Wednesday, February 28, 2018

We're Still Not A Theocracy


Earlier today, Frank Schaeffer, whose dad, Francis Schaeffer, was one of the founders of the Religious Right, reminded his readers that this country was never meant to be a theocracy and still isn't. Odd that he had to say so-- but today was the day it needed to be done. "For seven hours today," he wrote, "the remains of the evangelist Billy Graham will lie in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Why? Billy was a family friend but this is not appropriate. We aren’t Iran. We aren’t a theocracy. Watch Franklin Graham and Mike Pence strike a blow for further establishing of a homophobic white nationalist American theocracy this week by abusing the Billy Graham funeral/lying in state hoopla. And Trump will try to get in on the afterglow too."
The Religious Right is set to hijack Billy’s remains as his own son Franklin has long since planned to do.

I first met Billy Graham when I was nine. He visited my parents’ home and spent the day with us. I sat next to him and his then nine-year-old son Franklin, as they listened to my father preach in our living room that doubled as our chapel at my parents’ evangelical mission of L’Abri” (the shelter) in Switzerland.

I last saw Billy in the early 1980s when I was with my evangelist father Francis Schaeffer (“credited” as one of the founders of the religious right) who was undergoing treatment at Mayo Clinic. Billy, Dad and I met several times there when Billy was visiting for his checkups.

It seems to me that Billy died in the very year that the subculture of white evangelicalism he helped create has committed suicide by continuing to support Trump. And the double irony is Billy’s son Franklin has led what might now be called the Trump Crusade, not for Christ, but for power.

Trump’s most vocal evangelical supporter is Franklin Graham. Admired among far right white evangelicals, Franklin has defended Trump on television and social media through the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA, the crackdowns on immigrants and refugees, the Stormy Daniels scandal, and the slur against Haiti and Africa.

When Barack Obama was president, Franklin Graham was part of the “birther” conspiracy that claimed the president was not an American citizen. He lied suggesting that Obama was not a Christian and might secretly be a Muslim.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Franklin held rallies in 50 states to pump up evangelical turnout on what he called a “Decision America Tour.”

There’s a bizarre symmetry here: To get elected Trump held Graham-like mass “evangelistic” rallies and led white Christians to deny the faith Billy Graham had once preached. They denied Graham’s Jesus for the sake of accepting earthly and utterly corrupting power as their new “personal savior.”

Trump becoming president may turn out to be the lasting Billy Graham legacy. Graham’s funeral in North Carolina on Friday, which Trump will attend, will serve as a reminder of nothing so much as how the evangelical movement has mutated and splintered from one generation to the next. And sadly Billy fused his faith message with 1950s American anti-communism in ways that are still playing out today. As Anthea Butler writes in Religion dispatches (February 22, 2018 Billy Graham and the Gospel of American Nationalistic Christianity):
With Graham’s death, it’s time to reconsider how his promotion of a nationalistic version of Americanized Christianity has influenced evangelicals today. Graham’s proximity to the office of the presidency and government since the Eisenhower administration is part of why we see scenes of eager evangelicals embracing President Trump. It’s also responsible for a large cohort of evangelicals who are actively supporting Islamophobia, isolationism, and America first policies.

Billy Graham may have been “puffed” by William Randolph Hearst newspaper reporters in his first crusade in Los Angeles, but the more important event in Graham’s ministry was his Washington, D.C. crusade in 1952. It was there that he would begin what was part of his lifelong work: fusing Christianity and Americanism together to create a potent cocktail of Evangelical Christian Nationalism.
...Franklin Graham is cashing in on his parents’ deaths by making a shrine of their final resting place, and this was against his mother’s wishes. White evangelical Trump supporters don’t care about such niceties these days. They are into Franklin’s magical thinking-- that Trump is president because of God’s will, notwithstanding details like being a scum woman-abuser-- and no doubt think that Franklin is even more in touch with God’s will-- even in matters of where his mom wanted to be buried-- than the rest of us, let alone his mother.

Billy made magical thinking mainstream. He shaped a movement that then became as political as he was in his Nixon-supporting years and unlike Billy, never turned back. Full circle: Billy Graham sought to forge a movement that was distinct from the Southern racist fundamentalism of his day, yet that is precisely what today’s evangelicalism has become again.

Magical thinking isn’t a very good basis for policy or politics. “I believe Donald Trump is a good man,” Franklin Graham said on CNN, last month. “He did everything wrong as a candidate and he won, and I don’t understand it. Other than I think God put him there.”

Graham’s converts from the 1950s to 1990s (my generation, old, white, and tired) lined up to support not only Trump but Roy Moore. One of their very own, Sarah Huckabee, stands up every day and knowingly lies for Trump, covering for his multitude of sins on everything from racism to his lies about paying off porn stars, to abusing scores of women and denying that the Russians attacked our democracy to help get him elected.

Graham and the neo-evangelicals, as they called themselves, tried to create religious revival in the United States. Fifty years on what they got instead was Trump and Roy Moore, climate change deniers, white nationalism and the NRA’s lock on the party evangelicals uniquely empower.

Franklin Graham actually went to bat for the NRA. He blasted President Obama for his stand against military weapons being legal. Graham parroted the NRA/Gun-Lobby line in a Facebook post (January 6, 2016): “Your executive actions will do nothing to change this horrific problem. You can take all the guns in America and put them in a pile on the Mall in Washington DC, and those guns will stay there and will eventually rust and decay. Not one gun will crawl out of that pile and shoot or harm anyone. It takes a human being, and a human heart bent on evil, to pick up a gun, load it, and pull the trigger.”

Do evangelicalisms’ leaders remain interested in the spiritual at all these days as Billy Graham sincerely was? Or has their agenda become merely political? Trump is the answer to those questions.

The fatal arc of decline is clear. To use the biblical analogy of Saul, before he converted and took the name of Paul, holding the coats of the killers stoning St. Stephen to death, Graham’s son’s Franklin, is “holding Trump’s coat” while he stones American decency to death. Franklin even says this is God’s will.

Billy Graham’s veneer of pious civility is long gone from the white evangelical movement. It’s been replaced by Billy Graham’s own worst inner demons that he repented of after he’d become Nixon’s confidant. As he sat by Dad’s bedside Billy told Dad and me how he lamented supporting Nixon and never would “be political” again. The context of this conversation was when Billy was explaining to my father why he would not support Dad’s anti-abortion efforts.

Franklin never got the memo. The image of the white evangelicals these days is not of sinners repenting as they surge forward to the altar call while the hymn “Just as I Am” wafts over them, but rather of Nixon-type online trolls supporting gun rights by spreading vile lies about grieving high school students.

If Trump remains the defining bookend bracketing the Billy Graham era of white evangelical empowerment historians may judge Graham’s stated purpose to reach “the lost” for Christ as failed. His lasting significance may rather be understood as having contributed to the creation of a power-crazed movement that enabled an American tragedy.

