Patterico's Pontifications

5/31/2022

Investigators at Supreme Court Demanding Clerks Provide Cell Phone Records and Sign Affidavits

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Good.

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

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

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

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

Regular readers might recall that I immediately called for law clerks to be required to sign affidavits or be fired. I think the reaction here was mostly reasonable, but on Twitter (which largely leans left) people treated me like I was some combination of insane and/or fascist. I was also told there was no legal way investigators could possibly require law clerks to sign affidavits. I was told this repeatedly with Great Confidence.

Well, the clerks sign an agreement before they begin their jobs pledging extreme confidentiality. Justice Scalia once said: “If I ever discover that you have betrayed the confidences of what goes on in these chambers, I will do everything in my power to ruin your career.” Yes, they can demand this — and more power to justices who think like Justice Scalia.

But don’t clerks have Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination? They surely do. Here’s how it generally works at a police department when officers are required to give statements as part of the investigation of a police shooting, where an officer obviously has potential legal jeopardy, especially these days. I would imagine it would work the same way at the Court. The investigator would demand a statement. The clerk would refuse, citing the Fifth Amendment. The investigator would order the clerk to give a statement anyway, and inform the clerk that any failure to do so would subject the clerk to discipline for insubordination, up to and including discharge. This process effectively immunizes the employee against having that statement used against him or her in a criminal proceeding, while allowing the public entity — a police department or, here, the Court — to conduct a necessary investigation.

It would be interesting if any justices objected to this. My understanding is that the clerks are employees of the Court, but are treated as employees of the justices out of courtesy. Whether an individual justice could, or would, sanction a clerk’s refusal to comply, I don’t know.

I would imagine the justices would be on board, and that the Chief could and would overrule them if necessary. My position —- and I imagine the position of the Chief Justice, at least — has always been that maintaining the viability of a prosecution is not the top priority.

My guess would be that all of the justices are eager to see the leaker rooted out and made into a particularly nasty public example. If they fail to do so, it will have huge implications for the possibility of this becoming commonplace, which would destroy trust inside the Court. Which is probably not at a high point right now anyway, but which needs to be in years going forward if this institution is going to work.

5/27/2022

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:01 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Hello and happy weekend. Let’s get started.

First news item

A distressed Trump asked what were they going to do about assault rifles:

One of the most extraordinary moments of Donald J. Trump’s presidency was an hourlong meeting with U.S. senators in the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., in which he forcefully argued for a litany of gun safety measures that the National Rifle Association had long opposed.

Mr. Trump’s support for gun control measures — which he unrolled on live television from the White House on Feb. 28, 2018 — astonished lawmakers from both parties. But the next day, N.R.A. officials met with Mr. Trump without any cameras or reporters in the room, and he immediately backed down.

That apparent surrender to N.R.A. pressure came to sum up Mr. Trump’s record on gun control in the eyes of his critics.

Unbeknownst to the public, however, Mr. Trump again pushed inside the White House for significant new gun-control measures more than a year later, after a pair of gruesome shooting sprees that unfolded over 13 hours. Those discussions have not previously been reported.

At the White House the next day, Mr. Trump was so shaken by the weekend’s violence that he questioned aides about a specific potential solution and made clear he wanted to take action, according to three people present during the conversation.

“What are we going to do about assault rifles?” Mr. Trump asked.

“Not a damn thing,” Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff, replied.

“Why?” Trump demanded.

“Because,” Mr. Mulvaney told him, “you would lose.”

Second news item

A foul stench wafting from the bench:

Last month, I covered a legal motion in the case Planned Parenthood of Michigan v. Attorney General of the State of Michigan, in which Michigan Right to Life and the Michigan Catholic Conference argued that the presiding judge ought to recuse herself due to conflicts of interest.

The judge in question, Elizabeth L. Gleicher, had disclosed that she donates annually to the Planned Parenthood’s Michigan affiliate and that, prior to becoming a judge, had represented Planned Parenthood in a lawsuit. Despite these obvious conflicts of interest, she declined to recuse herself. The pro-life groups calling for her recusal noted that she had also received a Planned Parenthood “advocate award,” which she did not disclose, and that she had represented Planned Parenthood in lawsuits other than the one she informed them about publicly.

Gleicher went on, unsurprisingly, to decide on behalf of Planned Parenthood in this case, ruling against a Michigan pro-life law that is slated to take effect if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Third news item

Could be the much needed game-changer:

On Thursday, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense tweeted a video of a Russian barrage on defenders’ positions in the Donetsk Oblast. “Ukraine is ready to strike back,” it said. “To do this, we need NATO-style MLRS. Immediately.”

“Russia is now using artillery extensively and ruthlessly,” Oleksandr Merezhko, chair of the Ukrainian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told Newsweek. “To counter this, to save the lives of our servicemen and civilians, we need MLRS.”

