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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Revealed! The secret reason FedEx supports the slaught lobby 

by Spocko

So it turns out that the reason FedEx didn't walk away from their discount for NRA members was the money they make from shipping guns. Surprise! From Thinkprogress.

EXCLUSIVE: FedEx’s secret deal with the NRA and the gun industry
While publicly trying to distance itself from the NRA, FedEx has made a secret agreement with the association and other major players in the firearms industry.

Base photo Justin Sullivan, Getty Images 
FedEx cut a deal with gun manufacturers on shipping guns in order to compete with UPS.
But FedEx’s decision to stand by the NRA probably has less to do with shipping NRA polo shirts than a much more profitable business: shipping guns.
In a stark contrast with FedEx’s recent attempts to distance itself from the gun lobby, the internal company document obtained by ThinkProgress outlines in great detail precisely how FedEx has secretly agreed to bend its own rules on gun shipments for powerful forces in the gun industry, including all major gun manufacturers and the NRA itself. 
The document, labeled “Confidential information. Internal use only,” was provided to ThinkProgress by a FedEx employee, who asked to remain anonymous due to concern that disclosing the document would cause the source to be terminated.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) won’t mail handguns except under certain rare circumstances, mostly for relic collection and museum purposes, meaning almost all handgun shipments need to go through either the United Parcel Service (UPS) or FedEx.
UPS requires all handguns be shipped overnight, according to its website.
FedEx’s public policy, like UPS’s, is that “[f]irearms must be shipped via FedEx Priority Overnight service,” according to the company’s 2018 Service Guide, which also states that FedEx will not transport handguns via FedEx Ground.
But FedEx does not apply its public rules to everyone. According to the document, the company has struck a deal with dozens of major gun manufacturers and dealers in an effort to woo the industry away from competitors with lower cost shipping. The agreement, which has not been previously reported, shows how important the handgun shipment business is to FedEx.
“Some customers have been approved for an exception to ship firearms with a 2-day (AM or PM) service,” the document says. Those customers include 86 firearms manufacturers and dealers, including nearly every major company in the business, like Smith & Wesson, Colt, Glock, SIG Sauer, and the NRA itself.

Corporations make a lot of money on guns. Not just the obvious ones like gun manufacturers, but all the industries that support it. Some of that money goes back to the NRA. The NRA then uses that money to lobby lawmakers.

If you do something that threatens or reduces these revenue streams, the companies that lose that money will fight back. Hard. They will enlist any allies they can to ensure they don't lose their revenue.

FedEx is using it's 'common carrier' status as a way to talk about non-discrimination on shipping. But a marketing deal is not the same as discrimination on shipping.

FedEx has a special price sheet for guns and ammo customers, they knew that if they dissed the NRA their gun manufacturing customers might take their business to UPS to protest.

So they listened to the big money, figuring they could hold off on the PR pain till this blew over. But they were busted by this ThinkProgress piece. Good job Addy Baird and Judd Legum! h/t to BL for the link.
A Teacher With A Gun

by tristero

Arming teachers is such an insanely stupid and idiotic idea that it doesn't deserve further discussion. But just for the record, this is one of the things that will happen far more often when teachers have guns:

A Georgia high school teacher is in custody after authorities say he barricaded himself inside an empty classroom and fired a handgun while students stood outside the door. 
The shooting, which took place around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, led to a frantic lockdown at Dalton High School that resulted in only a minor ankle injury to a student as she was running down the halls, police said at a press conference. 
Dalton police spokesman Bruce Frazier said the teacher, identified as social studies teacher Jesse Randal Davidson, 53, had locked himself inside of the room, refusing to allow students inside. 
“When the principal put a key in the door to try to unlock the classroom, Mr. Davidson apparently fired a shot from a handgun through an exterior window of the classroom. It does not appear that it was aimed at anybody,” Frazier said.

Sex and Trump and Deripaska

by digby

Grab yourself a stiff shot of something strong and get ready to read something so strange you'll think you are living in the middle of a John LeCarre novel.

Holy smokes:
A self-described sex expert whose videos highlighted the ties between one of Russia’s richest men and the Kremlin has been jailed in Thailand and is calling for U.S. help, claiming she has information about links between Russia and President Trump.

Anastasia Vashukevich, an escort-service worker from Belarus who catapulted to a certain measure of fame after filming a yacht trip with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko, was detained in Thailand over the weekend in a police raid on her “sex training” seminar. While still in custody on Tuesday, she published Instagram videos asking U.S. journalists and intelligence agencies to help her.

Deripaska, with whom Vashukevich said she had an affair, used to employ former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. But Vashukevich, better known by the alias Nastya Rybka, provided no evidence on Tuesday to back up the claim that she had new information to offer related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. A post to her Instagram account showed her sitting on the floor of what was described as a Thai jail cell and said she was sick.

“I am the only witness and the missing link in the connection between Russia and the U.S. elections — the long chain of Oleg Deripaska, Prikhodko, Manafort, and Trump,” Vashukevich said in a live Instagram video Tuesday, apparently shot as she was driven in an open-air police van through the Thai resort city of Pattaya. “In exchange for help from U.S. intelligence services and a guarantee of my safety, I am prepared to provide the necessary information to America or to Europe or to the country which can buy me out of Thai prison.”

Vashukevich said in her video that she had already given an interview to U.S. broadcaster NBC. Representatives for Vashukevich and Deripaska did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman declined to comment.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny made Vashukevich famous last month after he broadcast old footage from her Instagram account showing an August 2016 yacht trip with Deripaska and Prikhodko. Navalny used the footage to allege that Deripaska, a metals magnate, had bribed Prikhodko, one of Russia’s most influential government officials, with the luxury getaway accompanied by women from an escort service.

Navalny also speculated that Deripaska and Prikhodko may have served as a link between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign in 2016, though Vashukevich’s videos offered no proof. According to emails described to The Washington Post last year, Manafort — who once worked for Deripaska — directed an associate to offer Deripaska “private briefings” about Trump’s presidential campaign. A Deripaska spokeswoman said he was never offered such briefings.

Prikhodko called Navalny a “political loser” whose investigation combined “the possible and the impossible.” Deripaska said Navalny’s “allegations have nothing to do with reality” and sued Vashukevich for violating his privacy. A court ordered Instagram to remove some of Vashukevich’s posts.

According to her Instagram account, Vashukevich was in Dubai when Navalny’s video came out and then traveled to the Thai beach resort of Pattaya. On Sunday, according to Russian news reports, Thai police raided a sex seminar for Russian tourists in which Vashukevich was participating. Attendees paid more than $600 each for a five-day course, Russian media said.

