Tuesday Reads

Woman with dog and flowers by Quincy Verdun

Woman with dog and flowers by Quincy Verdun

Good Afternoon!!

The news continues to be bleak this morning. The Uvalde mass shooting is still at in the headlines, and so are multiple mass shootings that have followed it. Senators are arguing about gun control; and there is no possible solution, because the Senate is broken. Even if the Senate by some miracle passed a new laws on guns, the right-wing Supreme Court would likely overturn them. Meanwhile, President Biden is struggling to deal with so many serious problems while his approval ratings sink. I can’t address all those topics, but here are some stories to check out today.

Last week I wrote a post about the possibility that the U.S. is building up to a new civil war. Today Edward Luce addressed that question at Financial Times: Is America heading for civil war?

In the summer of 2015, America caught a glimpse of how its future could unfold. The US military conducted a routine exercise in the south that triggered a cascade of conspiracy theories, particularly in Texas. Some believed the manoeuvre was the precursor to a Chinese invasion; others thought it would coincide with a massive asteroid strike. The exercise, called Jade Helm 15, stood for “homeland eradication of local militants”, according to one of the right’s dark fantasy sites. Greg Abbot, Texas’s Republican governor, took these ravings seriously. He ensured that the 1,200 federal troops were closely monitored by the armed Texas National Guard. In that bizarre episode, which took place a year before Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for president, we see the germs of an American break-up.

As with any warning of impending civil war, the very mention of another American one sounds impossibly alarmist — like persistent warnings from chief Vitalstatistix in the Asterix comic series that the sky was about to fall on Gaulish heads. America’s dissolution has often been mispredicted.

Yet a clutch of recent books make an alarmingly persuasive case that the warning lights are flashing redder than at any point since 1861. The French philosopher Voltaire once said: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” As the University of California’s Barbara Walter shows in her bracing manual, How Civil Wars Start, US democracy today is checking all the wrong boxes.

Dachshund-Puppies by Otto Bache

Dachshund Puppies by Otto Bache

Even before Trump triumphed in the 2016 presidential election, political analysts were warning about the erosion of democracy and drift towards autocracy. The paralysing divisions caused by Trump’s failed putsch of January 6, 2021, has sent it into dangerous new territory. Polls show that most Republicans believe, without evidence, that the election was stolen by Democrats backed by the so-called “deep state”, the Chinese government, rigged Venezuelan voting machines, or a feverish combination thereof.

In This Will Not Pass, a book by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, Joe Biden is quoted telling a senior Democrat: “I certainly hope [my presidency] works out. If it doesn’t I’m not sure we’re going to have a country.” That a US president could utter something so apocalyptic without raising too many eyebrows shows how routine such dread has become.

Read the rest at Financial Times.

The press is letting us down, writes Margaret Sullivan at The Washington Post: Why the press will never have another Watergate moment.

You’ll be hearing a lot about Watergate in the next several weeks, as the 50th anniversary of the infamous June 17, 1972, burglary at the Democratic National Committee headquarters approaches. There will be documentaries, cable-news debates, the finale of that Julia Roberts miniseries (“Gaslit”) based on the popular Watergate podcast (“Slow Burn”). I’ll be moderating a panel discussion at the Library of Congress on the anniversary itself — and you can certainly count on a few retrospectives in this very newspaper.

The scandal has great resonance at The Washington Post, which won a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 1973 for its intrepid reporting and the courage it took to publish it. And it has particular meaning for me, because, like many others of my generation, I was first drawn into journalism by the televised Senate hearings in 1973, and I was enthralled by the 1976 movie “All the President’s Men,” based on the book by Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Young Girl Reading by Joseph W. Gies

Young Girl Reading by Joseph W. Gies

Yet thinking about Watergate saddens me these days. The nation that came together to force a corrupt president from office and send many of hisco-conspiratoraides to prison is a nation that no longer exists.

“The national newspapers mattered in a way that is unimaginable to us today, and even the regional newspapers were incredibly strong,” Garrett Graff, author of “Watergate: A New History,” told me last week. I have been immersed in his nearly 800-page history — a “remarkably rich narrative,” former Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. called it in a review — which sets out to retell the story.

Americans read about Watergate in their daily papers and watched the dramatic hearings on television. Gradually, public opinion changed and Nixon was forced to resign. Sullivan writes and Graff argues conditions are very different today.

Our media environment is far more fractured, and news organizations are far less trusted.

And, in part, we can blame the rise of a right-wing media system. At its heart is Fox News, which was founded in 1996, nearly a quarter-century after the break-in, with a purported mission to provide a “fair and balanced” counterpoint to the mainstream media. Of course, that message often manifested in relentless and damaging criticism of its news rivals. Meanwhile, Fox News and company have served as a highly effective laundry service for Trump’s lies. With that network’s help, his tens of thousands of false or misleading claims have found fertile ground among his fervent supporters — oblivious to the skillful reporting elsewhere that has called out and debunked those lies.

As Graff sees it, the growth of right-wing media has enabled many Republican members of Congress to turn a blind eye to the malfeasance of Team Trump. Not so during the Watergate investigation; after all, it was Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) who posed the immortal question: “What did the president know, and when did he know it?” Even the stalwart conservative Sen. Barry Goldwater (Ariz.) was among those who, at the end, managed to convince Nixon that he must resign.

Head over to the WaPo to read the whole column.

