Lazy Saturday Reads: Students March for Their Lives (and other news)

By 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, a large crowd had already gathered for the March for Our Lives event in Washington on Saturday. Credit Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Happy Saturday!!

Today is the “March For Our Lives” in Washington DC to demand serious legislation to deal with the scourge of gun violence. There will be hundreds of other marches around the country and around the world. A couple of basic articles:

The Washington Post: March for Our Lives: The nation’s capital has been preparing for weeks. Today, the voices will rise.

Students, teachers, parents and survivors of mass shootings streamed into Washington Saturday for the March for Our Lives, a demonstration against gun violence that could draw hundreds of thousands of protesters to the nation’s capital.

The march is part of a surge of political activism that has transformed America’s entrenched debate over gun violence. It was organized by students who survived the mass shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who hope to succeed where many adults have failed: By forcing Congress and the president to pass a comprehensive gun-control bill that will improve school safety.

Hundreds of sister protests are taking place in cities across the U.S., including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The main demonstration in Washington is scheduled to run from noon to 3 p.m. on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Marchers gather in Boston

The New York Times: March for Our Lives: Students Protesting Guns Say ‘We Just Have Our Lives to Lose’

Tens of thousands of people, outraged by a recent massacre at a South Florida school and energized by the students who survived, prepared to spill out in public protest in Washington and communities across the world on Saturday as they call for an end to gun violence.

The student activists, many of them sharp-tongued and defiant in the face of politicians and gun lobbyists, have kept attention on the issue in a time of renewed political activism on the left, as they helped lead a national school walkout and pushed state officials in Floridato enact gun legislation.

On Friday, the Justice Department proposed banning so-called bump stocks, but President Trump signed a spending bill that included only some background check and school safety measures. The effectiveness of the students’ efforts will be measured, in part, on the success of Saturday’s events — their most ambitious show of force yet.

Here’s what we’re watching as protests unfurl around the globe:

• More than 800 protests are planned in every American state and on every continent except for Antarctica, according to a website set up by organizersHere’s a map of planned protests.

• The National Park Service has approved a permit for the Washington march, which estimates 500,000 people could attend. Called March for Our Lives, the main event there kicks off around midday, and some of the most prominent student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where a shooting left 17 dead last month, will speak.

Heather Egeland Martin, 36, and Ashley Egeland, 34

In the buildup to the march, there have been a number of good stories about survivors of previous school shootings. The best one I’ve read was in Glamour Magazine: Two Columbine Survivors on Life After a Mass Shooting, and Being at the Lead of ‘The Columbine Generation’.

“We call B.S.,” Emma Gonzales shouted, mesmerizing the crowd—and the nation—just one day after a shooter killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. “They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call B.S.!”

The student walkouts that took place across the country today were a breathtaking display of activism for González, her fellow survivors, and other student crusaders. They have accomplished much since Nikolas Cruz turned their Valentine’s Day to carnage: They’ve faced down politicians from Florida’s capitol to Washington, D.C., mobilized the upcoming national March for Our Lives, (complete with merch and Oprah donations), and helped pass a law that raises the age for buying firearms in Florida from 18 to 21—NRA lawsuits be damned.

But after the march on the 24th, will the country fade back to apathy as it has after so many mass other shootings? And what will life really be like for students of Parkland after the media lights fade?

We asked sisters Heather Egeland Martin, 36, and Ashley Egeland, 34, who were both students at Columbine High School when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold showed up with guns under their trench coats and left 15 people dead. At that time, Columbine was one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history; it was also the first to happen in the digital age, with real-time cell phone calls from inside the schools. Since that day in 1999, U.S. students—the Columbine Generation—have never known school to be safe from terror.

It’s been nearly 19 years since Columbine, and both Ashley and Heather are still recovering. They know it can be a long road ahead.

Heather and Ashley talk about their long journeys after major trauma–through eating disorders and drug addiction to recovery. But the trauma itself never goes away. As a survivor of early childhood trauma, I really identified with these women’s stories. The article brought me to tears. I hope you’ll read it.

