59 dead, hundreds injured, zilch from Congress
Is that even legal? To seek $200,00 of county funds for a firm that does not state its intent to the public? Silly me. I thought that, even though every White House staff member must now clear all words spoken through a supposedly-ex general (a bloodless military coup perhaps benefitting military contractors?) that it would still benefit the purveyors of this farce to at least maintain a facade of “freedom” in this country.
Wake up Cecil County! Aren’t most of you still paying taxes? Do you not care that a firm doing something apparently so nefarious, that they
Project aren’t willing to tell us all what it is, wants to move in and make a grab for the reins? Money talks, remember?
What an understatement. Let’s dangle 450 jobs in front of their noses.
Someone will inevitably hamstring local government for $75 million worth of influence, and you don’t demand to know what they will influence the people you directly elected to do? America supposedly “wants peace,” but how many scream about the fact that so many U.S. employers manufacture killing tools? How many people scan their IRS portfolios to make sure they don’t fund international murder in the name of “freedom”?
Jacob Owens, you are supposed to be a reporter. If Chris Moyer and others responsible for county economic development would not tell you the truth, you should have reported that, instead going along with this covert stunt.
WASHINGTON —A 64-year-old white man, a millionaire gambler who owned a total of 47 guns, rents a Las Vegas hotel suite and sprays 22,000 country music fans with hundreds of bullets, leaving nearly 600 people slaughtered or grievously wounded. What happens next? A. Politicians offer thoughts and prayers.
B. The White House, the National Rifle Association and Republican leaders in Congress insist now is not the time to talk about curtailing gun violence in America.
C. Just about everyone agrees nothing concrete will happen. D. All of the above. You are correct. It’s D. No matter what happens, Congress keeps refusing every effort at even moderate gun controls.
Until the Nevada massacre, the House was moving toward loosening controls on silencers and suppressors. Donald Trump Jr. made a video to persuade politicians that silencers are fun, even for children.
Nationwide, the sale of $50 socalled bump stocks is soaring. The devices let gun owners turn legal semi-automatic guns into illegal automatics, de facto machine guns that were ostensibly outlawed in 1986. The Las Vegas murderer used 12 bump stocks to speed up his assault rifles.
Congress has refused to computerize gun registration. (We now know one overworked ATF agent in West Virginia has a card file he must manually go through to try to trace the history of any suspect gun.) There are 300 million guns in private hands in America.
Congress let a ban on assault weapons expire.
Congress has refused to toughen background checks on gun buyers.
Open carry gun laws are proliferating. You can carry guns openly on some college campuses. Into many churches. On many public streets. In your car. Congress now and then considers expanding on this.
After every mass shooting, gun manufacturers’ profits rise. The stock prices of such companies rose after Las Vegas.
The NRA put $26 million in the 2016 elections. Most Republican politicians are terrified of losing NRA support and facing defeat at the polls.
The NRA, which used to stand for responsible gun controls, now sees any move to protect people from guns as the camel’s nose under the tent. The NRA whips owners up into a frenzy, painting a nightmare scenario in which jackbooted govern- ment thugs raid your house at midnight, confiscating all your guns and leaving you defenseless against marauding hoards. Incidentally, the most influential person in the gun industry in America is a reclusive New York billionaire financier, Stephen Feinberg, who invests in gun manufacturing, owns a company called Cerberus and is a big military contractor in Afghanistan. Oddly, his profits had been declining under Donald Trump because gun buyers slowed their purchases, assured he’d never push gun control. One of the first laws Trump signed permitted 75,000 people deemed too mentally ill to manage their financial affairs to buy guns.
After a lone gunman killed 20 six- and seven-year-olds and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, at least 70 percent of Americans said they favored legislation to prevent such horror from ever happening again. Congress refused to act.
A year ago, 49 people were killed at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando. Congress refused to act.
Every year there are about 350 mass shootings in America. Every day 85 people die in the United States from gun shots. The U.S. has six times more gun deaths than Canada and 16 times more gun violence than Germany. With 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has 30 percent of all mass shootings.
The NRA famously proclaimed, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”
True. People kill lots of people. With lots of guns.
