Tuesday ReadsPosted: May 9, 2023 Filed under: just because | Tags: Allen, AR-15, Barack Obama, E. Jean Carroll, gun violence, guns, mass shootings, NRA, Trump rape trial 18 Comments
What is happening to our country? Right now, we are headed in a very wrong direction. As Dakinikat wrote yesterday, we are seeing mass shootings at a rate that is hard to believe. But it’s true. We’ve become a country dominated by guns. Republicans have developed a sickness that can’t be explained just by the NRA and its donations to politicians. Awhile back, I read this piece by Noah Berlatsky and Aaron Rupar at Public Notice, and I hope you’ll check it out. Berlatsky argues that Republicans have development an obsession with guns and violence that goes far beyond a money motive.
The GOP’s gun obsession goes deeper than campaign donations. Republicans aren’t posing for AR-15 family photos because of money.
The GOP has not been corrupted by capitalism. It would be more accurate to say it’s been corrupted by fascism. Guns are part of white Christofascist identity politics. The GOP supports guns as part of a principled commitment to a death cult, not because they need NRA money to win elections.
Focusing on NRA money obscures the real danger from the GOP. It also can lead gun control proponents to pursue confused and ineffective tactics. We need to understand why the GOP embraces guns if we’re ever going to have a hope of opposing them.
The first sign that the NRA is not driving gun policy with its political contributions is the fact that it simply doesn’t spend that much money in political races. That $1.3 million Blackburn received is, again, money taken in over the course of her entire political career, which stretches back to her first election as a Tennessee state senator in 1999, almost 25 years ago. In comparison, in the 2018 campaign in which Blackburn first won her Senate seat, her campaign and outside groups spent $30 million. Even if the NRA had donated that $1.3 million all at once, Blackburn would barely have noticed it in the blizzard of cash.
Blackburn isn’t unusual; NRA contributions are typically a tiny fraction of candidate contributions, as Philip Bump at the Washington Post explained back in 2016. He found that for most candidates, NRA donations were less than .5 percent of direct donations to campaigns. Even if you look at the category of independent outside expenditures, which cannot be coordinated with the campaign, the NRA gives only about 15 percent of donations, coming behind organizations like the Republican senatorial committee and the Chamber of Commerce….
The small size of the NRA’s donations makes it unlikely they’re meaningfully bribing politicians. Nor do GOP politicians behave as if they’ve been bribed. When politicians vote their donors over their constituents, they don’t tend to boast about it.
GOP politicians don’t treat guns like dirty stock trades, and don’t try to hide from constituents after gun votes. On the contrary, they tout their pro-gun credentials every chance they get. Rep. Andy Ogles, who represents the district where the Nashville shooting took place, sent out a Christmas card showing himself with his wife and children standing in front of a tree. They’re all grinning and holding assault weapons.
As communications professor Ryan Neville-Shepard explains at the Milwaukee Independent, guns on the right have increasingly become a symbol of white masculinity — and I’d argue of white Christian masculinity. Guns stand for defending home and family against “criminals” — a term which, in the dogwhistle rich environment of the right, means “non-white people.” In addition, Neville-Shepard notes, guns in right-wing political ads during the Obama administration became a symbol of (violent) opposition to Democratic government. Marjorie Taylor Greene ran an ad touting a gun giveaway in 2021 in which she promised to “blow away the Democrats’ socialist agenda.”
I found Berlatsky’s argument convincing. It really seems to me at this point that Republicans simply see guns–and specifically assault rifles–as part of their identities. I think the gun obsession began after Obama was elected. The notion of a Black president was just too much for these people. Then came Trump, who gave them permission to be overtly act out the racist, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and misogynistic feelings they previously felt the need to hide in public. I’d be interested to know what you guys thing about this argument.
There have been more mass shootings since this article was written–after the Nashville school shooting, which happened in late March.
There is quite a bit of information available about the latest mass shooter, who mowed down people at an Allen, Texas outlet mall. There’s no doubt at this point that he was a white supremacist, despite being Hispanic, and a Nazi. He had large Nazi symbols tattooed on his body.
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A social media page appearing to belong to a gunman who killed eight people at a Dallas-area outlet mall had shared extremist beliefs with rants against Jews, women and racial minorities posted since September, as well as posts about struggling with mental health.
Mauricio Garcia, 33, maintained a profile on the Russian social networking platform OK.ru, including posts referring to extremist online forums, such as 4chan, and content from white nationalists, including Nick Fuentes, an antisemitic white nationalist provocateur.
In the weeks before the attack, Garcia posted more than two dozen photos of Allen Premium Outlets, where an officer killed him after the shooting Saturday, and surrounding areas, including several screenshots of Google location information, seemingly monitoring the mall at its busiest times.
Many of his posts referred to his mental health. In his final post, he lamented what his family might say and wrote that no psychologist would have been able to fix him.
In another post, he made disturbing comments about what makes a mass shooting “important” and praised a person who opened fire at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, this year, killing six people, including three children.