ABC News reports that 911 operators did inform police at the site of the Uvalde shooting that children were alive and calling for help: ‘Full of victims’: Video appears to show Texas 911 dispatchers relaying information from children in classroom.

Video obtained by ABC News, taken outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, as last week’s massacre was unfolding inside, appears to capture a 911 dispatcher alerting officers on scene that they were receiving calls from children who were alive inside the classroom that the gunman had entered — as law enforcement continued to wait nearly an hour and a half to enter the room.

Puppies, by Federico Olaria

Puppies, by Federico Olaria

“Child is advising he is in the room, full of victims,” the dispatcher can be heard saying in the video. “Full of victims at this moment.”

“Is anybody inside of the building at this…?” the dispatcher asked.

Minutes later, the dispatcher says again: “Eight to nine children.”

The video, obtained by ABC News, also shows police rescuing children from inside the school by breaking through a window and pulling them out, and also leading them out the back door to safety….

The video, which appears to show some of what took place outside the school, raises new questions about law enforcement’s response to one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings, which left 19 children and two teachers dead.

The gunman was left inside the classroom for 77 minutes as 19 officers waited in the hallway — and many more waited outside the building — after the incident commander wrongly believed the situation had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject, law enforcement has said.

The Supreme Court is still trying to find out who leaked Alito’s draft opinion on abortion. CNN reports: Exclusive: Supreme Court leak investigation heats up as clerks are asked for phone records in unprecedented move.

Supreme Court officials are escalating their search for the source of the leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, taking steps to require law clerks to provide cell phone records and sign affidavits, three sources with knowledge of the efforts have told CNN.

Some clerks are apparently so alarmed over the moves, particularly the sudden requests for private cell data, that they have begun exploring whether to hire outside counsel.

Ticket Home, by Christina Ramos

Ticket Home, by Christina Ramos

The court’s moves are unprecedented and the most striking development to date in the investigation into who might have provided Politico with the draft opinion it published on May 2. The probe has intensified the already high tensions at the Supreme Court, where the conservative majority is poised to roll back a half-century of abortion rights and privacy protections.

Chief Justice John Roberts met with law clerks as a group after the breach, CNN has learned, but it is not known whether any systematic individual interviews have occurred.

Lawyers outside the court who have become aware of the new inquiries related to cell phone details warn of potential intrusiveness on clerks’ personal activities, irrespective of any disclosure to the news media, and say they may feel the need to obtain independent counsel.

“That’s what similarly situated individuals would do in virtually any other government investigation,” said one appellate lawyer with experience in investigations and knowledge of the new demands on law clerks. “It would be hypocritical for the Supreme Court to prevent its own employees from taking advantage of that fundamental legal protection.”

I’ll end with a story that isn’t completely negative. It’s an interview with First Lady Jill Biden at Bazaar: A First Lady Undeterred.

In November 2020, when Joe Biden was elected president, the win seemed to validate not just his decision to enter this race but his entire career in politics. He has been grieving in public since he was sworn in to the United States Senate in 1973 from the hospital where his two young sons were recovering from the car crash that killed his first wife, Neilia, and their one-year-old daughter, Naomi. He married Jill five years later. Toward the end of his second term as vice president, in 2015, one of those sons, Beau, died of brain cancer. He resolved to launch this bid—his third in three decades—after watching white nationalists march on Charlottesville in 2017. The nation was sick and divided. He wanted to heal it.

Pierre Bonnard, Andreee Bonnard with her dogs

Pierre Bonnard, Andree Bonnard with her dogs

When the ballots were tallied, Biden was declared the winner. But in the meantime, America had further deteriorated. It was battling one novel virus and several older ones. The pandemic had exposed long-festering discrimination and hate. Hundreds of thousands of people had died. Biden had the kind of credentials no one envies; few in politics could claim more experience with sorrow.

Pundits wrote that Joe Biden had met his moment. But Jill Biden—a patient educator in an era of rampant misinformation, a woman so determined to be present for her people that she spent one weekend in March straining the limits of the space-time continuum—was there to greet it too.

Now the moment has changed. The pandemic stretches on, with new variants making quick work of the Greek alphabet. Health-care workers are burnt out. Teachers are exhausted. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is devastating—and driving up the cost of fuel amid rampant inflation. Biden’s approval numbers have sunk into the low 40s. Several polls ahead of the midterm elections predict dire losses for Democrats, with both the House and the Senate threatening to slip into Republican control.

It’s not the kind of environment that sets an obvious course for the nation’s most scrutinized political spouse—let alone for one who describes herself as an introvert and was so lukewarm on the rites and rituals of the Washington horse race that she spent her husband’s entire Senate career at their home in Delaware. But perhaps that’s for the best. In the absence of a guidebook, Jill Biden is writing her own.

Read the interview at the link.

More stories to check out, links only:

HuffPost: Right-Wing Organization Launches Chilling Map Marking Schools As ‘Woke Hot Spots.’

Clive Irving at The Daily Beast: Life Is Cheap in America. That’s What Makes Us Exceptional.

KHOU11: 11-year-old who survived Uvalde massacre struggles to deal in aftermath.

The New York Times: In the Senate, Chasing an Ever-Elusive Gun Law Deal.

Kate Shaw and John Bash at The New York Times: We Clerked for Justices Scalia and Stevens. America Is Getting Heller Wrong.

