Francis Wilkinson on how the NRA screwed up.
Like the Republican Party and Trump, the NRA responded to a diversifying nation by cultivating racial reaction. Before Trump’s “American carnage,” NRA leader Wayne LaPierre routinely portrayed the U.S. as a dystopia overrun by madmen, criminals, perverts and fanatical terrorists. The government won’t save you, LaPierre told his followers. Only guns — lots and lots of guns — will.
Wilkinson points out that the marches that happened this weekend would not have been possible without the women’s march and the general increase in activism that has resulted from Trump’s election — and the daily level of outrage generated by the actions of Trump and his Republicans. That’s not to take one ounce of credit away from the passion, brilliance, organizational skills, and sheer personal bravery of the young people who made this march happen. It’s only that these things build on one another. Effective protesting is a skill — one that Americans have failed to sharpen for far too long. But we’re getting better at it through both practice and necessity.
If you’re looking for long-term power and relevance in the U.S., getting on the wrong side of kids, women and racial minorities is probably not the best idea. The NRA understands this. The group has been making left-footed attempts in recent days to show it’s hipper than you think, even featuring NRA spokesman Colion Noir, who is black, taking offense at the white privilege of the kids who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and have become leaders in the gun-safety cause. Black lives (suddenly) matter; just don’t expect support from the NRA if your black son gets shot by a thug or a cop.
Too many mornings, I have to start the APR by saying “well, all these Sunday pieces were written earlier in the week, sorry that they don’t touch on the big topic that has developed since then.” But the pundits got the message this week. Come on inside.
Gun Safety / March for Our Lives
Dana Milbank on young marchers — and young voters.
They have come by the hundreds of thousands to the capital, or to the streets of their home towns — just as kids across the country, my daughter and her classmates among them, walked out of classes on March 14 to protest school shootings.
Most important, they are coming to the polls in November, the beginning of a generational wave that will upend our politics. And they are going to get what they have come for.
Let’s check with the fantastic statistical folks at Civiqs …
Honestly, every age range of Americans favors stronger gun control laws. They’re favored by 18 points in the 65 and older group — and that’s their best slot. Stronger gun control is favored by every racial group in the survey. It’s favored at every level of education. It’s favored by men, and it’s strongly favored by women. Really, there’s just one group that’s opposed to stricter gun laws — and it’s called Republicans. Or the NRA. They’re interchangeable, really.
They will get reasonable gun control — eventually — but they will get a lot more than that. The kids — millennials and those following, Generation Z, born since the mid-1990s and just coming of age — are going to save us from ourselves.
A Quinnipiac University poll this week shows that a whopping 67 percent of voters in the 18-to-34 age group want to see a Democratic Senate vs. only 28 percent favoring Republicans (it’s similar for the House), a dramatically larger margin than for older generations. These voters also profess to be more motivated than usual.
Let’s give the youth what they want on both fronts. In fact, let’s show a little leadership of our own and make it happen.
Leonard Pitts has praise for the youth, and apologies from the rest of us.
Nobody had a cellphone in Montgomery. Nobody in the world had ever tweeted, Facebooked, Snapchatted or Instagrammed. In Montgomery, in December of 1955, the cutting edge of communications technology was rotary dial telephones and mimeograph machines.
Yet armed with those primitive devices, people there organized a mass movement. It inspired other mass movements and combined, they changed the trajectory of history. All of which renders incomprehensible our acceptance of the most onerous status quo of this era.
There’s a communications commercial that reminds smartphone users that they have more power in the palms of their hands than previous generations ever controlled and asks “Now what are you going to do with it?” This Saturday provided one answer: Raise up millions of people across the country to confront a powerful, corrupt organization that’s been buying politicians for decades, no matter what the cost in blood.
Last week, a puppy died in an airplane overhead bin. Three days later, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy introduced a bill to safeguard pets. But after Columbine and Aurora, after the Navy Yard, Sandy Hook and West Paducah, after Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and San Bernardino, after Charleston, after Tucson, after Fort Hood, after Sutherland Springs, we settle for a thin gruel of cliches — thoughts and prayers, good guys with guns and now is not the time.
Sure, puppy lives matter. But human lives do, too.
Let’s hear if for impatience. For stubbornness. For anger. Let’s cheer determination, but also raise a toast to disgust and the absolute refusal to shut up and sit down. Let’s offer our apologies, and then our promises and our help.
Colbert King on the new wave wave.
So, it falls to today’s young people to lead the way, just as youths of prior generations took it upon themselves to force America to face up to other national curses. They were driven by the spirit of protest. That spirit was there in 1960 when four college students staged a sit-in at the whites-only lunch counter at a Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, N.C.
The spirit was there in the years that followed when both black and white students traveled together on buses and trains through the Deep South violating Jim Crow laws.
