Sunday, February 25, 2018
The Devil is a master of disguise and takes on many forms.
This might be their best chance
As the Olympics ends, North Korea and South Korea go back to being two seperate countries with their own flags and governments. In spite of that old stick up his ass Pence it was a good time.
The 23rd Winter Olympics came to a festive close on Sunday, with athletes from the two Koreas marching into the cold stadium together, but wearing different uniforms and waving the flags of their own countries.The possibilities of talks between the US and North Korea raise the specter of another international giveaway by the Great Orange Peckerhead. With a decimated State Department bereft of so much knowledge and experience and the World's Lousiest Negotiator overseeing any talks, this is probably the best time for Kim Jong Pudge to get any positive deal. And the Great Orange Peckerhead can always rely on his friend Putin to help.
Although some athletes also carried flags showing a unified peninsula, the fact that so many were carrying distinct national flags was a pungent sign that the truce between North and South Korea that had marked these Olympic Games might already be dissipating.
The 22 North Korean athletes — as well as the hundreds of cheerleaders and security minders who accompanied them — will now depart for home across the heavily fortified border that divides the two nations.
But even before the closing ceremony began, the hiatus from the nuclear crisis that the Olympics had offered was clearly ending. On Friday, Mr. Trump announced harsh new sanctions against North Korea. And hours before the ceremony began on Sunday, a spokesman from the North’s Foreign Ministry described the sanctions as an act of war even as Mr. Moon met with the North Korean delegation Sunday afternoon.
After that meeting, and shortly after the Olympic ceremony began, the presidential palace said in a statement that North Korea had indicated it was willing to talk to the United States. But differences are wide, and only the coming weeks and months will show whether the Olympic diplomacy has had a lasting effect.
There were highlights aplenty. South Korea broke out in a frenzy over curling as its women’s team racked up one surprising win after another, all the way to a silver medal. Chloe Kim, 17, the Korean-American snowboarder, astonished judges and crowds with a near-perfect gold medal run on the halfpipe.
Esther Ledecka of the Czech Republic became the first woman to win a gold medal in two sports in a single Winter Games, while Yuzuru Hanyu, the men’s figure skating champion from Japan, returned after a four-month hiatus because of an ankle injury and captured his second consecutive Olympic gold medal. After a spine tingling shootout, the American women’s ice hockey team beat Canada to win the gold medal for the first time in two decades.
Norway dominated the medals table, collecting 39 over all, 14 of them gold. The United States won 23 medals, and South Korea 17.
North Korea never made it to the medal podium. The only athletes to qualify for the Olympics on merit, Ryom Tae-ok, 19, and Kim Ju-sik, 25, placed 13th in the pairs figure skating. All the other athletes in the North’s delegation placed last or near the bottom in their events.
And the unified Korean women’s ice hockey team, the only team to include North and South Korean athletes on its roster, lost all five of the games they played at the Olympics.
But perhaps the most important achievement of the Pyeongchang Games was that they were peaceful. In his speech at the closing ceremony, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, thanked the athletes from South Korea and North Korea.
“You have shown how sports bring people together in our very fragile world,” he said.
Trust in God, Your Lawmakers Aren't Doing Shit
And God speaks to Stephen Colbert
His day will come, soon
Saturday, February 24, 2018
Back in the day, they were under the bed
R.I.P. Ruby Nanette Bernadette Theresa Fabares
As Nanette Fabray you were a most accomplished actress, comedienne, singer and dancer, adept onstage and film and TV. They don't make them like you anymore.
Damn! Another Gag Clause
Sometimes that presription you pick up and use your insurance to pay for may cost less for cash than your insurance's co-pay. Your pharmacist can't tell you about this because of a clause in their contract with the drug middleman.
As consumers face rapidly rising drug costs, states across the country are moving to block “gag clauses” that prohibit pharmacists from telling customers that they could save money by paying cash for prescription drugs rather than using their health insurance.Some states are passing new laws to fight back against this practice but so far on the federal level only Sen Susan Collins is talking about it and we know what good that does. And let's face it, if Congress did take up this issue they would probably ban states from preventing the practice.