Politico: Former Trump aide Navarro says he has received a grand jury subpoena related to Jan. 6.

Take care Sky Dancers. I hope you have a Tuesday filled with positive vibes.

Memorial Day Reads: To those who died in Service to our country and democracy

“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.” – Harry S. Truman

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Today was the day my family picnicked through Kansas and Missouri Cemeteries to decorate the graves of those relatives who died fighting for the Union and also my dad’s Uncle Johnny–his namesake–who died of mustard gas in World War I.  The older I get, the more I miss these old little family rituals.  War may not make much sense but at least we can understand it and have tried to find alternatives to it.  Well, everyone but Dick Cheney and Henry Kissinger and Putin and a few other fascists.

Today’s memorial rituals include remembering children slaughtered in schools and grandmothers grocery shopping.  Fighting for democracy here or abroad seems so different from this.  I want to share this fact-checker from The Washington post last week. It debunks all Republican talking points about mental illness, the infamous good guy with a gun, and every other piece of shit lie they take along with their NRA blood money. Presidents should absolutely pay tribute to our war dead.  It’s a damned shame when their other duty is to mourn the loss of someone’s Gramma buying groceries in a store, or an innocent child just going to elementary school, or a group of people at prayer in a church basement or celebrating Shabbat in their synagogue, or people in a movie theatre …

Let me pick some facts for you from the article written by Glenn Kessler.

An upcoming paper for the Justice Department, written by a team led by James Alan Fox of Northeastern UniversityGrant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections and Michael Rocque of Bates College, attempts to craft a common definition: A mass public shooting is any event in which four or more individuals, not including the assailant(s), were killed by gunfire in a public setting within a 24-hour period. Mass shootings associated with criminal activity are excluded.

Under this definition, there were three or four mass shootings a year through most of the 2010s, but then the number spiked to seven in 2017, 10 in 2018 and eight in 2019, according to the database, provided to the Fact Checker by Duwe.

The team, drawing on the existing databases and supplemental research, found that “the number of mass public shootings has indeed increased over the past four and one-half years, particularly over the past decade. However, even at its peak in 2018, the number of such incidents has not surpassed ten in any year, and often has been much lower.” Moreover, some of the increase can be linked to growth in population. The incident count tripled since the mid-1970s but the rate per 100 million of population increased by a factor of two.

Joe Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, pay their respects to the victims of Saturday’s shooting at a memorial across the street from the Tops Market in Buffalo. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

This is undoubtedly due to the number of men who now have easy access to weapons of war. My state is number one this year for mass shootings and the Republican whackos serving there are also serving up less and less gun control ala Texas.  This is from my university’s national public radio station. “Louisiana leads nation in rate of mass shootings in 2022”.

In the first six months of 2022, Louisiana’s per capita rate of mass shootings has far outpaced any other state and is nearly six times the national average, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

So far this year, Louisiana — which ranks 27th in population size — has experienced 16 mass shootings, trailing only California, 20, and Texas, 21. Louisiana’s mass shooting incidents have left nearly 80 people injured and nine people dead.

The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as an incident “with a minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed, not including any shooter who may also have been killed or injured.” There’s no uniform or official definition of a mass shooting, though many groups use similar parameters as the Gun Violence Archive.

Louisiana’s mass shootings have taken place across the state. In Lafayette, twelve people were injured after a shooting involving multiple suspects and officers. In New Orleans, gunfire directed at a bar on Magazine Street left six injured this past April. Ten people were shot in Bogalusa after a Mardi Gras parade in March. Nearly half of the mass shooting incidents this year have taken place in the state’s major metro areas: Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Both cities have seen a surge in gun violence and homicides this year, following a nationwide trend in spikes of violent crime.

1 dead, 7 injured in a Taft, Oklahoma festival shooting over the Memorial Day Weekend  Creator: Ian Maule | Credit: AP

As you may be aware, I was caught on the edge of two shootings last month by simply crossing the street from my neighbor’s house and walking my dog.  A young woman died in the first one.  She got caught in the crossfire.  This is also from WAPO: “U.S. marks Memorial Day weekend with at least 11 mass shootings. Since the Uvalde, Tex., elementary school tragedy, there have been at least 14 other shootings that had at least four victims”.

At least seven people have been killed and 49 injured in the mass shootings over the holiday weekend, according to GVA and local news sources. Since the Uvalde shooting last Tuesday, at least10 people have been killed and 61 injured in mass shootings.

Brian Stelter, chief media correspondent and news anchor at CNN, interrupted a broadcast Sunday about the response to the mass shooting in Uvalde to tell viewers about another — in Tennessee.

“Mass killings like Buffalo and Uvalde become national news, but many mass shootings do not. They just end up being local stories,” Stelter said, in a clip that has been viewed over 334,000 times on Twitter.

Saturday evening, six teenagers were injured by gunfire in Chattanooga, Tenn., in what Mayor Tim Kelly said was probably “an altercation between other teenagers.”

The victims, in this case, were 13 and 15.

Let’s go back ack to the previous article on gun regulations.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed into law a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines (LCMs), defined as those that could hold more than 10 rounds. The law — which grandfathered in an estimated 1.5 million assault weapons and 25 million LCMs already owned by Americans — was in place for 10 years until Congress let it lapse.

