Op-Eds

Gaping Holes in Gun Background Check System

by macguru – Gun store manager Christopher M. Sullivan of Guns and Guitars, who sold some of the weapons to the gunman who killed 58 and wounded over 500 people in Las Vegas last week made a statement. The gist of it was that he was sorry about the casualties, but his store performed all of the procedures required by law. And he is most likely correct. The laws governing background checks have holes in them a Mac truck could zip through without rifling the willows on the side of the road. The system has no trip points where any Federal agency is notified if, for instance, anyone buys an excessive number of firearms, anyone buys a particularly deadly form of weapon of mass destruction, (AK-47, AR-15, sniper rifles, hundreds of rounds of ammo, large ammo clips, etc.). No trip points for buying guns over a long period, no alerts if one...

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Memo to Tillerson About the Moron

by Robert Reich – To: Rex Tillerson From: Robert Reich Subject: The Moron I can understand why you feel Washington is a place of “petty nonsense,” as you said Wednesday when you called a news conference to rebut charges that you called Trump a moron last summer after a meeting of national security officials at the Pentagon. I’m also reasonably sure you called him a moron, which doesn’t make Washington any less petty. You probably called him a moron because almost all of us out here in the rest of America routinely call him that. But you’re right: There are far more important issues than the epithet you likely used to describe your boss. On the other hand, your calling him a moron wouldn’t itself have mushroomed into a headline issue – even in petty Washington – if there weren’t deep concerns about the President’s state of mind to begin with....

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Anti-Abortion Republican Just Aborted Himself From Office

by Conover Kennard – U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, a staunch ‘pro-life’ Republican representing Pennsylvania’s 18th District, has resigned after being caught in a scandal which involves adultery and encouraging his mistress to get an abortion. After Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) was caught being a hypocrite of the highest order, he announced his resignation on Thursday after announcing his plan to retire after 2018. “This afternoon I received a letter of resignation from Congressman Tim Murphy, effective October 21,” Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement. “It was Dr. Murphy’s decision to move on to the next chapter of his life, and I support it.” Well, it wasn’t exactly Murphy’s decision really. House GOP leaders and senior Republicans pressured Murphy to step down, according to Politico. GOP sources familiar with Murphy’s thinking said the married man initially believed he could weather the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story revealing he had encouraged an abortion in texts he...

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Trump Wants $1.6 Billion for the Border Wall. That Covers Just 74 Miles

by Jim Hightower – All this for a boondoggle project most Americans continue to oppose. How much of your money does Donald Trump want to pour into his xenophobic fantasy of erecting an impenetrable wall on our Mexican border? The big-businessman-turned-president insists he doesn’t care about costs — just build it! That seems to be a very un-businesslike approach, but then, it’s not his money, is it? For those of you who do care, one measure of what the total tab might be is that he’s demanding $1.6 billion from Congress to start construction. How much wall will that buy? Seventy-four miles. Now, how long is that U.S.-Mexican border he wants to seal off? One thousand, nine-hundred miles long. Tony Webster / Flickr So, $1.6 billion down — and only 1,826 miles to go. And let’s not even get into the cost overruns, fraudulent billings, shoddy materials, and other scams that the...

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How Russia’s Fake Social Media Accounts Propelled Donald Trump

by Casey Michel – Here are some of the fake accounts, misleading memes, and real events that helped propel Trump. Part 1 of a series. More than a month after Facebook and Twitter announced they had identified hundreds of fake accounts and thousands of ads secretly run by Russian state agents, the American public is still largely in the dark as to what the ads and accounts contained, what messages they pushed, or even how they framed policy debates and viewed presidential candidates. We know, for instance, that these fake Russian accounts offered $100,000 to Facebook for approximately 3,000 ads — and potentially thousands more — while specifically targeting swing states like Michigan and Wisconsin. When Facebook revealed the ad sales to congressional investigators (after dismissing concerns in the lead-up to the election), Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said these accounts were but “the tip of the iceberg.” We also know that Facebook, which says 10 million users viewed these Russian ads, has...

