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A funny thing happened during the current national scream that Congress must do something about gun violence. A Republican lawmaker made a common-sense statement about the limits of government and the left went nuts. Then, wonder of wonders, a Washington Post fact-checker agreed with him.

While Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) preens before television cameras and proclaims his own love of hunting and guns, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is held responsible for the horrific school shooting on Valentines Day in Parkland, Florida. Rubio accepts campaign donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA) so he must be vilified. The willing cohorts of the left, the media, are only too happy to advance the notion that the NRA is evil and must be relieved of its First Amendment rights.

So, when Rubio was asked about pursuing legislation – gun control measures – he answered with a question of his own: wouldn’t it be best to wait until all the facts are in before everyone starts demanding that something is done by the government? He dared to say that new legislation may not have stopped this latest tragedy.

“None of the major shootings that have occurred in this country over the last few months or years that have outraged us, would gun laws have prevented them.”

— Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), interview on CBS’s “This Morning,” Dec. 4, 2015

The Washington Post went back to the Newtown shooting in 2012 and chose 12 mass shootings to analyze. Fact-checkers concluded that none of the shootings would have been avoided by passing new laws currently under discussion. What a disappointment that must have been to the newspaper.

I find it disturbing when children are used as political props. In this case, the trauma of a mass shooting in a high school has produced raw emotion in search of a release, as any of us can imagine. Sadly, the media exploits the students and families in shock and trying desperately to get a grip on their new reality. CNN is even promoting an upcoming town hall with elected officials and grieving families. Wow.

Back in olden times, when I was a school girl, we took a basic civics class to coincide with classes on government and U.S. history. To the determent of today’s students, civics class is a relic of the past no longer in the school curriculum and the result is the government is looked upon to have a solution for everything. With the Democrat party beholden to teachers unions, it is not surprising that outraged, grieving high school students are lashing out and demanding that government do something to solve a multi-tiered problem.

CNN’s Barbara Starr promoted this high school junior’s opinion on Twitter.

Parkland student: My generation won't stand for this (Opinion) https://t.co/4Fm3br6NJP

— Barbara Starr (@barbarastarrcnn) February 17, 2018

While the 17-year-old does admit it is not solely the result of any Republican actions, he is able to work in his bias against social conservatives and unborn children, too. Well done, teachers unions!

Why? Because at the end of the day, the students at my school felt one shared experience — our politicians abandoned us by failing to keep guns out of schools.

But this time, my classmates and I are going to hold them to account. This time we are going to pressure them to take action. This time we are going to force them to spend more energy protecting human lives than unborn fetuses.

However, the shooter is not the only one responsible for this tragedy. While the alleged shooter may have had several issues, he also lived in a society where Sen. Marco Rubio refuses to take responsibility for the role gun culture may have played in this tragedy.

And there is no denying that the NRA continues to donate millions of dollars to politicians at every level of government. Then those politicians — often “family values” conservatives — rile up their base by making them think that “liberals” are going to take their guns away. Not knowing any better, some of these people stockpile guns in advance of a gun ban that never comes, and the gun manufacturers and the NRA make millions.

Gun violence does not go away with new laws. If that were the case, Chicago would be the safest city in the country. There is no single magic fix. Efforts must be made to enforce gun laws on the books, tighten background checks and any loopholes, strengthen families so that children can be raised in loving, two-parent homes and promote an emphasis on the sanctity of all life. Law enforcement efforts need to be strengthened, more security in schools and more resources for accessible mental health services. It’s a huge effort that needs to start.

The post Shocker! WaPo fact check agrees with Rubio’s statement on new gun laws appeared first on Hot Air.

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The more we learn about the background and history of the Florida school shooter, the more disturbing the picture becomes, raising additional questions about whether or not it would have been possible to prevent the attack. We already heard that the police had been to the shooter’s home on 39 different occasions over a seven year period, though how many of those directly involved the boy is unclear.

Now, however, another wrinkle in the story has cropped up. Business Insider reports that Florida Social Services was investigating that family’s home back in 2016 and a caseworker had conducted a two month investigation into “disturbing” reports. Unfortunately, the case was eventually closed after it was concluded that the would-be shooter presented a very low risk.

Florida’s state social services agency had previously investigated Nikolas Cruz, long before he set foot on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday and allegedly gunned down 17 people.

The Florida Department of Children and Families opened a file on Cruz in 2016 after being alerted to his Snapchat posts showing him cutting his arms and saying he wanted to buy a gun, according to a state report first obtained by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Agency investigators visited Cruz at his home and questioned him, ultimately identifying him as a “vulnerable adult due to mental illness” including depression, autism, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, which he was medicated for.