American-made launchers would allow Ukrainians to target more Russian artillery batteries and attackers at longer ranges. The extended range would also threaten Russian logistics hubs and routes, disruption of which will slow the offensive

The U.S. has declined thus far to send the necessary equipment:

Politico, who spoke to an unnamed Biden administration official last week, reported concern in the White House that providing technologically advanced, destructive, and long-range American MLRS and HIMARS will be interpreted as escalation by Moscow.

Meanwhile, Kasparov sees the urgency of the moment, and vents:

Three months into Putin’s genocidal total war on Ukraine, Putin’s Global Rescue Team is assembling again. Heads of state, media, pundits, all the usual suspects eager to preserve a horrific status quo & sacrifice thousands of Ukrainian lives, and call it peace.

Ukraine is bleeding, without the weapons it asked for. Putin is rushing to annex more Ukrainian territory, issuing passports and currency, killing and deporting thousands and bringing in Russians, as he’s been doing for 8 years in occupied Crimea and Donbas.

The profiteers and appeasers, working with or for Putin, like Kissinger, join the false “peacemakers” in France and Italy to send more Ukrainians to the hell of Russian occupation, dozens of Buchas to come. Who are they to tell Ukrainians how to live and die?

Some allies are slow-rolling weapons deliveries, afraid of Ukrainian victory. If Ukraine makes more progress pushing Russia back, Western leaders might lose their coveted “peace for our time” moment and not be able to rush back to Russian gas & oil.

Ukraine needs air cover, while allies point fingers and play hot potato with who needs what permissions to provide jets and other weapons. Do they want the carnage to end, or just cover it up, postpone more, guaranteeing it will be worse next time?

Stop thinking about concessions Ukraine can make. They are paying a terrible price in blood, with decades of rebuilding to come. They are paying for years of weakness and corruption of the European nations that eagerly did business & diplomacy with their invader.

Ukraine needs every weapon they ask for without hesitation. The free world is lucky to have a brave and skilled Ukrainian military on the front line of a war they never wanted, a war the West tried to pretend did not exist. They aren’t a proxy, they are a partner.

Bankrupt Putin & his regime. Give Ukraine what it needs to win. Shame anyone who would rescue Putin from suffering the consequences of his murderous war. Ukraine must choose, and as long as they choose to fight we must fight with them.

Fourth news item

President Biden leaning toward $10,000:

Advocates expressed anger and disappointment on Friday in response to news that the Biden administration is leaning toward forgiving $10,000 in student loans per borrower.

Some Democrats and activists have insisted that President Joe Biden needs to cancel at least $50,000 per borrower to make a meaningful impact on the country’s $1.7 trillion outstanding student loan balance. More than 40 million Americans are in debt for their education, and about 25% of those borrowers are in delinquency or default…While running for president, Biden had vowed immediate debt cancellation of $10,000 per borrower, and he hadn’t said anything about limiting the relief to people who earn under a certain amount. Now the administration is looking at imposing income caps of $150,000 for individuals and $300,000 for married couples for the relief…

Unfortunately for Biden, some of his more popular teammates are none too happy with his number:

Fifth news item

Cheney in the woods – at least for now:

GOP Rep. Liz Cheney is down 30 points in a new survey of her August primary conducted by the Club for Growth, which is opposing the embattled incumbent.

The poll, which provides perhaps the starkest illustration yet of the political peril Cheney faces this year, shows Wyoming attorney Harriet Hageman garnering 56 percent of the vote to Cheney’s 26 percent in the GOP primary. A third Republican got 12 percent support, and just 6 percent are undecided.

The survey accounts for frequent GOP voters, but also new voters and those who identify as Democrats or independents but intend to vote in the GOP primary.

Interestingly, Cheney’s war chest has a hefty $6.8 million compared to Hageman’s $1 million.

From Cheney’s just-released video asking for Wyoming voters to vote for her, she hits the nail on the head:

If our generation does not stand for truth, the rule of law and our Constitution, if we set aside our founding principles for the politics of the moment, the miracle of our constitutional republic will slip away. We must not let that happen.

I’m signing onto this. There’s a long game in play:

I suspect her strategy in this race consists of two steps: (1) Hurt Trump among swing voters ahead of 2024 by framing this primary as a referendum on the rule of law versus authoritarianism, knowing which side Trump and MAGA will enthusiastically take, and (2) run against him for the Republican nomination in 2024 and use the spotlight that provides her to reiterate that case to those swing voters. Cheney’s on a mission now to keep Trump out of the White House, nothing more or less. If she cared about saving her career, she would have laid low after voting for impeachment like eight of the other nine Republicans who joined her did.

Sixth news item

Too bad, so sad:

A federal judge on Friday dismissed former President Trump’s lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James, which he filed in an attempt to stop her office’s civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s business practices.

Why it matters: The dismissal comes just a day after a four-judge panel ruled that Trump and his children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., are obligated to comply with subpoenas issued by James and testify under oath as part of the state’s investigation.

