Angry Obama Blasts Congress for Failing America on Guns

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 6:59 PM EDT

At a press conference Thursday, President Barack Obama was visibly frustrated with a lack of action from Congress to prevent mass shootings like the one that happened today at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

"It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun," Obama said.

He recalled an interview in which he said that America is the only country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings regularly. Hours later, there were reports of a shooting at a Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater.

He continued: "We spend over $1 trillion on preventing terrorism…yet we have a Congress that prevents us from even collecting data on how to reduce gun deaths."

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Alabama Just Made It Even Harder for Black People to Vote

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 6:38 PM EDT

In Alabama, you need a driver's license or other form of photo ID to vote. But getting that ID just got a lot harder, especially in the state's majority-black counties.

Due to budget cuts, Alabama is closing 31 satellite DMVs across the state. The biggest impact will be in rural, largely black counties that voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald put it this way:

Take a look at the 10 Alabama counties with the highest percentage of non-white registered voters. That's Macon, Greene, Sumter, Lowndes, Bullock, Perry, Wilcox, Dallas, Hale, and Montgomery, according to the Alabama Secretary of State's office. Alabama, thanks to its budgetary insanity and inanity, just opted to close driver license bureaus in eight of them. All but Dallas and Montgomery will be closed.

Closed. In a state in which driver licenses or special photo IDs are a requirement for voting…

Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed. Every one.

Archibald predicted the move would invite a Justice Department investigation, as did his fellow columnist, Kyle Whitmire:

But put these two things together—Voter ID and 29 counties without a place where you can get one—and Voter ID becomes what the Democrats always said it was.

A civil rights lawsuit isn't a probability. It's a certainty.

Oregon Sheriff Handling Massacre Fought the White House on Gun Control After Newtown

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 6:33 PM EDT

As the sheriff in Douglas County, Oregon, John Hanlin was front and center following Thursday's shooting at Umpqua Community College, which left 10 dead and 7 others wounded.

Two years ago, Hanlin was one of hundreds of sheriffs around the country to vow to stand against new gun control legislation. In a January 15, 2013, letter to Vice President Joe Biden, he wrote, "Gun control is NOT the answer to preventing heinous crimes like school shootings."

Read more below:


An Overwhelming Majority of Americans Still Support Universal Background Checks

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 6:13 PM EDT
Students, staff, and faculty are evacuated from Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, after a mass shooting on October 1, 2015.

Following today's mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that President Obama wants to see "sensible steps" to prevent gun violence, including expanding background checks to all gun purchases. While Congress has repeatedly punted on that proposal, a large majority of Americans say they are on board with it. According to a poll taken just last week by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, 93 percent of registered voters said they would support universal background checks for all gun buyers—even as nearly half said they oppose stricter gun control laws.


The World Economic Forum Delivers a Report Card on the US Economy

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 3:35 PM EDT

So how's the ol' US of A doing under the free-market-hating presidency of the socialist Barack Obama? Probably badly, I'll bet. Let's see what the World Economic Forum has to say. Their latest set of competitiveness rankings came out today, and among countries with populations over 10 million, the US was....

First. How about that? But it was probably even better before Obama took over, wasn't it? Let's see. In 2009 we ranked #1 among big countries with a score of 5.59. This year we're #1 with a score of 5.61. That's hard to fathom. But there you have it. Our competitiveness in the global free market seems to have improved a bit during Obama's tenure. I wonder if Fox News will bother reporting this?

Shooting at Oregon Community College Leaves 10 Dead, 7 Wounded

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 2:44 PM EDT

Update, 8:15 p.m. EDT: Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin says the fatalities are less than originally reported by the attorney general— there are 10 fatalities and 7 injured. There are still no details on the shooter.

Update, 5:03 p.m. EDT: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown confirms that the shooter was a 20-year-old male. "I know I am joined by my fellow Oregonians and Americans in profound dismay and heartbreak at this tragedy at Umpqua Community College," Brown said.

Update, 4:52 p.m. EDT: Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin confirms that the shooter is dead. "I couldn't be happier [with the officer response today]," Hanlin said.

Hanlin said the scene is still active and being investigated.

Update, 4:08 p.m. EDT: Oregon's attorney general confirms that at least 13 people were killed and 20 people wounded in today's shooting.

In response to the shooting, the White House repeated its call for increased gun control laws. "The issue of sensible steps that can be taken to protect our communities from gun violence continues to be a top priority of this administration," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Thursday.


Multiple media outlets are reporting a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

On MSNBC, Brian Williams interviewed a local firefighter who said he had been on the scene and witnessed "multiple deceased" and "multiple" injured people who were transported for emergency care. He said the campus had been evacuated.


Emergency responders are in the process of clearing buildings at Umpqua Community College now. Students are being escorted now to get off campus. Wayne Crooch building has just been secured.

Posted by Umpqua Community College Mainstream Newspaper on Thursday, October 1, 2015

As news of the shooting first broke, a student tweeted the following:

According to the gun safety coalition Everytown, today's shooting marks the 45th school shooting in 2015 alone.

This is a breaking news post. We will update as more news becomes available.

