Thursday Reads: Another Mass Shooting Followed by Nothing but “Thoughts and Prayers”

Students evacuate Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Wednesday.

Good Afternoon, Sky Dancers.

It’s another heartbreaking day in Trump world, in the GOP-controlled USA, where the ability to buy semi-automatic rifles is more important than the health and safety of our children. Why is that? Because the Republican Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the NRA. And Russia: let’s not forget that Russia is in bed with the NRA too.

CNBC: NRA, Russia and Trump: How ‘dark money’ is poisoning American democracy.

It was recently revealed that the FBI is investigating the National Rifle Association to determine whether a Russian central banker, and Putin ally, illegally funneled money through the organization to help the Trump campaign.

These allegations have now prompted a complaint to the Federal Election Commission and an effort by Sen. Ron Wyden to obtain documents from the Treasury Department and the NRA. As shocking as other Russia-related revelations have been — attempts to hack voting machines, vast Internet propaganda, leaking of stolen campaign information — this allegation illustrates a problem of even broader scope. For legal consultation, contact Maryland birth injury lawyers.

Although much of the reporting on Russia has focused on whether there was “collusion” with the Trump campaign — a genuine concern — the investigation is also revealing another disquieting reality: that American democracy has a money laundering problem. On other law related article about accidents and injuries just visit Call 1800-Car-Wreck in Ft Worth, TX.

Both in their personal finances and in their campaign support, politicians are relying on money hidden to the public, money which threatens to make them answerable to interests beyond those of the citizens they represent. The only way to combat this problem is to start shining a light on the dark corners of our politics….

Moreover, in the case of the NRA, the FBI is now investigating whether illicit funds were spent in support of Trump’s political campaign. Wehave long warned that our broken system of campaign finance disclosure creates opportunities for foreign governments to illegally influence American elections, undetected.

The NRA is among the largest “dark money” organizations, reporting the greatest amount of campaign spending without revealing the source of the funds — over $35 million in the 2016 election cycle alone. Still, this amount was just a fraction of the over $175 million in reportedcampaign-related spending that came from unknown sources.

Could this explain why some Republicans who have spoken out against Trump (e.g., Lindsey Graham and Bob Corker) have suddenly switched to sucking up? Are they being blackmailed by Trump, the NRA, or Russia?

Here’s another article on the NRA and Russia by Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone: The Trump-Russia-NRA Connection: Here’s What You Need to Know.

The National Rifle Association spent tens of millions of dollars backing Trump’s presidential bid in 2016. The NRA endorsed Trump in May 2016. And the NRA disclosed it spent at least $30 million on Trump’s behalf and attacking Hillary Clinton. That level of support is unprecedented – more than twice what the NRA disclosed it spent on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential run.

The true sum the NRA spent to install Trump in the White House may be far higher. Campaign finance disclosures do not cover spending on unregulated Internet advertising or voter mobilization; citing two sources close to the gun group, McClatchy suggests the NRA may have spent upwards of $70 million on Trump’s presidential bid.

President Trump is clearly indebted: “You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you,” Trump promised the NRA at its 2017 convention. “I will never, ever let you down.” [….]

In the age of Citizens United and unlimited campaign donations, the NRA has emerged as an important “dark money” hub in Republican politics. Under its tax code designation, the NRA is a “social welfare” organization, largely exempt from disclosing its donors. To skirt disclosure, other big-dollar political players – including a SuperPAC linked to Karl Rove and a “chamber of commerce” controlled by the Koch Brothers – have routinely steered money into the NRA, confident that the gun group’s spending will advance the GOP cause.

It is illegal, however, for foreign money to be used to influence U.S. elections. According to McClatchy, the heart of the FBI investigation is whether the NRA became a conduit for Russian cash, linked to the Kremlin, that bolstered Trump.

Trump was the perfect candidate for Russia and the NRA, because he has no moral values whatsoever. He’s the culmination of the GOP sellout that began with the Southern strategy, grew with the acceptance of evangelical “christian” “values,” and reached peak evil by bowing down to Russia in 2016. There’s no hope for our country as long as Republicans remain in control of the government. We will continue to see mass shootings on an almost daily basis until we can get turn these NRA/Russia-controlled automatons out of office.