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Ann Kirkpatrick-- This Is What It Means To Be A Careerist Politician With No Core Values


Later Kirkpatrick changed almost all her answers

When a candidate for office has no core values other than their own craven careerism, they'll flip-flop all over the griddle like a fish out of water. Ann Kirkpatrick is one of the worst candidates running for election anywhere in the country. At the urging of the DCCC, EMILY's List and the New Dems, she migrated down to Tucson from Flagstaff to run in the now-open second congressional district. But carpetbagging, although perhaps important to the folks in southern Arizona, isn't the worst thing about Kirkpatrick.

On Sunday there was a Democrats candidate forum at the Quail Creek retirement community just outside Green Valley. It was a disaster for Kirkpatrick, a disaster because she's torn in every direction... basically because there's no there there. On camera she pledged to not support Pelosi for Speaker, which seems odd, since it's Pelosi's DCCC that is the only thing that's propping up-- financially and otherwise-- her absurd campaign. [Her staff later said she didn't understand the question and that she would indeed support Pelosi.] Also laughable was her pledge to support term limits-- after going back on her own pledge to serve only three 2-year terms in the House. If elected again, this would be her 4th term! [She later tried "clarifing" that one too, but no one knows where she stands on the issue now-- probably exactly what she wants.]

She also pledged to co-sponsor Raul Grijalva's locally popular bill to restore protections for Oak Flat-- a sacred tribal area for San Carlos Apache that she and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) teamed up to STEAL from them a couple years ago on behalf of mining interests. She's so slimy that you have to be completely brain-dead to consider voting for her-- or not care about truth at all. She also pledged to oppose the Rosemont mine, even though when she was in Congress she was always publicly for mining projects, including, of course, this one. [She later said she didn't understand that question either and that she would continue supporting the mine.]

And then the gun issue and her close mutually-supportive relationship with the NRA.Take a look at this news segment from her election campaign in 2010:

An untrustworthy political hack, she smells which way the wind is blowing and on Monday she pledged to support an assault weapons ban-- after loudly leading the opposition to such a ban for her entire grimy political career. She also told the forum attendees show will now oppose her old allies in the NRA in all possible ways-- despite her A rating that she bragged about until very recently. She defines the term "dishonest politician," perfect for the DCCC, perfect for EMILY's List, perfect for the New Dems. Ann Kirkpatrick is the quintessential candidate for the Republican wing of the Democratic Party.

Green Valley was really quite the show. When she figured out that there was a GOP tracker present and filming her, she made sure to state emphatically that "I do not support single payer health care. And I do not support Medicare for All," claiming it is too expensive. Of course that was met by 400 blank stares from the perplexed audience of mostly progressive Democrats. She then described a Medicare buy in plan-- stolen almost word-for word from other Democratic candidates-- which is an expansion of an existing single payer system.

She was all over the place... again a politician that stands for nothing but her own career. So pathetic!

Mary Matiela is one of the progressives in the primary and she also took part in Quail Creek the forum Sunday. "I think the differences between my candidacy and Congresswoman Kirkpatrick's are really coming into focus," she told us. "While she's been talking to the donor class I've been out talking with the voters. I've heard what issues they care about. Voters want single payer healthcare, they support the regulation of marijuana for adult use, and they want our public lands protected from wealthy corporations. These are issues I will fight for, and that Ann will continue to fight against. Ours is a grassroots campaign, so we'll rely on the people spreading the message, not corporate PACs-- but if we can spread that message, we'll prevail. There's growing momentum from progressive leaders like Congressman Raul Grijalva and national progressive groups like Democracy for America, Justice Democrats, Demand Universal Healthcare, Project 100, and Common Defense. This race is shaping up to be the moderate vs. the progressive and I'm thrilled to be the latter."

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Are Central Valley Voters Onto Devin Nunes' Bullshit Yet?


If I was an editor of the Fresno Bee, I would have suggested not endorsing anyone in years of Nunes reelection races. But the Bee just kept on endorsing Nunes, over and over and over. Yecchhh! But I sense from their coverage that that's probably over. They seem to have figured out just how awful he is. Marek Warszawski does work at the Fresno Bee and Marek is totally over Nunes-- with a vengeance! You'd think a headline about forgetting about Putin-Gate and evaluating Nunes about everything else would come as a relief for Nunes; not this time. "We deserve better," he wrote in an open letter to Nunes after he did a contentious interview with The Bee, "than your absent brand of leadership."
This isn’t about Russia, the infamous memo or how you’ve become, in the words of Bloomberg News, “the face of Republican capitulation to a corrupt presidency.” I’ll leave that stuff to the pundits in D.C. and the angry Twitter mobs.

This is about what you’re doing-- or aren’t doing-- for the people in your district. In other words, us.

After reading your Q&A with Bee reporter Rory Appleton, I’m left to wonder: Exactly what have you been up to during those eight terms on Capitol Hill? Certainly not serving us.

Let’s start with the immature, petulant response to Rory’s question about whether you’re planning to hold any town hall meetings between now and November.

The subject of the question didn’t matter. You knew Rory’s allotted 20 minutes were nearly up. He could’ve asked about your favorite color or your go-to Chipotle order. You were waiting to unleash a diatribe. This was your opportunity, since you avoid local media scrutiny like a hemophiliac avoids straight razors, and you pounced. The only thing missing was a Soros reference.

Incidentally, if The Bee is a “left-wing rag,” as you insist, then how come we’ve endorsed you on multiple occasions? Explain that one, Devin.

It’s odd to me why you’re so reluctant to appear at an open forum in your own district. The 22nd is 55 percent Republican. In the last election, you received 67.6 percent of the vote. Plus, you get to pick the setting. It’s not as if the town hall has to be in Clovis, home base to all those angry leftists. (How’s that for an oxymoron?) You could hold it at a dairy farm in Tulare.

Yet the only time we hear from you, aside from Fox News, is when you’re fielding softball questions on KMJ-580 or appearing at $2,700-a-plate fundraisers for wealthy donors.

Instead, you “communicate” with us through inane mailers packed with phony science and cherry-picked quotes and stats.

Exactly what are you so afraid of? You completely rule the roost, and still you operate like some frightened chicken.

Most striking to me was when Rory asked you to describe your major accomplishments over the last 15 years. It was a question you had to know was coming. Your answer only served to illuminate how short that list is.

Thanks to you, the citizens of the United States know the San Joaquin Valley has a “big water problem.” That’s your doing? Get real, Devin. Water has been a hot-button topic for decades, since before you were wearing a mullet in high school.

Other than complain about enviros and the Endangered Species Act, what have you done to help find a solution?

Just for fun, I looked up a few water bills. Know whose name I found as the sponsor of H.R. 4127, the Upper San Joaquin River Storage Act of 2014 that proposes the Temperance Flat Dam? Rep. Jim Costa’s. Know whose name I didn’t find? Yours.

You say you’re a friend to agriculture, and yet you’re one of the loudest climate-change deniers. Who do you think will get hurt most as the Sierra snowpack continues to dwindle? Valley farmers. But instead of championing a potential solution, like desalination, you blame some poor fish.

And what about poverty, immigration, education, air and water quality and all the other issues that plague your constituents? For such a powerful member of the political establishment, you sure don’t bring home the bacon.

...[Y]ou’re our congressman, Devin. The question we should be asking ourselves is a simple one. What have you done for us?