Trump related legal happenings:

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, a Democrat, has said in the past that Mr. Trump created a threatening atmosphere with his open criticism of the investigation. At a rally in January, he described the Georgia investigation and others focusing on him as “prosecutorial misconduct at the highest level” that was being conducted by “vicious, horrible people.” Ms. Willis has had staffers on the case outfitted with bulletproof vests.

Willis stressed that this isn’t personal, but she is simply fulfilling her duties:

She added that she was treating Mr. Trump as she would anyone else. “I have a duty to investigate,” she said. “And in my mind, it’s not of much consequence what title they wore.”

Seventh news item

An absolute abomination:

In response to an explosive investigation, top Southern Baptists have released a previously secret list of hundreds of pastors and other church-affiliated personnel accused of sexual abuse.

The 205-page database was made public late Thursday. It includes more than 700 entries from cases that largely span from 2000 to 2019.

Its existence became widely known Sunday when the independent firm, Guidepost Solutions, included it in its bombshell report detailing how the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee mishandled allegations of sex abuse, stonewalled numerous survivors and prioritized protecting the SBC from liability.

The Guidepost report, released after a seven-month investigation, contained several explosive revelations. Among them: D. August Boto, the committee’s former vice president and general counsel, and former SBC spokesman Roger Oldham kept their own private list of abusive ministers. Both retired in 2019. The existence of the list was not widely known within the committee and its staff.

Despite collecting these reports for more than 10 years, there is no indication that (Oldham and Boto) or anyone else, took any action to ensure that the accused ministers were no longer in positions of power at SBC churches,” the report said.

Eighth news item

While China calls the allegations “lies of the century,” sane people know them as horrors of the century:

A new trove of hacked Chinese police photographs and documents shedding light on the human toll of Beijing’s treatment of its Uyghur minority in Xinjiang has been published as the UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, visits cities in the region.

The data trove – referred to as the Xinjiang police files and published by a consortium of media including the BBC – dates back to 2018 and was passed on by hackers to Dr Adrian Zenz, a US-based scholar and activist, who shared it with international media earlier this year. It includes thousands of photographs of detained people and details a shoot-to-kill policy for people who try to escape.

The ruling Communist party is accused of detaining more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western region as part of a years-long crackdown the US and politicians in other western countries have labelled a “genocide”. In addition to mass detentions, researchers and campaigners accuse Chinese authorities of waging a campaign of forced labour, coerced sterilisation and the destruction of Uyghur cultural heritage in Xinjiang.

Ninth news item

Confirming what we have long known:

Almost no Democrats who oppose abortion rights hold seats in Congress any more, and it’s also become a litmus test for some state parties, even in red states.

…Anti-abortion Democrats are nearly extinct, and with the Supreme Court expected to overturn Roe v. Wade, national Democrats will be making abortion rights a centerpiece of their midterm campaigns.

…Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) — described by his primary challenger, Jessica Cisneros, as “the last anti-choice Dem in the House” — was barely clinging to a lead after Tuesday’s runoff election.
Democrats further down the ballot who oppose abortion rights are being pushed out or walking away.

In New Jersey, the Morristown Democratic Committee voted last year to strip Aaron Oliver of his chairmanship because of his anti-abortion views. “It was awful,” Oliver told Axios. “I didn’t want to resign, but this issue right now with the Democratic Party is an absolute litmus test.”

MISCELLANEOUS

Spring palette cleanser after a rough week of bad news:

Have a restful weekend.

–Dana

Texas Dept. of Public Safety Official: “It Was The Wrong Decision”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:39 am



[guest post by Dana]

In a follow-up to the Uvalde massacre, Texas Department of Public Safety Col. Steven McCraw said this morning that the wrong decision was made by officials to wait for more equipment and not engage with the shooter:

While a gunman slaughtered children inside locked adjoining classrooms in a Texas elementary school, a group of 19 law enforcement officers stood in a hallway outside and took no action as they waited for more equipment, a state law enforcement official said Friday.

“The on-scene commander at that time believed that it had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject,” Texas Department of Public Safety Col. Steven McCraw said.

“From the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. There’s no excuse for that.”

The decision explains the lengthy wait between when officers first arrived to the school at 11:44 a.m. and when the gunman was finally shot at 12:50 p.m. The tactical team ultimately entered the locked classroom to confront the gunman using keys from a janitor, he said.

Here is a former active shooter trainer reviewing what is the standard, across-the-board protocol for law enforcement when at the scene of an active shooter, and also, what constitutes a “barricaded suspect” situation:

Ryan Searles, a security consultant with IMEG Corp and a former active shooter trainer, says the procedures are very similar across the nation.

“The primary goal of law enforcement during an active shooter is really to accomplish two things — one, stop the killing. And two, stop the dying…We learned from Columbine. You can’t sit outside and wait while kids are getting shot inside. You need to make entry right away, whether you’re a single officer or you’re waiting for your contact team,” Searles said.