The shooter also posted a series of links to other sites, including a YouTube account that featured a video published the day of the shooting. In it he removed a “Scream” mask and said, “Not quite what you were expecting, huh?”
He also posted photos of a flak vest emblazoned with patches, one of them with the initialism for “Right Wing Death Squad,” a popular meme among far-right extremist groups. Another post included a series of shirtless pictures with visible white power tattoos, including SS lightning bolts and a swastika.
I don’t want to spend too much time on Garcia; but if you’re interested, you might want to read this Twitter thread by Aric Toler:
Garcia used a Hitler emoji
A few more interesting articles:
Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: Timothy McVeigh’s Dreams Are Coming True.
Paul Campos at Lawyers, Guns, and Money: Incel nation.
The Washington Post: Texas gunman fantasized over race wars on social media before mass killing.
Philip Bump at The Washington Post: Why non-White people might advocate white supremacy.
Men like Garcia are frightening, but now–thanks to Trump–their horrifying ideologies have infiltrated Republican political culture.
From Media Matters: Hitler-promoting antisemites will speak at Trump’s Miami hotel alongside Eric Trump, Lara Trump, and other Trump personalities.
The Trump National Doral resort will host two antisemites who have promoted pro-Adolf Hitler propaganda and spread virulently antisemitic conspiracy theories. They will be speaking at an event in Miami alongside numerous Team Trump personalities, including Eric Trump, Lara Trump, and Devin Nunes.
Trump Doral speaker Scott McKay, who has a streaming show on Rumble, has claimed that Jewish people orchestrated 9/11 and were responsible for the assassinations of Presidents Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and William McKinley. He has also said that Jewish people routinely torture children and eat their hearts.
He has praised Hitler for supposedly trying to take down a Jewish banking system and said, “Hitler was actually fighting the same people that we’re trying to take down today.”
Trump Doral speaker Charlie Ward, who also streams a show on Rumble, has shared posts praising Hitler for supposedly “warning us” about Judaism; claiming that “VIRUSES are Man (JEW) made”; and attacking the alleged Jewish media for supposedly lying about the Holocaust.
The two are featured speakers in the “ReAwaken America” tour, which is set to stop at Trump’s Miami hotel on May 12 and 13. Scheduled to speak alongside McKay and Ward are numerous members of Trump’s orbit, including: Eric Trump, Lara Trump, former Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former senior Department of Defense official Kash Patel, former acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, Truth Social CEO Devin Nunes, and Trump ally Roger Stone.
Numerous other far-right conspiracy theorists will be speaking, including Stella Immanuel, Mel K, Liz Crokin, Ann Vandersteel, Mike Lindell, and Patrick Byrne.
Media outlets have previously noted that the tour, which has been holding events across the country, has also featured QAnon supporters, conspiracy theories, and Christian nationalist rhetoric.
The tour was initiated by Michael Flynn.
Rachel Maddow talked about this on her MSNBC show last night. Watch the segment at Yahoo News: Rachel Maddow Names Pro-Hitler Speakers Appearing At Same Event As Eric Trump.
The E. Jean Carroll vs. Donald Trump rape trial will go to the jury today. A few stories on that:
Erica Orden at Politico: The Trump rape trial is headed to the jury. Here are the questions jurors will weigh.
In more than four hours of closing arguments, lawyers for both sides offered a series of questions for the jury to consider. Here are some of the most critical. [NOTE: I’ll provide a couple of paragraphs from each question. Read the rest at the link.
Is Carroll credible?
Carroll’s attorneys made their client’s three–day appearance on the witness stand the centerpiece of their case, and during closing arguments her lawyer Roberta Kaplan said her client’s testimony was “credible, it was consistent and it was powerful.” Kaplan told the jury that “every single aspect of what she said is backed up or corroborated by other evidence,” including not just the alleged incident at Bergdorf Goodman, but also Carroll’s account that she told two friends about it contemporaneously.
Kaplan pointed to the testimony of those two friends, saying details from their testimony rang true. One of the friends, Lisa Birnbach, testified that when Carroll called her and told her of the attack, Birnbach was busy feeding dinner to her two young children and went into another room to avoid uttering “rape” in front of them. “The fact that she left the kitchen, by the way, is a very telling detail,” Kaplan said. “It’s the kind of detail you don’t make up.” [….]
Is the “Access Hollywood” tape a confession of sexual assault or “locker room talk”?
Carroll’s attorneys showed, referenced or described parts of this tape at least five separate times during their closing arguments. Kaplan argued that Trump’s infamous commentary captured on a hot mic constitutes a roadmap he has used to repeatedly commit sexual assault. The tape is from 2005 and resurfaced during the 2016 presidential campaign….
“What is Donald Trump doing here? Telling you in his very own words how he treats women,” Kaplan said to the jury. “It’s his modus operandi, M.O.” Or as Ferrara put it: “It was a confession.” [….]
Do other Trump accusers prove a pattern, or are they unrelated?
