Easter

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Easter (But Really Should)

Traditional Czechoslavakian Easter eggs.

Happy Easter TFC friends…

Addicting Info

1. Easter falls on a different date each year. Have you ever wondered why that is? Technically, Easter falls on the first Sunday after the full Moon after the Vernal Equinox. Kind of a weird way to determine a holiday for a monotheistic religion, don’t you think? How did this method of reckoning Easter’s date come about? It was a way to steal the thunder from another popular god, whose cult was Christianity’s biggest rival. The worship of Attis and Cybele was very popular in Rome as late as the 3rd century. Attis was a soter, or savior, god who was reborn each year. This resurrection was celebrated beginning on the Friday after the full moon after the Vernal equinox (now Good Friday). It culminated on the following Sunday -three days later. Since they were rivals, Christianity adopted the date for their soter and, once the Cybele cult faded, Christians had to keep the date since that was when everybody was used to celebrating the holiday.

2. The name, “Easter” comes from a goddess: Her name was Eostre and She was the Mother Goddess of the Saxons of Northern Europe. She was, according to Grimm (yes, one of those Grimms), “goddess of the growing light of spring.” One interesting theory posits that Eostre was the embodiment of the bright, growing half of the year while Holda was the cold, dark winter personified. The dates of Easter are so close to Walpurgisnacht that they may have been concurrent at one time, the night giving way to the first day of Summer. This would make Ostara (the German name for Her holiday) a time of transition. Early in the history of Christianity, many pagan observances were adapted for the new faith. The early missionaries discovered that it was easier to get converts to celebrate a new name than it was a new date.

3. There were several soter gods who were very similar to Jesus in pre-Christian cultures. Attis (as mentioned previously), Adonis, Tammuz, Dammuzi, Dionysos, Marduk, Amun and many others have a mythology that parallels that of Jesus. Now, some Christians will use the convenient “satan did it to confuse us” to explain these away. But many others are interested to learn about this phenomenon. Being born of a Virgin, hanging “between earth and sky,” dying and arising again after 3 days… these and other details occur in all stories of a savior god. I won’t go into more detail here (don’t have the room!) but the book, Pagan Christs by by John M. Robertson will fascinate anyone interested in delving deeper.

4. Why eggs and why color them? The egg has always been a symbol of fertility, creation and rebirth. Many ancient cultures’ creation myths involved the earth being hatched from an egg. Though other societies may not have had such a creation myth, they still held the egg as a symbol of new life. Not such a stretch, really, when you consider that every living thing began as an egg. The ancient Persians and Egyptians exchanged colored eggs, usually red, in honor of spring. The Greeks and Romans adopted the custom, enlarging the color palette. In Medieval Europe, eggs were forbidden during Lent. This made eggs very popular at Easter. The Eastern Europeans have a history of creating beautifully colored and decorated eggs, entailing intricate designs with deep meanings. The Russians took this – and indeed, the entire celebration of Easter – to the extreme. Faberge eggs were first created as elaborate Easter gifts for the Russian royal family to give to friends.

5. Eggs were dyed with natural dyes once upon a time. Before we had those little colored tablets to color our Easter eggs, they were dyed with plants and herbs. Red Onion skins yield a soft violet color, carrots produce yellow eggs and cherry juice gives us red eggs. If you’d like to try natural dying methods, this site has a good list and instructions. The Russian word for the art of egg-coloring is Pysanka.

6. Ham for Easter dinner. While some people think that Christians eat ham as a form of insult towards Jews (kind of obnoxious, really), the origin of eating ham at Easter goes back much further than Christianity. Pagan cultures, having slaughtered their meat animals in the Fall, preserving them for the Winter months, now ate up the last of those preserved meats. The custom of lamb for Easter dinner comes from the Jewish Passover holiday. On that day, a sacrificial lamb was eaten, along with other symbolic foods, at the Passover Seder. The Christians adopted the lamb as a symbol of Jesus and retained the custom.