How many more times will we have to see scenes of children running for their lives and sobbing in their parents’ arms on our TV and computer screens? Writing about yesterday’s disaster in Parkland, Florida feels nearly unbearable; but I guess I at least have to post some articles about it. So here we go.

The New York Times: Death Toll Is at 17 and Could Rise in Shooting.

PARKLAND, Fla. — A heavily armed young man barged into his former high school about an hour northwest of Miami on Wednesday, opening fire on terrified students and teachers and leaving a death toll of 17 that could rise even higher, the authorities said.

Students huddled in horror in their classrooms, with some of them training their cellphones on the carnage, capturing sprawled bodies, screams and gunfire that began with a few shots and then continued with more and more. The dead included students and adults, some of whom were shot outside the school and others inside the sprawling three-story building.

A father embraced his daughter after being reunited outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday. Credit Saul Martinez for The New York Times

The gunman, armed with a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle, was identified as Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old who had been expelled from the school, the authorities said. He began his shooting rampage outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in this suburban neighborhood shortly before dismissal time around 2:40 p.m. He then made his way inside and proceeded down hallways he knew well, firing at students and teachers who were scurrying for cover, the authorities said.

By the end of the rampage, Mr. Cruz had killed 12 people inside the school and three outside it, including someone standing on a street corner, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. Two more victims died of their injuries in local hospitals. The aftermath at the school was an eerie shrine, with chairs upended, a computer screen shattered with bullet holes and floors stained with blood.

On Thursday, the authorities charged Mr. Cruz with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

“This is catastrophic,” said Sheriff Israel, who has three children who graduated from the high school. “There really are no words.”

Here are some words: let’s clean house of the blood-soaked Republicans who care more about their blood money than about democracy or our children’s lives. Then let’s pass some intelligent gun control laws so we don’t have to have any more bloody massacres in our children’s schools.

John Cassidy at The New Yorker: America’s Failure to Protect Its Children from School Shootings Is a National Disgrace. Following a summary of the events of the mass shooting, Cassidy writes:

On Twitter, President Donald Trump offered his “prayers and condolences to the families of the victims,” adding that “no child, teacher, or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” Fox News interviewed Marco Rubio, Florida’s junior senator, who has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association. “I hope people reserve judgment…. The facts of this are important,” Rubio said. As soon as the facts are clear, Rubio went on, “we can have a deeper conversation about why these things happen.” The forty-six-year-old Republican added, “It’s a terrible situation. It’s amazing the amount of carnage that one individual can carry out in such a short period of time.”

Getty Images

Yet some pertinent facts are already known. According to local police, Cruz was armed with an AR-15 assault-style rifle—the same type of gun that Adam Lanza used to kill twenty-six pupils and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in December, 2012. Evidently, Rubio still isn’t aware of the power of such weapons, which fire bullets that can penetrate a steel helmet from a distance of five hundred yards. When fired from close range at civilians who aren’t wearing body armor, the bullets from an AR-15 don’t merely penetrate the human body—they tear it apart. It “looks like a grenade went off in there,” Peter Rhee, a trauma surgeon at the University of Arizona, told Wired.

To spare the families of the victims—and the public at large—additional anguish, these sorts of details are often glossed over in the aftermath of mass shootings. But it’s surely long past time that we acknowledged these facts, and that we begin to more fully discuss the complicity of N.R.A.-backed politicians like Rubio, and Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, in maintaining the environment that allows these tragedies to happen again and again and again.

One of the first duties of any government is to protect its citizens, through collective action, from violent threats they’d otherwise have to fend off themselves. Even most libertarians accept this principle. But when it comes to mass shootings, the Republican Party falls back on constitutional arguments that have no proper basis in history, and it refuses to budge from this stance. Nothing can shift it—not Sandy Hook, not the Orlando night-club shooting, not the Las Vegas massacre, not weekly shootings in schools. (According to the Guardian, Wednesday’s attack in Parkland was the eighth school shooting this year that has resulted in death or injury.) Nothing.

That’s right. And nothing will happen this time. Absolutely nothing.

More reads, links only

The New York Times: After Sandy Hook, More Than 400 People Have Been Shot in Over 200 School Shootings.

The Miami Herald: Amid massacre, a story of courage: Football coach stepped in front of bullets, reports say.

The Miami Herald: Florida school shooting suspect was ex-student who was flagged as threat.

