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See no evil, hear no evil
June 8, 2022
No audio version due to travel.
It has been two decades since the massacre at Columbine took the lives of 13 students. It has been fifteen years since the Virginia Tech massacre took the lives of 32 students. It has been ten years since the massacre at Sandy Hook took the lives 26 students and staff. Today, Senate negotiators pleaded for more time to craft legislation to protect students from assault weapons. Mitch McConnell said that it was “way to soon” to say if Republicans would support a bill, and John Cornyn said, “Good consensus legislation takes time.” Chris Murphy said, “Every day we get closer to an agreement, not further away.”
It is inexcusable that after decades of mass killings, politicians are urging patience for the legislative process, rather than apologizing for their dereliction. After Uvalde, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Columbine, Buffalo, Las Vegas, Parkland, and others, negotiators must demonstrate urgency.
If negotiators need any reminder of the need to act quickly, they need only review the comments of Actor Matthew McConaughey delivered today from the White House briefing room. I cannot bring myself to write about some of the details shared by McConaughey, but he has done what many have urged: Describe the reality of the killings in a way that forces Republicans to abandon their “See no evil, hear no evil” approach to gun violence. See CNN, Matthew McConaughey tells the story of those killed in Uvalde in emotional plea for action on guns.
McConaughey’s delivery was inconsistent and rambling, reflecting his quirky character. But in his own way, he broke through the taboo of describing the annihilation of the children of Uvalde by a weapon of war. McConaughey is a gun owner from Uvalde, but even he has had enough. He called for “universal background checks, raising the minimum age for purchasing an AR-15 to 21, a waiting period for purchasing AR-15s, and the implementation of red flag laws.” And yet, even as McConaughey spoke, Republican positions were hardening. HuffPo, Banning Teenagers From Buying AR-15s Runs Into Wall Of GOP Resistance.
We have a small window of opportunity to extract minor concessions from Republicans. We should take whatever they will concede, but not relent on the issue of banning assault rifles or limiting the amount and type of ammunition, magazines, and clips that may be purchased. We must outlaw unregistered sales of guns, institute universal background checks and waiting periods—as in weeks or months, not days. And we must finally allow victims of gun violence to sue manufacturers of assault weapons. That will require a dramatic change in control in Congress. Are you in?
Fox News will not carry January 6th hearings.
In 2021, the United States of America witnessed an attempted coup by a sitting president for the first time in 233 years. Congress has investigated the coup and is prepared to present its evidence to the American people. But Fox News is not prepared to allow its viewers to see that evidence. See Axios, Fox News "cowardly" for not airing Jan. 6 hearings, Schumer says. See also Talking Points Memo, Dems Compare Fox To Russian TV For Not Airing Jan 6 Hearings Live.
If America is to find a way forward, it can only do so if the American people are operating from a common set of facts. Fox News has become the official propaganda arm of the Republican Party, an editorial decision that reflects the profit-maximizing strategies of an Australian media mogul, Rupert Murdoch. (Murdoch became a naturalized US citizen in 1985 and has repaid his adopted country by trying to tear it apart.)
As long as the Murdoch family controls Fox News, it will be difficult to convince its viewers that Trump attempted a coup in 2020. Instead of seeing the evidence presented by the January 6th Committee, Fox viewers will be treated to Tucker Carlson’s perverse brand of replacement theory, white supremacy, and grievance-based politics.
Here’s what you can do: Watch the hearings, listen to the evidence, and tell your friends to do the same. I believe the facts will speak for themselves.
Another view of Merrick Garland’s efforts regarding January 6th.
Many readers disagree with me every time I criticize Merrick Garland for his slow (or non-existent) prosecution of the leaders of the coup. To give equal time to their views, I cite Jennifer Rubin’s op-ed in WaPo, Opinion | Don’t give up on Merrick Garland quite yet. Rubin recites the accretion of small developments that suggest Garland is triangulating a prosecution of Trump. I have reviewed most of those developments in the newsletter over the last two months (including some in yesterday’s newsletter). Rubin cites leading commentors such as Larry Tribe and Joyce White Vance as agreeing that the recent developments are encouraging signs. Check out Rubin’s essay if you are one of the many readers who believe I am too tough on Garland.
Because I can’t resist, let me add a final thought about Garland’s efforts that Rubin does not discuss: A prosecution of Trump in 2024 will be too late. He attempted a coup in 2020 and is working on a coup in 2024 as we speak. Time may be a luxury in many prosecutions, but it is the enemy when the future of democracy is at stake.
Supreme Court Docket.
Sometime in the next three weeks, the Supreme Court will overrule Roe v. Wade and strike down New York’s requirement for “good cause” to carry a concealed weapon. But the Court may also add to its docket a case that might overturn two centuries of election law in the US. The Court may grant review in Moore v. Harper before June 30th (which would place the case on next term’s docket). The case involves a novel theory by election deniers that states legislatures possess superpowers to control state and federal elections without interference from state courts. As explained in Talking Points Memo,
The so-called “Independent State Legislature” theory, which in its simplest form asserts that state legislatures alone — without the checks and balances of state courts or state executive branch officials like secretaries of state — are in charge of congressional and presidential election rules in their states.
See details in TPM, One Potential Supreme Court Case Could Transform US Election Law.
Because of limited internet access, I am “sending” the newsletter before reviewing the primary election results on Tuesday. I will discuss tomorrow. But one worrisome note is that turnout in California’s primary appears to be extraordinarily low. Let’s hope that those early reports are wrong. If they are accurate, we must take a long, hard look at ourselves in the mirror and ask what we can do differently in the midterms.
There is hope that the January 6th hearings and the Court’s rulings on abortion rights and gun control will motivate Democrats in the midterms. But we can take nothing for granted. Our plan for success in the 2022 midterms depends on historic turnout. We achieved that goal in 2018 and 2020, so it is within our power to do so. The question is whether we have the will to do so again. Are you in?
Talk to you tomorrow!