Oprah Winfrey held a follow-up panel discussion on 60 Minutes with voters in Michigan:
Oprah follows up with the partisan voters in Michigan
Last fall, Oprah Winfrey spoke with 14 Michigan voters, seven of whom voted for Donald Trump. Winfrey sat down with the voters again to get their thoughts on Trump’s first year in office
2018 Feb 18
Last Updated Feb 19, 2018 1:57 AM EST
Laura: I feel safer now than I ever did the last eight years of Obama. Oh my God.
Oprah Winfrey: How do you feel safer? Tell me how you feel safer?
Laura: Well, I feel like I can say Merry Christmas to anyone I want wherever I want.
There you have it. Too stupid and ignorant to remember to breathe, and yet she does.
After Donald Trump – and to be honest, most of the Republican political class – totally failed to discuss the gun part of the fact that the children in Parkland, Florida were massacred by a kid armed with a legally purchased assault weapon, there was lots of right-minded noise about how the GOP is a totally owned subsidiary of the NRA. But, nevertheless, I found it odd that nobody – to my knowledge – has brought up this little bit of news from a few days earlier:
But when it comes to funding, the NRA may have finally gone too far: the FBI recently launched an investigation to determine whether a Russian central banker, and Putin ally, illegally funneled money through the organization to help the Trump campaign.
Kind of casts Trump’s worries that the Russia investigation might be eating up too many FBI resources in another light. Also explains his tight-lipped stance when it comes to bucking the NRA line. It might just not be the Russians who may have a few dirty secrets our putative president would prefer to keep quiet when it comes to money laundering.
Of course, given the limited intellectual capacity of the current White House occupant, it’s really not too surprising that he might not believe that the agents of a huge, complex agency like the FBI can walk and chew gum at the same time.
Nancy LeTourneau of The Washington Monthly did a first-rate if brief summary of the failed Trump presidency to date. The gist of her piece:
Taking a step back from getting caught up in the latest outrage, a look at what has happened over the last 13 months paints a picture of an utterly failed presidency. Because Donald Trump is incompetent, ignorant and mentally unfit to be president, he is not likely to improve on his performance to date. […]
Even if we ignore all of the obnoxious things he has said or tweeted and focus on his personnel and policy failures, the list is long.
- Failed to repeal Obamacare
- Failed to pass his immigration plan
- Travel ban and recision of DACA have been overturned in the courts
- Voter fraud commission disbanded after it went “off the rails”
- More than one in three staffers left the White House in its first year
- More than 40 percent his first Cabinet-level picks have faced ethical or other controversies
- At least 100 White House officials served with ‘interim’ security clearances until November
- A record low job approval rating for his first year
Depending on your politics, the fact that Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord and the Transpacific Partnership trade agreement would be viewed as major failures. He still hasn’t completed the re-negotiation of NAFTA.
LeTourneau seems to think that Trump can rely on his fake news outlets, the servile right-wing media conglomerate that dances to Trump’s fiddle, to reframe his disastrous tenure. And indeed, the great right-wing echo chamber has been extraordinarily successful over the past decade in persuading low-information, high dudgeon folks that night is day and vice-versa.
That’s bad. But, oddly, what scares me more is what might happen if it doesn’t work. Consider this tidbit – pure gossip, not confirmed, but worth attention nevertheless:
A US National Security Council (NSC) official has reportedly suggested that a limited preemptive strike on North Korea could help the Republican Party in the upcoming midterm elections — a claim rebutted by the White House.
The alleged comment, which was sourced from a scathing opinion column published Friday by the South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh, was also tweeted by a Wall Street Journal reporter.
“Indeed, White House National Security Council senior director for Asian affairs Matthew Pottinger was reported as saying in a recent closed-door meeting with US experts on Korean Peninsula issues that a limited strike on the North ‘might help in the midterm elections,'” read the English-translated version of the op-ed.
The remarks come as some advisers to President Donald Trump have reportedly suggested limited military action against North Korea to give it a “bloody nose.”