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Let Us Now Praise Authentically Stiff Politicians

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 1:49 PM EDT

Brendan Nyhan thinks we spend too much time yakking about which candidates are "authentic" and which ones aren't. For example:

George W. Bush and Al Gore were both born into powerful political families, but were perceived very differently. Mr. Bush successfully reinvented himself as a down-home Texas ranch owner despite being the son of a president with elite New England roots, while Mr. Gore was widely mocked as a phony who grew up amid wealth and power in Washington, especially when he invoked his childhood work on his family’s Tennessee farm. Again, one simple explanation for the disparate treatment they received is that Mr. Bush was a better political performer.

I would remind everyone that Brad Pitt gets paid millions of dollars for doing a very good job of pretending to be authentically charming. The ability to feign authenticity is called "acting," and it's a lucrative profession if you're good at it.

Was Al Gore authentic? Hillary Clinton? Mitt Romney? Sure. Gore is genuinely sort of wonkish and stiff. Hillary is earnest and cautious around people. Romney is careful and detail-oriented. That's authentically who they are. If they studied up and adopted a hail-fellow-well-met persona, everyone would think they were authentic, but they'd just be pretending.

If you prefer politicians who are bluff and emotional in public, just say so. If you can't stand being around people who natter on about policy and guard their private lives, say so. But cut out the "authentic" nonsense. That's not what this is about.

Watch a Bear Destroy a Woman's Kayak After She Thanks Him for Not Destroying Said Kayak

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 12:43 PM EDT

An expression of gratitude should never be followed by a threat of pepper spray.

YouTube user Mary Maley learned this lesson the hard way after she encountered a black bear during a recent kayaking trip in Alaska.

"Thank you for leaving my kayak alone!" Maley tells the bear in the video.

As the bear saunters toward her, Maley quickly decides to abandon such pleasantries and hauls out the pepper spray, telling the animal, "I'm going to pepper-spray you in the face. That's what I'm going to do with you."

After she does just that, the bear turns around and begins to destroy Maley's kayak, while Maley engages in an increasingly hysterical rant.

"Bear! Bear! Why are you breaking my kayak? Why are you doing that?!" she screamed, her voice rising.

She also points out that it's the end of September and the bear should be asleep. To no one's surprise, the bear seems unimpressed with her hibernation facts and continues playing with her boat.

As His Rivals Tout Big Fundraising Numbers, O'Malley Vows to Take On Dark Money

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 12:37 PM EDT

As the other Democratic candidates release their third quarter fundraising numbers—$28 million for Hillary Clinton, $26 million for Bernie Sanders—Martin O'Malley has remained mum. But the former Maryland governor has seized the occasion of fundraising disclosures to put forward a campaign finance plan that seeks to rein in runaway political spending.

Like his two main Democratic rivals, O'Malley wants to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision that ushered in an era of unlimited political donations, increase disclosure rules, and set up a public campaign financing system. But O'Malley goes further in calling for an overhaul of the Federal Election Commission, the agency that is intended to regulate election spending but is instead so mired in dysfunction that it barely managed to organize its own 40th anniversary party earlier this year. "The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim," the chairwoman of the agency, Ann Ravel, told the New York Times. "People think the F.E.C. is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional.”

Because of the FEC's structure, with an equal number of Republican and Democratic commissioners, the agency is deadlocked. One of the things that the FEC is supposed to be doing is cracking down on illegal coordination between super-PACs, political nonprofits, and campaigns. As president, O'Malley says, he would push to reorganize the agency so that it is led by one independent administrator "serving a term independent from the president who appoints them." His plan would also increase the FEC's power to punish groups that break campaign finance laws.

O'Malley's plan is unlikely to boost his barely registering poll numbers. If a strong campaign finance reform agenda were the golden ticket to success, then Larry Lessig's single-issue campaign would be atop the polls. (It's not.) But at least O'Malley can tout his plan in two weeks at the first Democratic debate—and find something to promote on a day when his rivals are showing off their big hauls.

Should Democrats All Quit the Benghazi Committee?

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 12:16 PM EDT

Following Rep. Kevin McCarthy's candid boasting about how the House Benghazi committee has been a great tool to take down Hillary Clinton—an admission being furiously rowed back as we speak—Rep. Adam Smith suggested that maybe it was time to call a spade a spade:

The committee is a joke and I think Democrats ought to call it what it is and say we're not going to participate in this anymore. And that's my initial reaction. I'll listen to my leadership on this and perhaps they will again have greater wisdom, but it just has been an embarrassment.

This is a possibility that's long intrigued me, but I can't make up my mind if it would be a good decision. On the plus side, letting Republicans meet all by themselves would pretty dramatically make the point that this is little more than a partisan boondoggle. On the minus side, losing access to the committee's materials would prevent Democrats from fighting back whenever Trey Gowdy or his staffers decide to leak a partial transcript to the New York Times.

Decisions, decisions. Maybe everyone should resign except for Elijah Cummings, who wouldn't actually attend most hearings but would still retain the minority's access to committee materials.

It would be interesting to see what happens if Democrats did this. But I suspect it's the kind of thing that sounds better to a blogger with nothing on the line than it does to the actual Democratic leadership in the House.