But every scenario is different, and officers have to be ready to switch gears at a moment’s notice.

Though Searles is not privy to the mass shooting investigation in Uvalde, he said the training is standardized so that everybody can respond in the same way when mutual aid is called.

“An active shooter scene can change very quickly from an active shooter to barricaded suspect. As long as they make entry into a room and they’re barricaded, and no shots are fired, it’s now not treated as an active shooter event. It’s treated as a barricaded suspect,” Searles said.

hat’s when backup teams, like SWAT, are called.

“But as soon as a single shot is fired, it is a switch from a barricaded suspect immediately back to an active shooter, and you have to make entry. You can’t wait outside the classroom. You make entry right away, and you mitigate that threat,” Searles said.

–Dana

5/26/2022

Per Wall Street Journal: Frantic Uvalde Parents Handcuffed and Tased By Police While Outside of School (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:42 pm



[guest post by Dana]

The Wall Street Journal reports that parents who were waiting outside of Robb Elementary School while there was an active shooter inside, claim that they begged the police who were standing around to take action. This is absolutely damning. First, what happened outside of the school (Note: I’m going to quote heavily from the report because it is so mind-boggling awful):

The gunman behind the mass shooting at an elementary school here lingered outside the building for 12 minutes firing shots before walking into the school and barricading in a classroom where he killed 19 children and two teachers, authorities said…

Victor Escalon, a regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said he couldn’t say why no one stopped the deceased gunman, 18 year-old Salvador Ramos, from entering the school during that time Tuesday. Most of the shots Ramos fired came during the first several minutes when he entered the school, Mr. Escalon said.

DPS officials previously said an armed school officer confronted Ramos as he arrived at the school. Mr. Escalon said Thursday that information was incorrect and no one encountered Ramos as he arrived at the school. “There was not an officer readily available and armed,” Mr. Escalon said.

According to Escalon, here is the timetable of events. Note that a 911 call was placed just two minutes after the gunman began shooting at witnesses outside of the school:

Ramos shot his grandmother Tuesday morning and then used her truck to drive to Robb Elementary School, crashing the truck into a nearby ditch at 11:28 a.m…The gunman then began shooting at people at a funeral home across the street, prompting a 911 call reporting a gunman at the school at 11:30. Ramos then climbed a fence onto school grounds and began firing before walking inside, unimpeded, at 11:40. The first police arrived on the scene at 11:44 and exchanged gunfire with Ramos, who barricaded himself in a fourth-grade classroom. There, he killed the students and teachers.

It was at 12:40 – an hour later – that a Border Tactical Team got inside the school and killed the shooter.

With regard to the frantic parents outside of the school gates – who knew the shooter was inside with possibly their children this is the account from the Journal based on videos and parent/witness statements:

Videos circulated on social media showing parents confronting police outside the building while Ramos was barricaded in the classroom.

“The police were doing nothing,” said Angeli Rose Gomez, who after learning about the shooting drove 40 miles to Robb Elementary School, where her children are in second and third grade. “They were just standing outside the fence. They weren’t going in there or running anywhere.”

Ms. Gomez, a farm supervisor, said that she was one of numerous parents who began encouraging—first politely, and then with more urgency—police and other law enforcement to enter the school. After a few minutes, she said, federal marshals approached her and put her in handcuffs, telling her she was being arrested for intervening in an active investigation.

Ms. Gomez convinced local Uvalde police officers whom she knew to persuade the marshals to set her free. Around her, the scene was frantic. She said she saw a father tackled and thrown to the ground by police and a third pepper-sprayed. Once freed from her cuffs, Ms. Gomez made her distance from the crowd, jumped the school fence, and ran inside to grab her two children. She sprinted out of the school with them.

Videos circulated on social media Wednesday and Thursday of frantic family members trying to get access to Robb Elementary as the attack was unfolding, some of them yelling at police who blocked them from entering.

“Shoot him or something!” a woman’s voice can be heard yelling on a video, before a man is heard saying about the officers, “They’re all just [expletive] parked outside, dude. They need to go in there.”

After the confrontation ended with Ramos dead, school buses began to arrive to transport students from the school, according to Ms. Gomez. She said she saw police use a Taser on a local father who approached the bus to collect his child.

“They didn’t do that to the shooter, but they did that to us. That’s how it felt,” Ms. Gomez said.

For his part, Escalon says that “Our job is to report the facts and have answers. We’re not there yet”.

Q: How is it that the police were not compelled to do more than just form a perimeter around the site while an active shooter was killing any number of individuals in real-time? Why weren’t they obligated to act?

I cannot imagine the rage of these parents. And for any who were frantically waiting outside the gates and weren’t as fortunate as Ms. Gomez to be able to rescue their children, that rage and anguish must be a hundredfold.

