massacre -- to describe gun-control proponents.

WHITE HOUSE DEMURS: TODAY IS NOT THE DAY FOR A DEBATE ON GUN CONTROL - Because whenever Americans are attacked en masse, we table the discussion, like that time we declared war on Japan in 1943 and went after the Taliban in 2005. Elise Foley and Sabrina Siddiqui: "In an immediate response to a shooting at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today is not the day for a debate on gun control. 'I think it's important, on a day like today, to view this -- as I know the president, as a father, does, and I as a father and others who are parents certainly do, which is to feel enormous sympathy for families that are affected and to do everything we can to support state and local law enforcement and support those who are enduring what appears to be a very tragic event,' Carney told reporters in the daily White House press briefing. 'There is, I am sure -- will be, rather -- a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates, but I do not think today is that day.' Carney did say that President Barack Obama remains committed to renewing a ban on assault weapons." [HuffPost]

Mark Kelly, husband of Gabrielle Giffords, disagrees. "As we mourn, we must sound a call for our leaders to stand up and do what is right," Kelly, a retired astronaut, wrote on his Facebook page. "This time our response must consist of more than regret, sorrow, and condolence. The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School and all victims of gun violence deserve leaders who have the courage to participate in a meaningful discussion about our gun laws - and how they can be reformed and better enforced to prevent gun violence and death in America. This can no longer wait." [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]

TRAGICALLY NOT UNCOMMON - Mother Jones: "Since 1982, there have been at least 61 mass murders carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii...Of the 139 guns possessed by the killers, more than three quarters were obtained legally. The arsenal included dozens of assault weapons and semiautomatic handguns.... Just as Jeffrey Weise used a .40-caliber Glock to massacre students in Red Lake, Minnesota, in 2005, so too did James Holmes (along with an AR-15 assault rifle) when blasting away at his victims in a darkened movie theater...Just under half of the cases involved school or workplace shootings (11 and 19, respectively); the other 31 cases took place in locations including shopping malls, restaurants, government buildings, and military bases." [Mother Jones]

@Ryan_Lanza: so aperently im getting spammed bc someone with the same name as me killed some ppl... wtf?

HUCKABEE'S FALWELL MOMENT - T-minus 10 seconds until he blames this on gay people. TPM: "Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee attributed the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in part to restrictions on school prayer and religious materials in the classroom. 'We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,' Huckabee said on Fox News, discussing the murder spree that took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults in Newtown, CT that morning. 'Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?'" [TPM]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Colleen Reed Bryant, a special education teacher with Head O'Meadow Elementary School in Newtown, said she knew three adults who reportedly died in the attack at nearby Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday morning. Bryant, 47, said she had not heard anything to suggest anyone knew such a thing could happen. She said Newtown is a place where Halloween happens on one street and everyone comes out for the annual Christmas tree lighting. "I don't think anyone had any clue about this," Bryant told HuffPost. "This is a really quiet New England town and this kind of thing doesn't happen, ever. Everyone knows everyone in this town." Bryant said she watched President Barack Obama's remarks on the tragedy and thought they were appropriate. She said it's too soon for politics. "Right now, before we start talking about gun control, we just need to talk about these families, and these children and the people who are not going to bring their children home tonight," Bryant said. [HuffPost]

IN WIN FOR FILIBUSTER REFORM, FEINSTEIN MOVING CLOSER TO YES - Advocates of Senate rules changes have long known that a handful of senators were highly resistant to changing the rules without GOP cooperation, most notably Carl Levin, Mark Pryor, Max Baucus and Dianne Feinstein. In an interview with HuffPost Hill Thursday, Feinstein moved decidedly closer supporting the approach than she has been in the past. Asked if she'd back Reid's move to change the rules absent a deal with Republicans, she didn't rule it out. "Well, that's a hypothetical question, I don't' really know what the answer to it is. I will only say this: I think the time has come to look at real reform. I'm one that believes very strongly that cloture should not be allowable on a motion to proceed. We're here to debate. We're adults. This is a body, a hundred of us, to vote," she said. "To protect that absence of a vote by cloture you never have to take a position on the issue." What about Jeff Merkley's talking filibuster? "I was just talking with him. I have his paper. I'm looking at it. We'll see," she said.

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OBAMA INTERCEPTS THE DEA: SAYS WE SHOULD LET WASHINGTON AND COLORADO TOKE UP - In an interview with ABC, the choomander-in-chief, allegedly federalism's archenemy, said that Washington should not interfere with the voters of Colorado and Washington's decision to legalize the use of marijuana. ABC News: "'We've got bigger fish to fry,' Obama said of pot users in Colorado and Washington during an exclusive interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters.' 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,' he said, invoking the same approach taken toward users of medicinal marijuana in 18 states where it's legal... Obama told Walters he does not -- 'at this point' -- support widespread legalization of marijuana. But he cited shifting public opinion and limited government resources as reasons to find a middle ground on punishing use of the drug." [ABC News]

@ochocinco: @johnboehner John I can help with the Fiscal Cliff, i've an awesome (frugal) spending system we should implement to solve our issues.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT UNHAPPY - The former secretary of state, unable to locate a broach with a sad emoticon face on it, instead voiced her disappointment about Susan Rice's withdrawal from consideration for President Obama's cabinet. "I just think it's appalling what happened here. Appalling," she told Amanda Terkel today. "I think there are many aspects to this which ... are just completely fabricated and unfair, and just not the right way to treat someone who has dedicated her life to serving the United States." Albright continued: "I think it was a political attack, in many ways, that had not much to do with her," she said, adding that Rice has been treated like a "political football." [HuffPost]