Many pharmacists have expressed frustration about such provisions in their contracts with the powerful companies that manage drug benefits for insurers and employers. The clauses force the pharmacists to remain silent as, for example, a consumer pays $125 under her insurance plan for an influenza drug that would have cost $100 if purchased with cash.
Much of the difference often goes to the drug benefit managers.
Federal and state officials say they share the pharmacists’ concerns, and they have started taking action. At least five states have adopted laws to make sure pharmacists can inform patients about less costly ways to obtain their medicines, and at least a dozen others are considering legislation to prohibit gag clauses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said that after meeting recently with a group of pharmacists in her state, she was “outraged” to learn about the gag orders.
“I can’t tell you how frustrated these pharmacists were that they were unable to give that information to their customers, who they knew were struggling to pay a high co-pay,” Ms. Collins said.
Alex M. Azar II, the new secretary of health and human services, who was a top executive at the drugmaker Eli Lilly for nearly 10 years, echoed that concern. “That shouldn’t be happening,” he said.
Pharmacy benefit managers say they hold down costs for consumers by negotiating prices with drug manufacturers and retail drugstores, but their practices have come under intense scrutiny.
The White House Council of Economic Advisers said in a report this month that large pharmacy benefit managers “exercise undue market power” and generate “outsized profits for themselves.”
Steven F. Moore, whose family owns Condo Pharmacy in Plattsburgh, N.Y., said the restrictions on pharmacists’ ability to discuss prices with patients were “incredibly frustrating.”
Mr. Moore offered this example of how the pricing works: A consumer filling a prescription for a drug to treat diabetes or high blood pressure may owe $20 if he uses insurance coverage. By contrast, a consumer paying cash might have to pay $8 to $15.
Mark Merritt, the president and chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents benefit managers, said he agreed that consumers should pay the lower amount.
As for the use of gag clauses, he said: “It’s not condoned by the industry. We don’t defend it. It has occurred on rare occasions, but it’s an outlier practice that we oppose.”
However, Thomas E. Menighan, the chief executive of the American Pharmacists Association, said that such clauses were “not an outlier,” but instead a relatively common practice. Under many contracts, he said, “the pharmacist cannot volunteer the fact that a medicine is less expensive if you pay the cash price and we don’t run it through your health plan.”
We register sex offenders
Because they can continue to be a hazard to women and children but, thanks to the diligent efforts of America's biggest terrorist organization, there is no registry for the greatest threat in this country to those women and children.
Lawmakers convene next week under pressure to consider limits on the purchase of assault rifles. But as congressional aides on both sides of the debate scramble to draw up background reports and statistics on the issue for their bosses, they’ll run into a basic informational roadblock: No one has any idea how many assault rifles are in circulation.But there is no need for the killers to worry, the Trump administration is currently dismantling the ATF so that even if they allowed to do anything, there won't be anyone in the office to do so. And it is probably just as well there is no count of the amount of weapons available, the number would probably make you sick.
That’s intentional. By law, the government isn’t allowed to gather that metric and put it in a modern, searchable electronic database.
“Those numbers don’t exist because there’s no national registry,” said Jan Kemp, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “Because by law, we are not allowed to have a national registry.”
The gun industry’s argument against a registry that tracks the sale of guns goes like this, according to former ATF agent Mark Jones: If the government kept a database on firearms sold, it would have a de facto registry of gun owners, and if that existed, then the government would be just a step away from being able to confiscate people’s guns.
“The gun industry says they’re afraid that the government will come and take their guns away,” Jones said.
Jennifer Baker, director of public affairs for the National Rifle Association, said the NRA is opposed to any sort of national gun registry, and said that knowing how many assault rifles are in circulation would be of no help to lawmakers considering legislation. (The NRA also has come out against raising the minimum age to buy an assault rifle to 21.)