Buzz Feed: The FBI Was Warned About A School Shooting Threat From A YouTube User Named Nikolas Cruz In September.

The Daily Beast: Florida Shooter Made Sick Use of School’s Active-Shooter Drill.

NBC News: Who is Nikolas Cruz? Florida school shooter joked about guns and worried classmates.

Business Insider: A student shared chilling photos trapped inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the shooting.

That’s all I have for today. Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.

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54 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Another Mass Shooting Followed by Nothing but “Thoughts and Prayers””

  1. bostonboomer says:

    From the NBC article on the Nikolas Cruz

    The young man charged with killing 17 people at his former Florida high school worried some of his classmates, talking about his guns and sharing pictures of small animals he shot.

    He had a “very disturbing” social media presence and had been expelled from school, officials said, supplying new details on the life of Nikolas Cruz, the accused shooter….

    Cruz “threatened to bring the guns to school multiple times,” senior Eddie Bonilla said. Other students, he said, “threw jokes around that he’d be the one to shoot up the school.”

    Julien Decoste, also a senior, said Cruz sometimes posted pictures on his Instagram feed of “dead lizards and stuff that he shot.”

    That Instagram page also has pictures of a figure, face obscured by bandannas and holding knives. Another shows a young man, presumably Cruz, holding a pistol, although it’s not clear whether the gun is real.

    And the FBI was warned about him. Did they interview him? If not, why not?

  2. bostonboomer says:

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  3. Minkoff Minx says:

    Put this here.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    • dakinikat says:

      I put more on this below …

      • quixote says:

        Apparently ADL has said this may have been a trolling attempt aimed at network news and that a connection to alt-right, however plausible, has not actually been shown.

        Time to exercise judgment-reserving muscles until people have time to trace back who exactly is telling us about these connections.

  5. The students who lived through this nightmare showed greater courage and maturity than any Republican ever will.
    The comments by the father of a survivor last night on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell should be heard by the entire Congress. I’m unable to post the link, but the video is easy to find. Just heartbreaking.

  6. Fannie says:

    This whole thing just puts me into a rage.

  7. dakinikat says:

  8. dakinikat says:

    • jan says:

      Yes, I think that along with making laws to prevent this we need to have a propaganda machine sending out the message that any man who would take an gun and shoot kids or anyone is lacking in the cajones department. That it is a sign of this birth defect and lack of function of manhood. You know, a man with small hands and other male deficiencies.

  9. Pat Johnson says:

    Can someone explain to me the need to be able to purchase automatic weapons? Guns that can shoot 30 rounds a minute?

    This kid was also in possession of multiple magazines he was able to purchase without a blink of an eye.

    • Enheduanna says:

      My first college was a military college, although I was never in the ROTC program and there were “civilian” students. I’ll never forget taking to a cadet in the student union building once as he described the latest automatic weapons and what they could do. He was glowing with awe and probably couldn’t wait to get his hands on one. This was at the tail-end of the Viet Nam era. It was like it was a toy to him. So young and of course he’d never seen what those weapons could do for real. I was horrified.

      There is no need to purchase but for the GOP and the NRA there is a mandate to sell an unlimited supply of any type of weapon to anyone.

    • NW Luna says:

      Over and over reasonable people say there is no excuse for civilians being able to buy weapons which “fire bullets that can penetrate a steel helmet from a distance of five hundred yards.” The NRA and gun-lovers yell that it’s their right to have military weapons. Deadly toys to bolster their insecurity. Deadly toys to kill with.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Trump’s public statement was disgusting. He spoke in a monotone and showed no emotion. Now he plans to go down to Parkland. I don’t think he’ll be welcomed with open arms.

    • bostonboomer says:

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      • NW Luna says:

        No, wouldn’t want to jump to the assumption that children were massacred with military-style weapons.

        Fck you Ryan.

        • Pat Johnson says:

          I am of the opinion that he is even worse then Trump because he is not stupid.

          He believes he can be POTUS one day so he is standing firm with the donors who can make it possible.

          I detest him as much as I do Trump.

          • Enheduanna says:

            Ryan is not smart. He was publicized as a policy wonk, but his budgets never added up. Anyone who thinks Ayn Rand is to be admired is not a wise person. He doesn’t seem to have evolved from adolescence.

            I can’t find it but the picture of him with weights and his baseball cap turned backwards comes to mind. Universal sign of stupid.

