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.
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.
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.”
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 expected. Donald 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.
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:
The Washington Post: Before massacre, Uvalde gunman frequently threatened teen girls online.
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.
Yesterday afternoon, Trump held a “listening session” for victims of school shootings. (He was invited to the CNN town hall, but chose not to attend.) The Washington Post: This photo of Trump’s notes captures his empathy deficit better than anything.
President Trump held a worthwhile listening session Wednesday featuring a range of views on how to combat gun violence in schools. And while Trump’s at-times-meandering comments about arming teachers will certainly raise eyebrows, for the most part he did listen.
Thanks in part, it seems, to a helpful little reminder.
Washington Post photographer Ricky Carioti captured [an] image of Trump’s notes [see photo above].
Yep, right there at No. 5 is a talking point about telling those present that he was actually listening to them. After what appear to be four questions he planned to ask those assembled, No. 5 is an apparent reminder for Trump to tell people, “I hear you.”
Even No. 1 is basically a reminder that Trump should empathize. “What would you most want me to know about your experience?” the card reads.
I was surprised that the people at Trump’s White House meeting were permitted to speak honestly about their experiences. But when Trump himself spoke, it was clear he wasn’t really listening to their pain. You know who wouldn’t have needed those notes? Hillary Clinton.
After teenagers cried about losing friends and being terrorized by a person with an AR-15, after angry, heartbroken parents spoke of losing their children to senseless gun violence, Trump’s brilliant solution was to give teachers with handguns and expect them to kill suicidal shooters with semi-automatic weapons.
Trump must have seen some of the media reaction to this insane suggestion, because this morning he was on twitter claiming he never said it–but then he said it again.
And would these armed teachers be paid extra for this dangerous duty? Would the government pay for training them? Wouldn’t all this time spent training take away from their actual job of classroom teaching, which requires plenty of preparation and time spend grading papers? Trump isn’t concerned about all that: “far more assets at much less cost.” Trump sees teachers as slave labor!
Trump must have heard from his supporters at the NRA, because he later tweeted this:
Trump learned absolutely nothing from his “listening session.” Last night Lawrence O’Donnell explain why Trump’s idea is utterly insane. Check it out if you didn’t see it.
More from @Lawrence:
Philip Bump at The Washington Post: The economics of arming America’s schools. Bump begins with Trump’s proposal:
“A lot of people are talking about it — it’s certainly a point that we’ll discuss,” Trump said. “But concealed-carry for teachers and for people of talent — of that type of talent — so let’s say you had 20 percent of your teaching force. Because that’s pretty much the number, and you said it — an attack has lasted, on average, about three minutes. It takes five to eight minutes for responders — for the police to come in. So the attack is over. If you had a teacher with — who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly.”
Data from the Department of Education indicates that there are an estimated 3.1 million public school and 400,000 private-schoolteachers in the United States. In total, there are about 3.6 million teachers.
One-fifth of that total is 718,000 — a bit fewer than the number of people in the Army and the Navy combined as of last December. We’d essentially be adding 50 percent to the size of the military by mandating that three-quarters of a million people be trained and prepared to take up arms to defend civilians.
The first cost that needs to be considered is training. What sort of training would be required isn’t clear. Do we want to simply teach the teachers how to target an individual and fire a weapon? Or do we want something more expansive?
Let’s say we want the bare minimum, just enough to pass the safety requirement for gun ownership. In Maryland, there’s a company that will charge you $100 for that training. The cost, then, would be about $71.8 million for all of our teachers.
I’ll let you read the rest at the link. I think the proposal is idiotic. Would Trump expect teachers to pay for this training? It’s a good thing teachers have unions.
As an antidote to all this insanity, here’s a Tweet from Barack Obama:
In other news, Bernie Sanders is on the defensive after indictments from Robert Mueller made it clear that the Russians supported Sanders’ primary campaign against Hillary Clinton.
Bernie Sanders on Wednesday blamed Hillary Clinton for not doing more to stop the Russian attack on the last presidential election. Then his 2016 campaign manager, in an interview with POLITICO, said he’s seen no evidence to support special counsel Robert Mueller’s assertion in an indictment last week that the Russian operation had backed Sanders’ campaign.
The remarks showed Sanders, running for a third term and currently considered a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, deeply defensive in response to questions posed to him about what was laid out in the indictment. He attempted to thread a response that blasts Donald Trump for refusing to acknowledge that Russians helped his campaign — but then holds himself harmless for a nearly identical denial.
