Friday, January 4, 2013

President Obama's Worst Day

The President learns of the Newtown shootings from Counter-terrorism Adviser,
John Brennan, by White House photographer, Pete Souza
from David A. Graham at The Atlantic
It wasn't the day the Congressman yelled "You lie!" Not the day of the 2010 election. Not the rise of the tea party or all the occasions when people attacked him and his family often on ugly racist grounds. It was the day he learned about twenty young schoolchildren and six of their adult protectors gunned down by a crazed gunman with semi-automatic pistols and rifle.

Why, why, why do we allow this in America? Yes, we almost all recognize the need for better health care, better screening, better family attention to the mental health of each member of the family. But we also need to recognize our obsession with guns making the Second Amendment into something it was never intended to mean - a free, unrestricted, individual right to weapons of mass destruction far beyond the imaginations of any Founder's original intent.

There is a gun obsession that makes no sense to the wide majority of Americans that do not have it. Yet it is one of the prime value concerns of those who do. I recently checked the NRA webpage and they only claim less than 4 million members. I'm sure there are a few million more that share some of the gun obsession of unrestricted firearms. But that is still a small minority in this country. And not all NRA members even agree with the extreme positions, certainly not all gun owners (as for instance, yours truly). 

In an interesting holiday conversation which I have to shield to protect identities, a gun advocate asked a serious question to us others about what we thought the solution was to the school violence problem. A very much respected conservative and quiet member of our group stated that we need better mental health attention and treatments and could see no use for the assault-type weapons used in the Newtown killings. The gun advocate went on to defend the "fun" of such weapons, even for rabbit shooting which sort of ended the delicate conversation with uncomfortable twitters of laughter from most everyone else.

Better attention to mental health in background checks and treatments are certainly something that we could all come together on. I know it's a bit more difficult politically to get to the assault weapon bans and limits on ammunition clip sizes for these weapons. But these are issues we have to try as some in the 113th Congress have already introduced such legislation. More importantly, is a larger philosophical discussion of what meaning and purpose guns have in our society. As constitutionally protected tools for the piercing of living flesh, I have my doubts. But the mixture of mental illness, powerful weapons, and a philosophy of problem solving with such powerful "tools" needs some serious thought.

Back to the picture. I can't help it and I have no idea how Mr. Souza positioned himself to take that photo. I seriously doubt he positioned the President in any way. But note what is behind the President. A painting of Washington and a bust of Lincoln. 

Lincoln by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (National Park Service)
I can't help but notice a similarity of mournful expression in our 16th and 44th Presidents. 

We could all use a "new birth of freedom." Maybe like spiritual rebirth, it is a process or repeated event. It is too late but unnecessary for those twenty innocent school children (See Moroni 8). "It is, rather for us, the living" to remember them and "that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain. . . ."

Moment of Silence one week after Newtown, from left, are:
Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer; Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett; the President;
the Lincoln Bust; Chief of Staff Jack Lew; and Pete Rouse, Counselor to the President.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President with the siblings and cousins of Emilie Parker,
one of the 20 children who died that day in Newtown, buried in Ogden, Utah.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


  1. Why does the little girl in the middle wearing the black and red dress look exactly like Emilie Parker wearing the same dress in this family picture?

    1. I usually send crazy conspiracy-minded comments directly to spam. But in this case I will make an exception because your conspiracy theory is so offensive.

      Answer to your question:

      Because that is her little sister wearing her older sister's hand-me-down dress. The Parkers are a Mormon family and that is a very common practice. Not just among Mormons, but a lot of families with several children. And the little sister just happens to look a lot like her older sister. Same gene pool and all.

      Emilie Parker was buried here in Ogden, Utah after her innocent life was snuffed out by bullets ripping through her body. Please go away and take your outrageously offensive conspiracy with you.

    2. I apologize for loosing my cool. If that was an innocent question, please accept my apology. But if it was an attempt to promote conspiracies theories, well, I feel the same, just a little more calmed down now. And I will not entertain anymore comments on this posting. I'm shutting it down.


Comments are welcome. Feel free to disagree as many do. You can even be passionate (in moderation). Comments that contain offensive language, too many caps, conspiracy theories, gratuitous Mormon bashing, personal attacks on others who comment, or commercial solicitations- I send to spam. This is a troll-free zone. Charity always!