7. Hot Cross buns come from the wheat cakes that were baked in honor of Eostre. As part of the adoption of traditions, Christians added the cross on the top and had the cakes blessed by the Church. In England, it was believed that hanging a hot cross bun in the house would protect it from fire and bring good luck for the coming year.

8. What’s up with the Easter Bunny? The rabbit was a symbol of the moon to the Egyptians, that heavenly body being used to determine the date of the holiday may have had an influence. But the hare was a totemic animal of the goddess Eostre, symbolizing fertility for Spring. As anyone who has ever had rabbits or hares can attest, they are quite fitting for that symbolism. The character of an Easter Bunny seems to have begun in Germany, where he was a kind of Springtime Santa Claus, delivering Easter treats to children. He was known as Osterhase. The children would build a nest for him to leave their eggs in. This eventually became our modern Easter basket.

9. Easter eggs once acted as birth certificates. It’s true! During the 19th century, when families were unable to get to the closest town hall to file a birth certificate, an egg would be accepted as a method of identification. The egg would be dyed and inscribed with the person’s name and birth date. It was completely legal and accepted by courts and other authorities. Wouldn’t this just drive the birthers crazy?!

10. A few Easter customs… In England, doors and windows are opened on Easter Sunday so that the sun can drive out any evil within. If it rains on Easter morning, so the lore says, it will rain on the next seven Sundays. If you find a double-yolked egg on Easter, it is a sign of good luck. If you get up early on Easter and go for a swim in a cold stream (would there be any other kind at the end of March?) your rheumatism pain will be eased. I’ll stick with ibuprofen, thanks. Finally, if you get up early enough you can see the sun dance for joy.

So, there are some interesting facts about Easter. Yes, the holiday has its roots in pagan traditions, but that shouldn’t make any difference. If you are celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus, I’m sure that He wouldn’t mind if you hide a few Easter eggs for the kids. If you are celebrating Passover, it, too is a spiritual rebirth and observance of renewal. If you celebrate Ostara (as I do) then you welcome the warmth and new life of Spring. It doesn’t matter, you see, because it’s all in honor of renewal and rebirth and the continuation of life. Happy Easter!

Politico's Top Political Quotes

Politico’s Week In One-Liners 3-31-2013

AP Photo, Reuters

The top quotes in politics…

“Busted.” — President Barack Obama describing his March Madness bracket.

“Regretfully, I am currently unable to consider a campaign for the Senate.” — Actress Ashley Judd bowing out.

“It’s good to live a normal life again.” — Former White House hopeful Mitt Romney appreciating post-campaign life.

“I think email just sucks up time.” — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano expressing some thoughts on technology.

“Believe me, nobody’s going to get naked if I’m spending the entire day with Prince Harry.” — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie making a promise.

“This is inevitable.” — Radio host Rush Limbaugh on same-sex marriage.

“If you like it you should be able to put a ring on it.” — Beyonce weighing in on the debate.

 

U.S. Politics

Catholic League Wants Time Warner To Have ‘A Serious Talk’ With Bill Maher

‘Nuff said…

TPM LiveWire

The Catholic League has had enough of Bill Maher’s shtick.

Maher on Friday closed his weekly HBO program, “Real Time,” with a monologue that was sharply critical of the Catholic Church and the newly elected Pope Francis. It was a pretty typical rant from the anti-religion satirist but William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, believes Maher went too far.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Glenn A. Britt, chairman of HBO’s parent company Time Warner, Donohue said that “Maher’s bigotry” must not go unpunished. Donohue attached a report titled “Bill Maher’s History of Anti-Catholicism, 1998-2013,” which documents 39 jokes made by the comedian that were directed at the Church.

“From the enclosed report, it is evident that Maher’s bigotry is not merely visceral, it is relentless,” Donohue wrote. “The time has come for someone in a position of responsibility to sit down and have a serious talk with this man.”