In doing so, Sanders and his former campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, presented a series of self-serving statements that were not accurate, and that track with efforts by Trump and his supporters to undermine the credibility of the Mueller probe.“The real question to be asked is what was the Clinton campaign [doing about Russian interference]? They had more information about this than we did,” Sanders said in the interview with Vermont Public Radio.
Some Twitter reactions:
According to CNN, HR McMaster could be on the way out: McMaster could leave WH after months of tension with Trump.
With tensions flaring between President Donald Trump and national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the Pentagon is considering options that would allow the President to potentially move the three-star general out of his current role and back into the military, according to half a dozen defense and administration officials.
A search is quietly being conducted by the Pentagon to see if there is a four-star military job suited for McMaster, these officials said.
Several sources told CNN that the push for a replacement comes after months of personal tension between McMaster and Trump. The task of easing McMaster out of his role as national security adviser presents a unique challenge for the White House.
While administration officials have privately said the preference is to move McMaster into a position within the Army or Defense Department that qualifies as a promotion, some within the Pentagon feel he has become politicized in the White House and have expressed reservations about him returning to the military in a prominent role. Some defense officials caution that the President could also go as far as not to offer him a fourth star and force him to retire.
Read more at the CNN link.
I’ll end with a bit of positive news from the Dallas Morning News: Fueled by a Democratic surge, Texans turn out in force on first day of early voting.
AUSTIN — Of the 51,249 Texans who cast ballots Tuesday on the first day of early voting, more than half voted in the Democratic primary.
The total number of voters from the 15 counties with the most people registered is high for a midterm year. In 2016, a presidential election year, 55,931 Texans voted on the first day of early voting for the primary. But in the last midterm election in 2014, only 38,441 Texans voted on the first day.
Even more surprising is the turnout among Democrats. Since the last midterm election, the party saw a 51 percent increase in first-day early voting turnout, while Republicans saw a 16 percent increase….
Political experts attribute much of Texas’ increased voter turnout as a reaction to the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, as well as the state’s eight open congressional seats.
“In general, there seems to be more energy, largely stemming from people’s reactions to President Trump and a lot of Democrat-leaning groups trying to get people out and organized,” said Robert Lowry, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. “It’s maybe more Democrats than Republicans, but people who oppose him and don’t like the results of the election and can’t believe he won, [saying] ‘We obviously can’t vote against him this time but we can try to get more Democrats elected to respond to him.'”
What else is happening? What stories are you following today?
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.
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.
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.”
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: Florida school shooting suspect was ex-student who was flagged as threat.
The Daily Beast: Florida Shooter Made Sick Use of School’s Active-Shooter Drill.
That’s all I have for today. Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.
Once again we see the results of toxic religious zealotry and resentment whipped up to the point that some nutter feels compelled to kill in the case of the Orlando massacre. This occurs all too frequently in this country. You may recall the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting where we saw Robert Dear go on a shooting spree with the same deadly combination of anger whipped up by right wing politicians and preachers, mental illness, and easy access to weapons. One claimed ISIS inspiration and Islamofascism. The other was inspired by Christofascists in the US that bring you terror in the name of Fetus Fetishism.
We still haven’t heard about the motives of the Indiana man–a 20 year old white guy–in terms of why he was going after participants and viewers of a California Gay Pride parade. Suffice it to say, the politicization of the private lives of the GLBT community by Republicans, their presidential candidate, and the various religious whackos that they court likely will come into play at some point.
Harassing and encouraging anger is just one political tool used regularly by Republicans these days. I have noticed that the silence is deafening right now on James Wesley Howell. The press can is clearly focused on the bloodbath and the sensational background of the Pulse Shooter rather than wondering why we manage to get bigger and badder displays of hatred and anger these days. I’m not sure that most people realize that any Abrahamic-based religion is going to beget violence in some folks. It goes with territory. A few of them take retribution and strict commandments from their angry sky fairy way too seriously. This is especially the case if they have some kind of severe emotional or mental disorder.
(Spoiler Alert) It’s the easy access to guns of all kinds in this country. The irresponsible and cynical use of anger and outrage to gain power and money is out of control. Religion is just another vehicle to whip up the anger and the outrage and it frequently turns deadly.