“There’s no reason for the government to have a registry,” Baker said. “There’s no public safety reason for this other than having a roadmap to confiscating guns.”
The Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has heightened scrutiny of assault rifles. The killer used an AR-15 rifle, one of the most popular weapons in America both among general gun owners (the National Rifle Association calls it “America’s Most Popular Rifle”) and mass shooters (it has been used in 11 mass shootings since 2012, according to Stanford Geospatial Center, Stanford Libraries and USA Today research). AR-15 rifles and their cousins are special because although they are semi-automatic weapons and therefore only fire one bullet each time the trigger is pulled, they are known for being accurate and easy to modify with accessories such as extended magazines, to shoot hundreds of bullets without reloading, and bump stocks, to allow faster shooting.
Parkland student survivors have been calling for a ban on all assault weapons in the wake of the shooting, while President Donald Trump has voiced support for raising the minimum age to buy such weapons from 18 to 21. Trump said he has spoken with many members of Congress who support the increased age restriction.
The National Firearms Act forbids “any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions be established.” Several restrictions added to congressional appropriations bills also prohibit ATF from requiring gun dealers to submit their inventories to law enforcement. The effect is to prevent ATF from setting up a system that would allow electronic retrieval of gun owners’ personal identification information, and from consolidating or centralizing records provided by firearms dealers.
Practically, that means firearm dealers retain their own records on gun sales and only give that information to ATF when or if they go out of business. Once with ATF, the records must be stored in a non-electronic form that is not easily searchable – currently in a warehouse of paper files in Martinsburg, West Virginia. The ATF cannot request information, such as how many AR-15s have been sold that year, from firearms dealers, and searching their own paper database for that information is next to impossible.
Donald Trump Jr's Bollywood Movie Trailer
From The Late Show
Worried about the wrong kind of mass shooting
Trevor Noah on the Florida lagislative votes
Friday, February 23, 2018
NRAman Rockwell update
Harden our schools
When running for the Senate
Or any other influential political office, the NRA allows its running dogs greater leeway in talking about gun control than it normally does. Take for example, Florida Governor Rick Scott who is term limited, so he has chosen to run for the Senate. And following the Parkland Massacre it is politic to show some support for gun control.
Gov. Rick Scott and top state lawmakers proposed on Friday the most significant move toward gun control in Florida in decades, in defiance of the National Rifle Association, though some of their ideas fell short of what student advocates pleaded for after they lost 17 classmates and staff members last week in one of the deadliest school shootings in American history.The governor can call for these steps knowing that his legislature will kill any steps that annoy the NRA. The only one that might pass is allowing trained teachers to carry into class if they qualify, one of the NRA's favorite stupid ideas. One thing is very clear, that nasty old fraud runner Rick Scott needs to be kept out of the Senate.
The governor, a Republican, backed raising the minimum age to buy any firearm, including semiautomatic rifles, to 21 from 18, a restriction opposed by the N.R.A., one of the most powerful special interest groups in Tallahassee. The minimum-age limit already exists for handguns, and it would have prevented Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old shooting suspect, from lawfully purchasing the AR-15 the police say he used to massacre 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.
Mr. Scott’s plan, largely endorsed by House and Senate leaders, would not arm teachers, though lawmakers said their proposal would create a “marshal” plan to allow teachers who have had enough hours of training with law enforcement to be armed on campus.
Mr. Scott also said he would push to ban “bump stocks,” which enable semiautomatic rifles to fire faster, and would ask for $500 million for mental health and school safety programs, including requiring at least one armed police officer for every 1,000 students at public schools.
“I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who has mental issues to use a gun,” Mr. Scott said at a news conference unveiling his proposals. “I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who is a danger to themselves or others to use a gun.”
The N.R.A. said on Thursday that it opposes the age restriction. President Trump said on Friday that he supports it, and Mr. Scott said he had not spoken to the N.R.A. about his proposals.