That same spirit was there in 1963 in Birmingham, Ala., when kids from elementary to high school marched out of their classrooms to protest racial discrimination, earning for themselves the title “Children’s Crusade of 1963.”
Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, the Freedom Riders killed by a Klan group in 1963 for attempting to register black voters in the south, were 20, 24, and 21 years old. Claudette Colvin was 15 when she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus. Courage has never been lacking in youth.
Lawmakers flooded the airwaves with news releases denouncing the shooting, expressing thoughts and prayers for the victims, survivors and families, and issuing calls for presidential leadership. To do what was left unaddressed. Oh yes, they passed legislation tweaking background checks, along with provisions allowing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct gun-violence research. But little else.
Students in town on Saturday to demand legislative action on gun violence will learn an invaluable lesson: Today’s Congress is the sanctuary city for the AR-15 and other favored firearms of mass killers.
Courage has never been lacking in youth … which is why older people find it so convenient to let young people fight their battles. But that shouldn’t be the case on the battlefield or on policy.
Jonathan Smith on proposals to make schools into armed camps.
We have witnessed extraordinary advocacy and leadership from the students of Parkland, Fla., and from schools across the nation calling for politicians and the adults in their lives to do something about gun violence. Their demands are straightforward and direct: Ban assault weapons and enact meaningful, constitutional gun-control measures.
The response of adults has been to deflect the argument and distract from the basic fact that gun violence is the product of too many guns that are too lethal and too readily available. President Trump has called for arming teachers, “hardening” schools and institutionalizing people with mental illness. Not only will these measures have little or no effect on gun violence, but they pose significant social hazards.
That a shooter in another school shooting since Parkland was stopped after killing only a small number of students is being pointed at by the more-gun advocates as proof of the “good guys” theory. They should go and explain to the families of the students who were killed what a great example it is to have only three dead children, and how that’s exactly the kind of thing they want for America.
In 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 13 people at Columbine High School. In response, the federal government created the COPS in Schools grant program and invested more than $700 million to hire police to patrol schools. By 2014, there were more than 43,000 security officers in schools across the country.
But putting police in schools has not stopped school shootings. Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2014, more than 400 people have been shot and 138 killed in 200 school shooting incidents, according to a New York Times report based on the Gun Violence Archive.
But more guns is surely the answer — because it always is.
Andrew McCabe on the unexpected end of his FBI career.
On March 16, I spent the day with my family waiting to hear whether I would be fired, after 21 years in the FBI and one day before I qualified for my long-planned, earned retirement.
As day turned to night, I had a lot of time to reflect on how it would feel to be separated from the organization I loved — and led — and the mission that has been the central focus of my professional life. Despite all the preparation for the worst-case scenario, I still felt disoriented and sick to my stomach. Around 10 p.m., a friend called to tell me that CNN was reporting that I had been fired. She read me the attorney general’s statement.
So, after two decades of public service, I found out that I had been fired in the most disembodied, impersonal way — third-hand, based on a news account. Shortly after getting word, I noticed an email from a Justice Department official in my work account, telling me that I had been “removed from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the civil service.”
If the kids marching on Saturday were the epitome of courage, both Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions reached fresh apogees of cowardice over the last two weeks in the way they handled firing people without having even the courtesy to look them in the eye.
Not in my worst nightmares did I ever dream my FBI career would end this way.
The next day I woke to find the president of the United States celebrating my punishment: “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI — A great day for Democracy.” I was sad, but not surprised, to see that such unhinged public attacks on me would continue into my life after my service to the FBI. President Trump’s cruelty reminded me of the days immediately following the firing of James B. Comey, as the White House desperately tried to push the falsehood that people in the FBI were celebrating the loss of our director. The president’s comments about me were equally hurtful and false, which shows that he has no idea how FBI people feel about their leaders.
But we’re all still hoping that Trump will get an education on this point.
Anne Applebaum on how Russia is turning on their fake news machine in the UK.
Maybe he was a drug addict; maybe he was suicidal. Maybe his British handlers decided to get rid of him; maybe it was his mother-in-law. Ever since Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, was poisoned in a provincial English town, Russian state media and Russian officials have worked overtime to provide explanations. …
The conspiracy theories came so thick and fast that some had to be retracted. One Russian scientist admitted that the Soviet Union had created Novichok; the interview was removed from the Internet because it contradicted the foreign ministry spokesman, who claims Novichok never existed. So far, the British foreign office has tallied 21 separate explanations for the assassination attempt, with more presumably on the way.
The Russians find if amusing to continue in their Thus I refute Novichok game, even as 38 people in Britain have been affected to some degree by the powered poison. It’s a reminder that the Gish Gallop so often practiced by Donald Trump, has international fans.
This was exactly how the Russian media and Russian authorities responded after Russian-backed troops in eastern Ukraine shot down a Malaysian passenger plane in 2014, killing everyone on board. Those explanations were just as varied and far-fetched (the Ukrainians were trying to shoot down Putin and missed; the plane took off from Amsterdam with dead bodies on board), and they had the same aim: to pollute the conversation and make the truth seem unknowable.