ADDED: In light of frantic Uvalde parents desperately trying to rescue their children while the police stood idly by, and then being restrained, handcuffed, or tased, it’s pretty sickening to learn that some police officers went into the school to…rescue their own children. While I’m thankful their children were spared, what about the parents outside the gate who loved their children just as fiercely and wanted to rescue them just as much as the police officers???

I’m going to leave you with the sight and awful sounds of anguished parents who were desperate to get to their children:

UPDATE: Texas Department of Public Safety Lieutenant Chris Olivarez answered questions today from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about why the police did not engage with the shooter. Frustratingly, the short answer is “they might have been shot”:

Blitzer asked his guest if officers at the scene made the correct choice to wait for backup before they went after the gunman.

Olivarez said officers were inside the school quickly, and they heard gunfire when they arrived. They called for reinforcements, he said. The officers in the building waited for a special tactical team to show up as they isolated the shooter to one classroom.

“Don’t current best practices, don’t they call for officers to disable a shooter as quickly as possible, regardless of how many officers are actually on site?” Blitzer asked him.

Olivarez said the officers who arrived at the school quickly might have been shot had they attempted to take out the gunman alone. He said,

“The active shooter situation, you want to stop the killing, you want to preserve life, but also one thing that – of course, the American people need to understand — that officers are making entry into this building. They do not know where the gunman is. They are hearing gunshots.

They are receiving gunshots. At that point, if they proceeded any further not knowing where the suspect was at, they could’ve been shot, they could’ve been killed, and that gunman would have had an opportunity to kill other people inside that school.

I’m left wondering how many of those children could’ve been saved and survived their gunshot wounds had the police decided that the risk was worth it instead of leaving them trapped inside with a madman and his guns.

–Dana

In Georgia, It’s the Election Denier vs. the Republican

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Feels weird to say that.

It will be Kemp vs. Abrams in the state Abrams shrewdly dubs “the worst state in the country to live.”

Stacey Abrams refused to concede the Georgia governor’s race to Republican Brian Kemp four years ago, even after it was clear she had lost.

“Concession means an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that,” Abrams told supporters 10 days after Election Day, alleging persistent voter suppression allegations, though state officials certified the results. “Georgia still has a decision to make about who will we be in the next election. And the one after that. And the one after that.”

The next election has arrived, and she has another chance against Kemp, who on Tuesday defeated a primary challenger backed by former president Donald Trump in a landslide. Abrams has long sought this rematch, refusing some pleas to run for the Senate in 2020 and building a reputation as a leading advocate for voting rights.

This time, Ms. Abrams, when you lose, admit it.

5/25/2022

NRA Scheduled To Hold Annual Meeting In Houston Just Days After Massacre At Texas Elementary School (2nd UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:10 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Three days after the mass shooting in Uvdale, Texas that saw 19 children and two adults killed, the National Rifle Association will hold its annual convention in Houston:

Donald Trump is still scheduled to speak at an NRA meeting in Houston…The former president is set to join fellow Republicans, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Senator Ted Cruz, and Congressman Dan Crenshaw, at the annual NRA Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum over the weekend.

The pro-gun lobbyist group is still intending on holding on the meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center from Friday to Sunday, despite the massacre at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

Michael Heckman, CEO of Houston First, the government corporation that oversees the convention center, said he was not aware of any plans to cancel the event or change the schedule in the wake of the school shooting.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that the NRA meeting will be held in Houston as scheduled because if they were to renege on the contract, “it would open the city up to a number of lawsuits”:

“The convention has been on the books for more than two years,” Turner said during Wednesday’s City Council meeting. “It’s a contractual arrangement. We simply cannot cancel a conference or convention because we do not agree with the subject matter.”

The NRA’s website continues to promote the upcoming event:

The Exhibit Hall is open all three days and will showcase over 14 acres of the latest guns and gear from the most popular companies in the Industry…Make plans now to join fellow Second Amendment patriots for a freedom-filled weekend for the entire family as we celebrate Freedom, Firearms, and the Second Amendment!

After the massacre, the NRA tweeted this:

Meanwhile, Rep. Sheila Lee Jackson, who represents Houston in Texas’s 18th congressional district, has called on the NRA to cancel its event in light of the massacre. I rarely agree with her on anything, but I do agree with the representative on this: “It’s not the time” for the event to be held.

Also, Sen. Chuck Schumer, who was all about bringing gun control measures to the floor today, announced that it would not be happening:

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told colleagues on the Senate floor Wednesday that he will not immediately bring gun control measures to the floor in the wake of two mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, because he doesn’t expect them to muster enough Republican votes to pass.

Instead, the Democratic leader said he will wait for Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and other members of his caucus to try to negotiate a bipartisan compromise with Republicans on a measure that has a better chance of securing 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

“There are some who want this body to quickly vote on sensible gun safety legislation, legislation supported by the vast majority of Americans,” he said. “They want to see this body vote quickly so the American people can know which side each senator is on …. I’m sympathetic to that, and I believe that accountability votes are important.”