So they clearly saw that the boy was troubled and potentially vulnerable or even dangerous. But the mother provided an explanation, saying that he’d recently broken up with his girlfriend and was upset. In finding that the “final level of risk is low,” the investigator cited that the boy was in counseling, under the care of his mother and taking medication for ADHD.

Knowing what we know now it’s easy to ask how they could possibly have missed the signals. But is that really fair? Up to that point, the boy hadn’t actually done anything serious enough to say that he was more than just another disturbed kid from a bad home. He was showing all the signs, but a lot of young people are equally disturbing and don’t go on to do what he did. If he was actually in therapy, taking medication and had a parent watching over him, what was the case worker’s justification for some harsher remedy?

This is all one more layer in the question of what, if anything, could have been done. In order to prevent him from buying any firearms, he would have had to have either established a more serious criminal record or been adjudicated as mentally unbalanced in court. Neither of those things happened and the latter would have been a tough slog in the courts if the mother objected. Of course, once he’d already passed a background check and legally purchased his firearms prior to the tips to the FBI, taking the guns away would have required an even more difficult claim before a judge.

That last question puts us back on the slippery slope of allowing the government more of a hand in removing people from the “approved list” of who does or doesn’t qualify for Second Amendment rights. In New York, the SAFE Act was passed in 2013 and it allows any health care worker, doctor or even therapist to drop a dime on one of their patients and have the state revoke their Second Amendment rights without any chance for the patient to object in court. This led to more than 34,500 citizens being put on “the list” in the first year alone and it’s only grown from there. Some had done nothing more than seek help for depression or anxiety.

If the ball was dropped anywhere on this one, I suppose it was the fault of the FBI. But as I said when we learned of the tips they received, they get a flood of those all the time. Yes, it’s their job to never get it wrong, but you can also see how it could happen. If anyone cares to suggest a new law which would have stopped this specific case which is constitutional and could actually be passed, I’m happy to listen. But I certainly can’t think of one off the top of my head.

The post Social Services investigated Florida shooter two years ago appeared first on Hot Air.

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Hot Air by Allahpundit - 5h ago

Until around noon on Friday there was no question what the lead topic of today’s Sunday shows would be. Then Bob Mueller threw the media a curveball by indicting 13 Russians for interference in the 2016 campaign and TV bookers had to scramble.

The star guest on the Parkland massacre is Mark Kelly, a.k.a. Gabby Giffords’s husband, who’ll be on “Fox News Sunday” to pound the table for gun control again. An interesting follow-up guest on the same program: Rush Limbaugh, who’ll be on to chitchat about guns, Russiagate, an immigration deal, and his recently developed disinterest in America’s crushing debt problem.

On the Mueller indictments, the top guest is — who else? — Adam Schiff, who’s never yet turned down an open mic to slam Trump and Republicans over Russiagate. He’ll be on “State of the Union,” followed by John Kasich. Who’ll also end up bashing Republicans for all sorts of things, let’s face it.

If none of that interests you, Tim Scott and Trump critic extraordinaire Jeff Flake will appear on “Face the Nation” to discuss the diminishing prospects of an immigration deal in the Senate. The full line-up is at the AP.

The post Sunday morning talking heads appeared first on Hot Air.

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I thought the sky was a little darker than usual Friday night as the rain fell. Sure enough, I learned that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) swooped into Houston to raise some money for Democrats as the keynote speaker during their annual fundraising dinner. As the Houston Chronicle reports, the Democrat party in Harris County, your nation’s third largest county and home of Houston, the 4th largest city in America, held the annual Johnson-Rayburn-Richards Dinner using the theme “It All Starts Here”.

Harris County Democrats say the theme of the dinner is “It All Starts Here,” a nod to the strategic importance they say Harris County could play in turning Texas blue. They point to Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump by more than 161,000 votes in the county in 2016, a boost in voter registration gains this year in the county and the area being home to some of the most competitive Congressional and state legislature seats in Texas.

Pelosi’s appearance comes just three weeks after U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer attended a private fundraiser Houston to help Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate, like Beto O’Rourke, the El Paso Congressman challenging Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018.

A Texas Tribune political reporter tweeted that Hillary Clinton phoned into the dinner event via local congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee’s phone. She thanked them for working to turn Texas blue then said, “I have a good feeling that this could be the year. Go get them, Harris County!” Well, Hillary also had a good feeling about winning her own race in November 2016, but we all know how that turned out.

pic.twitter.com/Le23CCyV9A

— Harris County GOP (@HarrisCountyRP) February 17, 2018

Pelosi’s arrival also comes as the 2018 mid-term elections build. Democrats need to pick up 24 seats in Congress to regain the majority. If that were to happen, Pelosi could again become Speaker of the House. Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat first elected to Congress in 1987, was the House Speaker from 2007 to 2011 when Democrats last held the majority of seats in the House.