The weapon of choice for mass shooters is the AR-15 rifle. This is one of the weapons that was included in the assault weapons ban signed by Bill Clinton in 1994 that expired in 2004. The rifle was used in Orlando, Aurora, Newton, and San Bernadino. It’s easily obtainable and the latest shooter–who had a history of Domestic Violence and was under the eye of the FBI for terrorist rantings–had a license to carry it and to obtain it legally. Let that sink in.
There were calls to ban the weapon after the Newtown shootings, which led to a spike in sales. Gun manufacturers have called the AR-15 one of the most popular weapons in the U.S., with more than 3 million estimated to be in circulation.
“It was designed for the United States military to do to enemies of war exactly what it did this morning: kill mass numbers of people with maximum efficiency and ease,” lawyer Josh Koskoff, who’s representing Newtown families in their lawsuit against the gun industry, said Sunday.
Regulations on magazine capacity for the weapon vary from state to state, but it can fire 45 rounds a minute.
Most forms of the gun had been prohibited under the 1994 federal assault weapons ban that was allowed to expire in 2004, following ferocious lobbying by the National Rifle Association.
The NRA has used its lobbying might in the years since to bury attempts to revive the ban.
“During the decade of the ban, there were half as many casualties in mass shootings as the decade before, and a third as many casualties in mass shootings as the decade after,” said Richard Aborn of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, a strategist involved in the original legislation.
Hillary Clinton has called for a renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban that her husband signed in his first term. This is one of the reasons that I am so happy she is the nominee. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has some extremely neoconfederate views of gun control that he reiterated yesterday. He believes it is a state and local issue, voted against the Brady Bill many many times, and has supported relieving gun manufacturers and stores of any liability for the damage done by their product.
Hillary Clinton has called for the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban in the wake of the worst mass shooting in American history that left 49 people and the gunman dead at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
In forthright comments a day after the massacre at the Pulse Club, the presumptive presidential nominee for the Democratic party issued a call for a return to “commonsense gun safety reform” and lambasted the Republican-controlled Congress for what she called a “totally incomprehensible” refusal to address the country’s lax gun laws.
“We can’t fall into the trap set up by the gun lobby that says if you cannot stop every shooting you shouldn’t try to stop any,” she said.
Clinton’s tough stance on gun control sets up a torrid fight with her Republican rival for the White House Donald Trump, who has positioned himself as a champion of the second amendment and dismissed any calls for greater gun controls as weakness. She insisted that while she did believe that law-abiding American citizens have the right to own guns, it was also possible to see that “reasonable, commonsense measures” could be taken that would make people more safe from guns.
One of the things that stuns me is the ease with which a guy on the FBI threat radar could get a permit to carry and purchase a rifle that no civilian should own.
A day after the deadliest mass shooting in US history, questions are mounting over why the shooter Omar Mateen was legally able to buy an assault rifle and handgun despite having been investigated twice by the FBI for suspected terrorist sympathies.
Mateen, 29, launched his attack on Pulse club, an LGBT venue in downtown Orlando celebrating its popular Latin dance night, at 2.02am on Sunday morning.
Twenty minutes into the spree he took the bizarre step of making a 911 call in which he reportedly referred both to Islamic State and the Tsarnaevs, the brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013.
Sunday’s attack – which left 49 clubgoers dead and 53 injured – was launched by Mateen using a .223-caliber assault rifle and 9mm semi-automatic pistol with multiple rounds of ammunition that had been purchased quite lawfully in the week before the rampage using Mateen’s firearms license. Mateen was shot dead by police.
He also held a permit to work as a security guard, which he did at a courthouse in Port St Lucie, Florida, even though he was interviewed three times by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 following separate reports of extremist behavior and connections to terrorism that were in the end deemed insubstantial.
Mateen was released because no evidence of wrongdoing was found by the FBI. He’s a natural born American so that provides him the usual protections. This is something that appears to have blown completely pass Donald Trump whose rhetoric and bragging were dialed up to 11 yesterday. He revisited his call to ban all Muslims from entering the country despite the fact that all three of the shooters claiming support for Islamofascim–Nidal Hassn (Fort Hood),Syed Rizwan Farook, (San Bernardino) , and Mateen (Orlando)–were American citizens. Only Farook’s wife–Tashfeen Malik–was foreign born.
The presumptive Republican nominee pulled no punches in a lengthy statement yesterday, going so far as to call for Barack Obama to resign and reiterating his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States (despite the fact that the shooter was born in New York).