Mr. Scott, who is widely expected to run for a United States Senate seat this year, also broke with the president and the N.R.A. by not endorsing putting more armed personnel in schools, an idea fiercely opposed by the students from Stoneman Douglas High.
“I disagree with arming teachers,” Mr. Scott said. “My focus is on bringing in law enforcement. I think you need to have individuals who are trained, well trained.”
It looks much larger when he holds it
Stephen Colbert hears Trump and doubles down on the Orange Buffoon
If your willing to cap some fools...
Trevor Noah on the gun control debate
GOP Congress loves guns
Thursday, February 22, 2018
I'm With Her
When you make them grow up too fast
Following up on a previous post
We posted perviously on a truck dealership that was able to avoid costly pollution controls because they installed rebuilt engines that are exempt under a convenient loophole.The dealership was a benefactor of a local university that generated a favorable study on the pollution created. Now the the university is asking the federal government to ignore the study.
The president of a Tennessee state university, under fire for an academic study on truck emissions that was paid for by a local trucking company, has asked federal officials to disregard the study, at least for now, in its review of pollution regulations that could benefit the company.So Dirty Little Pruitt has been forced to seek another excuse for allowing the filth to continue being spewed. Dirty Little Pruitt should be glad all people do is yell insults at him when he flys.
In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, Philip B. Oldham, the president of Tennessee Technological University, warned that “experts within the university have questioned the methodology and accuracy” of the study, and that an investigation was being conducted into its findings.
The letter was dated Monday and sent to Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the E.P.A., as well as Representative Diane Black, Republican of Tennessee, who had pushed Mr. Pruitt and the E.P.A. to approve a change in regulations that would exempt certain heavy-duty trucks from a requirement to install modern emissions control systems.
One of the main beneficiaries of such a change would be Fitzgerald Glider Kits of Byrdstown, Tenn., the country’s largest manufacturer of so-called glider trucks, which are equipped with rebuilt engines that do not have modern emissions controls. The company paid for the study, and had offered to build a new research center for Tennessee Tech on land owned by the company.
The study, which concluded that pollution from glider trucks was no worse than from trucks with modern emissions controls, was cited by Mr. Pruitt when he announced in November he would make the regulatory change requested by Ms. Black. Last June, Mr. Oldham had signed a letter endorsing the study.
The Obama administration had moved to eliminate the exemption for the glider trucks, given the health threat associated with their emissions. The E.P.A., in its own analysis, estimated last year that gliders emitted nitrogen oxide levels during highway operations that were 43 times as high as those from trucks with modern emissions control systems.
The E.P.A., in a written statement Wednesday, said that Mr. Pruitt’s move to exempt the glider trucks was based on a legal determination that the agency did not have the authority to regulate them, not the findings of the Tennessee Tech study.
“E.P.A. did not rely upon the study or even quote directly from it,” the statement said, adding that the agency “only noted the existence of the study,” and its findings, when Mr. Pruitt moved to exempt the glider trucks.
The Daily Show on the Parkland Massacre
Trevor Noah looks at what to do about guns
Trevor Noah examines the NRA smear campaign
What the GOP wants us to forget
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Blues In My Heart
Duke Robillard with Catherine Russell
When Congress returns
Will his intel pipeline pay for his white elephant
As things stand right now, Jared Kushner is facing a $1.2 Billion mortgage maturity on a building he bought for top dollar just before the market collapsed. He is also the son-in-law of Cheeto Mussolini and has access to all the classified information he can ask for, despite lacking a security clearence.
Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is resisting giving up his access to highly classified information, prompting an internal struggle with John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, over who should be allowed to see some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets, according to White House officials and others briefed on the matter.As things stand now Kelly can beat Jared only one way, if Jared pays off the mortgage on 666 Fifth Ave or pays down enough to refinance, something so legitimate money source wants to do now. If the market for classified info is good enough he might get to keep his building.