Even supporters of the law have acknowledged that it was riddled with loopholes, such as allowing copycat weapons to be sold, that limited its effectiveness. Some research, however, suggests the ban became more effective toward the end of the 10-year period because it helped cap and then reduce the supply of assault weapons and LCMs.

Biden claimed that mass shooting deaths tripled after the law expired. He appears to be relying on a study of mass shooting data from 1981 to 2017, published in 2019 in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery by a team led by Charles DiMaggio, a professor of surgery at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. That group found that an assault weapons ban would have prevented 314 out of 448, or 70 percent, of the mass shooting deaths during the years when the ban was not in effect. But the data used in that study has come under attack by some analysts.

Meanwhile, Louis Klarevas, a research professor at Teachers College at Columbia University, studied high-fatality mass shootings (involving six or more people) for his 2016 book “Rampage Nation.” He said that compared with the 10-year period before the ban, the number of gun massacres during the ban period fell by 37 percent and that the number of people dying because of mass shootings fell by 43 percent. But after the ban lapsed in 2004, the numbers in the next 10-year period rose sharply — a 183 percent increase in mass shootings and a 239 percent increase in deaths.

Antonio Basco cries while standing next to the cross for his partner Margie Reckard at the makeshift memorial for the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 5, 2019.

There’s this too from the Kessler article.

Christopher S. Koper, an associate professor of criminology at George Mason University, said in a 2020 study that LCMs enable rapid spray fire that gives shooters the ability to wound higher numbers of victims in public settings. So restrictions on LCMs can have an effect.

“Data on mass shooting incidents suggest these magazine restrictions can potentially reduce mass shooting deaths by 11 percent to 15 percent and total victims shot in these incidents by one quarter, likely as upper bounds,” Koper wrote, adding, “It is reasonable to argue that the federal ban could have prevented some of the recent increase in persons killed and injured in mass shootings had it remained in place.”

Moreover, a number of studies of state-level bans on LCMs, such as by Mark Gius of Quinnipiac University and by Klarevas, indicate that such laws are associated with a significantly lower number of fatalities in mass shootings. Fox co-wrote a 2020 study of state gun laws that concluded that bans on LCMs are associated with 38 percent fewer fatalities and 77 percent fewer nonfatal injuries when a mass shooting occurred.

One final thought from the same article.

That makes it difficult to know when to draw the line, especially because mental illness is not a predictor of violence. “Databases that track gun homicides, such as the National Center for Health Statistics, similarly show that fewer than 5 percent of the 120,000 gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness,” noted Jonathan Metzl and Kenneth MacLeish of Vanderbilt University in a 2016 study. They said that other factors, such as alcohol and drug use, may increase the risk of turning toward violent crime even more. A history of childhood abuse is also considered a predictive risk factor.

Red-flag (“extreme risk”) laws — which generally allow police to take firearms away from people who exhibit concerning behavior — have been passed in 19 states and the District of Columbia, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for gun-control laws. Between 1999 and 2021, at least 16,857 extreme risk petitions were filed, the group says. Florida, which passed such a law after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018, has used it 6,000 times since then.

There are other possibilities like universal background checks discussed.  It’s really a worthwhile read since it basically uses peer-reviewed research by major organizations and universities.

A choir sings to support families in Uvalde.

Here’s some latest news as we find more out about the Robb Elementary school shooting. This is from CNN: “A 9-year-old describes escaping through a window during the Uvalde school massacre as anger mounts over police response.”  Do you remember Uvalde where all the good guys with the guns stood around for nearly an hour or went in to grab their own kids?

As a gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and started firing, one student said his wounded teacher texted 911 for help.

Daniel, 9, alongside his mother, Briana Ruiz, told CNN the gunman fired several shots into his classroom after being unable to enter. The door had been locked by his teacher, and the bullets fired struck the teacher as well as a classmate.

The deadly rampage at Robb Elementary marked at least the 30th shooting at a K-12 school in just the first five months of this year. It was the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.Daniel survived by first “hiding under a table next to the wall.” He said he could see the gunman through the door’s window.

“I could still see his face,” the boy said. “I could see him staring at people in front of me.”

The scene at the memorial of the King Soopers in Boulder, Colorado, on April 2, 2021. Ten people died in a mass shooting at the store on March 22, 2021. Courtesy of David Kalish

Why are we like this?  Are we reliving the days of the Wild West and the slaughter of Native Americans as we steal their land?  Are we stuck in the Fugitive Slave Law Days or the Lynchings of Jim Crow?   Are we on some kind of Crusade against everyone who does not worship the select god and manner we’ve been raised with?  All of this is definitely Western History. It’s our history.  Why are we repeating it every time the country makes little progress towards liberty and justice for all?  Well, let me also make this clear.  This royal “we” refers to the men in this country.  It’s rare for a woman to do this.  Remember the NPR article I suggested last week where there are two clusters of men or boys that do this? 

Densley and Peterson said they see two kinds of age clusters of mass shooters: Men in their mid-40s for those who are workplace shooters and school shooters or those involved in other types of mass shootings between the ages of 15 and 24.

Of the 180 instances of mass shootings in the U.S. they’ve studied, they found that there are only two cases where women acted alone.

It’s always men otherwise, Peterson said.

“We know that 18 is this kind of fragile age, this kind of coming of age where people tend to have mental health crises, or they may feel suicidal,” she said.

These shootings are emblematic of that.