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IRS Rewards Equifax With Multi-million Dollar Fraud-prevention Contract After Massive Data Breach

by Luke Barnes – The breach exposed the personal data of more than 145 million Americans. Credit monitoring firm Equifax has been awarded a $7.25 million no-bid contract to help prevent fraud, despite the fact that the company is reeling from a security breach that exposed the personal data of more than 145 million Americans. The breach, which was discovered in July but not made public until September, is believed to be one of the largest identity thefts in American history. Credit card numbers, names, addresses, driver’s license and Social Security numbers were all exposed, enabling hackers to buy and sell the information over the internet for years to come. But despite this massive cyber-security lapse, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) still awarded the company a multi-million dollar contract on September 30 — the last day of the fiscal year — to “verify taxpayer identity and to assist in ongoing identity verification and...

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Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. Were Close to Being Charged With Felony Fraud

by Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott, ProPublica, and Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz, WNYC – New York prosecutors were preparing a case. Then the D.A. overruled his staff after a visit from a top donor: Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz.   In the spring of 2012, Donald Trump’s two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., found themselves in a precarious legal position. For two years, prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had been building a criminal case against them for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo development that was failing to sell. Despite the best efforts of the siblings’ defense team, the case had not gone away. An indictment seemed like a real possibility. The evidence included emails from the Trumps making clear that they were aware they were using inflated figures about how well the condos were selling to lure buyers. In one email, according to four...

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Mental Illness Rates are Spiking, and its Victims Feel Forgotten by the Trump Administration

by Lindsey Weedston – “I’m worried that Trump’s America doesn’t have a place for people like me.” The first week of October marks the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI’s) Mental Illness Awareness Week. Nine months into Donald Trump’s presidency — and nearly one year after his victory sparked a flurry of self-care and self-help articles — the new normal is taking a toll on Americans, and there’s still no sign of change in our policies. Nicole Nadeau, a 26-year-old from Georgia, suffers from severe anxiety, which, she says, became noticeably worse after Trump became president. After Trump’s “grab ‘em by the pussy” comments during his campaign, Nicole was “terrified that it would be more alright for women and men to be sexually assaulted” — a fear aggravated by her disorder. “The first month after he was brought into office, I was scared to leave the house,” she told ThinkProgress. Of course, mental health...

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Millions of Lives at Risk as GOP Lets CHIP Expire

by LeeAnn Hall – Nine million children in this country are at the brink of losing health coverage. What do our lawmakers say about this? Not a damn word. Why? Because they care more about themselves than our children, and our country’s future. But if they won’t speak up, we will. On Saturday, Congress allowed CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, to expire. CHIP is a partnership between states and the federal government that since 1997 has extended health care to millions who would otherwise have no access to care. As an organizer in rural Idaho in the nineties, I saw with my own eyes the difference CHIP makes in the lives of ordinary people. Thousands of children and expectant mothers in our state got access, many for the first time, to everything from checkups and healthy care to treatments for chronic asthma and cancer. The benefits of CHIP are profound,...

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Trump’s Empathy Deficit (VIDEOS)

by Sam Fulwood III – The racism is no longer thinly disguised; it’s blatant and obvious for all to witness. You would think that during the two weeks since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump would have found the proper message for the people of the U.S. territory as they struggle to reassemble their homes and lives. It’s easy to envision any of our past presidents bringing words of comfort and hope to Puerto Rico, along with a pledge of federal support to assist in the recovery. But Trump is no normal president and his overdue visit to the island on Tuesday, his first since the storm, demonstrated just how much he lacks empathy for others and selfishly craves praise for himself. At this point in both his personal history and White House tenure, the racism is no longer thinly disguised; it’s blatant and obvious for all to witness. For example, during his meeting with...