Did you get all that?

I'm going to take a break now. This rabbit hole is getting stuffy.

Update: Oh, by the way, Kushner lost his top security clearance. Probably in some part because of this:

Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter.

Among those nations discussing ways to influence Kushner to their advantage were the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico, the current and former officials said.

Once again ---

More of that Trump "populism" for 2018

by digby

The good news is all those tax cuts are such a big help that they don't have to worry about their economic anxiety anymore. They can get right to the nitty gritty:

Now we're talking. No need to pretend, just let it all hang out. The only thing that's missing is calling the rest of the world a shithole.

By the way, these candidates aren't the only ones with this message:


This is not hypocrisy, it's cynical, ignorant, rank dishonesty

by digby

NBC's First Read notices that Trump is inconsistent on his concerns about national security:

If there was one issue Donald Trump campaigned on more aggressively than the others in 2016, it was the importance of handling classified information — when it came to Hillary Clinton’s private email account and server.

“She set up this illegal server knowing full well that her actions put our national security at risk and put the safety and security of your children and your families at risk,” Trump said in Phoenix, Ariz., on Oct. 29, 2016.

“Think of it, can you imagine Anthony Weiner has probably every classified email ever sent. And knowing this guy, he probably studied every single one, in between using his machine for other purposes,” Trump added in Tampa, Fla., on Nov. 5, 2016, referring to the FBI looking at Clinton emails that were on a computer owned by Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her husband Anthony Weiner.

“Hillary Clinton will be under investigation for a long, long time for her many crimes against our nation, our people, our democracy, likely concluding in a criminal trial,” he said on Nov. 6, 2016 in Minnesota.

Why is this stroll down memory lane important? Yesterday, we learned that White House senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner — who had access to highly classified information and was even viewing the Presidential Daily Brief — lost his top-security clearance.

That came, of course, after NBC News reported that scores of top White House aides, including Kushner, lacked permanent security clearances. And also yesterday we learned from the Washington Post that officials “in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter.”

And who can forget this story from last spring? “President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.”

We’ve seen the Trump White House engage in plenty of hypocrisy over the past year — the vows to clean up the “swamp,” the promises that wealthy Americans wouldn’t benefit under the tax law — but its carelessness about who is seeing classified information might be the biggest hypocrisy of all.

And regarding that Washington Post report about how foreign governments have discussed how they can manipulate Kushner, no one can survive a story like that — unless you’re the president’s son-in-law.

"Hypocrisy" implies that Trump actually understands the importance of national security and simply holds himself to a different standard than he held Clinton. He doesn't know what it is and doesn't care. He won't even read his briefing. He publicly called on the Russian government to help him win during the campaign. He never hid his ignorance and malevolence. The media just pretended that it was an act.

I have said it a million times. Republicans don't care about hypocrisy. They use it against Democrats because they do care. But if anything thinks calling them out about it will result in the GOP feeling shame, think again. They laugh at the idea. Worrying about hypocrisy is for weaklings and suckers.


Admiral Rogers and the Parscale gambit

by digby

I wrote about the startling testimony of Admiral Rogers in light of Trump's decision to choose his 2016 digital guru as his re-election campaign manager three years out for Salon this morning:

Tuesday was an exhausting news day. It started with President Donald Trump quoting a bunch of Fox News guests proclaiming his innocence and culminated in what can only be described as a primal tweet:

That was just the beginning. We learned that Jared Kushner has had his top security clearance downgraded — and it was likely because National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster found out that he has been having meetings with foreign dignitaries on the sly, while certain governments have been keenly interested in taking advantage of his inexperience, debt and blatant conflicts of interest. And that's not even counting the fact that he's up to his neck in the Russia investigation. The White House insists that he's still got his portfolio of bringing Middle East peace and handling relations with China and Mexico, among other things, but nobody can figure out how he can possibly do it if he is not privy to the top U.S. intelligence.

The president could, of course, just slip him the paperwork — he has that power — but it appears that Trump is trying to put a little public distance between himself and his son-in law, only mustering a lame defense that he's been "treated unfairly" and that he's a good person who works for nothing. (Trump doesn't seem to realize that we all know that rich people in great debt who work for free, like Kushner and Paul Manafort, might be getting something else out of the deal.)

Meanwhile, White House Communications Director Hope Hicks testified before the House Intelligence Committee and, like Steve Bannon before her, apparently just refused to answer most of their questions. The White House has not claimed executive privilege and she didn't plead the Fifth — so normally this would result in a witness being held in contempt of Congress. But this committee is run by Devin Nunes and his Trump coverup band of Republicans, so that was that. She did admit to telling some "white lies" on her boss's behalf sometimes, so that's something.

In other news, The Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand got a hold of private Twitter messages revealing that Trump pal and Nixon dirty trickster Roger Stone was actually in touch with Wikileaks during the campaign, even though he said he wasn't. Joshua Partlow and David A. Fahrenthold at The Washington Post reported that police arrested a security guard at a Trump hotel in Panama when the hotel’s majority owner tried to fire the Trump Organization and Trump employees wouldn't leave. Now the Panamanian government is involved in the dispute, which causes exactly the kind of conflict of interest that might be expected when a president refuses to divest himself of properties and interests in foreign countries.

But perhaps the most important story of the day was a rather stunning appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Admiral Mike Rogers, director of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command. On the verge of retirement and clearly not pulling any punches, he let it all hang out, testifying that the president hasn't issued any special directives to counter Russian election interference and saying “Clearly, what we’ve done hasn’t been enough.” He specifically criticized the administration’s decision not to bother implementing sanctions mandated by Congress as punishment for their intrusion in 2016:

Not just the sanctions but more broadly, my concern is, I believe that President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion there’s little price to pay here, and that therefore I can continue this activity . . . everything, both as the director of NSA and what I see on the Cyber Command side, leads me to believe that if we don’t change the dynamic here, this is going to continue and 2016 won’t be viewed as something isolated. This is something that will be sustained over time.

One can only surmise that President Trump is fine with that, assured for some reason that he will be the beneficiary. In fact, he is so fine with it that he announced he had hired his controversial digital guru from 2016, Brad Parscale, as his campaign manager for 2020.