The shooters have “the desire to have that pain, and that anger be known to the world, to have us all watch and witness it, to hear their names, to see their pictures, to read what they’ve left behind for us to read. These are public performances meant for us to watch,” she said.

Notably, in many places in the U.S., it’s also the age they can legally buy their weapons of choice.

It’s time to take all these studies seriously and change the gun laws since we obviously can’t change the boys and men.  Europe and Japan know what works.  Most civilized countries know what works.  It’s about not having an Ok Corral atmosphere with a group of testosterone-driven mouth-breathers taking their grievances out on the rest of us.

If they can’t Man Up, then they shouldn’t be able to get to play with grown-up toys.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Sunday Reads: #BansOffOurBodies #ReproductiveJustice #AbortionIsHealthcare #NiUnaMenos #VivasNosQueremos #SomosMujeresNoObjetos

So another Sunday…

This next video is disgusting…you’ve been warned.

This is an open thread.

Lazy Caturday Reads

Georgi Yordanov, Bulgarian artist

Georgi Yordanov, Bulgarian artist

Good Afternoon!!

I’ve spent a couple of hours now searching the internet for good news. The closest I’ve gotten to finding it is some articles about bad news for Donald Trump.

First up: the investigation into Trump’s efforts to interfere with the 2020 presidential election process in Georgia appears to be building steam.

The New York Times: Up to 50 Subpoenas Expected as Grand Jury Begins Trump Inquiry.

ATLANTA — As many as 50 witnesses are expected to be subpoenaed by a special grand jury that will begin hearing testimony next week in the criminal investigation into whether former President Donald J. Trump and his allies violated Georgia laws in their efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state.

The process, which is set to begin on Wednesday, is likely to last weeks, bringing dozens of subpoenaed witnesses, both well-known and obscure, into a downtown Atlanta courthouse bustling with extra security because of threats directed at the staff of the Fulton County district attorney, Fani T. Willis….

Ms. Willis emphasized the breadth of the case. As many as 50 witnesses have declined to talk to her voluntarily and are likely to be subpoenaed, she said. The potential crimes to be reviewed go well beyond the phone call that Mr. Trump made to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, on Jan. 2, 2021, during which he asked him to find enough votes to reverse the election results.

Ms. Willis is weighing racketeering among other potential charges and said that such cases have the potential to sweep in people who have never set foot in Fulton or made a single phone call to the county.

Her investigators are also reviewing the slate of fake electors that Republicans created in a desperate attempt to circumvent the state’s voters. She said the scheme to submit fake Electoral College delegates could lead to fraud charges, among others — and cited her approach to a 2014 racketeering case she helped lead as an assistant district attorney, against a group of educators involved in a cheating scandal in the Atlanta public schools.

“There are so many issues that could have come about if somebody participates in submitting a document that they know is false,” she said. “You can’t do that. If you go back and look at Atlanta Public Schools, that’s one of the things that happened, is they certified these test results that they knew were false. You cannot do that.”

Read the rest at the NYT.

Old Lady with a Cat, Jack Donavan, 2006

Old Lady with a Cat, Jack Donavan, 2006

CNN: Georgia district attorney investigating Trump has subpoenaed officials from secretary of state’s office.

An Atlanta-area district attorney investigating Donald Trump‘s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results has subpoenaed half a dozen officials from the Georgia secretary of state’s office, according to copies of the documents obtained by CNN….

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis subpoenaed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Interim Deputy Secretary of State Gabe Sterling, General Counsel Ryan Germany, former Elections Director Chris Harvey, Legislative Liaison Victoria Thompson and former Chief Investigator Frances Watson, according to copies of the documents.

The subpoenas call for the witnesses to testify on dates from early to mid-June. Raffensperger, who has previously said he would comply with a subpoena, appears slated to be one of the first witnesses to testify on June 2. His call with Trump — in which the former President pressured Raffensperger to “find” the votes needed for Trump to win Georgia — lies at the heart of the Georgia probe.

Sterling, Raffensperger’s deputy, also has said he would comply with his subpoena. Several staffers in the office have already had voluntary conversations with Fulton County investigators and handed over relevant documents and recordings.

Willis, meantime, has said she’s not limiting her investigation to Trump’s infamous call with Raffensperger. She has cast a wide net — looking at Georgia’s fake electors, former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s conspiracy-ridden presentation to state lawmakers and other issues — as she tries to determine whether Trump and his allies engaged in a broad criminal conspiracy to try to swing the Peach State to Trump’s column….

Fulton County investigators traveled to Washington, DC, earlier this month to meet with staffers for the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection to go over information that may be relevant to the Georgia probe, according to the person familiar with the investigation.

Here’s hoping some bad news for Trump and good news U.S. democracy emerges from this investigation.

More potential bad news for Trump: his chosen candidates for 2022 aren’t doing so well.

The New York Times: Trump’s Primary Losses Puncture His Invincibility.

Donald J. Trump had cast this year’s primaries as a moment to measure his power, endorsing candidates by the dozen as he sought to maintain an imprint on his party unlike any other past president.

But after the first phase of the primary season concluded on Tuesday, a month in which a quarter of America’s states cast their ballots, the verdict has been clear: Mr. Trump’s aura of untouchability in Republican politics has been punctured.