The answer, based on your own answer, can be summed up in two words: very little.
There's an excellent alternative to Nunes for Fresno, Tulare, Dinuba and Visalia voters this year: Ricardo Franco, a progressive Democrat with a message of hope, not the Republican-lite attitude Andrew Janz embodies. Franco told us that "The Fresno Bee stated before that we should leave the Russia investigation to Mueller and that Nunes needs to focus on local issues. Healthcare is broken and needs to be fixed. Republicans took a swing and a miss. The next rep needs to have a workable solution on this. We have deported veterans who fought for this country that have been separated from their families, including one from Nunes' high school alma mater. Even as a candidate I'm working to actually solve issues. At the California Democratic Convention I was even named the chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Deported Veterans of the Veterans Caucus. The voters will have a clear choice to either follow our congressman who delivers no results for us or to support the only candidate with a viable vision and plan of execution to improve our region."

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Do You Only Learn History On The History Channel?



Most campaign emails are absolutely worthless spam, even from otherwise good candidates. But some candidates put some effort into making them great. This cycle, for example, Austin Frerick (Iowa) and Derrick Crowe (Texas) are doing really good ones. What do I mean by "good ones?" If I'm going to take a moment to even open campaign emails that always turn out to be just recycled spam, I want to be sure I'm going to have a positive experienced-- like be entertained or, better yet, learn something. So you know who has the best list to be on? Alan Grayson. I love his e-mails. They're witty, informative and, very frequently, brilliant. I learn so much from them-- like this one-- "Cola Di Rienzo won, 500 years after he died.-- from yesterday. I never heard of the guy... and now I'll never forget him. In fact, the email made me want to go back to Rome to see the locations Grayson talked about:
Dear Howard,

Many people think that between the years 400 and 1400-- the ‘Dark Ages’-- nothing much happened in Europe.

Not true. Among other things, Cola Di Rienzo happened.

Di Rienzo was born around the year 1313, in Rome. His father was a barkeeper (paging John Boehner!), and his mother washed clothes. Nevertheless, Di Rienzo rose to be the leader of Rome, not once but twice.

At the time, Rome was a crime-ridden city of squalor. Its best days were a millennium earlier. Di Rienzo overcame the two noble families who had run Rome for decades, with a program to restore Rome to its former greatness. Think of it as MRGA-- Make Rome Great Again, except with actual meaning to it.

Di Rienzo began by cleaning up the streets, and cracking down on crime. But he didn’t stop there. He boldly proclaimed two concrete goals:
The unification of Italy, and
The sovereignty of The People over government-- i.e., democracy.
Those were very controversial ideals in the 14th century. Di Rienzo ruled Rome for a few years, at which point the noblemen deposed him. He then returned to power for a couple of months, at which point the noblemen (and a mob) murdered him, in 1354, at the age of 41.

So much for that, you would think.

But the ghost of Cola Di Rienzo surely celebrated 500 years later, in July 1871, when Rome became the capital of a united Italy. And then again, in June 1946, when the King of Italy abdicated, and Italy became a democracy.

Di Rienzo won. It took more than 500 years, but he won.

And not without recognition.  For instance, Friedrich Engels, the co-author of the Communist Manifesto, wrote a play about Di Rienzo. And if you ever visit Rome, then ten blocks northeast of the Vatican, you will find Piazza Cola Di Rienzo. (There is a shop selling ice cream on one side, and a shop selling gelati on the other.) You will find the piazza along the Via Cola Di Rienzo, which runs from the Vatican to the Tiber River.

My point is this. If you support the right causes, then sometimes you have to be very, very patient. You might even have to wait 500 years. But you will win.

Please support our campaign for justice, equality and peace. No need to be patient; you can do that right now.
Another excellent place to learn history: John Oliver's TV show. And... as long as we're on the general topics of Italy-- and elections...

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Can The DCCC Mess Up The November Election? That Is, After All, Their Expertise


Kyle Layman, the worst DCCC staffer says the DCCC doesn't care about TX-07 at all and the only reason they savagely attacked Laura Moser was to send a message to Orange Co. Dems that they're going to get the same treatment

More catastrophic midterm indications for the GOP yesterday as Democrats flipped 2 more Republican state legislative seats-- one in Connecticut and one in New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, Democrat Phil Spagnuolo beat Republican Les Cartier in a special election in Belknap Co. District 3, 968-841 (54%-46%). State Rep. Donald Flanders (R) had died in September. Trump beat Hillary there 54-41%. That represents another swing of over 20 points. In Connecticut Democrat Phil Young beat Republican Bill Cabral in Connecticut's state House District 120-- a seat the GOP has controlled for 40 years-- after Republican Laura Hoydick resigned to become mayor of Stratford. (Hillary had won the district narrowly.) Meanwhile, a new CNN/SRSS poll finds Democrats leading Republicans in the generic congressional ballot by a large margin, 54% to 38%.

There are a couple of important, related factors here. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are more enthusiastic about voting in November (51%) than Republicans and Republican-leaners (41%). This enthusiasm gap has been apparent in the shocking Democratic wins in red legislative seats since Putin put Trump into the White House. Independents are sick of Trump and sick of Republican leadership in Congress. That isn't going to help Democratic candidates in deep red districts where Republicans don't need independents to win. Here are a dozen hopeless Republican districts where the average IQ is far below normal and the vast majority of voters are addicted to Fox and Hate Talk Radio. These districts are drawn to guarantee Republican victories and they are all be beyond contesting:
AL-04 (Robert Aderholt)
AZ-04 (Paul Gosar)
FL-01 (Matt Gaetz)
GA-09 (Doug Collins)
GA-14 (Tom Graves)
KY-05 (Harold Rogers)
MO-08 (Jason Smith)
OK-03 (Frank Lucas)
TN-01 (Phil Roe)
TX-13 (Mac Thornberry)
UT-01 (Rob Bishop)
WY-AL (Liz Cheney)
These are safe seats. Not one of them gave Hillary 30% of the vote-- and in most of them her vote was in the teens and low twenties. But the good news is that there aren't many more like these. Most Republicans can't win without support from independent voters. And most independent voters-- especially those outside of the old slaveholding states-- are not interested in voting for Republicans this year. Focus group data that tested independent voters who supported Trump in 2016 are shocking. These voters have already made up their minds. They will not vote for a Republican in November and they are no longer hearing GOP messaging.
The poll also suggests that the issues on which Republicans have largely pinned their electoral hopes-- the economy, taxes and immigration-- are carrying less weight with voters than are health care and gun policy-- two issues where the Democrats typically have stronger backing from the public overall.

Health care and gun policy are deemed deeply important by about half of voters (53% and 49%, respectively, call them extremely important), while about four in 10 say they are as motivated by the economy (43%) and immigration (38%). Sexual harassment is a sharp motivator for 36% of voters. Taxes, an issue Republicans have said will move voters as they realize the benefits of the tax changes passed last year, is extremely important for 35%. The investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election rounds out the list, with just about a quarter (26%) calling that extremely important to their vote.
A significant plurality of voters are telling pollsters they will not vote for anyone who takes money from the NRA. [NOTE: the clueless DCCC operatives have dug their heals in on right-wing recruits who have been supported by the NRA-- Jeff Van Drew, Anthony Brindisi and Ann Kirkpatrick for example-- and refuse to cut this dead weight loose.] Do candidates matter? Yes... less than in a non-wave election, but they still matter. And the DCCC specializes in finding teh worst candidates possible, conservatives like the people in power at the DCCC. So far, with just a few exceptions, almost all of their endorsed candidates are shitty New Dems and shittier Blue Dogs.