“In his remarks today, President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘Radical Islam’. For that reason alone, he should step down,” Trump said in his press release. “If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words ‘Radical Islam’ she should get out of this race for the Presidency. If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore. Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen – and it is only going to get worse. I am trying to save lives and prevent the next terrorist attack. We can’t afford to be politically correct anymore.”
“We admit more than 100,000 lifetime migrants from the Middle East each year. Since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States,” Trump added. “Hillary Clinton wants to dramatically increase admissions from the Middle East, bringing in many hundreds of thousands during a first term – and we will have no way to screen them, pay for them, or prevent the second generation from radicalizing.” (To be fair, this mischaracterizes Clinton’s position.)
The statement followed a stream of self-congratulatory tweets.
Clinton has decided to adopt the use of radical Islam. Let’s hope she will also be brave enough to point out radical Christians like Ted Cruz’s “Kill the Gays” pastor or the horrid group at Westborough Baptist Church. She used the term on several morning news shows today.
Hillary Clinton on Monday broke from President Barack Obama in referring to the terrorist attack as “radical Islamism,” countering Donald Trump’s accusations that both she and Obama are weak on tackling terrorist threats.
In an interview with NBC’s “Today” on Monday morning, Clinton said words matter less than actions, but that she didn’t have a problem using the term.
“And from my perspective, it matters what we do, not what we say. It matters that we got Bin Laden, not what name we called him,” Clinton said. “But if he is somehow suggesting I don’t call this for what it is, he hasn’t been listening. I have clearly said we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism, and we will.”
Both terms “mean the same thing,” Clinton continued, adding, “And to me, radical jihadism, radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing. I’m happy to say either, but that’s not the point.”
“I have clearly said many, many times we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism or radical Islamism, whatever you call it,” Clinton said later on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” reiterating, “it’s the same.”
The U.S. cannot, on the other hand, she added, “demonize, demagogue and declare war on an entire religion.” Clinton also said she could assure Americans that she is equally committed to fighting Islamic extremism as well as protecting law-abiding Muslims.
President Obama said Monday that the Orlando mass murder was “inspired” by violent extremist propaganda on the internet and there’s no evidence the killing spree was ordered by ISIS.
“We see no clear evidence that he was directed externally,” Obama said from the Oval Office, using another name from the Islamic State terror group. “It does appear that at the last minute he announced allegiance to ISIL.”
Obama said investigators are tracing Omar Mateen’s “pathway” to murder by reviewing his internet searches and other materials.
“It appears that the shooter was inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated over the internet,” Obama said.
“All those materials are currently being searched … so we will have a better sense of pathway that the killer took in the making a decision to launch this attack.”
Obama made the brief remarks after meeting with FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and other security officials.
The Orlando shooting and the shooting that might have been in California both are rooted in hate and easy access to guns. Both shooter and potential shooter had histories of mental illness. The Orlando shooter had a history of Domestic violence which in many states would stop him from getting access to any gun. Clearly, we have a problem in this country with hate and guns turned on the hapless population. One of our political parties has weaponized hatred and bigotry then enabled shooters by catering to all the whims of the most radical elements of the NRA gun lobby.
Clinton is right. This has to end on all accounts.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
On Thursday, I wrote about Bernie Sanders’ embarrassing interview with The New York Daily News. In a little-noted exchange in that interview, Sanders coldly and heartlessly dismissed the arguments of relatives of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre that they should be able to sue the manufacturer and seller of the AR-15, the gun used to kill 20 first graders and and 6 adults in Newtown CT in 2012. I mentioned that I had more to say about Sanders’ stance on guns and Vermont’s almost non-existent gun laws.
Once again, here is that exchange with the NY Daily News editorial board:
Daily News: There’s a case currently waiting to be ruled on in Connecticut. The victims of the Sandy Hook massacre are looking to have the right to sue for damages the manufacturers of the weapons. Do you think that that is something that should be expanded?
Sanders: Do I think the victims of a crime with a gun should be able to sue the manufacturer, is that your question?
Daily News: Correct.
Sanders: No, I don’t.