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Congress Has Options for Protecting Mueller’s Investigation From Trump’s Wrath

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – Congress has options for protecting Robert Mueller and his special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian election interference, even if bipartisan legislation designed to prevent Mueller from being fired by the Trump administration fails to become law or is struck down by the courts. At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, September 26, a panel of constitutional scholars gave differing opinions on whether two bills that would require a judicial review of a Justice Department decision to sack Mueller or any other special counsel would survive legal challenges, if Congress manages to pass them in the first place. Lawmakers introduced the bills in August after Trump unleashed angry tweets and other comments that left pundits wondering if the president would order the Justice Department to oust Mueller, just as the president fired former FBI Director James Comey. Trump has since said that he wouldn’t dismiss...

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Republicans Say it’s Too Soon to Talk About Guns After Las Vegas’ Shooting. How About Sandy Hook?

by Hunter – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has some notions on when we should be discussing new legislation to deal with the nation’s now near-daily mass shootings. Well that’s a shame. If it’s premature to talk about action after Las Vegas, though, perhaps we could instead use the opportunity to finally talk about legislative solutions to the Pulse Nightclub murders? It has been over a year since that day….. has enough time passed for the Senate to act? Specifically:  Sahil Kapur   @sahilkapur McCONNELL dismisses talk of new gun laws after Vegas massacre: “I think it’s premature to be discussing legislative solutions.” 2:20 PM – Oct 3, 2017 What about the Umpqua Community College mass shooting, in Oregon? It’s been two years since that one, is it still premature? What about the race-motivated murders of black American churchgoers in South Carolina? What about Sandy Hook? The Virginia Tech mass murder killed 32—that was in 2007. Surely,...

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Tom Petty’s Progressive Politics Won’t be Forgotten

by Casey Quinlan – The pain of Petty’s music is more relevant than ever, and his songs often sent messages about searching for freedom. Tom Petty was the soundtrack to my childhood. His unique voice, with that nasal quality and a distinctive Florida twang, always sounded like it was searching for something, but that it was also resigned to never finding it. It was perfect for long family car trips in my dad’s black pickup truck. Sometimes the trip itself — sitting silently and letting the music wash over us — was more fun than the hiking or fishing plans we made. That seemed appropriate, since Petty’s music allowed us to sit in our pain for a moment, to fully feel it. The stories and themes of his music were often vague enough that it could apply to a wide variety of people and experiences. But his music is still often...

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A Supreme Court Case Could Make Partisan Gerrymandering Illegal

by David Daley – Justice Anthony Kennedy could provide the deciding vote in Gill v. Whitford, an upcoming case that looks at gerrymandering in Wisconsin. Oral arguments begin Tuesday. When the worst blizzard in 130 years pummeled Madison, Wisconsin in February 2011, something impossible happened: It stranded Green Bay Packers fans trying to travel to Texas for the Super Bowl. But even a storm powerful enough to deter hardy crazies known for cheering shirtless in sub-zero temperatures could not stop one thing: Partisan gerrymandering. That job now rests with one man: Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy will now scrutinize the constitutionality of the Wisconsin state assembly districts that the Republican operatives worked through a blizzard to craft. They delivered exactly as intended. In 2012, the first election held on these maps, Democratic candidates won 174,000 more votes. Republicans, nevertheless, won 60 of 99 seats. That tilted outcome, however, launched the litigation...

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Will the Media Continue its Gullibility and its Dereliction of Duty?

by Egberto Willies – Donald Trump played the media for fools during the Republican primaries, throughout the general election, and even before he decided to run for anything. We cannot forget that the birther movement was given legs by a media incapable of policing itself against the fallacies emanating from celebrities. For what specifically are Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, or other empty vessels newsworthy? The traditional mainstream media are content to cover idiocy, lunacy, and silliness. It’s in that light that they are covering Donald Trump’s latest distraction. Former 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest during the national anthem while the NFL employed him is old news. But Donald Trump needed a red, white, and blue issue with racial connotations to excite his base. Most importantly, he needed an explosive new issue to change the conversation from a failing Trump administration to a subject that should not be controversial. The traditional mainstream media were...