A self-described agnostic, Maher has long lampooned all religions, as evidenced by his 2008 documentary, “Religulous.”

Read Donohue’s letter here. Watch Maher’s editorial on Catholics and Pope Francis from last Friday, which begins around the :25 mark:

Ed: Warning Bill Maher’s remarks are EXPLICIT.  That’s Bill Maher’s “schtick”…

Pope Francis

7 fascinating things we’ve learned about Pope Francis

I’m not Catholic but I find Pope Francis an interesting and unique Pope.  Perhaps this Pope will usher The Catholic Church into the 21st century…

The Week

It has been two and a half weeks since the world was introduced to Pope Francis, and his unexpected promotion to the head of the Roman Catholic Church was met with a flurry of quick profiles. We learned, for example, that he is a Jesuit, lived in a small apartment and cooked his own meals, had a complicated relationship with Argentina’s former military dictatorship, and has only one lung.

Then, most of us moved on to other things, as the new pope was officially installed in his position and started sending signals about what kind of a pontiff Pope Francis will be. What have we learned? Well, so far “it might seem as if Pope Francis is in a bit of denial over his new job as leader of the world’s 1.2-billion Catholics,” says the Associated Press‘ Nicole Winfield. “Or perhaps he’s simply changing the popular idea of what it means to be pope, keeping the no-frills style he cultivated as archbishop of Buenos Aires in ways that may have broad implications for the church.”

So, as the new pontiff presides for the first time over the holiest weekend of the Christian calendar, here are seven things we’ve learned about him so far:

1. He’s not moving into the papal palace
Pope Francis has shown his desire to keep up the humble lifestyle he cultivated in Argentina in several ways: He showed up to pay his own pre-conclave hotel bill in person, personally called his newspaper carriers in Buenos Aires to cancel his subscriptions, frequently talks about the need for priests from the pope on down to serve the people, and spent Holy Thursday washing the feet of young inmates at a detention center outside Rome, instead of cleaning priests’ feet (or delegating the washing) in Rome’s ornate churches, as previous popes have done. But his highest-profile move has been his decision to live in a small suite in the Vatican hotel, the Casa Santa Marta, instead of the opulent 12-plus-room papal apartment on the top floor of the Apostolic Palace.

There will “be no 16th-century polished marble floors or roof terrace with unmatched views of Rome” for the “least popey Pope in papal history,” says Simon Usborne at Britain’s The Independent, at least not outside of office hours: Francis will use the papal apartment as his workspace, to receive official guests and handle papal business. But he’ll live in the antiseptic, institutional hotel with other guests, eating in a communal dining room and celebrating mass with Vatican groundskeepers, domestic staff, and other low-level workers — “for now,” says Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi. “We’ll see how it works.”

“Beyond seeking a humbler set-up — not to mention a home-base that’s less isolating and, perhaps, easier to sneak out of as he sees fit,” says Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia, the move highlights another aspect of this “unique papacy: Unlike his predecessors since time immemorial, the pontiff has no personal household of aides and domestics who’ve come with him to the Vatican.” Without an entourage to share the spacious papal apartment with, Pope Francis would have been living in a big house by himself.

2. Francis is no “Prada Pope”
The new pope’s austerity is particularly notable as a contrast to his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who “was known in Italian media as the Prada Pope thanks to his custom-made red slippers,” says The Independent‘s Usborne. And it wasn’t just the red shoes and ermine vestments: As soon as Benedict became pope in 2005, he “commissioned 200 architects and specialist builders to renovate the appartamento pontificio,” including putting in a “high-spec German kitchen.”

Francis is keeping his black shoes, foregoing the red cape popes usually wear, and “his reluctance to change too much extends under the white cassock,” too, says Whispers in the Loggia‘s Palmo: Francis’ simple sartorial choices “don’t just make his move to keep wearing black pants visible through the garment, but likewise highlight the untucked tails of his white dress-shirt.” He’s also keeping the iron-plated pectoral cross he used as archbishop, and his papal fisherman’s ring isn’t gold but gold-plated silver, made from a mold created for Pope Paul VI.