It doesn’t even matter if the explanations seem harmful to Russia — so long as there is never the same explanation twice. Keep kicking the story, keep pointing fingers randomly, until people simply stop listening. Then shoot down another plane, or political opponent, or global superpower.
Donald Trump’s personal affairs
Karen Tumulty thinks that Stormy Daniels has Mr. Dennison’s number.
Adult entertainer Daniels has outmaneuvered the president and his inept lawyer Michael Cohen at nearly every turn. They apparently believed they had bought her silence about the year-long extramarital affair she claims to have had with the future president a decade ago.
But it turns out they had only rented it.
Daniels can kick Trump’s ass (or smack it with a magazine) because she’s just as shameless as Trump, but also she is what he is not — truthful. And she understands even better than Trump how to dribble out information, how to create a moment, when to hold back, and when to pounce.
Backing out of a deal if there’s a better one to be had? Trump did it for decades. “I’ve made a fortune by using debt, and if things don’t work out I renegotiate the debt. I mean, that’s a smart thing, not a stupid thing,” he boasted to CBS during his presidential campaign. As president, he has reversed himself so many times that his befuddled allies on Capitol Hill are never sure where or if he will land on most issues.
Now, instead of Daniels, it is Trump who is remaining silent — conspicuously so. No tweets, no vicious nicknames, no threats. She, meanwhile, is going on “60 Minutes,” where viewership is likely to be some of its highest ever. Count that as another blow to a president who measures the import of every event by its television ratings.
Expect some kind of Sunday afternoon action from Trump designed to generate enough buzz that it dims, if not drowns out, Daniel’s testimony. Think Flynn pardon, or Mueller firing. And just hope Trump can stick to distractions that don’t run up a body count.
Kathleen Parker on Trump’s impending explosion.
It was announced that two more key figures are leaving the White House — H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser; and John Dowd, Trump’s top legal adviser in the Mueller investigation. And, the president hired John Bolton — a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and, perhaps more important to Trump, a veteran Fox News commentator — to replace McMaster. …
Lurching right along, tout le monde was anticipating Sunday’s “60 Minutes” interview with the adult-film actress who calls herself Stormy Daniels. Presumably, she’s ready to dump the details of her own alleged affair with pre-President Trump and the apparent hush money Trump’s attorney paid her shortly before the 2016 election.
Rule #4 of Masha Gessen’s primer on surviving in an autocracy is simply “Be outraged.” She warned back at the election that there would be times when it be tempting to lay down arms and just … go along. So far, there’s been no such temptation with Trump.
It would seem that we have reached not a tipping but a retching point.
In the midst of so many meanwhiles, the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III slogs along, searching for clues into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russian operatives who tried to influence U.S. elections. Into this mess entered reports of Facebook’s lack of vigilance in protecting personal information from the data-mining company Cambridge Analytica, which helped the Trump campaign target voters with advertising aimed right at their sweet spots.
What all that adds up to was one exhausting week of typing — and a keen desire that people act before things get worse.
Andrew Mayeda and Bryce BasChuk would like to show Donald Trump a genuine trade war.
Economists are warning that the world is on the verge of an all-out trade war, featuring tit-for-tat reprisals, heated rhetoric and appeals to the World Trade Organization, which may be ill-equipped to respond. If Trump’s trade provocations mushroom out of control, dozens of border-opening trade deals negotiated over several decades could be shoved aside. The prospect of slower economic growth has stock markets worldwide reeling …
Who wins in trade wars?
No one, if history is any guide. When President George W. Bush raised steel tariffs in 2002, U.S. gross domestic product declined by $30.4 million, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission. The U.S. lost about 200,000 jobs, about 13,000 of which were in raw steel-making, by one estimate. A report by the pro-free trade Peterson Institute for International Economics estimated that Bush’s tariffs cost about $400,000 for every steel-industry job saved. The World Trade Organization also ruled that the Bush tariffs were illegal.
David Von Drehle searches for the middle ground between interventionism and isolationism.
Free markets could cure the scourge of war, an influential pundit suggested, observing that countries with McDonald’s franchises never started shooting at each other. Free elections could cool the fevers stoking international terrorism.
These thoughts were so widespread that Bush could say without irony that his freedom agenda was “common sense”: “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.”
Common in the sense of vulgar and without value, perhaps.
Despite years of promises to create an oasis of freedom, the Bush hawks skimped on postwar nation building. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, when he should have been preparing for a difficult success, instead busied himself writing a CYA memo to trot out when things went bad. It was the beginning of many years spent dodging his share of responsibility for what is now a 15-year debacle.
Just a reminder that National Security Advisor doesn’t have to be approved by the Senate, so we’re unlikely to hear John Bolton defending himself on Capitol Hill any times soon.