Kaplan told the jury that the accounts of two other women, Jessica Leeds and Natasha Stoynoff, who testified that Trump sexually assaulted them, demonstrate that Trump’s actions are part of a pattern of sexual assault.
“Three different women, decades apart, but one single pattern of behavior,” Kaplan said. She displayed a chart with photographs of Leeds, Stoynoff and Carroll accompanied by columns titled “semi-public place,” “grab suddenly” and “‘not my type,’” along with checkmarks. Trump has suggested all three women are not the sort to which he would typically be attracted….
How should Trump’s decision not to attend the trial reflect on him?
Carroll’s lawyers seized on Trump’s decision not to attend the trial, testify or put on a defense case.
Trump, Kaplan said, offered “no one to back up a single thing he said.”
“You only saw him on video,” she added. “He didn’t even bother to show up here in person.” [….]
Tacopina used what he described as Carroll’s vagaries about the date of the alleged incident to help explain why Trump didn’t offer any witnesses. “Who are we going to call, someone who wasn’t in Bergdorf Goodman at some unknown date?” Tacopina asked….
Tacopina also told the jury that Carroll could have called his client as a witness, but chose not to. “Instead, what they want is for you to hate him enough to ignore the facts,” he said.
Two more stories on the rape trial:
CNN: What E. Jean Carroll has to prove to win her case against Donald Trump.
One more Trump legal story, before I wrap this up. From NBC News: Trump prohibited from posting evidence in hush money case to social media, judge rules.
The New York state judge presiding over the criminal hush money case against Donald Trump issued an order Monday restricting the former president from posting about some evidence in the case on social media.
Judge Juan Merchan largely sided with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg by limiting what Trump can publicly disclose about new evidence from the prosecution before the case goes to trial.
The order says that “any materials and information provided by the People to the Defense in accordance with their discovery obligations … shall be used solely for the purposes of preparing a defense in this matter.”
Merchan’s order said anyone with access to the evidence being turned over to Trump’s team by state prosecutors “shall not copy, disseminate or disclose” the material to third parties, including social media platforms, “without prior approval from the court.”
It also singles out Trump, saying he is allowed to review sensitive “Limited Dissemination Materials” from prosecutors only in the presence of his lawyers and “shall not be permitted to copy, photograph, transcribe, or otherwise independently possess the Limited Dissemination Materials.”
In addition, the order restricts Trump from reviewing “forensic images of witness cell phones,” although his lawyers can show him “approved portions” of the images after they get permission from the judge.
That’s all I have for you today. Please feel free to discuss any these or any other topics in the comment thread.
Have a nice Tuesday, everyone!!
I’m such a mess today that I accidentally put my post in the trash and had to get Dakinikat to help me get it back.
TRUMP guilty on sexual assault and defamation.
$5 million in damages!!!
Nevertheless, she persisted…
$5 Million in damagex!
Found that they couldn’t decide if he actually raped herbut definitely did the sexual abuse and defamation. $5 million isn’t nearly enough but at least he’ll be throwing ketchup and breaking dishes at having to do this. Hah!.
I think the reasoning behind why the rape charge wasn’t confirmed is hilarious. Per legal commentators on MSNBC: “While she clearly knew he penetrated her with his fingers, she felt something else but she couldn’t see if it was his penis.”
Now I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve never had a problem with any of my male partners telling whether or not it was their penis, even without looking. Trump loves nicknames so much…he’s now officially Micro-dick.
I know this sounds rather childish but the purpose of purchasing a military weapon is to use it. These weapons are costly and owning one without using it would defeat the need.
How else to explain shooting at someone who merely entered the wrong car? Or aiming the gun on someone simply for ringing a doorbell? Or shooting someone over a parking spot? Or firing at strangers who happened to be at a shopping mall, school, movie theater, church, parade, picnic?
Why spend all that money on something stored in the back of a closet? These weapons are bought to be used and finding an excuse to put them to use is not too difficult to come by. Some rely on ideology to carry a weapon. But in many instances it is just as easy to aim and fire simply based on ownership.
“I own a gun therefore I am”. How to explain some idiot willing to wipe out a family, including a child, because that family requested the shooter stop firing his gun because they wanted their infant to sleep in peace? Grab a weapon and eliminate your critics! Stupid and unimaginable? Yes, but this murderer had the means at hand to do just that.
Owning a gun, or a military weapon created for war, is not “the right” of every individual to do as he/she pleases. It is a handy weapon of destruction that makes ownership a ridiculous excuse to use. But it is no different than buying a pair of shoes then never wearing them.
It only makes sense to crave the opportunity of using them regardless of how little sense or logic says otherwise. You use them because you want to. And as we have experienced so many do.
George Santos has been criminally charged by DOJ.
The DOJ? Merrick Garland’s DOJ? Actually charged one of the criminals in Congress? Without first finding a Democrat to charge with cutting in line at the Post Office? So it wouldn’t be POE-litt-ical?