3. He sees himself as a bishop, not a king
One of the things that might prevent the new pope from rejecting “the pomp and ceremony that surrounds his 2,000-year-old office” is the name he inherited, says Peter Stanford in Britain’s The Guardian: “His full title is ‘bishop of Rome, vicar of Jesus Christ, successor of St Peter, prince of the apostles, supreme pontiff of the universal church, patriarch of the west, primate of Italy, archbishop and metropolitan of the Roman province, sovereign of the state of Vatican City.'” That’s a mouthful when “you are busy telling people you are at their service.”

He still goes by “Bergoglio” to his closest friends, says the AP‘s Winfield, and signs his official correspondence “Francis.” When it comes to how he sees his papacy, perhaps the biggest titular clue came when he was announced to the world as pope and said his fellow cardinals had given “Rome a bishop.” As it turns out, “bishop of Rome is the title he has emphasized repeatedly ever since — not vicar of Christ, or any of his other official titles.”

4. Francis might be stubborn enough to take on the Curia
Everybody is focusing on the pope’s personal austerity and humility, but people overlook his “management experience in his native Argentina as head of the Jesuit province and chairman of the national bishops conference,” says Reuters‘ Tom Heneghan. He’s been described as an attentive and personable boss, but also one who is “demanding, has little patience for bureaucracy, and appoints talented assistants.” His predecessor, Benedict, was not a good manager, and it showed, in a leak-prone and feudal Vatican bureaucracy, or Curia. “The first hint Francis gave of plans to change the Curia came three days after his election when he reappointed its top bureaucrats temporarily rather than permanently, as Benedict did after being elected in 2005.”

Francis’ “success at defining himself as himself on the world stage has come thanks to a less visible, yet equally key trait of the 266th pope: His steely sense of determination,” says Palmo atWhispers in the Loggia. We haven’t seen too much of that trait yet, but “its early quiet flashes are merely shaping up as a sneak preview of the battle of wills which is almost certain to define his pontificate.”

5. He’s a pretty deft politician
Francis’ “sharp political skills have long been apparent to Argentines,” and he’s already deployed them as pope to win friends and influence people, says the AP‘s Debora Rey. That’s true nowhere as starkly as in the “remarkable about-face” of his former nemesis, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. When Fernandez decided it was in her interest to ally herself with the Argentine pope, he reciprocated, granting her his first papal audience. This is a pretty clear “signal that when it comes to the populist governments of Latin America, he’ll avoid the kinds of direct confrontations that feed divisive politics, and instead will seek to co-opt them as well, joining forces to help the poorest benefit from society.”

6. He will focus on ecumenism
Another early motif of the Franciscan papacy is cooperation and reconciliation with other faiths. A remarkable number of religious leaders attended and even participated in his installation mass, and “in his March 20 audience with religious leaders, Francis sent an important signal about his view of the papacy and its relationship with other Christians,” says the AP‘s Nicole Winfield. He greeted Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, as “my brother,” and placed his chair on the floor along with all the other religious leaders. “Two days later, when Francis greeted diplomats accredited to the Holy See, his chair was up on a platform.”

“To have a simpler view, less grandiose sense of the trappings of the papacy might be saying, ‘I want to be able to relate to you at a different level,'” U.S. Greek Orthodox official Anton Vrame tells the AP.

7. He is driving his security detail “crazy”
If reporters and commentators are charmed by Pope Francis, he’s causing headaches with the Vatican security service — the mix of Swiss Guards and Vatican police charged with protecting the pope. Pope Francis has ditched the bulletproof-glass-enclosed Popemobile the pontiff has used since Pope John Paull II was shot in 1981, riding around in an open-air white Mercedes jeep — and frequently getting out to greet the crowds. (See video below).