Dave Dayen was down in San Diego over the weekend for the California Democratic Party convention. The biggest news was how progress state Senate President Kevin De León, an unabashed progressive, outpolled conservative Dianne Feinstein in the party nomination process. But, as Dayen reported for The Intercept yesterday, in some of the congressional races, conservatives triumphed over progressives in the battle for the party nomination. He focused on Orange County sleaze bag and New Dem, Dave Min, one of the very worst Democratic candidates running anywhere in California. Min used to work for Schumer when Schumer was selling out the country to Wall Street. In fact, Wall Street was Min's bailiwick in Schumer's office, which helps explain why he's a New Dem, the Wall Street owned and operated caucus. His top opponent in an Elizabeth Warren Democrat, Katie Porter-- you can contribute to her campaign here-- is a full-fledged progressive and nothing like Min. She's also the Democrats' best hope to beat GOP incumbent Mimi Walters.

Under state party rules, candidates who get more than 60 percent of the vote of delegates in the district at the endorsing caucus win the endorsement, which entitles them to a spot on party slate mailers and, potentially, fundraising support. Indeed, the state party endorsement can make a decided difference in races for House seats with low-turnout primaries. A 2012 study from UC San Diego found that the party endorsement in downballot campaigns increased the candidate’s vote total by about 10 percent.

Min got 30 of the 50 votes cast at the caucus-- exactly 60 percent-- but just barely. One delegate who supported a different candidate showed up five minutes late to the caucus; if he were on time, the endorsement wouldn’t have gone through.

Because of that narrow margin, Min’s challengers had a second option. If a candidate gets between 60 and 66 percent at the endorsing caucus, the rivals can gather 300 signatures to force a fight on the floor of the convention to pull the endorsement. UC Irvine professor and foreclosure fraud expert Katie Porter, former Sherrod Brown aide Kia Hamadanchy, and Obama administration science and technology official Brian Forde decided to do so.

The signature-gathering process, done late at night while delegates partied in hospitality suites at the San Diego Convention Center, was marred by accusations of Min staffers interfering with their opponents. An Asian Pacific Islander caucus supporting Min told delegates not to sign petitions “to overturn the will of local delegates.” Hamadanchy claimed that his sister, collecting signatures on his behalf, was screamed at by Min and shoved by staffers. Videos of Min campaign staffers sprinting with signature gatherers appeared online; the Min campaign said they were merely trying to clear up “false information” being presented to delegates. Another video charged that Min was “intimidating” female Porter staff members. The video, which includes Porter’s field director, appears to begin after any alleged intimidation started, but Min can be seen telling staffers to “make sure she doesn’t get signatures.”

The videos don’t exactly confirm intimidation, and the highly charged environment and tight deadlines of petition gathering can lead to misunderstandings. Sources inside the Min campaign even report that their volunteers were being harassed, and that opposing volunteers tried to capture their people in moments that might make them look bad. “Volunteers were there to make their case for the petition to be presented to delegates accurately,” said Min campaign manager Paige Hutchinson. “The paid staff of our opponents were deliberately stirring up controversy.” Hutchinson cited several petitions that were thrown out because they did not include proper information.

Whatever happened, it didn’t stop the successful signature gathering, and the fight moved to the floor of the convention. Supporters and opponents of Min each offered up three speakers for one minute to state their case, and here fissures between the ideological wings of the party emerged.

“It’s not just about electing any Democrat, it’s about electing a Democrat who will act like a Democrat,” said Porter in her speech. “My opponent in this race is endorsed by the New Democrat coalition, the former Blue Dog caucus.” Indeed, the New Dem PAC has put Min on its “candidate watch list.” Porter has been endorsed by Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.

Opponents have also criticized Min for trying to have it both ways on single payer health care. Min consistently says he’s “fighting for universal health care,” which is not exactly the same thing. Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., was seen pulling delegates out of the convention hall during the endorsement caucus to make the case for Min. He said that while he had not endorsed in the race, running on more conservative ideas would have the best chance of success in the district.
This is a false line pushed by the DCCC and conservative Democrats. Takano is a progressive, a progressive who is always trying to elect Asian-Americans to Congress even if they're more conservative than other candidates-- and more conservative than he is. I guess it's politically incorrect to call it reverse racism but I've seen Takano at it before and Min has been sneaking around DC telling Asian friends of mine that I'm an anti-Asian racist... friends who have immediately called me to tell me what a scumbag he is. Back to Dayen:
“Dave is not the candidate who is furthest to the left,” said Paige Hutchinson, Min’s campaign manager. “Do we think that better represents the district? Yes. No Democrat has won here. It’s a conservative district that’s rapidly changing, but people here care a lot about their taxes, and single payer would be a tremendous tax increase.”

Rep. Ro Khanna, who represents California’s 17th District, rebutted that theory in an email released by the PCCC today. “Democrats don’t have to sacrifice progressive values to win this district,” Khanna wrote. “In fact, what we have seen over and over again is that Democratic performance improves when we give voters something inspiring to come out and vote for. Katie is the most reliable leader on progressive issues we care about.”

The DCCC, often criticized for blocking more progressive candidates, has identified California’s 45th District as a “majority maker” seat, but has not gotten involved in choosing sides in the race, according to Porter. “We’ve had the freedom on the ground to run our race and deliver our message,” she said in an interview.

Orange County Democratic Party Chair Fran Sdao and popular State Controller Betty Yee spoke on Min’s behalf; both stressed unity and listening to local leaders. Delegates from across the state, who had little information about one Orange County House race, then had to vote on whether to pull Min from the endorsement calendar. Historically those delegates are reluctant to get involved in a local matter. State Party Chair Eric Bauman called a voice vote and determined that Min won, keeping his name on the endorsement calendar. No roll call vote of the 3,000 delegates was taken.
Dayen wonders why the party gets involved so early to pick winners and losers, rather than leaving it to the voters. Maybe because they want to make sure no progressives get elected. I just read that a really detestable former congressman, Blue Dog Joe Baca, is trying for another comeback. If the DCCC was sane, they would put a lot of effort into keeping him from winning.

Baca is a 70-something year old corrupt conservative who represented part of the Inland Empire from 1999-2013 when he lost to another Democrat, state Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod, primarily because of his fealty to the NRA. He tried again 2 years later but came in just fifth in the primary with 11.2%. Then he ran for mayor of Fontana and got wiped out. In 2015 he joined the Republican Party-- which is where he and the rest of the Blue Dogs belong anyway-- and ran for his old seat as a Republican. In the jungle primary he came in third (with 12.4%) after incumbent Democrat Pete Aguilar (43.1%) and Republican Paul Chabot (22.7%). Now he's switching back to calling himself a Democrat and running against Norma Torres in CA-31, a New Dem. I feel sorry for that district which is bright blue (D+8) and deserves a decent member of Congress.