You may be wondering why in the world Trump is announcing his campaign manager already — after only a year in office. But Trump seems to love campaigning more than being president, which he isn't very good at. There is also the matter of a lot of fundraising already being done for the campaign, large amounts of it being spent on salaries for relatives and cronies of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, along with big bucks for rent in Trump Tower. It's best to have someone "managing" all that money.

Parscale would normally be an odd choice for such a job. He is enmeshed in some very shady business deals, although that seems to be a requirement for any job with Donald Trump. He had no political experience before 2016; he basically was a webmaster who fell into the job of working with Jared Kushner and the shadowy digital companyCambridge Analytica on their social media strategy, which was the only sophisticated aspect of their operation.

Parscale took credit for developing the Facebook and Twitter strategies that he claims won Trump the election, so choosing him for a top Trump 2020 campaign job while the Russia investigation is ongoing is simply mind-boggling. After all, special counsel Robert Mueller just indicted 13 Russians for using those platforms for their propaganda effort, and there is plenty of suspicion that more Americans may have been involved in targeting and strategy.

Nobody knows if Parscale was involved — but he was very, very close to the action. And it's not as if there aren't any other campaign operatives Trump could turn to. After all, the person who really ran his campaign is right there in the White House — Kellyanne Conway.

Trump's top intelligence officials are all saying that he hasn't bothered to order any kind of serious response to the interference, and they believe the Russian government understands that it is free to keep going. With the naming of Parscale, it's almost as if Trump's sending a message to interested parties that he's counting on the "digital campaign" to win the election for him in 2020, and he's putting the man in charge who will see to it that anyone who wants to "volunteer" will get all the help they need.

Dear Leader protects the Nunes strategy

by digby

I think people are forgetting how incredible this is. If we learned in the past that a president had said this in private it would have been a scandal. Now he says it in public and it innoculates him because everyone says "oh it's just a tweet." He's still the president and this is still outreageous:

Basically he believes that the Inspector General may not back his lackey Devin Nunes' strategy to paint the FBI as full of Clinton stooges so he's publicly demeaning him and calling his integrity into question. This way his followers will be prepared to only believe things that are favorable to their Dear Leader.


Democrats "cleaning up" in special elections

by Tom Sullivan

Philip Spagnuolo, a substance abuse counselor, picked up a New Hampshire state House seat last night in a district Donald Trump won by 13-points in 2016. The Hill reports the special election was triggered by the death in September of state Rep. Donald Flanders (R). Spagnolo defeated his Republican opponent by 7 points.

In Connecticut, Democrat Phil Young defeated Republican Bill Cabral in the the contest to fill the vacancy in House District 120 created when former State Rep. Laura Hoydick, a Republican, resigned upon becoming mayor in Stratford. Republicans had held the seat for over 40 years. Hillary Clinton narrowly won the district in 2016.

The night was not all the Democrats'. In Kentucky, Republican Robert Goforth defeated Democrat Kelly Smith for the 8th House District vacated by Republican Marie Rader who resigned in December for health reasons. Goforth bested Smith by a 2 to 1 margin.

But by now, astute reader, you may be detecting a trend. "Democrats are cleaning up in special elections," reads the subhead in Matthew Yglesias' report at Vox:

According to an extremely useful comprehensives spreadsheet compiled by Daily Kos, across 70 special elections in 2017, Democrats ran 10 points ahead of Clinton and 7 points ahead of Obama’s 2012 results. Those numbers have accelerated into 2018. Across 16 races, Democrats are running 27 points ahead of Clinton and 15 points ahead of Barack Obama.

Historically speaking, special election results usually are somewhat predictive of midterm general election outcomes, though I don’t think anyone believes it’s realistic for Democrats to obtain a nationwide 27-point swing relative to Clinton’s numbers.
Per the Daily Kos tally, the New Hampshire win marks the 40th special election win for Democrats since Donald Trump won in November 2016. Republicans have flipped four seats.

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

“If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”

by digby

Those words were spoken by President Lyndon Johnson, February 27, 1968, exactly 50 years ago today. It was a different time. Today most people don't watch "the evening news." and there is no person who can lay claim to speak with authority to most of the nation. Authority is diffuse now, we all seek and find it in our own corners of modern media.

Back then Uncle Walter had the trust of most Americans and when he said this on the evening news it stunned many people. This wasn't a hippie kid, anti-war protester --- it was Cronkite. It must be true:

Tonight, back in more familiar surroundings in New York, we’d like to sum up our findings in Vietnam, an analysis that must be speculative, personal, subjective. Who won and who lost in the great Tet offensive against the cities? I’m not sure. The Vietcong did not win by a knockout, but neither did we. The referees of history may make it a draw. Another standoff may be coming in the big battles expected south of the Demilitarized Zone. Khesanh could well fall, with a terrible loss in American lives, prestige and morale, and this is a tragedy of our stubbornness there; but the bastion no longer is a key to the rest of the northern regions, and it is doubtful that the American forces can be defeated across the breadth of the DMZ with any substantial loss of ground. Another standoff. On the political front, past performance gives no confidence that the Vietnamese government can cope with its problems, now compounded by the attack on the cities. It may not fall, it may hold on, but it probably won’t show the dynamic qualities demanded of this young nation. Another standoff.

We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. They may be right, that Hanoi’s winter-spring offensive has been forced by the Communist realization that they could not win the longer war of attrition, and that the Communists hope that any success in the offensive will improve their position for eventual negotiations. It would improve their position, and it would also require our realization, that we should have had all along, that any negotiations must be that — negotiations, not the dictation of peace terms. For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. This summer’s almost certain standoff will either end in real give-and-take negotiations or terrible escalation; and for every means we have to escalate, the enemy can match us, and that applies to invasion of the North, the use of nuclear weapons, or the mere commitment of one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred thousand more American troops to the battle. And with each escalation, the world comes closer to the brink of cosmic disaster.

To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.

This is Walter Cronkite. Good night.

There's no one in American media who who has the authority to do this today. In fact, I think that maybe Robert Mueller may be the only person in the country who has it.

And that's just ... pathetic.

Very fine people

by digby

Charlottesville, 2017

I'm sure this is nothing to worry about ...

Antisemitic incidents in the US surged 57% in 2017, the Anti-Defamation League said on Tuesday, the largest year-on-year increase since the Jewish civil rights group began collecting data in 1979.

Close to 2,000 cases of harassment, vandalism and physical assault were recorded, the highest number of antisemitic incidents since 1994, it said.

The rise comes amid a climate of rising incivility, the emboldening of hate groups and widening divisions in American society, according to ADL’s national director, Jonathan Greenblatt.

