Mass Shootings And A Low-Caliber President

Imagine this exchange: “Hear anything more on that horrific, God-awful mass shooting?” “Which one?” That, inexplicably, is where we are: 31 mass-murdered within 13 hours in El Paso and Dayton.

It’s a worst-case perfect storm where assault weapons, gun culture and NRA political whore-mongering meet racist, anti-immigrant nativism and hateful, online posts. And how can any rational American not think that having a base-pandering, racist, anti-immigrant Tweeter-in-chief not be a cause?  

“Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger—not the gun,” noted President Donald Trump as only he can note. That’s his way of trying to maintain distance from his own obvious complicity. But nothing about Second Amendment cherry-picking, nothing about assault weapons and high-capacity magazine in the hands of anyone not part of the military, national guard or local police. Nothing about a Latino community being targeted.

Trump, as we well know, actually speaks in racist rants and Tweeted manifesto language. The word “invasion” is a go-to trope. And it has only ratcheted up since his election. And, no, his Telepromptered speech this week did nothing to change the reality—or the Trumpian optics. He even referred to Dayton as Toledo.

And this just in: Mexico—THAT Mexico—is now demanding protection of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the U.S.

  • The end of the 32-year-old Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the U.S. and the Soviet Union is both sobering—and nostalgic. The world is less safe, and compared to the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin tandem, the Ronald Reagan-Mikhail Gorbachev duo never looked so wise, responsible, trustworthy and, well, likeable.
  • If China—and not American consumers—ultimately pays the price for the tariff war, maybe Mexico will also pay for The Wall.
  • Amoking fess. “We need somebody strong that can really rein it in. Because, as I think you’ve all learned, the intelligence agencies have run amok. They’ve run amok.” That was Donald Trump justifying, as it were, why he had nominated John Ratcliffe, the notably underqualified congressman from Texas, to take over as the new director of national intelligence. It was also Donald Trump reminding us that he knows what “amok” means, including having ultimately to withdraw the Ratcliffe nomination because of all-too-familiar, shoddy vetting.  
  • There’s spin—and then there’s TrumpSpin. Here’s how the vetter-in-chief announced, so to speak, that Ratcliffe was officially no longer going to be considered for DNI. “Our great Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe is being treated very unfairly by the LameStream Media. Rather than go through months of slander and libel, I explained to John how miserable it would be for him and his family to deal with these people … John has, therefore, decided to stay in Congress.”

No mention, of course, that the Amateur Hour vetting had failed to discern the burgeoning concern about Ratcliffe’s credential-challenged background, inflated resume and disturbing implications for the intelligence community and American security.

Pushback wasn’t particularly partisan: It was coming from the intelligence community, per se, which doesn’t countenance on-the-job training at the top, from Republicans who didn’t want to have to go on the record with an awkward vote on his nomination and from allies with whom we share intelligence, the quality of which cannot be doubted and challenged. And “LameStream Media”? We hadn’t heard a Sarah Palin quote in a while.

  • No surprise that the Department of Justice declined to prosecute James Comey over his handling of memos he wrote documenting personal interactions with President Trump, the essence of which he later passed on to a law professor friend who, in turn, passed along their substance to a reporter. Comey, the fired FBI director-turned private citizen, could foresee how it would play out, he notes in his book, “A Higher Loyalty.” “To be clear, this was not a ‘leak’ of ‘classified’ information no matter how many times politicians, political pundits or the president call it that,” he writes. “A private citizen may legally share unclassified details of a conversation with the president with the press or include that information in a book.” He was also more than aware that the Justice Department typically does not prosecute over confidential information.
  • “The most novel aspect of President Donald Trump’s racist gibes isn’t that he said them,  but that he said them in public.”—Tim Naftali, former director of the Nixon Presidential Library.
  • “It doesn’t really matter whether Mr. Trump is truly a racist or merely playing one on television to appeal to his base. Either way, his path can lead to bloodshed.”—Frank Figliuzzi, former assistant FBI director for counterintelligence.
  • “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”—That was Martin Luther King Jr.—not Mitch McConnell.

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