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Another mass shooting. Cue the doom loop.
Yesterday’s murder of five Americans in Louisville was the 145th mass shooting here, so far this year. And it is only mid-April. Last year, there were 647 mass shootings in our country.
It is staggering that we are not staggered by this.
When children at school are torn apart by AR-15s, the conscience of the nation should be set on fire. And we were horrified by Uvalde, and Nashville, Newtown, Parkland, Santa Fe, and Roseburg, Oregon. For a few days.
But we have gotten to the point where coverage of one slaughter is interrupted by breaking news of yet another. And our doom loop of thoughts, prayers, debate, and inertia has become numbingly familiar.
Legislators across the country have rushed to protect children from being exposed books like “My Two Mommies,” and the story of Anne Frank, but not from being blown apart by killers with weapons of war and high-capacity magazines.
There have been 377 school shootings since the massacre at Columbine. Last year, there were 46 school shootings — more than any year since 1999. According to a Wapo analysis, at least 199 children, educators, and others have been killed, and another 425 have been injured.
The paper estimates that more than 349,000 students have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine. A Pew Research Center analysis found that the number of children below the age of 18 who were killed by guns rose from 1,732 to 2,590 between 2019 and 2021 — an increase of 50% in just two years.
Even that grossly understates the impact. Shooting drills have become part of the fabric of our children’s lives. The Pew study found that “nearly half of U.S. parents worry about their children getting shot.”
And yet, we do not really want to know the grim reality of what has happened. There’s a reason that we do not show or see pictures of what an AR-15 does to a child’s body. We couldn’t handle the truth.
Last year, more than 44,000 Americans died of gunshots, and it is increasingly difficult even for the insulated political elites to escape the consequences.
After Monday’s shooting in Louisville, Florida Senator Rick Scott (R-Florida) tweeted:
And yet, it will inspire Scott to do… absolutely nothing.
Indeed, Scott’s home state just made it easier for people to carry loaded weapons without permits, training, or background checks.
Some politicians don’t even pretend that they intend to do anything.
U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) says there’s nothing the 535 elected officials in the House and Senate can do to reduce gun violence and gun deaths.
“We’re not gonna fix it,” Congressman Burchett said on the steps of the Capitol.
“I don’t see any role that we could do other than mess things up, honestly,” he said in response to Monday’s school mass shooting in Nashville, where three nine-year olds and three adults were killed.
A quick thought experiment:
Instead of talking about the routine slaughter of children and our fellow citizens in schools, banks, nightclubs, and grocery stores, imagine we were talking about Islamic terrorist attacks.
Imagine that there had been 145 attacks from members of the Sinaloa Cartel, or that dozens of airplanes had been hijacked and hundreds of passengers killed.
Would Rick Scott merely offer thoughts and prayers? Would Ted Cruz suggest that we need more locked doors? Armored backpacks? More armed guards? More bans on drag queen story hours?
Would congressmen and legislators simply shrug and say that it was a shame, but that there was nothing — nothing at all — that we could do to confront the horror?
Or would the nation be shocked out of its torpor and mobilize to confront the threat?
We have gone to war for less.
Meanwhile, behold the inane futility of last week’s spasm of vindictiveness:
Nashville's Metro Council unanimously voted to reinstate Justin Jones, the Tennessee House representative who was ousted last week for taking part in a gun control rally.
Jones will serve as an interim legislator until a special election is called….
Jones was back in the Capitol chambers later Monday evening and again vowed to be a voice for his constituents.
"I want to thank you all, not for what you did, but for awakening the people of this state, particularly the young people," Jones said, to cheers.
The GOP’s Abortion Quagmire
On yesterday’s Bulwark podcast, Will Saletan and I discussed the politics of abortion, Elon’s petulance, the GOP House infighting, and Lindsey Graham’s tears for America’s No. 1 TV addict.
Should Republicans dump Trump? Here are the numbers.
To collect our data, we conducted an experiment on a nationally representative online survey of 1,346 American adults fielded just before the 2022 midterm elections.
All respondents saw a preface about a Republican nominee for a Congressional seat in their state named Terry Mitchell. Respondents either viewed “conventional” Republican viewpoints (lowering taxes, limiting government’s role in healthcare, and opposing citizenship for undocumented immigrants) or “unconventional” Republican viewpoints (increasing taxes, expanding government’s role in healthcare, and supporting citizenship for undocumented immigrants). Respondents then received one of three Trump endorsement conditions: Trump’s support for Mitchell, Trump’s disapproval of Mitchell, or no mention of Trump.
Our findings provide strong evidence that Trump hurts Republican candidates in general election contests. Among respondents who saw the condition where Trump was not mentioned, the average favorability rating was 52 points. When participants were shown a scenario with a Trump endorsement, Mitchell’s favorability decreased by 7 points on average, a penalty of a similar magnitude to what The Economist found. This result can be seen in our first graph.
BONUS: Make sure you read Daniel McGraw in today’s Bulwark: “Too Tired of Trump.”
1. Sorry Doubters, But Bragg Was Right to Indict Trump
No, writes Philip Rotner, the case isn’t too weak. No, it’s not too politically explosive. And no, Bragg should not have waited for other indictments to come first.
All of this pretty much leaves only the argument that the crimes with which Bragg charged Trump are simply not serious enough to justify indicting a former president and current presidential candidate in a highly charged political environment.
Anyone who believes that should be honest about it: Just come out and say that certain powerful people are indeed above the law, that the decision on whether or not to indict Trump should have been made based on politics rather than law, and that prosecutorial discretion in this case compels turning a blind eye to Trump’s elaborate scheme to cover up blatant violations of election laws by falsifying business records and committing tax fraud.
Count me out.
2. Is Clarence Thomas Crooked?
On reporting, Thomas followed the letter of the law, even if you find his interpretation strained. But he failed to live out the ideal that justices should avoid not just impropriety, but the appearance of impropriety. This hurts his reputation, but also the standing of the Court at a time when trust in all institutions is sinking. It’s not a crisis, but it’s not good.
Elon Musk is ratcheting up the chaos on Twitter.
The erratic thin-skinned billionaire, who already destabilized Twitter last year by laying off thousands of employees and implementing a slew of radical policy and product changes that threw the platform into chaos, has in recent days and weeks moved to whip up even more disarray.
The media-hating businessman removed The New York Times' verification badge and applied "government funded" warning labels to the accounts of NPR and the BBC, prompting backlash from the outlets. Meanwhile, Musk nonchalantly announced over the weekend that Twitter will no longer limit the reach of actual state-controlled outlets such as Russia's RT and China's Xinhua News.
"All news is to some degree propaganda," Musk asserted in a tweet, seeking to justify his position. "Let people decide for themselves."
In another tweet, Musk explained that Twitter "will neither promote nor limit" the accounts of state-controlled propaganda outlets. Musk called it a "weak move to engage in censorship," even though he himself has committed brazen acts of censorship while serving as Twitter boss (see here and here).
While announcing Twitter will no longer limit the reach of propaganda outfits, Musk simultaneously implemented a policy that severely limited the reach of Substack articles, a decision he has now reversed. For a moment, Musk seemed to treat Russian propaganda better on Twitter than Substack.
The bizarre moves have served to only compound the disorder on the rapidly deteriorating platform by, one step at a time, blurring the lines between authoritative sources of news and outright propaganda.