Millions of thoughts. Millions of prayers. But no new gun controls from Congress even though two of its own, Gabrielle Giffords and Steve Scalise, were shot in mass shootings and nearly died.
Why does anyone besides a soldier in war need an automatic gun that shoots bullets that tear through armor and eviscerate humans and animals?
When is the right time to discuss this? Not now, said the White House. Not now, said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. It’s “premature” to think about more gun control, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
If not now, after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history — to date, when?
Our congressional wimps should at least ban bump stocks, toughen background checks and computerize records.
Ann McFeatters is a columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at email@example.com. — Fake news has come to the high
At Tuesday’s argument before the Supreme Court about gerrymandering — the science of using mapdrawing and Big Data to keep ruling parties in power even when a majority votes for the opposition — Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. was searching for a way to uphold the unsavory practice. But there was a problem: Gerrymandering is making a mockery of the right to vote in Wisconsin, the focus of the case before the court, where a redrawn map allowed Republicans to hold more than 60 percent of the state assembly while getting less than half the vote.
And so Alito resorted to subterfuge. He waited until the closing minutes and hit Paul M. Smith, the lawyer arguing against the Wisconsin plan, with the last question of the argument.
“You paint a very dire picture about gerrymandering and its effects,” Alito said, “but I was struck by something in the seminal article by your expert, Mr. McGhee, and he says there, ‘I show that the effects of party control on bias are small and decay rapidly, suggesting that redistricting is at best a blunt tool for promoting partisan interests.’ So he was wrong in that?”
The question baffled Smith, who said he would need to see the context. “Well,” Alito retorted, “that’s what he said.” No, it isn’t. I called Eric McGhee, the expert, after the argument. The quote Alito pulled was not from the “seminal article” McGhee co-wrote proposing the legal standard for gerrymandering at the center of the case. It was from an earlier McGhee paper, using data from the 1970s through 1990s. In the paper at the center of the case, by contrast, “we used updated data from the 2000s,” McGhee told me, “and the story is very different. It’s gotten a lot worse in the last two cycles. ... The data are clear.”
Why would Alito resort to this sleight of hand? Perhaps because it’s clear that if he stuck to the facts, he’d have to acknowledge that the growing abuse of gerrymandering threatens democracy.
Political gerrymandering has become dramatically more precise in disenfranchising voters with the revolution in data analytics — both in states such as Wisconsin and in Congress, where Democrats need to win the popular vote by more than seven points to break even in the House. (Democrats abuse gerrymandering, too, though they hold power in fewer states.) There’s also no obvious legal reason that the court can’t intervene to curb the practice on grounds of free speech or equal protection.
“What’s really behind all of this,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said during arguments, is “the precious right to vote. If you can stack a legislature in this way, what incentive is there for a voter to exercise his vote?”
Smith predicted that if the court fails to intervene in Wisconsin, “you’re going to have a festival of copycat gerrymandering the likes of which this country has never seen. ... The country is going to lose faith in democracy.”
Three members of the court’s conservative bloc — Alito, Neil Gorsuch and John Roberts Jr., the chief justice — were searching for reasons not to intervene. (A fourth, the silent Clarence Thomas, previously voted against court involvement.) That likely leaves the decision to Anthony M. Kennedy, who is more prone to bouts of fairness than his conservative colleagues.
In an unusual soliloquy, the chief justice argued that the court shouldn’t get involved in the Wisconsin case because then it would have to intervene in others. “It’s going to be a problem here across the board,” he lamented.
The poor dears. Maybe, given that democracy is at stake, they could shorten their summer holiday, which just ended Monday?
Roberts continued: “The intelligent man on the street” will deduce that, if the Supreme Court rules with Democrats in a gerrymandering case, “it must be because the Supreme Court preferred the Democrats over the Republicans. ... And that is going to cause very serious harm to the status and integrity of the decisions of this court in the eyes of the country.”
Now he’s worried about the public standing of the court? After Bush v. Gore, campaign finance rulings that give the wealthy dominance over elections, and the brazen politics of the Merrick Garland fiasco?
In the gerrymandering case, the justices have a chance to restore “integrity” by defending the principle of one person, one vote. Alternatively, the five Republican appointees can defend their patrons by allowing this perversion of democracy to continue.
Dana Milbank is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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