Annamira, Jeffrey Nentrup

Annamira, Jeffrey Nentrup

In more than five years — from when he became president in January 2017 until May 2022 — Mr. Trump had only ever seen voters reject a half-dozen of his choices in Republican primaries. But by the end of this month, that figure had more than doubled, with his biggest defeat coming on Tuesday when Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia thrashed a Trump-backed challenger by more than 50 percentage points. Three other Trump recruits challenging Kemp allies also went down to defeat.

The mounting losses have emboldened Mr. Trump’s rivals inside the party to an extent not seen since early 2016 and increased the chances that, should he run again in 2024, he would face serious competition….

Mr. Trump remains broadly popular among Republicans and has a political war chest well north of $100 million. But there has been a less visible sign of slippage: Mr. Trump’s vaunted digital fund-raising machine has begun to slow. An analysis by The New York Times shows that his average daily online contributions have declined every month for the last seven months that federal data is available.

Mr. Trump has gone from raising an average of $324,633 per day in September 2021 on WinRed, the Republican donation-processing portal, to $202,185 in March 2022 — even as he has ramped up his political activities and profile.

Unfortunately, it appears that even if the Republicans dump Trump, the party is already suffused with Trumpism and that’s not likely to change.

David Smith at The Guardian: Republican primaries offer look into future of Trumpism without Trump.

The former US president suffered some humiliation on Tuesday when four candidates he handpicked in Georgia lost Republican primary elections in a landslide. It was a stinging rebuke in what has become ground zero for his “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen.

But it was no rebuke of Maga and all it stands for.

The hard-right, nativist-populist strain of Republican politics predates Trump and will surely survive him. This year’s primary season winners in Georgia and elsewhere have been careful not to disavow the movement, or its patriarch, even when they lack his blessing.

“Donald Trump has transformed the Republican party over the past five years and it is now a solid majority Trumpist party with everything that entails in policy and in tone,” said Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution thinktank in Washington. “On the other hand, Republicans, including very conservative ones, are clearly willing to entertain the possibility of Trumpism without Trump.”

K. Celia Wood

Painting by K. Celia Wood

Galston, a former policy adviser to President Bill Clinton, commented: “The results in Georgia were really stunning. Few, if any Republicans, have aroused Donald Trump’s ire so much as Governor Kemp and Brad Raffensperger and they both did substantially better than expectedDonald Trump went all out in Georgia and he ended up an egg on this face, which is significant.

“It may be that the people who have been in the bull’s eye of Trump’s ‘big lie’ campaign have started resenting it and took their resentment out. More generally, I think an increasing number of people are asking themselves a question that they weren’t asking previously: would we be better off with a Trumpist candidate who’s not named Donald Trump?”

Among those asking the question is Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, who campaigned for Kemp in Georgia and told the Politico website: “Trump picked this fight.” Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have also felt at liberty to campaign for midterm candidates denied Trump’s imprimatur.

Then there is Mike Pence, the former vice-president, who defied his old boss by rallying with Kemp on Monday and telling the crowd: “Elections are about the future.” Pence, himself a former governor of Indiana, has made a habit of speaking with pride about the accomplishments of the Trump-Pence administration while distancing himself from the “big lie”.

There’s more analysis at the Guardian link.

Yesterday, Dakinikat focused on the NRA convention in Houston, just after the ghastly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas and just two weeks after the racist mass murders in Buffalo, New York. Heather Digby Parton wrote at Raw Story about the NRA’s long history of arguing that they are the true victims of mass shootings: The NRA celebrates in Texas before Uvalde victims are buried.

In the wake of the horrific mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas this week some people expected the National Rifle Association (NRA) to cancel its annual meeting and extravagant gun show which starts today in Houston. The city, however, has a binding contract that prohibits it from canceling the show unilaterally. But the mayor, Democrat Sylvester Turner, asked the gun group to voluntarily postpone. They declined.

That’s to be expected, of course. The NRA has never let a mass shooting get in the way of gathering for fun and profit. The Washington Post’s Gillian Brockell reminded us this week that they did exactly the same thing after Columbine, the first of the modern school shootings that have plagued America for more than two decades. That mass killing took place in Littleton, Colorado, a suburb of Denver where the NRA convention was scheduled to take place just days later. In that case, the Denver mayor told them the city didn’t want them there and even offered to pay them for their trouble if they would cancel. They still refused.

Photo by Brooke Hummer

Photo by Brooke Hummer

Last year, NPR correspondent Tim Mak came into possession of some recorded calls between NRA officials right after Columbine which showed that their primary concern at the time was that they would look weak if they canceled the meeting. In the end, after contemplating creating a “victims fund” and deciding it would look like an admission of guilt, their only compromise was to cancel the gun show portion of their convention and shorten their gathering to just one day. According to Brockell, NRA president Charlton Heston went on to give a memorable speech that year “blaming the media for scapegoating NRA members as somehow responsible for the tragedy, while ‘racing’ to ‘drench their microphones with the tears of victims.'” The next year he returned to give one of the most famous culture war speeches in history:

I believe that we are again engaged in a great civil war, a cultural war that’s about to hijack your birthright to think and say what lives in your heart. I’m sure you no longer trust the pulsing lifeblood of liberty inside you, the stuff that made this country rise from wilderness into the miracle that it is…

As I’ve stood in the crosshairs of those who target Second Amendment freedoms, I’ve realized that firearms are — are not the only issue. No, it’s much, much bigger than that. I’ve come to understand that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain accepted thoughts and speech are mandated.