          • bostonboomer says:

            I don’t think he’s smart either. I don’t know how he got that reputation.

      • Enheduanna says:

        It’s been a whole day now. We know the guy was a white supremacist. We know the guy used an automatic weapon. The more they keep vomiting NRA talking points the more ridiculous they look. “Not the time yet” my a$$. And they’re doubling down on the mental illness thing. They will blame anything but insane access to firearms and the greed of gun manufacturers, sellers and politicians.

  11. bostonboomer says:

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    • teele says:

      “Thoughts and prayers.” “Not the time to talk about it now.” “Dems trying to politicize a tragedy.” The Thugs have these responses recorded on a loop, and play them every time we have another white boy terror attack.
      I am not a believer, but it really grinds me to see these f-wads using the word “prayers.” No individual who had even a single iota of faith would be able to take money from an organization that encourages child-murder and think there isn’t an eternal hell awaiting them. Fancy houses, fast cars, purchased sex, illegal drugs — all derived from the mutilated bodies of children, the devastation of families, the terrorizing of communities. The god they are offering prayers to must be an evil, sick, filthy demon.

  12. bostonboomer says:

    Charles Pierce: The Currency of Trumpism Is Insincerity.

    Strangely, no president elected in my lifetime has a better sense of the violence that is marbled throughout American culture than this one does. He knows it because he used it to get elected. He knows it because he saw it in the blazing eyes of the people at his rabid rallies. He knows it because, quite frankly, he is addicted to the thrill of it.

    Because of that, he supercharged a politics in which sincerity already was a sucker’s game, a tactic to be derided and mocked. Because of that, nobody expects him to mean what he says, because that would mark you as a sap who believes that politics can be a constructive endeavor, and that government, whatever its faults, is something to which we all contribute, even those people who don’t think they’re contributing at all.

    I could tick off a dozen ways in which the president* was being deceptive on Thursday. He talked about the crisis in mental health. However, his budget cuts deeply into Medicaid, which is how a great deal of the mental healthcare in this country is provided. He is summoning people to the White House—Soon!—to talk about mental health. I wonder if they’ll discuss how, last February, he signed an order reversing an Obama-era directive that had made it more difficult for people with mental illness to obtain a firearm.

  13. bostonboomer says:

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    • NW Luna says:

      “terrorist attack by a White Supremacist Trump supporter”

      I want to hear those words used by the media. Also, they should quit using “school shooting.” It’s too much of a euphemism. Call it what it is: “massacre of schoolchildren.” More accurately “Schoolchildren massacred in a white terrorist attack.”

    • Enheduanna says:

      Is that Cruz with his face wrapped up? That is grotesque. If he really does suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome or something similar (a lot of serial killers have frontal lobe damage) – then I think it’s a tragedy upon a tragedy. A damaged person sucked into a vicious cult with roots in toxic masculinity. You know – “nice people”.

  14. Pat Johnson says:

    My cable is out and the tech from Comcast cannot get here until tomorrow morning so I am unable to watch anything going on.

    I did pick up President Stupid’s remarks on the computer. He is such an ass,

    • bostonboomer says:

      I turned the TV off until I can get past my anger. I’m going to try to read something lightweight this afternoon.

  15. bostonboomer says:

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  16. RonStill4Hills says:

    I have seen a couple comments from these gun fetish apology bots arguing how society , mental health care, educators, social services, blah blah blah are to blame, not guns and gun culture.
    Nice try trolls. If a liberal even thought about blaming society, even silently in their head, the conservative law and order Nazis would shit he selves.
    Was that a Make America White Again hat I saw? Yeah, (Ras)Putin and his sock puppet Trumpkin and the NRA have to be loving it. They may actually destroy the Republic this time.

  17. Enheduanna says:

    I was looking for this yesterday – tRump and Sessions are deliberately ignoring white supremacist terrorism:

    https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/trump-actually-slashed-funding-fight-white-supremacist-violence-prior-florida

    They cut funding at DHS, renamed the department and shifted focus to Islamic extremism

    Also I’m seeing that the group claiming to have trained Cruz may be lying – apparently these groups like to create confusion.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      I heard that on the radio this morning. The militia thing is unconfirmed. The Trump Support is legit though. “Make America. White Again” hats don’t lie.