And while we're on the DCCC, Zaid Jilani had a killer post up at The Intercept yesterday, DCCC Internal Polling Presented To Members Of Congress Panned Single-Payer Healthcare. The DCCC "made clear where the party wants its candidates to stand when it comes to health care reform: preferably nowhere, but certainly not with single-payer advocates." If you look at the list of DCCC endorsed candidates, most of them are against single-payer. And Daniel Marans, writing for HuffPo did something of a companion piece, DCCC Advised Candidates Not To Discuss Gun Control Policy Right After Vegas Shooting. The always clueless, never tuned in DCCC "said Democrats should focus on offering thoughts and prayers." The DCCC needs to be put out of its misery. They are the reason why the Republicans control Congress-- not gerrymandering... Rahm Emanuel, Chris Van Hollen, Steve Israel, Ben Gay Lujan and, more than anyone, Nancy Pelosi.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

If only he had.

Monday morning, Señor Trumpanzee began his latest week of government horror with one of his patented rambling "speeches"; this time before a meeting of various state governors. It was full of his typical knock all your predecessors and pat yourself on the back childishness, but what else should we expect from a guy who we've now seen wearing his made-up IQ printed on his shirt cuffs. I should have made a game of how many times he said "I don't get credit." He might as well just put on a plaid sports jacket and steal Rodney Dangerfield's whole standup "I don't get no respect" act. Message to Trumpanzee: Respect is earned. It used to come with the office, but you've ruined that for untold generations to come.

Trumpanzee's biggest hit of the day, though, was the moment in the "speech" when he claimed the he would have run into Stoneman Douglass Parkland High School even if he didn't have a weapon. Pardon me if I don't believe him. After all, he has those bone spurs that got him out of military service. Oh, that's right, they mysteriously disappeared as he got older. Funny what a diet of Big Macs, KFC, and Diet Coke will do. It was probably the Coke. After all, they say Coke will dissolve anything.

Anyway, should I really believe that Trumpanzee would have run into that school, with or without a weapon? The answer is no, not unless he was with his friend from Alabama, Roy Moore, and they were seeking to find their next wives.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Trump Plans To Arm Movie Ushers. What's next?


Don't Shoot! by Nancy Ohanian

-by Reese Erlich

President Donald Trump announced new plans today to combat mass shootings: arming movie theater ushers.

"When we've locked down schools by arming teachers," he said at a Rose Garden press conference, "mass shooters will inevitably turn to movie theaters. We've got to be proactive."

"Movie ushers, with their black suit jackets and running shoes, can easily conceal a semi automatic hand gun and then run after the perp," said the president in apparently off the cuff remarks. "We'll have a Glock in every sock."

The press conference was initially called after the president's meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But the movie usher question dominated the session. Chancellor Merkel declined to offer an opinion on the issue, noting that the Glock company is Austrian, not German.

Critics were quick to point out that untrained, 18-year movie ushers might not provide the best protection against angry movie patrons with AR-15s.

"We strongly oppose arming ushers," said Sarah Whitehead, spokesperson for Movie Goers for a Quiet Evening, an advocacy group. "We think handgun permits at cinemas should be limited to movie managers."

"Managers are more mature and responsible," she noted. "They've got experience handling crowds during midnight movies."

White House sources said arming ushers is only part of a much broader safety program. "President Trump realizes that movie theaters aren't the only place mass shooting might occur," one highly placed White House source said. "We have to consider arming lifeguards at city pools and peanut vendors at ballparks. Eventually, we'll have more good guys with guns than bad guys."

Clyde C. Clack, a spokesperson for the arms industry, provided some insight in an exclusive interview. "Normally, we let the National Rifle Association represent our views," Lever said, "but this issue is just too important. It involves not only the safety of young Junior Mints consumers, but the health of the gun industry."

He explained that years ago, arms manufacturers figured out that only selling guns to hunters severely limited gun sales. "So we helped hype the fear of home invasions. Everyone needs a gun to stop those intruders."

"But our research shows that the maximum number of guns an individual will buy for self defense is 25. So that market is almost saturated."

"Now-- with the market for school teachers, movie ushers and peanut vendors-- why it's almost limitless."

"When these proposals are adopted, we'll be guaranteeing our workers jobs and our board members profits for years to come," he said with a broad smile.

A few details need to be worked out, however. President Trump's remarks caught aides off guard. They quickly scrambled to figure out how movie ushers, who can barely afford the cost of clip-on bow ties, will be able to buy semi-automatic pistols costing $600.

"It may require government subsidies," said the official. "But at least you can feel secure dropping your kids off at the mall movie theater so they can see the latest zombie apocalypse movie in peace."

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Bryan Caforio Is Too Negative And Too Desperate To Be Trusted With The CA-25 Democratic Nomination Again


Katie Hill was endorsed by Judy Chu, one of the most fiercely progressive members of Congress

CA-25 has gradually gone from a deep red district to a blue district. In 2016 everyone though a Democrat would finally take over the congressional seat from a weak and extremist Republican incumbent, Steve Knight. A decade ago when Blue America was helping a parade of good Democrats, like Robert Rodriguez and then Lee Rogers battle Buck McKeon, in a humongous district that was basically most of what is now CA-25 plus most of what is now CA-08, the PVI was R+7. Today it stands at an even district. It should have been an easy win last cycle-- except that the Democrats had an absolutely terrible candidate, carpetbagger Bryan Caforio. Hillary won the district 50.3% to 43.6%. But on the same day thousands of Clinton voters refused to vote for Caforio, who lost to Knight 138,755 (53.1%) to 122,406 (46.9%). Recent polling shows many Democrats want Knight out but will not vote for Caforio.

Some candidates become better after an unsuccessful first run. Caforio hasn't. This cycle he's spent nearly all his efforts and energy trying to win the nearly meaningless endorsement of the California Democratic Party-- and saw the door slammed shut in his face this past weekend. And now he's getting desperate-- and very negative.

It's apparent that he cares exclusively about getting elected than flipping the 25th and that's why he is willing to viciously use baseless attacks against a strong, competent, progressive woman, Katie Hill, running for office. We've been working on flipping this district, slowly making progress, for over a decade. He was never involved in any way until the DCCC parachuted him out of nowhere in 2016. They wasted $3,164,363 (plus another $242,487 from Pelosi's SuperPAC) on his hopeless and inept campaign.

Caforio seems to have flipped out when the FEC report from the last quarter of 2017 was released and Katie had pulled ahead of him in fundraising, his supposed advantage over a grassroots candidate. She's now raised $693,079 to his $663,637. And then that polling above... So his immediate reaction was to panic and break his word about keeping the primary positive. A DCCC executive, furious that Caforio lied to them, sent me the disgusting Caforio memo that he's been circulating inside the California Party, "A Dozen Ways Katie Hill Doesn’t Share Our Values," a memo so filled with blatant lies and distortions that it cost him enough support to lose the party endorsement. I was told Caforio didn't want to send it out but that his chief consultant, Achim Bergmann, the sleaziest political operative in the business, forced his hand. One of Caforio's distorted lies is that Katie "repeatedly has expressed support for a flat tax, saying huge corporations and the wealthy shouldn’t pay more than ordinary people." This is the video on her website with her specific tax proposals. Does this sound like what Caforio calls it? He has nothing to offer so he tears down a progressive Democrat with the bullshit Bergmann feeds him.