Daily News: Let me ask you. I know we’re short on time. Two quick questions. Your website talks about…
Sanders: No, let me just…I’m sorry. In the same sense that if you’re a gun dealer and you sell me a gun and I go out and I kill him [gestures to someone in room]…. Do I think that that gun dealer should be sued for selling me a legal product that he misused? [Shakes head no.] But I do believe that gun manufacturers and gun dealers should be able to be sued when they should know that guns are going into the hands of wrong people. So if somebody walks in and says, “I’d like 10,000 rounds of ammunition,” you know, well, you might be suspicious about that. So I think there are grounds for those suits, but not if you sell me a legal product.
Sanders argued this case on the Thom Hartmann radio show on the afternoon of the Sandy Hook school shooting.
Hunter Walker at Yahoo News, Jan. 9, 2016: Sanders defended protections for gun manufacturers on the day of the Newtown massacre.
Sanders appeared on The Thom Hartmann Program in the hours after the shooting, on Dec. 14, 2012. On the show, he was asked if the parents of the victims had “any recourse against the gun manufacturer.” Sanders suggested he would seek solutions that did not place blame on firearms makers.
“I don’t know that you hold a gun manufacturer responsible for what obviously a deranged person does. The issue is what is the best way forward to prevent these types of horrible occurrences? How do we make sure the guns do not get into the hands of people who are mentally ill? How do we make sure that people own guns which are only designed to kill people not to be used for hunting or target practices? So I mean there’s a lot to be discussed, and I think we’ve got to do something. We don’t want to read about this every month. So, it is an issue we’re going to have to address,” Sanders said.
Although Hillary Clinton did not in fact ever say that Sanders is “unqualified” to be POTUS, I personally believe that his views on guns should disqualify him from running for president as a Democrat.
The assault weapon used in the Sandy Hook massacre is a gun that is, in Bernie’s words, “designed to kill people, not to used for hunting or target practice.” Nevertheless, Bernie argues that the relatives of the Sandy Hook victims should not be able to sue the gun manufacturer for heavily promoting the popular AR-15 assault weapon that Adam Lanza used to kill 20 first graders and 6 adults on December 14, 2012.
Sanders often defends his stance on guns by talking about his largely rural home state, Vermont where hunting is valued and where the murder rate is incredibly low. This is true, but Vermont does is not an island in a bubble that has no effect on other states.
Vermont’s loose laws allow gun traffickers to easily and cheaply buy weapons in Sanders’ state and sell them in urban areas in Massachusetts, New York and other northeastern states where gun laws are much stricter. The Boston Globe has published multiple articles about this serious problem over the past several years. The problem is tied up with the drug trade as well. Here’s just one example from the Globe from April 2014:
Frank Caraballo of Holyoke settled behind the wheel of his car carrying a stash of crack cocaine, his destination a supermarket parking lot in Brattleboro, where he would trade the drugs for a Glock 9mm handgun, prosecutors said.
It was a journey — and a deal — all too familiar to law enforcement authorities who have watched with increasing alarm as narcotics from Massachusetts are ferried to Vermont and swapped for guns that are plentiful and cheap.
And as the case of Frank Caraballo showed, the drugs-for-guns trade can end with deadly consequences: A few weeks after Caraballo purchased the gun in 2011, a woman whom he suspected had stolen from him was shot dead with a Glock 9mm in rural Vermont. Last October, Caraballo was convicted in the killing.
“You don’t know which one came first, the chicken or the egg, but guns are being traded for drugs, and drug dealers are coming here with their product,” said Jim Mostyn, the Vermont agent in charge for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. “Drug dealers are aware that guns are readily available here.”
It’s an excellent article, and I hope you’ll read the rest. This is why we need Federal gun laws. Why isn’t Bernie Sanders addressing this issue that is hurting people in Vermont as well as Massachusetts and other states? Why isn’t the media asking him about it?
Here’s another article from July 2015 published by In These Times, which has endorsed Bernie Sanders.
The Vermont-New York Heroin-and-Guns Carousel That Can Make Dealers a 1,400% Profit. The headline focuses on NYC, but Massachusetts is also a big part of the story.
Pssst. Want an unregistered semi-automatic handgun, some heroin and a way to make a 1,400 percent profit?
First, the gun. In Vermont, you can legally buy it through a “private” sale at a gun show, yard sale, online or from a dealer. Doesn’t matter if you’re a convicted murderer with a history of mental illness and a restraining order for domestic abuse. Anyone 16 or older with $600 can, for example, go to Armslist.com and arrange with a “private party” in Arlington, Vt., to pick up a “Zastava M92 PV 7.62 x 39 cal. semi auto pistol that has a 10 inch barrel, comes with 2 each 30 round clips.” The Serbian assault weapon is, the ad notes, the “very cool … pistol version of the AK-47.”
