We begin with an editorial from The Oklahoman
on yesterday's deadly tornado, a tornado that has claimed the lives of at least 91 people, including some 20 schoolchildren. It's a powerful, poignant take on the tragedy:
How awesome and furious was this fresh show of celestial fury, in a different century yet seemingly in the same place. That more lives weren't lost on that Monday and this one is a tribute to the preparedness that Oklahomans have built into their thinking.
Now come the sad stories, the heartrending deaths of young and old, the miracles and the survivals, as the black funnel wraps itself in grief. Now come the recovery, the selfless deeds, the sacrificial giving and the comforting words. This is a time when patience is the supreme virtue and thoughtfulness second to none. Homes will be rebuilt and families brought back together, but it will take years to restore normalcy. Talk of closure and healing is premature.
The hurts are impaled on our consciousness. The wrath of weather on full display reminds us that there are forces that do not answer to man. We are at their mercy and all we can do is ask for mercy.
AP Photographer Sue Ogrocki
describes the scene at the school destroyed by the tornado:
Crews lifted one boy from under the wall and were about to pass him along the human chain, but his dad was there. As the boy called out for him, they were reunited.
In the 30 minutes I was outside the destroyed school, I photographed about a dozen children pulled from under the rubble.
I focused my lens each one of them. Some looked dazed. Some cried. Others seemed terrified.
But they were alive.
I know students are among those who died in the tornado, but for a moment, there was hope in the devastation.
Meanwhile, Senator Tom Coburn is getting absolutely slammed on his Facebook page
for claiming that disaster relief should be offset with budget cuts. John Aravosis
over at AMERICABlog adds his take:
Yes, Coburn is taking his own constituents hostage as budget-cutting human shields.[...] I suppose one could try to argue that Coburn’s cold-hearted ideological consistency in the face of 24 dead children is refreshing. But I’d call it heartless. And it’s systematic of the larger problem the Republican party is having at the national level. They just don’t like people. And it’s starting to show.
More on the day's top stories below the fold.
Switching topics, the general consensus now that scandal-palooza has hit its stride is that the GOP may be overreaching in its
Conservative Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor for National Review:
Watch the way the Republicans are handling today’s controversies and it’s easy to see how their tactics could backfire again. You would expect that Senator Lindsey Graham, who helped to lead the impeachment proceedings against Clinton, had learned to be cautious in pursuing a scandal. Yet he decided to tie the Benghazi investigation explicitly to the 2016 presidential race, saying that the controversy would doom Hillary Clinton. If Graham were a Democratic plant trying to make the investigation look like a merely partisan exercise, he couldn’t have done better. [...]
The biggest danger for Republicans in giving themselves over to scandal mania is one that the conventional retelling of the Clinton impeachment neglects. Republicans didn’t lose seats simply because they overreached on Clinton’s perjury. [...] Social Security was the top issue for more than twice as many voters, and Republicans lost that issue by 18 percentage points. Even more voters cared about education, which Republicans lost by 34 points. They lost on health care and the economy by similar margins. [...] [T]hey didn’t try to devise a popular agenda, or to make their existing positions less unpopular. That’s what cost them -- that, and the mistake of counting on statistics about sixth-year elections, which also bred complacency.
Republicans have similar vulnerabilities on the issues now. They have no real health-care agenda. Voters don’t trust them to look out for middle-class economic interests. Republicans are confused and divided about how to solve the party’s problems. What they can do is unite in opposition to the Obama administration’s scandals and mistakes. So that’s what they’re doing. They’re trying to win news cycles when they need votes.
[L]et’s not forget: Republicans failed to capitalize on President Bill Clinton’s inappropriate conduct by over-playing their hand and pushing impeachment. Not only did they fail to drive him from office, the GOP ended up losing a handful of House seats in the 1998 midterms instead of adding seats as initially expected.
Republicans allowed themselves to look as if they were primarily interested in scoring political points and overturning the results of the 1996 election, even if it meant paralyzing the government.
That same danger exists once again for the GOP.
Hidden under the mountain of faux scandals, however, is a pretty real one: the revelation that the Justice Department obtained warrants for phone and email records for James Rosen of FOX News while also tracking his movements. Eugene Robinson
at The Washington Post
explains why that revelation is so disturbing:
Obviously, the government has a duty to protect genuine secrets. But the problem is that every administration, without exception, tends to misuse the “top secret” stamp — sometimes from an overabundance of caution, sometimes to keep inconvenient or embarrassing information from coming to light. [...] Rosen has not been charged. Every investigative reporter, however, has been put on notice.[...]
A federal “shield” law protecting reporters from having to divulge their sources means nothing if it includes an exception for cases involving national security, as Obama favors. The president needs to understand that behavior commonly known as “whistleblowing” and “journalism” must not be construed as espionage.
Finally, on the issue of college debt relief, Robert Kuttner
writes at The Huffington Post
that a mass movement on the issue is long overdue:
The austerity crusade seems impervious to both logic and evidence. It will give way only when there is a popular counter-movement of real power.
It seems to me that a mass movement for relief of college debt could be such a movement. Some 37 million students and former students have college loans, totaling more than a trillion dollars. And tens of millions of parents who were required to co-sign loans for their kids are at risk of students fall behind on their payments.
That's a lot of people -- college-educated people in their prime of life. Politicians need to hear from them. An entire generation is failing to get economic traction in a weak job market. College debt only adds to the delay young adults face in buying homes or starting families. This is not an abstract ideological proposition. It is up close and personal.