The list is one ugly smear after another, lies that prove only one thing-- his unfitness for office (as a Democrat). For example, he feigned outrage that she was given a promotion and a $50,000 raise spread over 2 years. How dare a woman make that kind of money? This from a lowlife sleazy Beverly Hills attorney who makes over half a million dollars a year and tried passing himself off as a consumer advocate while advocating for the interests of Union Oil? L.A. Times reporter Javier Panzer caught him out on his bullshit.
[A]n examination of Caforio's six-year tenure at the Century City firm Susman Godfrey suggests his work more often involved being called upon by large corporations and multimillionaires from around the globe in times of legal need.

Caforio represented former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt during his contentious divorce proceedings in 2015. He was part of a legal team that defended Union Oil Co. of California in 2013 and 2014 when a group of 46 Montana residents accused the oil company of contaminating their property by letting petroleum seep from nearby storage tanks.

He also helped Skardon Baker, an executive with a downtown L.A. investment firm, defeat an architect who claimed he had been bilked out of $22,500 owed to him for designing a backyard cabana for the financier's Hancock Park home.
What a slimy character! And a phony. And a hypocrite. He said he was "only on the Union Oil case a few months" and he's so, so proud that he was able to trick the idiots at the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters to endorse him.
Since the launch of his campaign, Caforio has emphasized his legal career. He calls himself a consumer rights attorney in campaign material. When he spoke to The Times last fall he said he had a “history of taking on the toughest fights,” including suing Swiss bank UBS on behalf of an investor.

In that case, the investor wasn't exactly an average Joe. Caforio represented Egyptian activist investor Ahmed Hussein, who accused UBS of disrupting a proxy fight he was waging with the board of a healthcare company, according to federal court records.

Caforio and another attorney from his firm won Hussein a $2-million award from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Hussein-- using the same team of lawyers-- later sued UBS for more than $55 million in damages. UBS pegged Hussein's net worth at $400 million in 2012, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Though Hussein was a wealthy client, Caforio said it doesn't change the fact that he suffered losses. Caforio boasted of his own work that he "was still going up against one of the largest banks in the world."

The case was one of five listed on Susman Godfrey's online biography for Caforio under the heading "notable representations." That page was deleted sometime between April and August of this year but an online cache remains available.
Katie has all of the momentum and despite these provocations and lies, is continuing to run an entirely positive campaign because she knows that is what is best for the district and the country-- defeating Steve Knight. I called her and tried to get her to dish out a little of what Caforio is doing to her and she flat out refused. She told me she feels great about her positive progressive message and that she's not going to get drawn into any negativity with any of the other candidates. If he's still craving a business card that says "congressman" so badly, maybe Caforio will have better luck in 2020 in a different district.

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Limiting the Purchase of Guns Due To Mental Illness To Prevent Mass Shootings Is An Illusion-- A Wake Up Call


-by Helen Klein

Finally, talk about taking action in response to the horrendous mass shootings in our country is taking center stage. This is thanks to the wonderful and courageous students from Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, who have experienced tragedy first-hand and have given new impetus to a nationwide movement. Kudos to them, and kudos to the many thousands of other students and their parents around the country who have taken up their call to action!

Congress is supposed to work for the American people, not the NRA. This is a clash of enormous proportions: the safety of American citizens, including our children, vs. the right to own guns, any guns, including military-style weapons and ammunition.

How many Americans know that Congress has had a 22 year ban on gun violence research? Why is this? Obviously, because the statistics would be absolutely staggering and devastating to the gun lobby, which pays them well, quite well. Emily Atkin discussed this issue in last week’s article in the New Republic:
This (research) is the easiest, least controversial step Congress can take in the wake of Wednesday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead. Gun control legislation certainly isn’t going anywhere—House Speaker Paul Ryan suggested as much on Thursday morning, when he said Congress needs more information on what would be an effective policy: “I think, as public policymakers, we don’t just knee-jerk before we even have all the facts and the data.”

But as things stand now, Congress will never have the facts or the data Ryan claims to need because, as the Washington Post reported in October, “Gun-control research in the United States essentially came to a standstill in 1996.”

“In the area of what works to prevent shootings, we know almost nothing,” Mark Rosenberg, who led the CDC’s gun-violence research in the 1990s, told the Post.
Not surprisingly, the NRA has led the charge behind these efforts. How the NRA Suppressed Gun Violence Research is described by the Union of Concerned Scientists:
The National Rifle Association used its influence over a Congressman to codify language that prevents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from funding research into gun violence, which kills and injures tens of thousands of people in the US each year.

Research on gun violence is not inherently political. However, its results can inform policy changes to protect public health, potentially including restrictions on gun access. And this has made gun violence research a target for the National Rifle Association (NRA), which is primarily funded by contributions, grants, royalty income, and advertising from the firearms industry.

During the 1990s, the NRA used its influence over NRA member and Arkansas Rep. Jay Dickey to insert an amendment into the federal spending bill that has effectively prevented the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from funding any research on gun violence.

In 1996, the Republican-majority Congress threatened to strip funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unless it stopped funding research into firearm injuries and deaths. The National Rifle Association accused the CDC of promoting gun control. As a result, the CDC stopped funding gun-control research-- which had a chilling effect far beyond the agency, drying up money for almost all public health studies of the issue nationwide.

The NRA has taken credit for blocking government gun violence research. In 2011, the organization said, “These junk science studies and others like them are designed to provide ammunition for the gun control lobby by advancing the false notion that legal gun ownership is a danger to the public health instead of an inalienable right.”
Common sense would suggest that the ONLY way to drastically limit such egregious mass shooting incidents is to totally ban assault weapons based on an informed definition of what constitutes an “assault weapon.” For a ban to be effective grandfathering cannot be part of it-- there are already way too many AR 15s and similar so-called “black guns” out there. Such a ban must necessarily include making all civilian variants of military weapons and their high-capacity magazines illegal and requiring anyone owning such a weapon to turn it in and receive reimbursement from the government. Would Americans be safer by using our tax money to pay for a “building a wall” or reimbursing people for turning in their automatic or high-capacity semi-automatic weapons? Hmmm.

Will this ever happen here? Until this past week, the answer was resounding NO. Now there is a slight glimmer of hope. Let’s put some confidence in America’s teenagers and their parents: may they rise up and defeat the NRA.

The NRA has refused to do virtually anything to restrict the purchase of guns. Whether it is mental illness, potential terrorists on a watch list, required age for purchase or restricting automatic weapons that are used only by the military in most countries, the NRA has its heels dug in. Common sense is nowhere to be found.