“A confluence of events in 2017 led to a surge in attacks on our community – from bomb threats, cemetery desecrations, white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, and children harassing children at school,” he said.

Rising numbers were in part attributed to the fact that more people were reporting incidents than ever before, the ADL said, adding that its staff independently verify the credibility of each claim.

Incidents were reported in all 50 US states for the first time since 2010, with higher numbers reported in areas with large Jewish populations.

Donald Trump’s administration has been accused of failing to condemn religious bigotry. Jewish groups scolded the president last year for not mentioning Jews or antisemitism in a statement about the Holocaust.

Following August violence at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists waved insignia from Nazi Germany and yelled “Jews will not replace us”, Trump was slammed for suggesting a moral equivalency between members of the far right and counterdemonstrators. “You had people that were very fine people on both sides,” he said.

Some of Trump's best family members are Jewish so he can't possibly be an anti-Semite, amirite?

Maybe he's just a standard issue dumb bigot who is so clueless that he thinks he can make distinctions between the "good ones" and the "bad ones" but there are not good Nazis.

This is of a piece with the ethnic nationalism that's growing all over the world and the fact that it's happening in the US is truly disturbing since this country has always taken pride in the fact that it is an immigrant nation. Now we have this:

The U.S. is no longer devoted to securing "America's promise as a nation of immigrants."

That's according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) anyway, which changed its official mission statement late Thursday and dropped the language to describe the country.

The federal agency that grants visas and U.S. citizenship now refers to itself as an organization that "administers the nation's lawful immigration system." The new mission statement also eliminates the word "customers" to refer to visa applicants.

In a letter to employees, L. Francis Cissna, USCIS's director, said the changes were a "straightforward statement (that) clearly defines the agency's role in our country's lawful immigration system and the commitment we have to the American people."

It's clear all right. Is it Nazi? No. But it's definitely a reflection of this new right wing ethnic nationalism. And that leads nowhere decent people want to go.

Give guns to all the best golfers

by digby

The New Yorker's John Cassidy takes what I consider to be the appropriately horrified tone in discussing Trump's outrageous discussion with Governors yesterday. As he notes, most of us didn't get past his supercilious assertion that he would have run into the school unarmed to tackle the shooter but there was more to it. And it was just insane. After Washington Governor Jay Inslee offered some solutions his state has tried and told the president that the teachers do not want to be responsible for armed defense of the schools:

Trump called on Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, who explained how his state has already adopted a “school-marshal program,” in which teachers and other school employees are given weapons and firearms training. “And, candidly, some school districts, they promote it,” Abbott said. “They will have signs out front, a warning sign that, be aware, there are armed personnel on campus.” Asa Hutchinson, the Republican governor of Arkansas and a former U.S. Attorney who once developed a school-safety program for the N.R.A., spoke next. His said that his state, too, had “licensed certain school districts and those who want to be trained to handle an active-shooter situation.”

Trump seemed pleased as punch, particularly by Abbott’s contribution. “Well, I think that’s great,” he said. “Essentially, what you are saying is that when a sick individual comes into that school, they can expect major trouble, right, major trouble. The bullets are going to be going towards him, also. . . . You know what’s going to happen, nobody’s going into that school.”
In making this argument, which follows the logic of the jungle, and of failed states like Yemen and Iraq, Trump seemed blissfully, or purposely, unaware of the fact that many school shooters end up shooting themselves, and, therefore, might well be immune to the logic of deterrence. Adam Lanza, who killed twenty-six people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, shot himself in the head before the police arrived. Similarly, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the two Columbine shooters, made no effort to escape after carrying out their massacre, and they shot themselves after the police arrived.

Trump also didn’t deign to explain how a teacher with a handgun could be expected to fend off a disturbed teen-ager with an AR-15, or how students might be expected to react to the sight of their teachers carrying guns. Instead, he asserted that arming educators would be cheaper and more effective than hiring more armed guards, or relying on local police officers, such as the ones who failed to stop Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. “They don’t love the students; they don’t know the students,” Trump said dismissively. “The teachers love the students. They want to protect the students.”

The thought of teachers expressing their affection for their students by bringing high-powered weapons into their classrooms is grotesque. For a sitting President to endorse such an idea is almost beyond comprehension. But as the discussion illustrated, Trump wasn’t merely outlining his own vision. In this area, as in so many others, some gun-friendly red states have already adopted the twisted N.R.A. logic, at least in fledgling form.

The most that can be attributed to Trump is that he is putting his own unhinged spin on this decivilizing agenda. Repeating his earlier claim that he didn’t want all teachers to have guns, he said, “I want highly trained people that have a natural talent, like hitting a baseball, or hitting a golf ball, or putting.” At this point, he joined his hands together, as if he were gripping a putter on a golf course, and moved them back and forth. “How come some people always make the four-footer and some people under pressure can’t even take their club back?” he asked. “Right? Some people can’t take their club back. You don’t know what it is.”

Republicans have shown for some time that they loathe and despise public school teachers. They reduce them to penury, force them to take on every illness of society and them blame them when things go wrong. Now they want the schools to be locked down prisons where the teachers are moving targets for every disturbed kid who gets excited at the prospect of holding a great big gun in his hand and taking out everyone he believes has caused his misery. I would guess teachers are high on that list.

We have a very, very sick element in our society and it's not just the people who are shooting up every public space in America.


The hottest hoax on record

by digby

I'm sure this is nothing to worry about:

“Crazy,” “weird,” and “wacky.” That’s how scientists are describing the temperature in the Arctic.

Over the weekend, the world’s northernmost weather station, located just 440 miles from the North Pole, warmed to 43 degrees Fahrenheit during what’s normally the coldest time of the year. That’s about 60 degrees above average for February. The rising temperatures, caused by a “warm air intrusion,” have left scientists in shock. Sea ice in region is also at its lowest levels on record.

“This is simply shocking. I don't have the words,” meteorologist Eric Holthaus tweeted.

Those Chinese hoaxters are very, very good at what they do.

I shouldn't be so flippant. This is an emergency. And we're just ... helpless as long as these f-ing morons are running the world.

These days I look at little kids and my chest gets tight with fear for them. It's terrifying.


Trump's primal scream

by digby

Is he about to blow?

I trust everyone can see the utter, fatuous absurdity of the president of the United States quoting Fox News right wingers kissing his ass by endorsing his persecution of his former rival in public:

I guess this is supposed to persuade his followers that everything is just fine. But sounding hysterical isn't going to be reassuring. 


