Political MoJo

Jeb Bush on Oregon Mass Murder: "Stuff Happens"

| Fri Oct. 2, 2015 2:45 PM EDT

While speaking to reporters during a campaign stop in Greenville, South Carolina, on Friday, Jeb Bush weighed in on the latest school shooting to take place in the United States, this time in Oregon, just a day before.

"We're in a difficult time in our country and I don't think more government is necessarily the answer to this," Bush said. "I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It's very sad to see. But I resist the notion, and I had this challenge as governor—look, stuff happens. There's always a crisis. The impulse is always to do something and it's not necessarily the right thing to do."

You can watch the full video here:

When asked by a reporter if he stood by the "stuff happens" part of his quote, Bush did not back down:

The astonishingly callous summation of Thursday's deadly rampage that killed 10 people and injured seven others was buffered by Bush's criticism against renewed calls for gun control.

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Senator Blumenthal to Introduce Gun Legislation After Oregon Shooting

| Fri Oct. 2, 2015 12:55 PM EDT

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced a plan to introduce new gun legislation in the wake of Thursday's school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon that left 10 dead and 7 others injured.

The proposed legislation, which seeks to ban gun sales without background checks pending beyond 72 hours, cites June's massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, inside a historic church, and the revelation soon after that a loophole in the background check process allowed shooter Dylann Roof to obtain a gun.

"While certain facts remain unknown, the FBI has acknowledged that a fully completed background check would have uncovered Dylann Roof’s prior arrest on a drug charge and his drug addiction, thereby barring him from purchasing the .45-caliber handgun with which he took nine lives," a statement released by Blumenthal's office said.

This is hardly the first time the senator has been front and center of the gun control debate. Following the 2012 Newtown shooting massacre in Blumenthal's state of Connecticut that killed 26 people, including 20 children, he came in out in strong support of gun safety measures. Congress, of course, failed to pass the legislation.

Back in May of 2014, he again pushed lawmakers to revive the gun legislation debate, "saying Congress will be complicit" if members fail to act again. Despite repeated calls, the introduction of new gun control legislation today will likely meet the same fate.

Oregon Sheriff Handling School Massacre Shared a Sandy Hook Conspiracy Video

| Fri Oct. 2, 2015 12:49 PM EDT

The month after the December 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, Sheriff John Hanlin of Douglas County, Oregon, posted a video called "The Sandy Hook Shooting - Fully Exposed" to his personal Facebook page. The video makes a number of conspiratorial claims, including about there being more than one shooter and that the grieving parents who appeared on news reports were acting.

The sheriff, who has done an admirable job in not glorifying the perpetrator from yesterday's mass shooting at Umpqua Community College, is also an avid guns rights supporter and a possible member of the Oath Keepers, a group that claims to be upholding their oath to defend the Constitution from any perceived threats—such as expanded gun control.


The Gun Violence Chart Obama Asked For

| Fri Oct. 2, 2015 11:58 AM EDT

When President Barack Obama took the podium on Thursday night to speak about the mass shooting at Oregon's Umpqua Community College, he blasted Congress for its inaction on gun safety legislation. "Our thoughts and prayers are not enough," he said, visibly angry.

He also had a request for the media: "Have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who have been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who have been killed by gun violence, and post those side by side on your news reports."

Wish granted, Mr. President. We compared gun deaths with other highly publicized causes of death in the chart below. (Note that about two-thirds of American gun deaths are suicides.) The numbers come from 2013—the most recent year that data is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here Are the NRA's Tweets Since the Oregon Shooting

| Fri Oct. 2, 2015 9:54 AM EDT

On Thursday morning, a gunman opened fire inside a community college in Roseburg, Oregon, killing 10 people and injuring 7 others. The massacre is the latest mass shooting to take place in the United States—and the 45th school shooting in 2015 alone, according to the gun safety coalition Everytown.

A visibly frustrated President Barack Obama noted hours after the rampage that Americans have come to view mass shootings as a "routine" experience—with news of senseless killings taking place only months, and sometimes days, apart. He exclaimed in frustration, "It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun." As for the biggest foe of gun control, the National Rifle Association, here's how it reacted to the tragedy via its Twitter feed…Actually, it did not react. The NRA's usually active Twitter feed was silent. Nada. Not a peep. No condolences to the families of those killed or any statement of concern for those injured.

But the NRA has recently been busy tweeting about other gun matters.

Note the time stamps. Its tweets on Thursday halted around the time that news of the shooting emerged. This has become S.O.P. for the gun industry-backed group. When gun massacres occur, it tends to duck and cover—and wait for the expressions of outrage and calls for gun control to pass. Then it's back to the business of opposing any efforts to enact new gun safety measures.

Update, 12:52 p.m. EST: After more than a day of silence, the NRA finally weighed in on Twitter with information about a kid's gun program.

Vatican Clarifies Pope's Meeting with Kim Davis: "Should Not Be Considered Support"

| Fri Oct. 2, 2015 8:58 AM EDT

On Friday, the Vatican sought to provide a few more details concerning Pope Francis' meeting last week with Kim Davis, the defiant Kentucky clerk who was jailed for her refusal to issue gay marriage licenses in Rowan County.

"The pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects," official Vatican spokesman the Reverand Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

The clarification follows a wave of controversy this week after Kim Davis revealed she had a private meeting with the pope during his historic visit to Washington, and claimed Francis gave her and her husband rosaries and told her to "stay strong."

"Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we're doing and agreeing, you know, it kind of validates everything," Davis said in an interview with ABC.

Days of speculation followed over whether the meeting in fact occurred, and if so, whether it put into question how truly progressive some believed the pope was. Some on social media professed to be shocked that the leader of the Catholic Church might endorse the politics of Davis and not support same-sex marriage, despite the church's clear stance opposing the issue. 

Eventually the Vatican confirmed the encounter, but with scant detail. Friday's statement appeared to downplay the importance of their meeting.

"Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City," Lombardi said.

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This Chart Shows How the "Unequal States of America" Compares to the World

| Fri Oct. 2, 2015 5:00 AM EDT

A new report finds that the state of economic inequality in the United States is far more drastic than in other developed countries. The report, published by the German financial services company Allianz, even dubs us the "Unequal States of America."

The company's latest Global Wealth Report calculates 55 countries' Gini coefficient, a measure of the distribution of wealth in which zero means total equality and 100 means total inequality. The average for all developed countries is 65. The United States' score is nearly 81.

Allianz/Global Wealth Report 2015

Michael Heise, the chief economist at Allianz, described the situation in the United States as "worrying." "Our calculations indicate that developments have not been quite as dramatic in the other countries," he said. "As usual, the US represents more the exception than the rule among market economies." The report's authors note the country's lackluster recovery from the financial crisis has "caused a dramatic deterioration in wealth distribution." While the United States amassed nearly 42 percent of the world's private wealth in 2014 ($63.5 trillion), the top 10 percent of Americans control more than two-thirds of the country's net wealth.

The United States leads the pack, but it's not alone. Much of the world's developed nations saw "exceptionally large gaps" in the wealth gulf between the rich and the poor during since 2000, according to the report. Over the past decade and a half, it found, the number of countries that closed their wealth gaps was roughly the same as the number that grew more unequal.

Angry Obama Blasts Congress for Failing America on Guns

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 5:59 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."

Alabama Just Made It Even Harder for Black People to Vote

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 5:38 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 5:33 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."

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