That was almost a quarter century ago so all this recent wailing about “cancel culture” is just a new term for the same culture war that’s been raging for years. And guns have been at the heart of it because the NRA put them there.

I’ve written a lot over the years about Wayne LaPierre and his fantastically successful gun rights movement, for which he can pretty much take total credit. He saw the potential to turn the sporting and hunting organization into a political powerhouse and through his public relations and propaganda skills met his goals in the matter of a few short years. In doing so he made gun ownership a social identity for the American right wing.

Read the rest at Raw Story. Also worth reading is this piece by David Siders at Politico: ‘It’s straight out of a playbook’: At NRA convention, conspiracy theories abound.

Of course the top story today is still the events in Uvalde. Here’s the latest, links only:

Elderly woman with cat by Vicky Shuck

Elderly woman with cat by Vicky Shuck

AP News: Police inaction moves to center of Uvalde shooting probe.

NBC News: Federal agents entered Uvalde school to kill gunman despite local police initially asking them to wait.

CNN: Focus turns to Uvalde school police chief’s decision not to send officers inside. Here’s what we know about him.

CNN: Uvalde gunman threatened rapes and school shootings on social media app Yubo in weeks leading up to the massacre, users say.

The Washington Post: Before massacre, Uvalde gunman frequently threatened teen girls online.

The Guardian: Vast majority of educators reject Republican proposals for arming teachers.

Tim Miller at The Bulwark: In Uvalde, the Most Enraging Press Conference in American History.

The New York Times: Gun in Texas Shooting Came From Company Known for Pushing Boundaries.

It’s difficult not to obsess about all the bad news, but we also have to take care of ourselves. So I wish you all well and hope you have a pleasant long weekend. And thank you for being here and sharing your thoughts with us.

Friday Reads: NRA Blood Money and the Slaughter of Lambs

Hi Sky Dancers!

We’ve got the usual Dance of the Macabre performed by Republicans after another tragic shooting in a grade school two weeks after a tragic shooting in a grocery store.  My Senators are among the idiots saying bizarre things to keep their NRA checks in place.  When is this going to stop?

Take my Senator Cassidy, please! I guess all of us around here need an AR-15 to stop feral pigs. I’m not sure what purpose splattering a huge hog all over the neighborhood would serve but I’m sure our Fish and Games folks have something to say about that.

So, how many states actually have feral pigs? You don’t even need that much to get a huge alligator. One rifle shot to his sweet spot on the head and the guy is dead. Again, Lousiana Fish and Games, is that what you use?

But then, thankfully I don’t have this asshole for a Senator.  Why on earth would he ask for this?   Well, this weekend he’s kissing NRA butt so I suppose he thinks it doesn’t matter now.


I’m also struggling to watch them try to act like the “hardening” of schools, theatres, grocery stores, and whatever would simply solve the problem when it was obvious that Robb Grade school and its community of Uvalde supposedly had all of this in place.  It doesn’t work.  Follow the link above for more on that.

Uvalde also dedicates 40% of its city budget to the police who also had a swat team that didn’t seem to even show up that day.  You can read BB’s post yesterday for more on that but even last night we learned more about a series of screw-ups and failures that undoubtedly led to more deaths until the Border Patrol came to the rescue.

We’re learning more about that today.

This is from the Texas Tribune Tweet above and I’m about to turn my tv on to see what they fumble with today.  There’s a live link in the tweet.

But back to the big question … why do we need these kinds of weapons in our communities?  How is it that an 18-year-old can’t drink, can’t rent a car, and can’t do a lot of things but can buy tactical weapons and equipment in Texas and other states?

This is from the NPR tweet above.

Though the motivations in these particular cases likely differ, the suspects of these shootings, and others like it, have a lot in common, according to James Densley and Jillian Peterson, co-founders of The Violence Project. Their research organization studies gun violence, mass shootings and violent extremism.

“Usually what’s motivating these shootings is an element of self-hatred, hopelessness, despair, anger, that’s turned outward to the world,” said Densley, who is also a sociologist.

Connecting the two shootings is important, said Peterson, a psychologist.

“I think we’re too quick to write things off because the motive is slightly different,” she said. “It’s the same trajectory over and over and over again. Just people get radicalized in slightly different directions, their anger points in different directions, but its roots are the same.”

The shooters were both 18 and male

Salvador Ramos was 18 years old and a high school dropout, according to officials.

Payton Gendron, is also 18, and white. He turned to various websites during the pandemic, according to a document allegedly written by him, and said he was radicalized that way.

He threatened his high school last year, prompting a visit from the New York State Police.

Densley and Peterson said they see two kinds of age clusters of mass shooters: Men in their mid-40s for those who are workplace shooters and school shooters or those involved in other types of mass shootings between the ages of 15 and 24.

Of the 180 instances of mass shootings in the U.S. they’ve studied, they found that there are only two cases where women acted alone.

It’s always men otherwise, Peterson said.

“We know that 18 is this kind of fragile age, this kind of coming of age where people tend to have mental health crises, or they may feel suicidal,” she said.

These shootings are emblematic of that.

The shooters have “the desire to have that pain, and that anger be known to the world, to have us all watch and witness it, to hear their names, to see their pictures, to read what they’ve left behind for us to read. These are public performances meant for us to watch,” she said.

Notably, in many places in the U.S., it’s also the age they can legally buy their weapons of choice.

There’s more at the link and it’s worth the read.