The new strongmen

by digby

I wrote about the global strongman phenomenon and Trump's place in it for Salon this morning: 

The New York Times had a startling headline on Monday morning, which describes a global phenomenon that we're only beginning to grasp in America. It said: "With Xi’s Power Grab, China Joins New Era of Strongmen." The story itself was about Chinese President Xi Jinping abolishing term limits and announcing he would lead China indefinitely.

Term limits are fairly recent in China having been put into the constitution in the 1970s by Deng Xiaoping in the wake of the long succession crisis under Mao Zedong. Still, as the Times points out, there was a time not long ago when this would have provoked a strong outcry from the United States, which used to have some moral authority when it came to democratic norms. Those days are no more. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued the tepid statement: "I believe that's a decision for China to make about what's best for their country." And that was that.

But the more chilling aspect of the headline is its evocation of "the era of the strongman," naming Vladimir Putin of Russia, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey as the prime examples of the era's new authoritarian leaders. One could certainly also add Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Kim Jong Un of North Korea. There is also, of course, the one with the biggest hands in the business, President Donald Trump, although he is better characterized as a "rhetorical" strongman, at least for the moment.

Still, it's telling that as Trump slags American neighbors and allies on a daily basis (he went after Canada on Monday) he is complimentary to all the aforementioned leaders. Yes, he has called Kim of North Korea "Little Rocket Man" -- but that's actually an affectionate nickname, compared to what he says about some American politicians. In the past Trump has complimented Kim, saying, "You gotta give him credit, how many young guys -- he was like 26 or 25 when his father died -- take over these tough generals, and all of a sudden ... he goes in, he takes over, and he’s the boss." As we know, he has had nothing but kind words to say about Putin, Sisi and Erdogan, all of whom have taken steps this year that would have caused major diplomatic disruptions in the past. Trump only has admiration for their bold "defenses" of their countries.

Just this week, Axios reported that Trump constantly tells people that he wishes he had the authority to do what the Asian strongmen do:
He often jokes about killing drug dealers ... He’ll say, "You know the Chinese and Filipinos don’t have a drug problem. They just kill them." 
But the president doesn't just joke about it. According to five sources who've spoken with Trump about the subject, he often leaps into a passionate speech about how drug dealers are as bad as serial killers and should all get the death penalty. Trump tells confidants a softer approach to drug reform — the kind where you show sympathy to the offenders and give them more lenient sentences — will never work. 
He tells friends and associates the government has got to teach children that they'll die if they take drugs and they've got to make drug dealers fear for their live
He grudgingly admits that it would be difficult to pass such a law but he would "love" to do it.

Trump just "loves" the death penalty, period. He's been agitating for it since the 1980s when he took out that infamous full-page ad calling for the Central Park Five to be executed. (Those five young men were subsequently found innocent of the crime for which they were convicted.) During the presidential campaign, after the shooting of police officers in Dallas, Trump promised he would seek the death penalty for anyone who killed cops. (This was the one occasion where he eschewed his tiresome solution that mass shootings could be stopped if only everyone were armed. After all, they all were. It didn't help.)

Trump has been generous with his praise for Philippine president Duterte, telling him that he was dealing with drugs "the right way," which evidently involves extrajudicial killings and mass incarceration.

He and Duterte have something else in common. Everyone knows that Trump bragged about assaulting women by grabbing their genitalia against their will. According to the Guardian, last week Duterte directed a group of soldiers to tell female rebels that there was" a new order coming from the mayor: "‘We will not kill you. We will just shoot you in the vagina.’” This would, he said, render them "useless."

Duterte runs on the cruder side of the strongman spectrum but Trump apparently finds him refreshing. He invited him to the White House to the consternation of decent people everywhere. Duterte at least had sense enough to decline the invitation.

So far Trump's worst assaults on civil liberties and due process have been stymied by the courts and the Justice Department. (He is having better luck with the Department of Homeland Security, which is moving quickly in an authoritarian direction.) With respect to foreign policy, he is such a buffoon that one would normally only worry that he'd make a fool of himself here at home while the career diplomats at the State Department step in behind him and clean up the mess.

Sadly, the State Department itself is a mess. Rex Tillerson hasn't bothered to fill most of the important political appointments, and is sidelining the career foreign service people who know anything. Nothing could be more alarming than the fact that we still have no ambassador to South Korea and instead sent the totally unprepared Ivanka Trump to represent our nation at the Winter Olympics.

Meanwhile, the latest report from Politico is that Tillerson is having a fit over son-in-law Jared Kushner, UN ambassador Nikki Haley and national security adviser H.R. McMaster's constant interference. White House chief of staff John Kelly apparently agrees with him, and made the mistake of repeating to Kushner Tillerson's remark that "there cannot be four secretaries of state." Kushner, who still has no security clearance, reportedly replied, "No, but we need a secretary of state who is supportive of the president."

It's always about personal loyalty to Trump with these people. That's the hallmark of the strongman leader. It's all about them. Trump is not as efficient as Xi, Putin or Erdogan, and he's not quite as far gone as Duterte. But he's the closest we've come to a true strongman leader in the United States, and he's just getting started.


Bonehead Move by Georgia Lt. Gov. Cagle. He Tells Delta Airlines to Support the NRA, or Else

By Spocko

Today from Georgia's Lt. Governor.

On Saturday I wrote about how the supporters of the NRA will respond to corporations deciding to not associate with the NRA  I wrote.
The NRA will respond to corporations withdrawing support, probably by threatening the companies that have left, and the ones who are standing with them.

Some NRA members might be smart and try and entice the companies they still have by buying more of their product, but based on my experience, they prefer to punish and intimidate when they don't get their way.
Cagle's tweet is really an amazing statement. I wonder if he ran it by the heads of the 17 Fortune 500 companies that make their home in Georgia?  Did he talk to the CEO of Delta before he sent that out?  No doubt he talked to the AG, so it must be legal. On the other hand, maybe it's a rogue tweet like one of Trump's.

I've worked with a lot of high powered CEOs, they don't like it when people tell them what to do.  But they do understand tax breaks, revenue streams, public relations problems and brand issues. They will take this threat very seriously. But how they react might not be what Cagle wants. 

They will be pissed. Unless Cagle's announcement was coordinated ahead of time with the approval of Delta management (a possibility) Delta's lawyers and lobbyists were probably burning up the phone lines with the Governor's office all day.

Cagle threatening to use his big tax break stick on Delta for deciding to cut a marketing discount program with a trade group with a toxic brand is a boneheaded decision.