One of the 24 seats Democrats are focused on flipping is in Houston, just miles from where Pelosi will be speaking. U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, represents the 7th Congressional District. While he has held that seat since 2000, Hillary Clinton narrowly beat Donald Trump in the district in 2016. That has Democrats targeting Culberson for defeat in November.

I live in Culberson’s district. Early voting for the March primary begins next week.

But wait, there’s more. Billed as a “GOP Tax Scam Teach-In”, Pelosi and Houston area Democrats appeared at a town hall event hosted with the American Federation of Teachers (of course) Saturday morning. Her topic was the highly successful and popular GOP tax plan recently signed into law. While multi-millionaire San Fran Nan calls the extra money in the pockets of working Americans “crumbs”,  polling grows ever more favorable of the tax reforms. The snarky doom and gloom talk from Democrats have worn thin as workers see paychecks with extra money included. Somehow, the likes of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee – a perennial embarrassment to those of us living in Houston – participating in a “teach-in” doesn’t fill me with confidence that accurate information is being distributed.

#ABC13US House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in Houston to today with Congressmen Gene Green, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, State Senator Sylvia Garcia talking about #GoTaxScam pic.twitter.com/L9iNZceAgE

— Willie Dixon (@13PhotogWillie) February 17, 2018

The post Pelosi keynotes Houston Democrats annual fundraiser, Hillary phones it in appeared first on Hot Air.

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CNN currently has this opinion piece near the top of its homepage. The headline, “Mueller tells a compelling story of Russian intrigue that was designed to elect Trump,” is a bit toned down but the actual piece argues that Mueller’s indictment proves Russia probably handed the election to Hillary.

If the allegations of the indictment prove true, it seems probable that the Russians were successful in their multimillion-dollar effort to influence the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. Of course the answer to this complex question will never be definitively known. Polling cannot tell us whether voters might have chosen differently if the Russian influence operation hadn’t happened.

What is known, however, is that the election was close and voter shifts in just a few significant states could have changed the Electoral College vote count in a presidential election in which Hillary Clinton won the popular vote…

Friday’s indictments strongly suggest that the millions of Russian rubles spent to support and give credibility to Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-black activist themes had to have had an impact in such an extremely close presidential election…

The indictment suggests the Russians had their eye on “purple” states including Florida, which went for Trump, giving him 29 electoral votes. Trump won by razor-thin margins in Pennsylvania with 20 electoral votes, Michigan with 16 and Wisconsin with 10. A shift of a mere 38 electoral votes from some combination of states and Hillary is president.

Given what the indictments reveal, there is a strong probability that Russia’s surreptitious and illegal support handed Trump the presidency.

Breaking now at CNN: It was a close election! Yes, we know that. And the nature of a close election is that you can point to almost anything and claim that’s the reason the loser lost. In fact, Hillary has pointed to at least a dozen different reasons, any one of which might have made the difference. Hillary has done this so conspicuously that even CNN made a video titled “People and things Clinton blames for her loss”

Here’s the thing about the Russian influence campaign on social media. They spent maybe a million dollars a month, maybe a little more. A lot of that money was spent trying to create generalized chaos in our system. Toward the end of the campaign, they did try to boost Trump, but the total devoted to that was a fraction of the overall money spent. Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign and associated joint fundraising committees and SuperPACs raised and spent something like $1.4 billion dollars trying to shape the electoral landscape. The Trump campaign and it’s affiliated groups raised and spent another $950 million. That’s a really huge amount of money, a lot of it spent on advertising and outreach, compared to the relatively paltry Russian effort.

I’m certainly not saying the Russians should get a pass for meddling in our election. I’m not saying their effort had no impact. I’m not even saying it’s impossible that it impacted the outcome to some measurable (in a theoretical sense) degree. But I do think the idea that anyone can pinpoint this one thing out of all the factors that were involved and the billions of dollars and the endless hours of media coverage and say definitively, ‘These Facebook ads swung the election!” is pretty silly. There are simply too many other variables involved, including all the other ones Hillary has been pointing out all year.

Hillary Clinton Blames Everyone Else for Her Election Loss | SUPERcuts! #478 - YouTube

The post CNN legal analyst: ‘Strong probability’ Russia handed Trump the presidency appeared first on Hot Air.