Then, if you are willing to break the law, you can drive the weapon to New York, where semi-automatic handguns are banned, and sell it for triple the Vermont price. You can invest the $1,800 in heroin. Back in Vermont, where heroin is in relatively short supply, you can resell it for five times the New York cost and garner $9,000—a quick 1,400 percent profit.
Guns a ridiculously easy to get in Vermont.
Vermont has some of the loosest gun laws in the country. You can legally buy 50-caliber sniper rifles with scopes, sawed-off shotguns, semiautomatic pistols that can kill a moose, and armor-piercing bullets. No background check, no waiting period or limit on how many guns you can buy or own. You can use a false name and need no identification or registration. The magazine size is not restricted. And you can display the new gun on your hip or stuff it in your underpants for all the state cares. All legal. And as long as you “don’t know” the firearms will be used for criminal purposes, you can immediately resell the guns to a 21-year-old with racist insignias on his jacket, two prison escapees from upstate New York, a whacked-out drug dealer, a certified paranoid with a tinfoil hat, or a drunk 16-year-old (that’s the age to own a handgun without parental consent; there’s no age restriction on possessing a rifle or shotgun)….
We have seen that, like maple syrup, firearms cross state lines. One makes your pancakes delicious, the other fuels crime and murder. “Firearm traffickers travel to Vermont for the purchase of firearms from unlicensed sources and then travel back to more restrictive states,” Massachusetts Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent Christopher J. Arone tells In These Times. Vermont exports more guns per capita than any other New England state and ranks 16th nationwide. Hundreds of crime-linked guns originally purchased there have been recovered by out-of-state law enforcement.
Again, please read the whole thing. If Sanders were truly the courageous leader he claims to be, he should be able to have some influence on this situation. Instead, he simply accepts it because Vermont’s guns aren’t killing Vermonters–they are killing people in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and other nearby states.
Bernie’s cowardly stance on guns is beginning to get more attention as we approach the New York primary on April 19, and I hope he will be forced to answer some tough questions about they way his own state is contributing to crime in other states and his state’s absence of serious gun laws is leading to hundreds of deaths from heroin in Vermont.
At a heated press conference outside of City Hall in New York City on Friday, families of those affected by mass shootings urged the Vermont senator to apologize for his recent comments on guns, reiterating calls that some of them said were previously unanswered and dismissed….
Erica Smegielski, the 30-year-old daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary Principal Dawn Hochsprung, complained during Friday’s press conference — excerpts and audio of which the Clinton campaign emailed to reporters afterwards — that Sanders had ignored her call to admit his stance on the lawsuit is wrong and instead attacked his rival in the Democratic presidential primary.
“It is so shameful that you ignored my call for an apology and when pushed by a reporter, instead of responding to me, you attacked Hillary Clinton,” Smegielski said.
Sandy Phillips, who lost her daughter Jessica Ghawi during the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in July 2012, said that Sanders had treated her family disrespectfully during a phone call.
“Bernie promised to meet with us face to face,” she said about Sanders, who has been campaigning in New York. “We did have a telephone conversation, he was 15 minutes late to that telephone conversation. The first thing he had the nerve to say to my husband was ‘I’m very busy,’” she said. “Well Senator Sanders, we had been busy too. We had been busy burying our daughter.”
“Because of Bernie Sanders and others who voted like him, I and other Sandy Hook families are waiting for justice,” said Jillian Soto, who lost her sister Victoria at Sandy Hook. “I believe Remington acted irresponsibly and should be held accountable. I deserve for a jury to determine that, not the politicians in Washington, like Bernie Sanders.”
“Remington and others designed and executed an immoral marketing campaign that specifically targets violent-prone, military-obsessed young men and the result is both predictable and deadly,” she added. “Our families want the marketers, distributors, and sellers of the AR-15 held accountable for what happened at Sandy Hook. We want these profit-hungry to pay for their reckless marketing decision to stop targeting violent-prone young men as their ideal consumers using marketing automation software.”
Read the rest at Politico. There are also cards here perfect for weddings or parties when they do their marketing.
I know there is much more interesting news today. What stories are you following? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a relaxing weekend.