But Schumer said he thought that bringing gun-control legislation in the immediate aftermath of Buffalo and Uvalde, where two lone shooters left a total of 31 people dead in the span of 10 days, would be fruitless because of staunch Republican opposition to such reforms.

As with Sheila Jackson Lee, I can’t remember agreeing with Schumer on much of anything, but I have to say I agree with him on this, regardless of his posturing:

“If the slaughter of schoolchildren can’t convince Republicans to buck the NRA, what can we do?” he said, referring to the National Rifle Association.

I believe the optics of the NRA holding their convention this soon after the shooting and this close to Uvalde are horrible. Nothing like rubbing salt into an unspeakably raw wound.

I don’t know what the answer is with regard to getting current measures on the books enforced and establishing new safety measures. We’ve discussed tightening up red flag laws, increasing wait time for purchase, universal background checks, more available mental health outreach and treatment, an armed presence at schools (including teachers/staff), etc. But really, unless Texas raised the legal age to purchase firearms, would any of the above measures have prevented the 18-year-old with no criminal record from legally purchasing the two guns, 375 rounds of ammunition, and a tactical vest? As I said yesterday, I’m gutted by yet another school massacre where small children who had just barely begun to live their lives are now dead. In perusing the internet, it remains shocking that some gun advocates seem to feel that the imposition of having to wear a mask or the thought of having Ruby Bridges Goes To School read to elementary students is cause for a much more immediate and bigger response than the massacre of 19 children. I don’t get it.

In the face of the Second Amendment, America’s romance and reverence for guns, the staggering proliferation of guns in the U.S., and an increasing level of hostility and anger as a result of social upheaval and the massive political dysfunction of Washington, at the very least, let’s start here:

UPDATE: As expected, protestgroups will be at the George R. Brown Convention Center where the NRA annual convention will be held this weekend in Houston. Several groups will be represented:

Ashton P Woods says they [NRA] are not welcome in his home town.

“These people are coming into our community. The city of Houston needs to kick them out,” said Woods, an activist and founder of Black Lives Matter Houston. “We have to be just as tough about these things as they are.”

Woods is helping organize one of several protests planned just outside the George R Brown Convention Center…

The goal of the Black Lives Matter protest, Woods said, is to “get loud” outside while powerful speakers take the podium inside. Woods said the issue of firearms was particularly important to the civil rights group that primarily tackles issues of police brutality in America.

“Whether it be death by suicide, death by cop, death by mass shooter, we need to control the access people have to deadly weapons,” Woods said. “These things are interconnected.”

Outside the convention center, multiple counter-demonstrations are expected in Houston – especially in light of a mass shooting that killed 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Hansen and Pecinovsky have organized an interfaith gathering that will include a silent march and a moment of reflection when organizers will read the names of those who died in Uvalde.

UPDATE 2: After facing pretty widespread criticism, it was announced that Texas Gov. Abbott will no longer be attending the NRA convention, but will instead be sending in a pre-recorded video address to attendees:

Abbott, 64, was originally slated to speak in person as the three-day event gets underway at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

But the Republican governor changed his plans after facing a widespread backlash for holding a fundraiser just hours after a gunman stormed into a Uvalde elementary school, killing 19 students and two teachers.

He will instead head to the site of Tuesday’s horrific school shooting to hold a press conference “on state’s ongoing efforts to support the Uvalde community.”

Also no longer attending the convention are several country music artists who were slated to perform this weekend.

And just this morning, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced he is dropping out of speaking at the convention after giving it “prayerful consideration”.

–Dana

5/24/2022

Another Horrific School Shooting Today (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:31 pm



[guest post by Dana]

This latest mass casualty incident took place in Texas, 85 miles west of San Antonio:

Fourteen students and a teacher are dead after a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, according to Gov. Greg Abbott.

The 18-year-old suspect, a student at Uvalde High School, is also dead, he said.

“He shot and killed horrifically and incomprehensibly 14 students and killed a teacher,” Abbott said during an unrelated press briefing.

The suspect also allegedly shot his grandmother before entering the school and again opening fire, Abbott said. He did not say anything further about her condition.

Abbott said the shooter — identified by law enforcement sources and the governor as Salvador Ramos — had a handgun and also possibly a rifle.

Additionally, law enforcement and the National Counterrorism Center don’t believe there is a “terrorism nexus” at this time.

Also, there seems to be uncertainty about the number of fatalities. While Gov. Abbott said 14 students and one teacher had been killed, a local hospital reported that two people were killed and dozens more were injured. It’s early days yet, so things are bound to change as new information becomes public.

This is just gutting. I really can’t imagine the horror these families must be going through today. Not even remotely.

UPDATE:

The death toll from a shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas rose to 18 children and 3 adults Tuesday night after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire inside an elementary school earlier in the day…Three people wounded in the attack are hospitalized in serious condition, Gutierrez told The Associated Press.

As a reminder, Robb Elementary School serves second, third, and fourth-grade students (about 7, 8, and 9 years old).