Mr. Kushner is one of dozens of White House officials operating under interim security clearances because of issues raised by the F.B.I. during their background checks, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the clearances. The practice has drawn added scrutiny because of Rob Porter, the former staff secretary who resigned under pressure this month after domestic abuse allegations against him became public.
Mr. Porter’s post entailed handling and reviewing the flow of documents to and from the president, which routinely includes highly classified material. He had been allowed to continue in the job for more than a year with a stopgap clearance even though the F.B.I. had informed the White House of the damaging accusations against him.
Mr. Kushner’s clearance has afforded him access to closely guarded information, including the presidential daily brief, the intelligence summary Mr. Trump receives every day, but it has not been made permanent, and his background investigation is still pending after 13 months serving in Mr. Trump’s inner circle.
Now Mr. Kelly, his job at risk and his reputation as an enforcer of order and discipline tarnished by the scandal, is working to revamp the security clearance process, starting with an effort to strip officials who have interim clearances of their high-level access. In a memo issued on Friday, Mr. Kelly said he would revoke top clearances for anyone whose background check had been pending since June 1 or earlier, and review such clearances every month thereafter.
Mr. Kushner, frustrated about the security clearance issue and concerned that Mr. Kelly has targeted him personally with the directive, has told colleagues at the White House that he is reluctant to give up his high-level access, the officials said. In the talks, the officials say, Mr. Kushner has insisted that he maintain his current level of access, including the ability to review the daily intelligence briefing when he sees fit.
But Mr. Kelly, who has been privately dismissive of Mr. Kushner since taking the post of chief of staff but has rarely taken him on directly, has made no guarantees, saying only that the president’s son-in-law will still have all the access he needs to do his job under the new system.
“As I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio including overseeing our Israeli-Palestinian peace effort and serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico,” Mr. Kelly said in a statement the White House released on Tuesday in which he refused to address Mr. Kushner’s security clearance or elaborate on his memo.
“Everyone in the White House is grateful for these valuable contributions to furthering the president’s agenda,” Mr. Kelly said of Mr. Kushner. “There is no truth to any suggestion otherwise.”
It is unclear whether Mr. Kushner would need to review highly classified information. His current portfolio — which includes acting as an intermediary with Mexico, trying to forge Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, participating in an economic dialogue with China and working on revising the North American Free Trade Agreement — seems unlikely to involve major intelligence or national security secrets. But Mr. Kushner, by dint of his relationship with Mr. Trump, has wide-ranging access to the president and the information that he sees, and senior advisers to the president typically require such access to perform their duties.
Hallelujah! William Franklin Graham Jr. has gone to The Devil
Whatever you may think he did that was good, there is no way God would take someone who unleashed Franklin Graham upon the innocent.
The Kids are All Right!
And in just one week after the Parkland Massacre their rganizational reaction has been a wonder and a joy. While the first attempt to influence a gun control bill did not succeed, they are stirring the pot well and good now.
Seven days after the killing of 17 people at the Broward County school, Republicans, who dominate government in the state, are facing pressure unlike any they have experienced before to pass legislation addressing gun violence. The State Legislature is in session for roughly two more weeks, and Republicans have concluded that it would be catastrophic to wrap up without doing something to address the mounting outcry.Doing nothing is no longer an option so the fallback position is to nickle and dime the kids and their supporters with little laws that sound good and do nothing of substance. I don't think the kids will buy into that shit, but their parents are better trained.
The debate now is over what counts as doing enough.
Republicans split — sharply, and sometimes face to face — with student demonstrators over that question on Wednesday morning. Having arrived in Tallahassee overnight, the young activists quickly set about advocating for sweeping new gun restrictions, included expanded background checks for gun purchases and an outright ban on the sale of military-style firearms. One student, Alondra Gittelson, 16, confronted the powerful speaker of the Florida House, Richard Corcoran, demanding to know why “such a destructive gun” — the AR-15 rifle — is widely accessible.