According to all reputable sources, such a scenario would have an horrendous effect – quite apart from it’s effect on the midterms. Given what we know about Trump and some members of his contingent, however, it seems like it might seem to them to be a hunky-dory way to maintain political dominance.
And our congressional representatives? Would they defend us and the hundreds of innocents who are at risk against such an atrocity? Will we ever be able to rely on the GOP, the members of which have, as LeTourneau notes, utterly failed to hold Trump accountable – the very people who have even tried to cover for him in the face of what some think might amount to possible treason.
And as for Democrats, sure some will come out to do battle. But midterms scare lots of swing state Democrats who still think that it’s wise to tack to the middle. And maybe it is, as far as their individual political careers go. Don’t expect any profiles in courage.
My own Democratic Senator, Claire McCaskill, is good at this walking the center line game. And usually I’m glad that she is. This is Missouri after all. But there’s lots going on now, and what’s Claire patting herself on the back for doing? In a recent email newsletter that I received, she informed me that her “bipartisan valentine” was the craven, corrupt Roy Blunt:
Since he and I have been in the Senate, we’ve teamed up on 331 bills and resolutions for the Show-me State—and that’s a record I think we can both be proud of.
Despite what you see on the news and online, there are a lot of things Senator Blunt and I agree on, and they’re almost all about commonsense solutions that will help folks in our state. We may not agree on everything, but we can certainly agree that Missourians come first.
Claire’s effort to hog the centrist spotlight is understandable, maybe. Effective in November? I hope. But it does not inspire confidence in the face of the debacle that is taking place in Washington – one abetted by Roy Blunt – although even he can’t resist expressing his doubts about Trump’s competence, at least as far as his ability to to effectively collude with Russia:
My view continues to be that the (Trump) campaign had one asset, which was a candidate that understood the moment and (was) not very capable of anything much more complicated than that.
Evidently, he’s never heard of “useful idiots” as a category. And maybe he doesn’t care, as long as the idiot in question lets him and his corporate clients have their way.
By the way, did Blunt send Claire a bipartisan valentine, I wonder? Will he even say anything nice about her?
According to The New York Times Roy Blunt is one of the top ten “career”recipients of NRA largess in the congress. His take: $4,551,146. That’s right. Our boy got himself over four million of those NRA dollars. And I don’t think anyone would disagree that he’s done himself proud when it comes to earning his fee.
All of which prompts one to ask what he has to say about the latest mass shooting event at a school, a spree that took 17 lives and wounded at least 12 other children. The Sedalia Democrat offers the following quote:
In an interview, Blunt said that “I don’t think we have enough information yet to know that a change in any law would have impacted what happened in Florida.” But, referring to reports that the FBI had been warned by threats that the killer had made on social media, Blunt added: “Whether it is bizarre anti-social behavior or terrorist activity, when people see something they should say something.”You have got a guy parading around in a gas mask with weapons making threats and putting that on social media; that needs to be reported,” Blunt, R-Mo., said. “And the people that is [sic] reported to need to respond to that report.”
Blunt echoed the president in his imputation that the correct way to protect against mass school shootings would be for the “normal” folks to report aberrant behavior on the part of troubled individuals. Happened here, didn’t work, not going to work, just stigmatizes folks with emotional problems.
In the past Blunt has resorted overtly to the tack taken by Donald Trump today which is that it is mental illness that kills people, not guns – in spite of the fact that those suffering mental illness have been shown to more often suffer violence than they are to commit violent acts, that when they do act out violently, they themselves have frequently been previously victimized, and they are more likely to do so within institutional settings rather than in public.
All of this is just a way to frame the simple-minded NRA bumper sticker that says in one variant or another that “people kill people, not guns.” If Kim Jong-un, who may or may not be mentally unstable, doesn’t realize that he’s dealing with a possible mental case in the White House, push comes to shove, and hundreds of folks, possibly in the U.S. as well as North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia are killed, will Republicans excuse the holocaust with a similar slogan: Crazy people kill people, not bombs? Funny that. Or not.