He’s also mixing freely with crowds at churches and walking when his security detail wants him to go by car. It’s hard to argue with a pope, so “as Curialists of every stripe tend to do, the guards have taken their case to the ultimate sounding board of life behind the walls: The Italian press,” says Rocco Palmo. Anonymous security officials tell Italy’s La Stampa that they are “seeking to adjust to the new style,” but should Francis’ habits not “normalize” after his first days, “it will make everybody crazy.”

 

Prescription Drug Costs · U.S. Politics

STUDY: CVS, Rite Aid, And Other Chain Pharmacies Sell Generic Drugs At Up To 18 Times Their Cost

The first thing I thought of when I looked at the chart below was: there should be strict regulations on pharmaceuticals.  The price variations are disturbing…

Think Progress 

According to a new Consumer Reports investigative study published Thursday, there is rampant variation in the price of generic drugs as large U.S. pharmacy chains — including CVS, Rite Aid, and Target — marking up the prices of generic drug versions for common medications by as much as 18 times what wholesale chains like Costco charge. That price variance ends up costing Americans, who spend an average of $758 out-of-pocket on drugs every year, hundreds of dollars in unnecessary spending each month.

Consumer Reports compiled the data by contacting hundred of pharmacies throughout the country and asking what their drug prices were for generic versions of Lipitor, Plavix, Actos, and other common medications. The results were striking, with pharmacy representatives claiming that the higher prices were necessary for covering overhead, and considering that selling medication constitutes most of their revenue and profit margins:

Costco was the least expensive overall, and you don’t need to be a member to use its pharmacy. A few independent pharmacies came in even cheaper, though their prices varied widely, as did grocery-store pharmacies. The online retailers Healthwarehouse.com and FamilyMeds.com also had very low prices.On the other end of the spectrum, CVS, Rite Aid, and Target had the highest retail prices. […]

A representative of CVS told us that its retail drug prices reflect other services offered by the chain, including drive-through windows, automated prescription refill systems, free outreach programs to help make sure patients are taking their prescriptions correctly, and 24-hour pharmacies. Costco pharmacies, the cheapest overall, are open only from 10 a.m. to 7 or 8:30 p.m. and are typically closed on Sundays.

“Big-box stores such as Costco and Walmart use the pharmacy as a traffic builder for their stores, whereas traditional chain stores, such as CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens, make the majority of their revenue and profits from the pharmacy,” says Stephen W. Schondelmeyer, Ph.D., Pharm.D., a professor of pharmacy economics at the University of Minnesota.

The study’s full findings are illustrated in this chart:

Drug Costs

The use of generic drugs — rather than their brand name counterparts — actually drives down spending on medications, consequently lowering Americans’ out-of-pocket costs and government spending on public insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. But the Consumer Reports investigation suggests there are significantly more savings to be had.

This isn’t the first time generic drug makers have been in the news this week. On Monday, the Supreme Court took up Federal Trade Commission (FTC) v. Actavis — which one expert dubbed “the health care reform case of 2013″ — a case centering on the legality and antitrust implications of so-called “pay for delay” arrangements in which brand name drug makers pay off their generic drug counterparts to delay a drug’s generic version from entry into the market. If the FTC winds up winning that case, it could save Americans and the government billions of dollars on drug costs every year. But as this new report demonstrates, they could save much more if pharmacies stopped jacking up their rates to startling degrees.

U.S. Politics

Alan Simpson: ‘Men Legislators Shouldn’t Even Vote On’ Abortion

I don’t often agree with former GOP Senator Alan Simpson but in this instance, he is spot on…

The Huffington Post

Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) has never shied away from turning his trademark brand of colorful rhetoric on his own party, and on Thursday he did so again, in a scathing examination of the Republican approach on social issues.

In an interview published in the Los Angeles Times, Simpson, who has weighed in prominently on fiscal issues in recent years, blasted the trend of old, white Republican males feeling compelled to legislate on abortion.