As usual, “Gun legislation is stalled in Congress. Here’s why that won’t change anytime soon”.  This analysis is by CNN’s Paul LeBlanc.

A House-passed bill, HR 1446, backed by Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, would close what’s known as the “Charleston loophole,” which allows some licensed gun sales to go through before a required background check is done.

Specifically, the legislation would increase the amount of time, from three business days to a minimum of 10 business days, that a federal firearms licensee must wait to receive a completed background check prior to transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person.
Using that loophole, a White gunman was able to legally purchase a firearm to kill nine people at a historically Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

Senate Democrats took steps Tuesday night to place the bill, called the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, onto the legislative calendar so it can be voted on.

It’s unclear when the Senate will vote on the measure, but it needs 60 votes in the chamber to overcome a filibuster, and it’s clear the legislation does not have that support (at least not right now) — nor does it have full Democratic backing to gut the Senate rule altogether.

It’s unclear when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will try to force a procedural vote to break a filibuster. Unless there’s an agreement from all 100 senators, the earliest he could set up the procedural vote would be Saturday, according to a Democratic aide.

But senators were expected to leave for next week’s Memorial Day recess on Thursday afternoon. So they may wait until after the recess to take that procedural vote, even though leaving town amid the Texas tragedy would be bad optics.
The aide said Schumer has not indicated when he may try to force the vote yet.

Still, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who has pushed for gun safety legislation since the Sandy Hook shooting in his state nearly 10 years ago, told reporters Tuesday there should be a vote even if it is doomed to fail.

“I think we need to hold every member of Congress accountable and vote so that the public knows where every one of us stand,” he said. Asked about the potential for bipartisan agreement, he added, “I think there may well be areas of agreement. I have come close to agreement with a number of my colleagues on a red flag statute.”


A woman reacts as she pays her respects at a memorial site for the victims killed in this week’s elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Thursday, May 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

As “The Reid Blog” points out, “Texas Republicans offer the same old shameful responses to shootings.  Hours removed from a massacre at a Texas elementary school, Republican lawmakers from Texas are still prioritizing guns over people.”  This analysis is by

That wasn’t surprising. Like Abbott, Cruz acts like a shill for the gun lobby, which he’s demonstrated through his repeated efforts to block gun safety measures. And speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon, Cruz made it clear we shouldn’t expect the most recent mass shooting in his state to move him in any way.

“Inevitably when there’s a murder of this kind, you see politicians try to politicize it, you see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Cruz said. “That doesn’t work. It’s not effective. It doesn’t prevent crime.”

That claim is ironic coming from Cruz, who frequently poses as a supporter of law enforcement. If he were as attuned to the needs of police as he often suggests, he’d know law enforcement groups tend to back certain gun safety measures.

But Cruz’s stance is typical of conservatives when it comes to gun safety: They’re careless about who carries the burden for their perverted affinity for guns. That probably explains why Cruz proposed adding armed law enforcement to school campuses as a simple solution to mass shootings, despite the fact the gunman in Tuesday’s shooting reportedly got past armed police officers.

As my colleague Steve Benen wrote for the MaddowBlog, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined Cruz in suggesting more guns are needed in schools — except Paxton said teachers should be armed.

If it’s not abundantly clear by now, the GOP is desperately trying to avoid criticizing guns. Another Texas Republican, Rep. Brian Babin, even tied love for guns to Christ on Tuesday, appearing on the right-wing network Newsmax to suggest that the love of guns is interwoven with America’s “Judeo-Christian foundation.”

It’s clear that today’s Republican party has an agenda that only represents a sliver of the America where we grew up. They hate any kind of diversity and want state control of anything that goes against their white nationalistic version of Christianity.  We’re paying for that with the blood of our elderly and our young. These are the country’s most vulnerable.

It’s beyond shameful. It’s cruel. It’s rooted in greed and hatred. We have to find a way to vote them all out.  We’re losing our country to the worst of humanity.


 What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

So Strong

by Labi Siffre

The higher you build your barriers
The taller I become
The further you take my rights away
The faster I will run
You can deny me
You can decide to turn your face away
No matter, cos there’s
Something inside so strong
I know that I can make it
Tho’ you’re doing me wrong, so wrong
You thought that my pride was gone
Oh no, something inside so strong
Oh oh oh oh oh something inside so strong
The more you refuse to hear my voice
The louder I will sing
You hide behind walls of Jericho
Your lies will come tumbling
Deny my place in time
You squander wealth that’s mine
My light will shine so brightly
It will blind you
Cos there’s
Something inside so strong
I know that I can make it
Tho’ you’re doing me wrong, so wrong
You thought that my pride was gone
Oh no, something inside so strong
Oh oh oh oh oh something inside so strong
Brothers and sisters
When they insist we’re just not good enough
When we know better
Just look ’em in the eyes and say
We’re gonna do it anyway 2x
Something inside so strong
And I know that I can make it
Tho’ you’re doing me wrong, so wrong
You thought that my pride was gone
Oh no, something inside so strong
Oh oh oh oh oh something inside so strong
Brothers and sisters
When they insist we’re just not enough
When we know better
Just look ’em in the eyes and say
We’re gonna do it anyway 4x
Because there’s something inside so strong
And I know that I can make it
Tho’ you’re doing me, so wrong
Oh no, something inside so strong
Oh oh oh oh oh something inside so strong