NRA's brand is toxic right now. You don't tell companies to embrace toxicity. It's bad PR. It's bad brand management.

I don't know Georgia politics, but the NRA is not the only powerful lobby in the state.

Think of the other groups with lobbying power that don't like or want more guns everywhere.

Transportation lobby. Do you really think airlines want to go back to allowing guns on planes?
Does UPS really want drivers to carry guns?

Health care lobby. Sure they can make up to 95k for each gun shot wound, but does the Lt. Gov.  know that two thirds of gunshot victims admitted to American hospitals are covered by Medicaid, or don’t have health insurance at all?  (University of Iowa, July edition of the journal Injury Epidemiology.) The taxpayers pick those costs up, not private health insurance.

Education lobby. Emory University employs a lot of people, has Cagle heard all those teachers and parents explaining what "a horrifically bad idea" arming teachers is?

Military lobby. Maybe Cagle is counting on the military to back him. I'm friends with a lot of military guys who think the NRA's positions on guns everywhere is nuts.  They know what it takes to be proficient with a gun. They have seen the damage an AR-15 can do to a human. The military of today isn't a bunch of good ol' boy hunters. When they come back from war, they may still hunt, but they know they know what AR-15s are designed to kill, and it ain't ducks.

Is This Three Dimensional Chess Or Trump-style Bullying?

Companies have always played one state against another for tax breaks and perks. Cagle might think that Delta is so entrenched that they can't easily get up and leave. But when corporations get pissed at a state they have lots of tools to use to get and keep tax breaks and perks. It's not just threats to move.

Maybe Cagle and the governor are trying to play three dimensional chess. They might be hoping to get more taxes out of the airlines while satisfying their gun loving base with this threat. It might pay off. On the other hand, behind the scenes Gagle could end up groveling and apologizing to Delta AND getting no new votes from their current supporters. The Lt. Gov. night get a bump from his base, but will get knocked by others for an economically stupid move.

This announcement came out of the Lt. Governor's office. They are testing the reaction of the public and how this corporation will respond to this threat. Depending on the reaction and the polling, the Governor will either walk back Cagle's threat, soften it, or support it.

If I were a betting Vulcan, I would put my Quatloos on Delta coming out on top. One of the things I've learned over the years is it's better to convincing people to do something that is in line with their stated values than to threaten them. It's not really a stretch for an airline that doesn't allow guns in the cabins, to walk away from an associate with a toxic brand like the NRA.

What can you do? Call and tweet Delta @Delta to thank them for their action to disassociate themselves for NRA's toxic brand.

I tried to call them today, I think I got the wrong number.

Delta Delta Delta can I help ya help ya help ya? from Michal Spocko on Vimeo.


Con Air

by Tom Sullivan

"It's almost acting like a crime family," the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart told Chris Matthews last night. MSNBC's Hardball panel was discussing President Trump punting to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly whether to grant a waiver to Trump son in-law Jared Kushner so he may continue to handle highly classified documents. Kushner is unable to pass a background check and earn a permanent security clearance; he holds a temporary one. Like his wife Ivanka, Kushner continues to serve in the White House not because of qualifications, but because he is family with personal loyalties to the president. The panel questioned whether he and others from the Trump inner circle are in government to serve the country or just themselves.

In the Trump tradition of naming inexperienced friends and family to senior positions in government, press reports surfaced late Sunday that Trump is considering naming his longtime personal pilot, John Dunkin, to head the Federal Aviation Administration. The position has been vacant since President Obama's FAA chief, Michael Huerta, stepped down:

John Dunkin flew Trump around during his campaign in 2016, piloting a Boeing 757 dubbed "Trump Force One." The president clearly thinks highly of Dunkin, telling airline executives he was a "real expert" at a White House meeting a year ago.

"My pilot, he's a smart guy and knows what's going on," Trump said in February 2017. "He said the government is using the wrong equipment and instituting a massive, multibillion-dollar project, but they're using the wrong type of equipment."
Trump referred to an ongoing air traffic control modernization program known as NextGen.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) and acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell are also under consideration, Axios reported Sunday. Dunkin has already had an interview. If chosen, Trump's personal pilot would manage an agency with 47,000 employees and a $16 billion budget.

Given how many Trump family and associates have flown with Dunkin, how many have already pleaded guilty to federal crimes, and how many other of Trump Force One's passengers face federal indictments, plus Trump's well-deserved reputation for flimflam and ... well, you know what the jokes do.

On any other day, that might seem strange.

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Little Eric Trump, Donald Trump's mini-me

by digby

Poor Eric got all tongue tied trying to talk about Russia today:

“What started off as a hoax – you know, Trump won the election because of Russia – has been proven to be nothing further from the truth,” Eric Trump said on “Fox & Friends.”

Nothing has been proven on that front: It is out of the immediate scope of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe to determine if Russian meddling tipped the election in Trump’s favor. Neither has Mueller concluded, one way or the other, whether the Trump campaign knowingly worked with Russia to influence the election. (Donald Trump Jr. and several other senior campaign officials have acknowledged meeting with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, though.)

“But the Russians being bold enough to meddle has to be stopped, and I hope that gets addressed,” co-host Brian Kilmeade said.

“I agree and I wish Obama would have done that,” Trump replied. “If he knew, which he clearly did, I wish he would have stopped it. And the big question is: why did he do nothing about it?”

He might ask Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): the Washington Post reported in December 2016, citing “several” unnamed officials, that McConnell had raised doubts about the intelligence reports showing Russia hacked Democratic officials’ emails, and other measures, when briefed about them before the election.

McConnell, in the paper’s words, “made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared to affirm that story earlier this year. McConnell, Biden said, “wanted no part of having a bipartisan commitment saying, essentially, ‘Russia’s doing this. Stop.'”

Right. The Russian interference story was a hoax but he thinks Obama should have stopped the interference.

They are starting to trip over themselves now. The hoax story was important because it explained why they have done nothing to address the problem and have actually attempted to obstruct the punishments the Obama administration imposed and have refused to implement the sanctions. Now that they can't deny it happened they are left with whining, sniveling and blaming the Obama administration for not stopping it and are left dumbstruck when asked what they plan to do about it.

It's fine with their cult followers. Obama can be blamed for everything and Trump is infallible.