“[It’s] a hideous thing. It’s terrible,” Simpson said of the medical procedure. “But it’s a deeply intimate and personal thing. … Men legislators shouldn’t even vote on it.”

Simpson also called out what he saw as a “homophobic strain in our party,” and accused members of the GOP of following a social agenda that was inconsistent with their broader political ideology.

“You’re a Republican, you believe in get-out-of-your-life and the precious right to privacy, the right to be left alone,” Simpson said. “Well then, pal, I don’t care what you do. You can go worship the Great Eel at night, I don’t give a rat’s … . But don’t mess with me and don’t then go take a position I have and wrap religion around it.”

(Read the rest of Simpson’s interview with the Times here.)

Simpson has expressed similar disagreements with Republicans on social issues in the past. In 2011, he targeted intolerance in the party, suggesting that it often ended up being a hypocritical display of hate.

“But I’m not sticking with people who are homophobic, anti-women, you know, moral values while you’re diddling your secretary while you’re giving a speech on moral values,” he said. “Come on. Get off of it.”

Game of Thrones · HBO

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 for Dummies

I’ve watched bits and pieces of this series but I was never able to understand much of the plot because it was the second year of the series.  Now, I’ll be able to sort it all out.

Thank you Daily Beast.

The Daily Beast

HBO’s fantasy series Game of Thrones returns Sunday for a third season. Can’t remember the difference between a wight and a white walker? Jace Lacob’s glossary explains all! Plus, read our advance review of Season 3.

In its riveting second season, Game of Thrones—based on George R.R. Martin’s behemoth A Song of Ice and Fire series and adapted by executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss—brought the war for the Iron Throne to a staggering climax with the amazing Battle of the Blackwater, a hugely dramatic set piece that found the naval forces of Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) attacking King’s Landing, only to be cast back into the sea, thanks to some ingenuity from Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage).

130326-Lacob-Game-of-Thrones-tease

The highly anticipated third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones begins on Sunday at 9 p.m., kicking off another season of treachery, romance, conspiracies, dragons and, um, snowy blue-eyed zombie creatures. If you haven’t read Martin’s hefty novels, the world that the show inhabits can be an intimidating place without the maps, family trees and lineages contained within the novels’ vast appendices. And Season 3 of Game of Thrones is no exception, introducing a slew of new characters, settings and plots, each requiring a whole new knowledge base.

As we did for Season 1 and Season 2, The Daily Beast delves deep into the first four episodes of Game of Thrones Season 3, Martin’s third novel (A Storm of Swords) and beyond to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know, from Astapor to Winterfell. Consider it both a refresher on events from the second season and a constant source of information and background to come back to as you watch the third season.

Continue reading…

Tea Party Agenda

Slick, Paranoid Tea Party Video Aims for Violent Insurrection

Alternet

Fear walks the land, and the Tea Party Patriots are here to package and sell it.

Attendees at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) were reportedly thrilled by a short sci-fi video depicting a dictatorial near-future government and the underground “Movement on Fire” that springs up to resist it. The video, a thinly veiled advertisement for violent insurrection from the “Tea Party Patriots” group, boasts professional acting and Hollywood production values. But underneath its bright, professional sheen lurk dark overtones of End Times paranoia that will resonate with millions of American fundamentalists. Its apocalyptic imagery is as ancient as Revelations, its glossy look as modern as a Revlon ad, and its near-subliminal barrage of rapid-cut imagery rings with the terror-fueled sermons of 1,000 preachers.

Here’s the video:

It stands on its own as agitprop-cum-entertainment for the far right, which is filled with armchair revolutionaries whose favorite fantasies involve the same elements used in this video: attractive people, video-game-like locations, nightmarish bureaucracies and the world-changing power of their own oratory. “Let our lives be the spark that ignites the fire of liberty,” the protagonist shouts at one point. His words resonate with memories of historical heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice rather than yield to tyranny.