–Dana

It’s Kemp Buries Perdue Day

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Sorry, Mr. Donald the Trump. Not looking so good for you or your plans to install a flunky in Georgia who will steal the election for you.

Gee. That’s too bad.

5/23/2022

Big Media’s Motto: Anonymity for Our Friends, Unmasking for our Enemies

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



CJR has a piece on the NYT Pitchbot guy from Twitter:

Though his subject matter might suggest otherwise, NYT Pitchbot does not work in media or politics. He is a fifty-two-year-old math professor and father of two who describes himself as a “committed Democrat” of the “slightly hardcore left.” He is anonymous on Twitter, and asked to remain so for this story, citing personal and professional concerns. (CJR contacted him via email and spoke with him on the phone, verifying his association with the Twitter account over direct message. He shared his real identity with CJR, which we verified with two other sources.)

I’m glad they kept him anonymous since he wanted to remain that way. Funny how he gets that courtesy but the LibsofTikTok lady does not.

5/20/2022

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:47 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Republicans take the hit:

For the 2020 census, all states were not counted equally well for population numbers used to allocate political representation and federal funding over the next decade, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released Thursday.

A follow-up survey the bureau conducted to measure the national tally’s accuracy found significant net undercount rates in six states: Arkansas (5.04%), Florida (3.48%), Illinois (1.97%), Mississippi (4.11%), Tennessee (4.78%) and Texas (1.92%).

It also uncovered significant net overcount rates in eight states — Delaware (5.45%), Hawaii (6.79%), Massachusetts (2.24%), Minnesota (3.84%), New York (3.44%), Ohio (1.49%), Rhode Island (5.05%) and Utah (2.59%).

Still, the 2020 results stand in stark contrast to the findings from the bureau’s follow-up survey for the 2010 census, which had no statistically significant over- or undercounts for any state.

Second news item

Ukraine emergency aid package passed by Senate:

The Senate passed a $40 billion emergency aid package Thursday to buttress Ukraine with weapons and other military help as the Eastern European country fends off the Russian invasion.

The chamber’s 86-11 vote clears the legislation for President Joe Biden’s signature, just in time to keep the Pentagon from exhausting its power to send weapons to Ukraine from U.S. stockpiles. Top lawmakers in both parties insist the multibillion-dollar injection is just what Ukraine needs to bolster its defenses as Russia approaches its fourth month of conflict.

Third news item

Donors and local BLM chapters hardest hit:

Following the reveal of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s IRS tax documents, it’s now safe to say that there’s something questionable going on at the social justice nonprofit.

According to the group’s Form 990, first reported by Associated Press, BLM is worth nearly $42 million in net assets—after spending more than $37 million of the $90 million it previously had on high-end real estate, familiar consultants, ambitious grants, and more.

One of the more concerning situations revealed by the financial disclosures is the fact that co-founder Patrisse Cullors was the foundation board’s sole voting director, and held no board meetings, before stepping down last year. Under her leadership, Cullors authorized a six-figure payout to be given to her child’s father for various services, paid $1.8 million to companies owned by her relatives, and ensured that her brother, Paul Cullors, was one of the highest-paid employees of BLM.

This is yet another wave of bad news for Cullors, who has constantly denied financial impropriety, as she has previously tried to quell any growing concerns around her decision-making. These tax documents not only proved that Cullors lied about misusing some of the funds (such as hosting a birthday party for her son and throwing a private Biden inauguration celebration in the multimillion dollar property intended for activists and creators), but that she did so repeatedly.

Fourth news item

Yet another example of why parents nationwide are vexed at their schools and people who run them:

“I am going to give you an assignment given to my 15-year-old daughter at a local high school. This will be horrifying for me to read to you but that will give your perspective on how she must have felt when her teacher required her to memorize this and to act it out in front of her entire class,” said parent Kandra Evans at the meeting during public comment.

As Evans began to read a passage from her daughter’s assignment her mic was cut off by CCSD Trustee Evelyn Garcia Morales.

“This is a public meeting. I ask for decorum,” said Garcia Morales.

“If you don’t want me to read it to you, what was it like for my 15-year-old daughter to have to memorize pornographic material?,” Evans said.

According to a report in Newsweek, the parent was allowed her allotted time to complete her comments (without the profanity). Moreover, the outlet claims that “any suggestion that the material quoted in the meeting was part of the curriculum appears to be false and was instead created by students for the class.” (Did the teacher approve of it?) Regardless, the point remains that the student was required to read the assignment out loud to students and presumably the teacher as well, while the parent was not allowed to read the very same thing out loud to the *adults* in the room at the school board meeting because decorum. And if that’s an accurate account, then parents are right to be angry about the situation.

Fifth news item

Racism rears its ugly head in a noted private school:

The Roeper School is the oldest K through 12 school for gifted children in the country. But the school is facing a wave of controversy after students were given an assignment titled ‘an introduction to primates’ and former President Barack Obama’s photo was listed.