Of course, the real thrust of Blunt’s response was that he just doesn’t have enough facts to say anything substantive. While I know he’s unlikely to read this screed, I’d sill like to supply him with a few hard and fast facts:
- A disturbed young man, who, incidentally, had been reported and investigated by the authorities, was able to legally buy a military-grade weapon.
- President Trump, in his haste to destroy any remnants of Obama-style common-sense regulation, stopped a rule that would have made it more difficult for the mentally-ill to buy firearms.
- Republicans like Blunt have consistently refused to vote for legislation that regulated civilian acquisition of military-grade weapons in spite of the fact that they seem to be the weapon of choice for mass shooters.
- A conservative analysis by The Washington Post tells us that “more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.”
- In the first 45 days of this year there have been six school shootings that have injured students.
- States are skint. They aren’t willing or able to pay to supply the school security officers that schools are requesting. Florida schools, scene of the most recent shooting, are among those that have experienced growing enrollments but have received less money to pay for necessities like increased security for which they have requested funding.
- A spate of studies report that states – and developed countries – with more guns have more homicide deaths and suicides. States and countries with better regulated gun ownership have fewer.
There are lots more facts like these. And I’m willing to bet that Blunt knows a few of them already. He just doesn’t care.
Nor, as Blunt’s GOP pals like to claim, do these facts suggest that gun ownership should be illegal; nobody’s 2nd amendment rights should be violated. But we have to be clear that the Supreme Court ruling, District of Columbia v. Heller, authored by conservative, gun-loving Judge Antonin Scalia, specifies that that the right to own firearms is subject to regulation, specifically in the case of “prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons’.”
So what’s keeping the pot boiling for a dangerously out of control NRA, an organization that wants to persuade us that even talking dirty about guns is not only a violation of a poorly understood 2nd amendment, but an invitation to “jack-booted government thugs” to steal our liberties? Look no further than Senator Roy Blunt and an NRA-whipped GOP.
But hey! Four million dollars is one heckava payout. And Blunt wasn’t even number one on the list.
Scuttlebutt is that Josh Hawley’s halo is getting a bit tarnished. Roll call reports:
In recent days, some Republicans have been questioning Hawley’s fundraising and lack of campaign activity in the four months since he officially launched his campaign.
“This is supposed to be the campaign where we righted all the wrongs of Todd Akin and we exorcised all the demons of past campaigns or past attempts to beat Claire McCaskill,” one Missouri GOP consultant said. “And now people are wondering, ‘Are we really going to blow this again?’”
And don’t forget Hawley’s statements about the sexual revolution as the root of sex trafficking. Second helping of Todd Akin anyone?
And then, of course, there’s the business of that mysterious robocall polling Missourians on whether they prefer McCaskill or Wagner? Who’s responsible? Your guess is as good as mine.
Most of the reports I’ve read about the GOP’s recent Lincoln Days event suggested that most of the state’s GOPers have decided to try and ignore Baby-Governor Greitens sex scandal. There was even mention of cheers as he touted his plans for the Kansification of Missouri.
But you shouldn’t let all this Republican bonhomie fool you. The story seems to be gathering steam; according to the latest reports, a grand jury has been convened to investigate Greitens’ blackmail threats allegedly directed at the lady with whom he was indulging in an extramarital affair:
A lawyer for the ex-husband of the woman who had an affair with Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens says prosecutors have convened a grand jury in their investigation into whether Greitens blackmailed the woman.
Al Watkins, the lawyer, announced Monday that his client was served with a subpoena to provide testimony to the grand jury.
The news may represent an escalation of the probe, which was launched last month.
“The issuance of a Grand Jury subpoena conclusively indicates that the Circuit Attorney’s Office has elevated its undertakings to include Grand Jury proceedings, for which subpoena power and other discovery tools are available,” Watkins said in a statement provided to TPM. “The power of subpoena is an invaluable tool to garner evidence and compel testimony which far transcends that which is accorded investigative personnel not otherwise armed with a Grand Jury.”
So, in spite of efforts to pretend that for Greitens and the Missouri GOP the worst has passed, it’s possible that there’s lots more to come.
Couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.