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Black Protest and the Limits of Debating the First Amendment

by Alycee Lane, Truthout | Op-Ed – This is how African American protests of police violence, and reactions to them, generally unfold: African Americans protest. Some people respond by attacking the protesters as un-American or anti-police or worse. Others counter by defending the protesters on First Amendment grounds. From here, a robust First Amendment debate ensues, during which the protests get recast in First Amendment terms. And while some people try to redirect the conversations back to the issue of police violence, they are rarely successful. Consequently, First Amendment freedoms prevail as the protests’ defining issues. And yet, African Americans march or sit-in or hold up traffic or “take a knee” — that is, exercise First Amendment free speech and assembly rights — precisely to protest the routine violation by the police, and thus the states, of our Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures; our...

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The Supreme Court is Abandoning Legitimacy for Partisanship

by Ian Millhiser – What happens when the Supreme Court ignores the line between law and politics? Neil Gorsuch, the man who occupies a seat on the Supreme Court because Senate Republicans held it open until Donald Trump could fill it, is on a bit of a victory tour. Last week, the staunchly conservative judge spoke at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center — as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the center’s namesake and the man who orchestrated the strategy that placed Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, sat just a few feet away. McConnell, who also introduced Gorsuch, told the audience that he “could not have been happier” when Trump named Gorsuch to fill the seat the senator held open for more than a year. On Thursday, Gorsuch will speak to a conservative group at Trump’s D.C. hotel. By headlining this event, Gorsuch will personally enrich the very man who appointed him to...

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The Growing Irrelevance of President Trump

by Robert Reich – Announcement: Donald Trump is no longer the president of the United States  Oh sure, he has the title and he has the bully pulpit – from which he’s bullying everyone from NBA players to people protesting white supremacists to DACA kids. But he’s not actively governing the United States. That work is happening elsewhere – in Congress, the courts, the Fed, the career civil service, lobbyists, and in the states. Or it’s not happening at all. It’s not just that Trump lost the epic battle to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Trump never understood the Affordable Care Act to begin with, and played no part in developing Republican alternatives. The budget Trump submitted to Congress in March was dead on arrival. House Republicans ignored Trump’s request for $54 billion in cuts to departments and agencies and decided instead to cut non-defense spending by just $5...

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What More is There to Say on Gun Laws? (VIDEOS)

by BillMoyers.Com Staff – There comes a point where you feel like there’s nothing more to say about gun violence that hasn’t already been said. Over the years, we’ve done many, many stories on gun violence in America. In the days following the Sandy Hook massacre, Bill Moyers urged us to remember the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre by name. He read out the names of all 26 victims and observed that “laws are hard to come by, civilization just as hard. But democracy aims for a moral order as just as possible — which means laws that protect the weak, and not just the strong.” On the one-year anniversary of the tragedy at Newtown, we explored the role of guns in America’s national psyche throughout history. And talked to Francine and David Wheeler, the parents of 6-year-old Ben, who died at Sandy Hook. The Wheelers became hopeful activists working doggedly for...

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White House’s Message to the Nation After Las Vegas Massacre: Don’t Discuss Gun Control

by Zack Ford – “The president has been clear: He’s a strong supporter of the second amendment.” During Monday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made clear the Trump administration is not interested in any immediate conversations on gun violence prevention legislation in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting that killed at least 58 and injured more than 500. “There’s a time and place for a political debate but now is the time to unite as a country,” Sanders said. Because an investigation is underway and a motive has not yet been determined, it would be “premature to discuss policy when we don’t know all the facts of what took place last night.” She likewise deemed it “premature” to call the shooting “domestic terrorism.” “I think that there will be certainly time for that policy discussion to take place, but that’s not the place that we’re in at this moment.”...

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