“How is an individual in society able to acquire such a gun?” Ms. Gittelson asked Mr. Corcoran on the House floor.
Mr. Corcoran’s reply, that he saw the rifle as a legitimate hunting weapon and did not believe a ban would help matters, encapsulated the far more conservative instincts of Florida’s Republican-controlled government.
Stopping well short of the clampdown sought by survivors of the school shooting, Mr. Corcoran, Gov. Rick Scott and other Republicans appear set on pursuing a narrower resolution — a package of incremental measures that would improve certain background checks and bolster mental health services and school security.
The developing clash over firearms could help define Florida politics in a critical election year, testing Republicans’ decades-old grip on state government and handing proponents of gun control a potent issue to wield with moderate voters. In a state where the National Rifle Association has long held powerful influence — every governor for 20 years has been an ally of the group — even fierce supporters of gun rights now say Republicans cannot afford to seem passive in response to gruesome scenes of violence.
Colbert on Parkland
And he gets serious about the students who are doing what the adults won't
The State of Trump's Affairs
Stephen brings us up to date
The kids can spot a fraud
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
As Time Goes By
Rickie Lee Jones & Madeleine Peyroux
Say his name or he won't listen
If you aren't rich you will be fucked
After decades of nibbling and nibbling at the social safety net, the total Republican control of the government has allowed them to finish the job on some of the programs and make viable plans to eliminate the rest. And when the next recession hits there will be nothing left to catch you.
It is hardly premature to ask, in this light, how the Trump administration might manage the fallout from the economic downturn that everybody knows will happen. Unfortunately, the United States could hardly be less prepared.But those core programs are going to be unfuned, eliminated or tied up in insurmountable requirements. If you don't have it, you ain't gonna get it. Please go off into a corner and die quietly.
Not only does the government have precious few tools at its disposal to combat a downturn. By slashing taxes while increasing spending, President Trump and his allies in Congress have further boxed the economy into a corner, reducing the space for emergency government action were it to be needed.
The federal debt burden is now the heaviest it has been in 70 years. And it is expected to get progressively heavier, as the budget deficit swells.
To top it off, a Republican president and a Republican Congress seem set on completing the longstanding Republican project to gut the safety net built by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, which they blame for encouraging sloth, and replace it with a leaner welfare regime that closely ties government benefits to hard work.
As noted in a new set of proposals by leading academics to combat poverty, published Tuesday by the Russell Sage Foundation, anti-poverty policies and related social-welfare benefits over the last quarter-century “have largely shifted from a system of guaranteed income support to a work-based safety net.”
The economists Hilary Hoynes of the University of California, Berkeley, and Marianne Bitler of the University of California, Davis, pointed out in a recent paper that “the safety net for low-income families with children has transformed from one subsidizing out-of-work families into one subsidizing in-work families.”
And yet, as many unemployed Americans discovered the last time recession hit, government benefits that require recipients to hold a job become worthless when there is no work to be had.
Using a broad definition of income and poverty that includes the effects of the complete array of government tools to support low-income families, Professors Hoynes and Bitler concluded that food stamps were critical to stem poverty.
Had food stamps not been available, they estimated, the share of Americans under 65 living below the poverty line would have exceeded 11 percent in 2010, almost 1.5 percentage points more than was the case. The share of Americans in extreme poverty — with less than half the resources of the simply poor — would have exceeded 4 percent, about a third more than it turned out to be. Unemployment insurance had a roughly similar impact on poverty levels.
What is critical to note is that each of the two programs did more to relieve extreme poverty during the depths of the Great Recession than even the earned-income tax credit, the main source of government support for low-income Americans.
Indeed, expenditures per capita from the earned-income tax credit increased only modestly after the recession hit. And spending by Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the patchwork of state-run programs that emerged from welfare reform in 1996 to replace the poor’s entitlement to federal cash assistance, did not respond to the recession at all.