Even after the recent mass school shooting in Florida, a front page article in Sunday’s Washington Post shows that the NRA has not changed its tune: “NRA spokeswoman pushes back on Trump idea of raising age for buying semiautomatic rifles.”
Mental Illness, Guns And Mass Shootings

A major focus of current and past discussions has been to prevent mentally ill people from buying guns. While this view certainly has some value, in reality it is mostly a good sound bite that appeals to the masses, who have little understanding of mental illness, identification of it or the ability to predict individuals’ behavior. Unfortunately, expecting such prevention to have notable impact has mostly only face validity going for it. That is, it sounds good on the surface and has some worth, but there is little underneath to substantiate that it would make much of a difference in curbing mass shootings. For the right wing and NRA supporters, most of whom are resistant to limiting gun sales to anyone let alone those who are mentally ill, this is simply offering a crumb, an appeasement tactic to serve as a huge distraction. It would at best serve as a drop in the bucket to prevent mass shootings.
The controversy over this subject is large. Just look at two recent pieces taking opposing points of view:

In the February 23 issue of the Los Angeles Times Grant Duwe and Michael Roque wrote, “Actually, there is a clear link between mass shootings and mental illness.”
"Repeat after me: Mass shooters are not disproportionately mentally ill." But this and other efforts to downplay the role of mental illness in mass shootings are simply misleading. There is a clear relationship between mental illness and mass public shootings.

According to our research, at least 59% of the 185 public mass shootings that took place in the United States from 1900 through 2017 were carried out by people who had either been diagnosed with a mental disorder or demonstrated signs of serious mental illness prior to the attack.

Mother Jones found a similarly high rate of potential mental health problems among perpetrators of mass shootings-- 61%-- when the magazine examined 62 cases in 2012. Both rates are considerably higher than those found in the general population-- more than three times higher than the rate of mental illness found among American adults, and about 15 times higher than the rate of serious mental illness found among American adults.
On the same day, National Public Radio aired a discussion, “Experts say there is little connection between mental health and mass shootings.”
President Trump has raised mental health as a key factor in mass shootings, including a call Thursday to create more mental hospitals. But experts say there's little connection between a person's mental illness and the likelihood of a mass shooting. The president says the way to stop future school shootings is to identify people with severe mental illness and lock them up.
But NPR's Alison Kodjak reports that doctors and mental health advocates say the link between mental health problems and gun crimes is tenuous.
Matthew Miller is a professor of epidemiology at Northeastern University who has published several papers on the risk factors of gun violence. He says the key ingredient in this mass shooting and others is not mental illness. It’s the guns. (Italics mine) The reason for these sort of mass public shootings is not because we have higher rates of mental illness. And it's not because we have higher rates of violent behavior. We don't. The rate of mental health problems in the U.S., he says, is about the same as in Europe. And the same goes for violent crime. He says if politicians want to reduce mass shootings, they have to deal with the guns. If they want to improve mental health care, they can do that, too.

I suspect that many legislators do not grasp critical aspects of this poorly thought out perspective. As usual with many of our current government office holders, knowledge and expertise are sorely lacking. Senators and Congressmen who aim to “do something” should stop selling tickets to the mental illness side show and zero in on an outright assault weapon ban. The Democrats in particular should shift the spotlight off of mental illness and onto guns, particularly assault weapons. Republicans love distractions and this is surely a good one.

Let’s look at some aspects of this topic.

What is mental illness?-- this is a vague concept, with widespread disagreement even among professionals

Who defines mental illness? The field of mental health is an extremely broad one. Rather than black and white, this is a wide expanse of many shades of gray. Anyone who thinks that it is possible to do so in the general population has a screw loose. Virtually all of us have a friend or family member who has had some type of mental health problem. There is no such thing as a quick, clear cut blood test for mental illness. The inner workings of the mind are unique and by no means easy to define, access or assess. What does “mental illness” really mean? Would someone with an anxiety disorder be considered mentally ill? What types of mental illness would predict mass violence? Since it would be difficult and perhaps impossible for professionals to reach a consensus on this, how could government agencies possibly do so?

How can people with mental illness be identified? -- this is an enormously challenging task filled with endless problems

How could authorities identify such individuals and construct lists? From the get-go, to assume that this is even possible is absurd. We are not a Big Brother society, yet, and we do not keep track of every one of us and our inner lives. While efforts made to compile and share lists of violent offenders are noteworthy, this is just the tip of the iceberg, a tiny sample of possible mass shooters. Unless an individual has come to the attention of an agency or institution that is able to share such data, any such lists would be woefully incomplete. We still have strong privacy laws in our democracy.

The variability of mental health issues in the general population is enormous in range and most individuals have no potential for violent acts. The bulk of those with mental health problems never see a mental health professional and fall well under the radar, as they should in a democratic society. Furthermore, people who have seen a mental health professional for treatment and could potentially be very dangerous are protected from having their lives invaded and would never wind up on any list. Professionals are obligated to respect their patients’ privacy and cannot reveal to anyone who they are seeing or what their issues are. They would never contact authorities except under extreme circumstances. Until the mid 1970’s, mental health professionals were prohibited from releasing any information about their patients under any circumstances, just like attorney-client privilege. Even if a patient threatened to proceed with murder or a mass shooting, the professional was bound to silence. This changed in 1976 with the court case, Tarasoff vs. the Regents of the University of California, which mandated that professionals have a duty to warn and are required to take action.
The Supreme Court of California held that mental health professionals have a duty to protect individuals who are being threatened with bodily harm by a patient. The original 1974 decision mandated warning the threatened individual, but a 1976 rehearing of the case by the California Supreme Court called for a "duty to protect" the intended victim. The professional may discharge the duty in several ways, including notifying police, warning the intended victim, and/or taking other reasonable steps to protect the threatened individual.
While this sounds all well and good and has likely had slight positive impact, in reality this is an extremely difficult assessment for a professional to make. The therapist-patient relationship is built on trust and should not be sacrificed lightly. Implementing a warning would shatter the rapport and end treatment. Who has never said in a fit of anger that they would like to kill someone? Many individuals acknowledge all kinds of emotional turmoil and violent fantasies within the confines of therapy and it is up to the therapists to determine whether a threat is real and serious enough to warrant duty to warn. This is an incredibly difficult and at times impossible task. It is rarely undertaken.

Another aspect of this issue, especially relevant to school shootings, is students identified as having problems who may be receiving counseling services in school. To my knowledge, unless a student has actually committed a crime, school staff are not obligated to report information to authorities. Furthermore, once the student leaves the school premises, the school’s responsibilities typically end. All high schools have some students who would fall into this category: children who have demonstrated acting out and violent behavior and who have made threats. Anyone working in a high school is well experienced in these matters and schools have procedures that are implemented to manage them. Internet threats and cyber bullying are pervasive. Some of these students are in special classes and receive counseling. Some have Individual Education Plans (IEPS) and may even be classified as Emotionally Disturbed but this information is confidential and not available for public scrutiny: therefore, these students would not be on any “lists” available to authorities nor should they be. Many students who have been identified with emotional problems have issues other than acting out and would not necessarily be viewed as candidates for school violence. Finally, many teenagers go through phases of anger and have conduct issues – this is often construed as part of their development. Just survey some of the parents you know-- most of these teenagers never proceed with mass violence.