The assignment was passed out in the high school biology class earlier this month. The Birmingham private school prides itself on diversity and an alternative education, which costs up to $30,000 each year.

But this month, the curriculum passed out to students instructed students to pick from a gallery of photos labeled apes, monkeys, and lemurs. And there, in the second row, is former President Barack Obama.

FOX 2 obtained a photo of the school assignment from someone who was appalled at the racist messaging, which came from a teacher.

Sixth news item

Via Time123: 2000 Mules of malarkey (2000 Mules being the latest movie by Dinesh D’souza):

Read the whole thread.

Seventh news item

Who they have chosen to embrace says all you need to know about CPAC. P.S. Tucker Carlson was billed as special guest speaker…:

The Hungarian leader, Viktor Orbán, has told a conference of US conservatives that the path to power required having their own media outlets, calling for shows like Tucker Carlson’s to be broadcast “24/7”.

Orbán, recently elected to a fourth term, laid out a 12-point blueprint to achieving and consolidating power to a special meeting of the US Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), under the slogan of “God, Homeland, Family”, held in Budapest.

The Hungarian prime minister said that with his fourth electoral victory on 3 April, Hungary had been “completely healed” of “progressive dominance”. He suggested it was time for the right to join forces.

“We have to take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels. We must find allies in one another and coordinate the movements of our troops,” Orbán said.

He told Republicans…that media influence was one of the keys to success. In Hungary, the prime minister and his allies have effective control of most media outlets in Hungary, including state TV.

“Have your own media. It’s the only way to point out the insanity of the progressive left,” he said. “The problem is that the western media is adjusted to the leftist viewpoint. Those who taught reporters in universities already had progressive leftist principles.”

He portrayed the US media as being dominated by Democrats, who he claimed were being “served” by CNN, the New York Times and others.

“Of course, the GOP has its media allies but they can’t compete with the mainstream liberal media. My friend, Tucker Carlson is the only one who puts himself out there,” he said. “His show is the most popular. What does it mean? It means programs like his should be broadcasted day and night. Or as you say 24/7.”

Eighth news item

Russia hits back at Finland, which already has plans ensuring that they will be okay despite Russia’s move:

Russia will cut natural gas supplies to Finland on Saturday, according to Finland’s state energy provider, the latest salvo in a growing confrontation between the two countries over the war in Ukraine.

Finland this week applied to join NATO, reversing a longstanding policy of military neutrality and angering Russia, which sees the eastward expansion of the alliance as a threat to its national security. Moscow had previously threatened “retaliation” if Finland joined NATO. The two countries share an 830-mile border.

The ostensible reason for the halt in Russian gas exports, though, was a dispute over payments that had been rumbling for weeks.

Gasum, the Finnish energy provider, said on Friday that Russia was suspending the supply of natural gas to Finland starting at 7 a.m. the next morning because the country had failed to comply with Moscow’s demand to make payments in rubles. The move comes just days after Moscow also suspended electricity exports to Finland, citing payment issues.

Ninth news item

Progressive prosecutor comes out in support of efforts to recall city district attorney:

Brooke Jenkins supports diversion programs for low-level crimes…as well as programs to shorten excessive sentences and free the wrongfully convicted. A Black and Latina woman, she deplores what mass incarceration has done to communities of color. She said that she appreciated how compassionate and reform-focused San Francisco was as a city. Thus, she said, she looked forward to working with Boudin when he came into office.

Yet, working on murder cases for him, she said, she came to question whether he was the right person for the job. He had decided what not to do and where to pull back, she said. But he had not figured out how to fight the crime the city was facing. “Chesa has refused to switch hats,” she told me. “He maintains the outlook or the mindset of a public defender. His view is that crime is just a part of life, something that we all have to endure and deal with. It’s never going to go away. No amount of punishment for any offender is going to change what happened, even in a murder case.”

She worried that this posture discourages people from reporting offenses against them. She also worried that it disrespects the victims of violence—a personal issue for her, after her husband’s cousin was murdered in the summer of 2020. “I don’t think he’s willing to listen to those Black voices,” she told me. “He believes, in his mind, that he knows what’s best for them.”

MISCELLANEOUS

An absolutely vibrant painting by Ernie Barnes recently made a big splash:

The unexpected star lot of last week’s Christie’s 20th century auction was The Sugar Shack, the most famous painting by Ernie Barnes. The 1976 work went for $15.3 million, or an astonishing 76 times its high estimate of $200,000.

A celebration of Black joy, the painting depicts an enthusiastic crowd of men and women with elongated limbs, seemingly carried away by the music as they dance the night away.

“The painting transmits rhythm, so the experience is re-created in the person viewing it,” Barnes, who died in 2009, said in an interview with the Soul Museum. “To show that African Americans utilize rhythm as a way of resolving physical tension.”

Have a great weekend!

–Dama

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