A few more to check out:

Virginia Tech massacre survivor Lisa Hamp (Photo by Rod Lamkey Jr.)

The Atlantic: My Life Since the 2007 Virginia Tech Shooting: Lisa Hamp’s Story.

Vox: They survived Columbine. Then came Sandy Hook. And Parkland.

Vox: “I hope you know that it’s not that we didn’t try”: a Columbine and Parkland survivor talk.

NPR: 20 Years Later, Jonesboro Shooting Survivors Conflicted Over Parkland.

Trump has fled to Palm Beach, where he’ll hole up and try to ignore the protesters and the 60 Minutes interview with Stormy Daniels tomorrow night. Once again, Melania refused to ride with her husband on the helicopter to Air Force One. CNN:

The day after a CNN interview with a former Playboy model who claims to have had a 10-month affair with her husband, first lady Melania Trump opted to leave President Donald Trump alone for the ride from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base.

The official White House schedule, released Thursday evening, stated the first couple would depart the White House together aboard Marine One en route to Joint Base Andrews, but Mrs. Trump did not appear beside her husband. CNN reached out to the first lady’s communications office for an explanation or comment on the change in plan but did not receive a response.
According to CNN, Melania plans to stay in Palm Beach for the entire week with her son Barron, who is on spring break.

As he flew out of town, Trump left the government of our once-great nation in turmoil.

The New York Times: After Another Week of Chaos, Trump Repairs to Palm Beach. No One Knows What Comes Next.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump decamped to his oceanfront estate here on Friday after a head-spinning series of presidential decisions on national securitytrade and the budget that left the capital reeling and his advisers nervous about what comes next.

The decisions attested to a president riled up by cable news and unbound. Mr. Trump appeared heedless of his staff, unconcerned about Washington decorum, or the latest stock market dive, and confident of his instincts. He seemed determined to set the agenda himself, even if that agenda looked like a White House in disarray.

Inside the West Wing, aides described an atmosphere of bewildered resignation as they grappled with the all-too-familiar task of predicting and reacting in real time to Mr. Trump’s shifting moods.

Aides said there was no grand strategy to the president’s actions, and that he got up each morning this week not knowing what he would do. Much as he did as a New York businessman at Trump Tower, Mr. Trump watched television, reacted to what he saw on television and then reacted to the reaction.

Aides said he was still testing his limits as president while also feeling embattled by incoming fire — from Congress, the Russia investigation, foreign entanglements, a potential trade war and a pornographic film actress and a Playboy model who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump and were paid to keep quiet.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Yesterday morning Trump threatened on Twitter that he was thinking about vetoing the just-passed omnibus spending bill, which the White House staff had worked out with both Republicans and Democrats. Then he called a “press conference” at which he whined about the spending bill that he had finally agreed to sign and then refused to answer any questions from the press. It was a pathetic, disgusting display of temper.

David A. Graham writes at The Atlantic: Trump Can’t Get What He Wants and Doesn’t Know Why.

“I’ve signed this omnibus budget bill. There are a lot of things I’m unhappy about in this bill,” Trump said. “But I say to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again. I’m not going to do it again.” [….]

Over and over again, he talked about defense spending, including reading through a litany of what would be allocated for specific craft in the bill. (“The tanker aircraft is very important based on everything.”) Though there’s little evidence that large swaths of the population are concerned about a dearth of military spending, Trump sounded like a garbled John F. Kennedy, with everything but missile gaps popping up.

The reason became apparent at the very end of the press statement. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was present and spoke briefly, and it seems he convinced the president to sign the bill despite his reservations. As Trump left, reporters shouted out questions, and the president said, “I looked very seriously at the veto. I was thinking about doing the veto. But because of the incredible gains we’ve been able to make for the military, that overrode any of our thinking.”