“I would so totally do that,” a right-wing fantasy rebel might mutter in response.

“We are a movement on fire!” the video’s hero shouts as a crowd cheers. “Will you take up the torch?” Absolutely, our viewer mumbles to himself … “Hey, I hear they’re serving free hors d’ouevres at the Pajamas Media booth….”

But this video’s imagery will have special resonance for American evangelicals who believe the End Times are near. “Movement on Fire” draws heavily on the so-called “Tribulation” films of the 1970s and 1980s. Among the earliest and best-known of these films are A Thief in the NightDistant ThunderImage of the Beast and The Prodigal Planet, all of which were made by Iowa-based Russell S. Doughten Jr.

Doughten’s previous film credits were limited to an associate producer credit forThe Blob (the original Steve McQueen version) and production duties for grindhouse productions The Hostage and Fever Heat. But Christian filmmaking proved to be his forte. Doughten’s website claims that “over six million have come to Christ through our motion pictures,” and while the figure can’t be independently verified, many Christians in their 30s and 40s recall being terrified by the films when they were young.

All but unknown outside evangelical circles, Doughten’s films became required viewing in many homes, religious schools, and churches. Other filmmakers soon followed in Doughten’s footsteps with films like Mark of the Beast and Years of the Beast.

Continue here…

Gun Violence · Newtown Shootings · President Obama

Obama On Gun Violence: ‘Shame On Us If We’ve Forgotten’ Newtown

The POTUS made some good points in his speech…

The Huffington Post

President Barack Obama pressed Congress on Thursday not to forget the heartbreak of the Newtown elementary school massacre and “get squishy” on tightened gun laws, though some lawmakers in his own Democratic Party remain a tough sell on an approaching Senate vote to expand purchasers’ background checks.

“Shame on us if we’ve forgotten,” Obama said at the White House, standing amid 21 mothers who have lost children to shootings. “I haven’t forgotten those kids.”

More than three months after 20 first-graders and six staffers were killed in Newtown, Conn., Obama urged the nation to pressure lawmakers to back what he called the best chance in over a decade to tame firearms violence.

At the same time, gun control groups were staging a “Day to Demand Action” with more than 100 rallies and other events planned from Connecticut to California. This was on top of a $12 million TV ad campaign financed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that has been pressuring senators in 13 states to tighten background-check rules.

But if political momentum was building after the nightmarish December shootings, it has flagged as the Senate prepares to debate gun restrictions next month. Thanks to widespread Republican resistance and a wariness by moderate Democrats from Southern and Western states – including six who are facing re-election next year – a proposed assault weapons ban seems doomed and efforts to broaden background checks and bar high capacity ammunition magazines are in question.

In one statement that typifies moderate Democrats’ caution, spokesman Kevin Hall said Virginia Sen. Mark Warner is “still holding conversations with Virginia stakeholders and sorting through issues on background checks” and proposals on assault weapons and magazines.

Continue here…

 

Gun Control · Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz: We’ll Use ‘Any Procedural Means Necessary’ To Thwart Gun Control

TPM LiveWire

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) issued a statement Thursday vowing to use “any procedural means necessary” to thwart President Obama’s gun reforms in the Senate, after the president pushed Congress on Thursday to act.

“In any conversation about how to prevent future tragedies such as Sandy Hook, our focus should be on stopping criminals from obtaining guns. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has failed to make this a priority — in 2010, out of more than 15,700 fugitives and felons who tried to illegally purchase a firearm, the Obama Justice Department prosecuted only 44. That is unacceptable.

“It is saddening to see the President today, once again, try to take advantage of this tragic murder to promote an agenda that will do nothing to stop violent crime, but will undermine the constitutional rights of all law-abiding Americans. I am committed to working with Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, and Jim Inhofe–and I hope many other colleagues–to use any procedural means necessary to protect those fundamental rights.”