What is the connection between known mental illness and becoming a mass shooter?-- extremely low

Although there is some correlation between mental illness and mass shooters, within the broad context of mental illness, this is negligible. While some mass shooters were identified as mentally ill prior to the incidents, many were not. Hindsight is always illuminating. Many mass shooters were not on anyone’s radar. Even if they had been, what could or would have been done to monitor them? I doubt warrants would have been approved to invade their residences without any bona fide evidence just because they appeared to have potential. As it is, authorities are tied up with prospective terrorists.

The extreme difficulty of identifying potential mass shooters cannot be overemphasized. The universe of potentials is huge and it is impossible to cull it down to a reasonable number.

Within the school setting, while some students may be perceived as having the potential to become mass shooters, others would not be on the radar. There are also quiet ones seething inside who have not acted out in school and have not come to the attention of staff.

There were some signs of potential violence with Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who became the spree killers at Columbine High School. However, their background was not atypical of many teenagers in high schools across the country, and they had not been identified as mentally ill.
At Columbine High, Harris and Klebold were active in school play productions, operated video productions and became computer assistants maintaining the school's computer server.

According to early accounts of the shooting, Harris and Klebold were very unpopular students and targets of bullying. While sources do support accounts of bullying directed toward the pair, accounts of them being outcasts have been reported to be false.

In March 1998, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office investigator Michael Guerra looked at Harris's website after the parents of Brooks Brown, a fellow student of Harris and Klebold, discovered Harris was making threats aimed at their son after a falling out between them. Harris also wrote on his website that he had been building and detonating pipe bombs. Guerra wrote a draft affidavit for a search warrant, but the affidavit was never filed as authorities believed that they did not have the necessary probable cause to conduct a search of the Harris household. This information was not revealed to the public until September 2001 by 60 Minutes, though it was known by the police the entire time.

In December 1998, Harris and Klebold made Hitmen for Hire, a video for a school project in which they swore, yelled at the camera, made violent statements, and acted out shooting and killing students in the hallway of their school as Hitmen for Hire. They both displayed themes of violence in their creative writing projects for school; of a Doom-based story written by Harris on January 17, 1999, Harris's teacher said: "Yours is a unique approach and your writing works in a gruesome way-- good details and mood setting."

The two boys got into trouble with the law for breaking into a locked van and stealing computers. In January 1998, they were charged with mischief, breaking and entering, trespassing, and theft. They both left good impressions on the juvenile officers, who offered to expunge their criminal records if they agreed to attend a diversionary program to include community service, received psychiatric treatment, and obeyed the law. Harris was required to attend anger management classes where, again, he made a favorable impression. They were so well-behaved that their probation officer discharged them from the program a few months earlier than the due date. Of Harris, it was remarked that he was "a very bright individual who is likely to succeed in life", while Klebold was said to be intelligent, but "needs to understand that hard work is part of fulfilling a dream." 
The deadliest mass shooting in this country was by Stephen Paddock in Las Vegas in October 2017. He had absolutely no history of violence, no history of mental health issues and was unknown to authorities. His only interactions with the law were traffic citations. No one associated with him, even his girlfriend who lived with him, had any idea of his plans.
His motivation remains unknown.
Unfortunately, the bottom line is that it is virtually impossible to identify mass shooters in advance. Overall, efforts that depend on pre-identification do not appear viable.

Can violent behavior be predicted?-- not well if at all

Overall, mental health professionals have a poor track record in predicting behavior. Here is the opinion of one expert, a psychiatrist with experience working in a forensic unit of a psychiatric hospital. In a February 2012 issue of Psychology Today, Dr. Frederic Neuman, M.D., explored, “Is it Possible To Predict Violent Behavior?” One of his responsibilities was to determine how dangerous someone charged with a crime might be in the future. Here are some of his discoveries.
The people who engaged in violent behavior sometimes, but not always, had a history of violent behavior.
Some of the people who attempted murder were psychotic; but the greater number were not.
Of course, most psychotic patients, even those who are paranoid, do not commit violent crimes, or, for that matter, any crimes.
Those who committed murder, or almost committed murder, were acting under a confluence of events that might not have happened under ordinary circumstances, and could not have been anticipated. These included, first of all, the availability of a weapon, usually a gun.
Some people who have committed murder never do so again, even though they have the opportunity. That suggests that there are very few people who can be said to be “murderous” by inclination.
Dr. Neuman concludes:
It is understandable that confronting the horror of the mass murder reported a few days ago that we look to some kind of hope for preventing such attacks in the future; but the fact is we do not know how to predict them; and I do not think we will ever know. We have to turn our attention to the availability of guns.
As far as school shootings, some responsibility clearly lies with parents. Do parents know what their teenagers are up to? Disagreements between parents and teenagers about privacy issues are common. It is hard to find middle ground; striving for a balance that is acceptable to both sides is difficult at best. Some parents lean way toward accepting privacy, others toward intrusion. Parents tend to assume they know their children’s inner workings and what their major concerns are but this is often not the case.

Regarding Columbine, neither the Klebolds nor the Harrises had any idea what their sons were up to. In an essay that appeared in the October 2009 issue of O: The Oprah Magazine, Susan Klebold, Dylan’s mother, stated that she had no clue of her son’s intentions. Furthermore, both sets of parents were oblivious to their sons’ efforts to gather assault weapons and build bombs, which happened right under their noses.
The weekend before the shootings, Harris and Klebold had purchased propane tanks and other supplies from a hardware store for a few hundred dollars. Several residents of the area claimed to have heard glass breaking and buzzing sounds from the Harris family's garage, which later was concluded to indicate they were constructing pipe bombs. Harris purchased more propane tanks on the morning of the attack.
Would preventing purchase of weapons based on being on a list prevent access to guns?-- not really, it is actually way too easy

This is surely a “what have you been smoking” moment. Everyone knows that practically anyone can buy a gun these days, including an AR 15-- style semi-automatic rifle. Just cross a state line, go into a bad neighborhood with enough cash, check out your parents’ gun rack, ask a friend, mail order bullets, etc. It is way too easy. To think a mentally ill person with murderous intentions who is on a list could not obtain an assault rifle is absurd.

Guns can be obtained through so many means, legal as well as illegal. While there are some restrictions on legal purchases, which vary widely from state to state, a friend can easily purchase one for you. Illegally, it is obvious that virtually anyone with motivation could purchase a gun.
Because Harris and Klebold were both underage at the time, Robyn Anderson (with whom Klebold attended the prom three days before the shooting), an 18-year-old Columbine student and old friend of Klebold's, made a straw purchase of two shotguns and a Hi-Point carbine for the pair.

The shooters also possessed a TEC-DC9 semi-automatic handgun, which had a long history. In violation of federal law, (firearms dealer) Russell failed to keep records of the sale, yet he determined that the purchaser of the gun was twenty-one years of age or older. He was unable to identify the pictures of Klebold, Anderson, or Harris shown to him by police after the shooting. Two men, Mark Manes and Philip Duran, were convicted of supplying weapons to the two.
Check out this video of a 13-year-old buying a gun. Whereas he was unable to purchase beer, cigarettes or a scratch off lottery ticket, he had no trouble buying a rifle at a gun show.

So, to wrap this all up, forget mental illness: the only effective way to prevent mass shootings is to get rid of the guns used in them.

Don't Shoot by Nancy Ohanian