POLL: AL GORE WAS RIGHT - AP: "Nearly 4 out of 5 Americans now think temperatures are rising and that global warming will be a serious problem for the United States if nothing is done about it, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds. Belief and worry about climate change are inching up among Americans in general, but concern is growing faster among people who don't often trust scientists on the environment. In follow-up interviews, some of those doubters said they believe their own eyes as they've watched thermometers rise, New York City subway tunnels flood, polar ice melt and Midwestern farm fields dry up. Nearly 4 out of 5 Americans now think temperatures are rising and that global warming will be a serious problem for the United States if nothing is done about it, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds. Belief and worry about climate change are inching up among Americans in general, but concern is growing faster among people who don't often trust scientists on the environment. In follow-up interviews, some of those doubters said they believe their own eyes as they've watched thermometers rise, New York City subway tunnels flood, polar ice melt and Midwestern farm fields dry up.'" [AP]

AL GORE FOR SECRETARY OF STATE!

ATLAS PISSED: RAND PAUL LASHES OUT AT PAUL RYAN -
Daily Caller: "Add Rep. Paul Ryan to the list of House Republican leaders under fire for removing conservatives from key congressional committees. A fundraising email sent by Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul urges supporters to sign a petition protesting the move, targeting the party's 2012 vice presidential nominee and House Budget Committee chairman, as well as Speaker of the House John Boehner. 'The petition urges John Boehner and Paul Ryan to stop purging fiscal conservatives from committee assignments, and to reinstate the four already purged from their positions,' reads the message from RAND PAC, Rand Paul's political action committee. Rand Paul noted that 'according to news reports, two of the congressmen were purged from the Budget Committee for voting for a five-year balanced budget plan -- instead of Paul Ryan's budget which balanced in 28 years." [Daily Caller]

BOBBY JINDAL WOULD LIKE TO WIN THE GENERAL ELECTION WOMEN TO HAVE ACCESS TO OVER-THE-COUNTER BIRTH CONTROL - But good luck Governor Jindal deflecting Rick Santorum's primary debate charge that you're turning America into a bordello. Laura Bassett: "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), whose name is often mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that calls for contraception to be made available over-the-counter. If women could buy birth control without a prescription, he argues, employers would not have to pay for it against their moral objections, and Democrats could no longer accuse Republicans of being anti-birth control...The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently came to the same conclusion: that birth control is safe enough that it should not require a prescription. However, making contraception available over the counter would require women to pay for it out of pocket, whereas the Affordable Care Act currently requires that it be covered under most insurance plans with no co-pay." [HuffPost]

ROMNEY CAMPAIGN GOING ALL BAIN CAPITAL ON NEWS ORGS - BuzzFeed: "In a coda to the often contentious relationship between Mitt Romney's staff and the press, news outlets are preparing to file a formal complaint to the Romney campaign contesting some of the seemingly inflated charges that were billed to them from the campaign trail....many of the bills from the Romney campaign -- which have continued to trickle in since Election Day -- are much higher than during other campaigns. For example, on Oct. 11, each reporter was charged $812 for a meal and a rented 'holding' space, where the press waited before moving to the next event. On Oct. 18, the bill for a similar set of expenses was $461. And on the night of the vice presidential debate, the campaign planned a 'viewing party' for the reporters with Romney, complete with a large rented room with a patio, massage tables, fresh cut flowers, and lots of food and booze. One campaign aide told BuzzFeed that campaign officials' orders were to 'go big' -- a nice gesture, perhaps, but one that wasn't discussed with every media outlet. The tab for the party: $745 per reporter." [BuzzFeed]

Man gets gifts for himself: "A man wearing an apparent Mitt Romney mask robbed a Virginia bank yesterday -- the same bank hit by a robber in a Hillary mask two years ago. Oddly, that's not the only reason the FBI is calling the holdup unusual. The robbery at a Wells Fargo in Sterling was not a grab-and-go robbery. The gun-wielding robber, wearing the mask and a Florida State sweatshirt, got money from one teller, but apparently that wasn't enough. He went teller to teller until he took from all five." [NBC Washington]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Pomeranian sneezing

COMFORT FOOD

- If you haven't seen Stephen Colbert's "Breaking Bad"/"Downton Abbey" mashup, you really really... really must. [http://bit.ly/VFXyJt]

- Are you in a rush and in a movie or television show? Chances are you need to frantically yell "There's no time to explain!" [http://chzb.gr/ZmbgrK]

- This might not come as a surprise, but in Japan, bikes are parked by robots. [http://bit.ly/YXZQdx]

- A 2012 retrospective through the prism of Google. [http://bit.ly/RoDqQB]

- Cow speaking in tongues... also has an adolescent's sense of humor. [http://bit.ly/Rtuzxc]

- A chart featuring every fictional president from television and film, including their party and the crisis they face (meteorites, terrorists, etc). [http://bit.ly/UdHM9u]

- "Peanuts" mashed together with "Louie" will probably destroy whatever fond memories you have of your childhood. Example: Linus is a hoarder. [http://bit.ly/Xm62qu]

TWITTERAMA

@BigFatWhale: We had a national conversation and banned Four Loko in what? 3 weeks?

@KagroX RT @politico: Politicians offer prayers after Connecticut shooting || I'll offer prayers next time they call for a donation.

@barryj: They want a waiting period on gun control debate but no waiting period on buying one ... wtf?

@delrayser: Cynical thought: if having one of their own almost killed in Tucson didn't spur Congress to act, why do we think this will?

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