Trump also demanded that the Senate eliminate the filibuster, and called for the return of the line-item veto, the presidential tool ruled unconstitutional in 1998.

Graham writes that Trump simply doesn’t understand how legislation works and he isn’t interested in learning.

Trump’s grandiose, semi-authoritarian claim, “I alone can fix it,” in his speech accepting the 2016 Republican nomination was a subject of intense criticism, but in retrospect it seems to have represented not so much a vision of how Trump could transform the presidency but a mistaken impression of how the presidency already worked. Though political scientists and some journalists have explained clearly how the power of the bully pulpit is badly overrated, this was yet another case in which Trump had not carefully studied the realities of politics.

He seems to have subscribed, and may still subscribe, to an extreme version of what Matt Yglesias termed the “Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency,” in which presidents are superheroes who get what they want through sheer force of will. This is not, however, the way Washington really works, and while Trump has experienced that, he doesn’t seem to have quite come to understand it, thus his fury and threat on the spending bill Friday.

If Trump wanted to affect the text of the bill, he had ways to do it. He could have gotten intensely involved in the negotiation process early. He could have presented a budget that represented something like an opening volley in a negotiation, rather than a utopian scheme that Congress was never going to take seriously. But Trump has shown no appetite or patience for rolling up his sleeves and getting into the nitty-gritty. He’d rather make threats from the White House when it’s too late to change anything.

There’s more at the link. It’s a good piece, well worth a read.

What stories are you following today? What are your thoughts on the marches? Whatever you’re up to, have a great weekend.

19 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: Students March for Their Lives (and other news)”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Andrew McCabe wrote about his firing and the aftermath at the WaPo.

    Andrew McCabe: Not in my worst nightmares did I dream my FBI career would end this way

    So, after two decades of public service, I found out that I had been fired in the most disembodied, impersonal way — third-hand, based on a news account. Shortly after getting word, I noticed an email from a Justice Department official in my work account, telling me that I had been “removed from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the civil service.”

    I have been accused of “lack of candor.” That is not true. I did not knowingly mislead or lie to investigators. When asked about contacts with a reporter that were fully within my power to authorize as deputy director, and amid the chaos that surrounded me, I answered questions as completely and accurately as I could. And when I realized that some of my answers were not fully accurate or may have been misunderstood, I took the initiative to correct them. At worst, I was not clear in my responses, and because of what was going on around me may well have been confused and distracted — and for that I take full responsibility. But that is not a lack of candor. And under no circumstances could it ever serve as the basis for the very public and extended humiliation of my family and me that the administration, and the president personally, have engaged in over the past year.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s another interview with Lisa Hamp.

    “They said, I’m sorry, because you weren’t physically injured, you can’t go to the private events.”

  3. bostonboomer says:

    The Boston Globe has a special section on how 27,000 lives could be saved if other states followed Massachusetts’ example. Rachel Maddow talked about it last night.

    SEVEN STEPS. 27,000 LIVES.

  4. RonStill4Hills says:

    The young woman who threw during her speech today is my hero for the day. Sorry I did not get her name. She was forceful and eloquent and clearly a little terrified. She spewed right there on the stage. And then she gathered herself and continued KICKING ASS! She persisted her ass off!

    Right on little sister! Right on! I am moved by her courage and fortitude!

    • NW Luna says:

      She showed what can be done with a strong heart and strong mind even if you have fear and anxiety. She showed her humanity, her determination, and her strength of purpose! What an inspiration.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    I loved this video.

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. dakinikat says:

  8. NW Luna says:

  9. bostonboomer says:

    The Daily Beast:

    How Close Is Donald Trump to a Psychiatric Breakdown?

    • NW Luna says:

      This question implies Trump hasn’t yet gotten there. I think he passed it a long time ago.

      The American Psychological Association (i.e. not the American Psychiatric Association) has recently reported that the nation’s stress level is now worse than at any time in memory—worse than during World War II and Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

      …which is why we are all having trouble sleeping at night.