Only the cult believes Trump on Russia

by digby

New polling from USA Today/Suffolk

The poll of 1,000 registered voters, taken after Mueller's team indicted 13 Russians and three companies on criminal charges, spotlight the potential perils ahead for the president if he ends up in a showdown with the special counsel. A 58% majority say they have a lot or some trust in Mueller's investigation, while a 57% majority say they have little or no trust in Trump's denials.

"I think he's doing a heck of a job," John Shaw, 60, of Madison, Wis., said of Mueller. "He's not leaking anything. He's going piece by piece, methodically putting this whole thing together."

Lauryne Haynes, a retiree from Farmington Hills, Mich., who also was called in the survey, puts her faith in the president. "I think that Trump had nothing to do with Russian meddling," she said in a follow-up interview. "He understands the situation that they are not our friends. I think he's truthful and I think he's sincere about wanting the best for the country."

Mueller is certainly not overtly playing politics the way that ken Starr and his leaky ship did. That' makes a big difference in the way people will perceive the outcome.If he doesn't come up with anything I think people will accept it. If he does, only the most loyal of Trump's supporters will deny it.

Even Nixon held on to about 25% of the public when he resigned. They still exist today. But for the most part when an investigation is conducted professionally and thoroughly without getting involved in the day to day partisan action, most people will accept the results. At least they have in the past and it appears that most are still prepared to do that.

For the sake of our government's legitimacy, I hope so. This Russia story is the most shocking political and national security scandal in our history.
Donald "Il Duce" in full effect

by digby

He does NOT want to hear anyone contradict him. That's why he watches Fox News. I will be waiting for the chorus of fools admonishing Inslee that he should have been more respectful toward the man who hurls childish nicknames and rudely insults other politicians in public.

Keep in mind that this is a Governor of one of the 50 states. In the normal way of things they are accorded great respect by the president, at least in public, as fellow executives in charge of their own governments. Trump doesn't recognize that of course. He's the only one who counts.

The generic ballot looks good again

by digby

I don't know what happened in December and January. Maybe people were just feeling good because it was the holiday season. Or it could have been noise caused by a variety of different factors. In any case, it seems to righted itself again and the Democrats are looking good for November. The picture above is the 538 polling average.

CNN shows an even bigger advantage in its latest poll:

Democrats hold a 16-point lead over Republicans on a generic congressional ballot, according to a new poll from CNN.

The poll conducted by SSRS finds 54 percent of registered voters would support a Democrat in their congressional district, compared with 38 percent who say they would favor a Republican candidate.

In a CNN poll taken last month, Democrats held just a 5-point lead over Republicans on a generic congressional ballot.

The CNN poll is at the high end when it comes to the Democratic advantage in the generic ballot.

A Marist poll released this month found Democrats with a seven-point lead, while a Harvard/Harris Poll survey released last week found them with a five-point lead. A Quinnipiac poll released last week also found Democrats with a 15-point lead.

In another good sign for Democrats hoping to regain the House in this fall's midterm elections, the CNN poll finds that a majority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting.

Intensity is very important. And Trump evokes very intense feelings. The battle in the midterms will be which party feels more intensely about him and what he's doing. Right now is looks like the Democrats are a lot more worked up.


President Macho would have run into the hail of gunfire

by digby

And remember this?
I was at Mar-a-Lago and we had this incredible ball, the Red Cross Ball, in Palm Beach, Florida. And we had the Marines. And the Marines were there, and it was terrible because all these rich people, they’re there to support the Marines, but they’re really there to get their picture in the Palm Beach Post… so you have all these really rich people, and a man, about 80 years old—very wealthy man, a lot of people didn’t like him—he fell off the stage. 
Trump explained that this was a $100K-per-table fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago estate and the Marines, he admitted, were given "the worst table in the whole place" at the very back of the room in the corner. 
When the old man fell in front of Trump, there were two completely different responses---one from the Marines, and one from Trump: 
The Marines ran up front, picked up the man, covered in blood, and formed a human stretcher to carry him out.  
Then there was Donald Trump: 
And you know what I did? I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s disgusting,’ and I turned away,” said Trump. “I couldn’t, you know, he was right in front of me and I turned away. I didn’t want to touch him… he’s bleeding all over the place.
I felt terrible, you know, beautiful marble floor, didn’t look like it. It changed color. Became very red....His wife is screaming—she’s sitting right next to him, and she’s screaming.
I was saying “Get that blood cleaned up! It’s disgusting!”

And cops all over the country love this asshole.

Here are actual nerves of steel. But, you know, she wsn't equipped to be a big macho president, IYKWIM.

CPAC is Trump and Trump is CPAC

by digby

For some reason this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, seems to have gotten more attention than usual. That's saying something, since for the last 15 years or so it's gotten much more attention than it deserves. CPAC is like a 10-car pile-up — frightening and horrible, but you can't look away.

Salon's Jeremy Binckes and Matthew Sheffield have each weighed in on this year's event -- with Binckes making the case that it shows that the GOP is now thoroughly Trumpified while Sheffield argues that it's now Trump who's been absorbed by the Republican Party. I think CPAC shows that the Trump strain has always been slithering around under the rock of conservative movement politics, and 2016 just turned it over and let it run amok.

The first CPAC was organized to bring young conservatives and political activists together for a conference to map out movement and electoral strategy. It took place in 1974 in the midst of the Watergate scandal, which divided the conference between those who thought Richard Nixon was toast and those who wanted him to fight on. It was, by all accounts, a very lively disagreement. They turned to the man they all agreed was the Great Conservative Hope, Gov. Ronald Reagan of California, who was the keynote speaker and gave one of his most important speeches, heralding his strong primary run against Gerald Ford in 1976 and his winning campaign in 1980.

Reagan introduced three former U.S. military prisoners of war in that speech, one of whom was John McCain, to reverent, thunderous applause. This year the longtime Arizona senator, who has a brain tumor and may well be near the end of his life, was insulted by the president of the United States from the CPAC podium. That shouldn't have come as any surprise. The CPAC podium, for at least the last couple of decades, is where decency and humanity go to die.

I won't go into the horrors of the 1990s. The party under former House speaker Newt Gingrich was as aggressively obnoxious as it is today: That was the height of the "vast right wing conspiracy's" power. Let's just say that in 1994 CPAC was where Paula Jones made her debut and leave it at that.

It was during the glory years of the George W. Bush administration that the media started paying close attention to what was really going on there. Michelle Goldberg wrote for Salon in 2003 that there were "t-shirts with the words 'Islam: Religion of Peace' surrounding a photo of a bomb with the word 'Allah' on its timer" among dozens of other hideous anti-Muslim items for sale that were flying off the shelves. Remember this was during the time Bush was telling his followers that Islam was a religion of peace.