This is a problem for vulnerable Americans bracing for the next economic shock, because if Mr. Trump and his colleagues in Congress have their way, the only surviving bit of the social safety net when the next recession hits will probably require beneficiaries to work. The earned-income tax credit is likely to survive unscathed. Food stamps are not.
Trump isn't the only corrupt national leader
John Oliver shows us Bugsy Netayahu and spouse.
Plenty more kids when we need them
Monday, February 19, 2018
Rock On Little Jane
The Mike + Ruthy Band
News From Another Universe
But as Tom Tomorrow shows us, the names may be very different, but the storylines always seem the same.
Pachyderm Pilate washes his hands
When the drills and backpacks don't work
We mark our decline as a civilized nation by what steps we take after another commonplace shooting in the public arena. The latest, the Parkland Massacre, brings to Florida members of a support group for families of those gunned down by evil people clinging to their 2nd Amendment.
A child is shot to death. Maybe at school, maybe at the movies. It is all over TV, all over Twitter, just like the last mass shooting.There is hope this time as the students are showing a fierce anger that hopefully will power something good. And they and others are not politicizing a tragedy, politics is the means to getting something done.
Then the cameras go away, and the parents are left in a wilderness of heartbreak. They do not know how to plan a funeral, where to get a therapist. They’re not aware that scammers will try to fund-raise off their grief, that conspiracy theorists will question their tragedy, or that — hard to believe — they might, eventually, be O.K.
But lots of people do know.
“When we had this happen to us, had our daughter slaughtered, we didn’t know what to do, or what was going to happen next,” said Sandy Phillips, whose 24-year-old daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was one of the 12 killed in the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. in 2012. “We didn’t want to live. It was horrific. And nobody else understood, except other survivors.”
So it is that Ms. Phillips and her husband, Lonnie Phillips, are raising money to travel to Parkland, Fla., where the Phillipses will quietly let the families of 17 of America’s latest victims of mass gun violence know that they are there to listen, to advise, to hug, to cry, and, perhaps, to recruit them to the ranks of the most committed gun-control activists in the country.
The mass shootings of recent years, the proliferation of grief from rural Oregon to the tip of Florida, have forced hundreds of family members into an unwanted fellowship. Veterans like the Phillipses serve as guides in the immediate aftermath, introducing the bereaved of Sandy Hook to those of San Bernardino and the parents of Virginia Tech to those of Roseburg, in a loose but growing network.
Some mourn in private. Some confront politicians, join gun-control groups and flock to rallies. But whether they turn to advocacy or not, many gravitate toward one another, checking on each other by Facebook or phone whenever another gunman strikes.
In a gun-control debate that often splinters along ideological lines, no one speaks more powerfully than those who survived a high-profile shooting, or the families of those who did not. The power of their testimonials goes beyond their authenticity: They, unlike politicians and advocates, can usually avoid the accusation that they are politicizing a tragedy.
Recognizing the emotional heft of such stories, groups like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Everytown for Gun Safety often make themselves available to survivors and victims’ families in the aftermath of mass shootings, sometimes even paying for them to travel to meet other survivors and advocates or to attend rallies, hearings and meetings with politicians. Everytown, the group founded and funded by the former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, runs a network of about 1,500 family members and shooting survivors who are trained in activism, including many who were affected not by mass shootings but by the smaller ones that occur daily.
They join a long tradition of families who have turned private heartbreak into public advocacy. There is Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which has successfully shifted public awareness around drunken driving and pushed for tougher laws. There is John Walsh, who became a well-known anti-crime TV personality after his son was kidnapped and killed. There are the parents of people killed by undocumented immigrants, who have seen their campaign against illegal immigration taken up by President Trump.
The difference is that mass-shooting survivors have yet to win any major victories on the federal level. So they do what they can, hoping that when the next mass shooting happens, more people will take to their cause.
John Oliver on Parkland
And John calls Bullshit on one of Trump's Bullshit spinners
John Oliver on Trump's Foreign Policy
Or gross lack thereof
Happy President's Day
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]