But it didn't matter. CPAC attendees may have hated Muslims but they loved Bush. In fact, they loved him almost as much as the sainted Ronald Reagan, whom they continued to worship like a god. The Iraq war got their blood pumping wildly and this was how they wanted to see their president:

One of the biggest attractions at the conference for many years was the odious Ann Coulter, who packed the room with rapturous fans screaming with delight at her indecent commentary. Back in 2003 she made one of her most famous shocking statements, which has since been taken up by none other than her hero Donald Trump: "Why shouldn't we go to war for oil. We need oil." In 2006 she got into her groove with “I think our motto should be, post-9/11, ‘raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.’” In response to a question about her biggest ethical dilemma, Coulter said, “There was one time I had a shot at [Bill] Clinton. I thought ‘Ann, that’s not going to help your career.’”

She really hit her comedic stride in 2007, however, when she dropped this bomb:
I was going to talk about the other Democratic candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word “faggot.”
She got a huge ovation for that one, but it seemed to upset some of the old guard and Coulter was disinvited the next year. Organizers replaced her with an even bigger draw in 2009, Rush Limbaugh, who gave a memorable, rambling speech bucking up the crowd to oppose anything the new President Barack Obama wanted to do. Down in the bowels of the conference where the merchandise was being flogged they were selling racist pictures of Obama dressed as a witch doctor.

In 2011, when Donald Trump made his first appearance and started the original buzz about his potential candidacy, he said in his speech, "Our current president came out of nowhere. Came out of nowhere. In fact, I'll go a step further. The people that went to school with him never saw him; they don't know who he is. Crazy." He went on Bill O'Reilly's show that night and said he had investigators in Hawaii looking for Obama's birth certificate. The rest is history.

It's been getting a little stranger than usual lately, even by the racist, far-right standards of CPAC. In 2016 the event was overrun with neo-fascists who were booted them to the margins. In 2017, the thrill of Trump's unexpected victory was still fresh and the "alt-right," in the form of Steve Bannon, was the big draw. This year it the global far right got its turn in the CPAC spotlight, with Marion Maréchal-Le Pen of France and Nigel Farage of Britain as big draws.

And the CPAC tribes love Donald Trump with the same passion they felt for Bush and Reagan. These people really aren't that choosy.

CPAC used to pretend that it was a conference about "ideas" and the "conservative agenda." But as NeverTrump conservative Ben Howe said on MSNBC on Friday, it's really just about making liberals cry. Frequent CPAC star Dinesh D'Souza put it this way in his 2002 book “Letters to a Young Conservative":
One way to be effective as a conservative is to figure out what annoys and disturbs liberals the most, and then keep doing it.
Nothing could disturb and annoy liberals more than Donald Trump.

It sounds innocuous enough. Maybe liberals should just stop crying and these people would stop being so obnoxious, right? But there's something more sinister about this than at first seems obvious. That attitude lies at the heart of something ugly and dark that's grown up in our culture and around the world.

There was one young white supremacist marching in Charlottesville last year who, when things got scary, stripped off his white polo shirt uniform and tried to blend in with the crowd. When he was asked by a journalist why he was doing what he'd been doing, he said:
It’s kind of a fun idea. Just being able to say, like, "Hey man, white power!" You know? To be quite honest, I love to be offensive. It’s fun.
One of his cohorts thought it might be fun to mow down a bunch of people with his car that day and ended up killing someone. That desire to be "offensive" isn't a joke, and neither is the offensiveness of CPAC. Look where it's gotten us.


Let's catch the sickos who sent Parkland survivor death threats

by Spocko

Death threats force Parkland shooting survivor to leave Facebook

Cameron Kasky says he has received "graphic death threats."

Who does this? What kind of sickos send death threats to a shooting survivor? Why did they send them to Kasky? I would like to find all of them and ask why. "What was your intention? What did you hope to accomplish?"

I think law enforcement needs to take death threats coming from gun owners more seriously.

Of course law enforcement has to answer the usual questions about any threats:
  1. What kind of threat is it? It is at true threat?  (see Elonis v, United States
  2. Where is the threatener located relative to the person they are threatening? A threat from someone nearby has more opportunity to act. 
  3. What is their motive for the threat? 
  4. Does the threatener have a history of threats? Have they acted on them? 
  5. Do the have the means to carry out the threat? (Yes, I know, a gun is just a tool, like a hammer, "You can kill with a hammer too! Are you going to arrest all hammer owners who send death threats?" blah, blah, blah.)
Time for FBI Investigations of Death Threats

The FBI got criticized not following up on gun owner Nikolas Cruz. This is a perfect time to redeem themselves in the eyes of the public.

I can already hear the all caps crying, "They are targeting law-abiding gun owners who are just exercising their free speech!!" However:

1) Threatening speech is not protected speech.
2) Don't send death threats, you won't have a problem.

Gun owners should welcome the FBI tracing threats. In fact, actual responsible gun owners will turn in the ones that they know are doing this. Like in this story:

Last week, in Bellevue Nebraska, 18-year old Nicholas Scott threaten to shoot people who were going to walk out in support of gun control. 

 Based on the story, it looks like he had the means, motive and opportunity to carry this out.

High school student arrested for threatening to shoot those who walked out in support of gun control

I don't think anyone should be sending death threats, but that's my Vulcan side. But if it happens then we need to find them, verify it was them, and there should be consequences.

Sue people who send death threats

I've been pushing economic sanctions as leverage to weaken the gun lobby and force them to pay for the damage they do. This would be a way to pay for the psychological damage they cause.

We know the Las Vegas shooter was rich. He had money for expensive guns. If the FBI finds out that someone is sending death threats and they have money to pay for expensive guns, there needs to be civil lawsuits against these people in addition to criminal legal cases.

I would develop the cases for criminal charges first, then civil charges. I've suggested this idea to some lawyers and GVP groups. Maybe this could be my money making business that gets me off this planet.

Responsible gun owners shouldn't worry that they are being unfairly targeted by law enforcement, because they are not sending death threats. Right?

If you are a gun owner and you are sending death threats to the Parkland survivors, we will find you, we will catch you, and we will sue you.

I always see this comment under stories about reducing the amount of guns, "Come and get them!" But with civil lawsuits there is no need for the sheriff, police or Obama to go to their location to take their guns. They can just go to the bank and take their assets.

We aren't coming for your guns, we're coming for your assets.