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Last night I wrote a brief post about President Trump’s visit to a Florida hospital which treated some of the students injured in the Parkland shooting. I said that Trump’s effort wouldn’t satisfy progressives and sure enough the Washington Post published a story last night which reads less like straight news and more like an opinion piece comparing Trump unfavorably to former President Obama:

President Trump, as he often does while responding to natural disasters, mass shootings or unfolding crises, spent much of his time congratulating the responders instead of memorializing the victims of Wednesday’s school shooting during a visit here Friday…

Trump said he saw victims at the hospital — he was not seen doing so — and even described one woman who suffered bullets to her lungs. That anecdote, though, quickly became about the officers, who responded within 20 minutes and saved her life…

He did not give an emotional or rousing commemoration to the victims — like President Barack Obama’s after a mass shooting at a Charleston, S.C., church — nor did he publicly greet any families whose children were killed in the attack. Speaking at a funeral or a large vigil was not on the agenda. There were no calls for American resolve. There were no tears…

His critics and even some allies say he should look at changing laws after this latest mass shooting, and he probably would have been greeted by protesters had he visited a larger and less controlled setting, aides conceded…

The victims and those present at a vigil who called for tougher gun-control laws did not see the president.

All of this was in reaction to Trump’s one-minute long press availability at the end of his 35-minute visit to the hospital. A big focus here is what Trump didn’t do and didn’t say and even the protesters who didn’t show up but might have wanted to. The writer also uses the classic ‘some say…’ formulation to make the pitch for gun control Trump hasn’t promised. The author even makes a point of saying that no one saw Trump meet with the victims as if that might be in doubt. But Trump posted photos on Twitter after the visit, two of which showed him in the room with one of the victims.

Our entire Nation, w/one heavy heart, continues to pray for the victims & their families in Parkland, FL. To teachers, law enforcement, first responders & medical professionals who responded so bravely in the face of danger: We THANK YOU for your courage! https://t.co/3yJsrebZMG pic.twitter.com/ti791dENTy

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2018

Today, a Washington Post editor praised the paper’s “dispatch” on Twitter (h/t the Hill):

Very nice @jdawsey1 dispatch on Trump at Florida hospital — not as comforter in chief, but as congratulator in chief. Keep reading to the end. https://t.co/ZVW93zIjH1

— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) February 17, 2018

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders took issue with that.

Actually @PhilipRucker it’s not very nice, but it is very misleading. @POTUS spent private time w/ victims of the shooting & their families. Out of respect for them he didn’t bring media into their hospital rooms but don’t let the truth get in the way of your anti-Trump narrative https://t.co/APx9ZSbpEh

— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) February 17, 2018

Here’s the bottom line. Donald Trump is not Barack Obama. Clearly many people, including some journalists and editors at the Washington Post, are disappointed by that. What they want is a grand, Obama-esque show of emotion, complete with tears. And, if we’re honest, they want that to be followed by a commitment to more gun control. They aren’t getting what they want from Trump because it turns out, he’s not Barack Obama.

There’s no doubt Obama was exceedingly good at capitalizing on tragedy. People naturally tend to rally around the leader when something awful happens and Obama was good at quietly making himself the focus of that attention, not just after shootings but after natural disasters of all kinds. I personally found that a little creepy and emotionally manipulative. I don’t really like the idea of a president who helps collate our emotions except maybe when the nation is at war. Other people feel differently and it’s perfectly fine to complain that Trump’s response is not as emotionally satisfying as Obama’s response to similar events. Even the Post’s journalists are free to feel disappointed about all of this, but they should either save it for the opinion pages or just stop pretending they’re offering straight news stories.

The post As expected, Trump’s visit to a Florida hospital was criticized by the media appeared first on Hot Air.

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Since the Florida school shooting happened in an election year, liberals have been working valiantly to somehow tie the National Rifle Association to the tragedy. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but some of them seemed to think they’d struck gold when they found out about a marksmanship program operated at the school which the shooter previously belonged to. It turns out that the program received a grant to partially fund it from the NRA, leading to some hot take headlines which are melting down laptop and phone screens today. These include, “Nikolas Cruz was reportedly on an NRA-funded rifle team in high school” along with “The Florida gunman’s classmates just revealed the NRA paid for his marksmanship training.” Perhaps my favorite was, “Florida Shooter Competed On NRA Marksmanship Team.”

And the tweets… oh, boy, were there tweets.

The NRA donated $10,000 to help train the Parkland shooting suspect to use a rifle https://t.co/pilyHhWS0q pic.twitter.com/tk0ZLwsCnh

— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) February 17, 2018

That’s really amazing. What was the NRA doing hanging around at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School? Well… it turns out they weren’t. Those headlines are a bit more overblown than the way the Associated Press describes the situation, which is at least a bit more honest. The “rifle team” in question was actually a marksmanship program. And it wasn’t run by the NRA, but by the Army Junior ROTC. And the “rifles” were air-powered pellet guns. They did, however, receive a grant to operate the program and purchase equipment.

The troubled teen authorities say killed 17 people at a Florida high school excelled in an air-rifle marksmanship program supported by a grant from the National Rifle Association Foundation, part of a multimillion-dollar effort by the gun group to support youth shooting clubs and other programs.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, was wearing a maroon shirt with the logo from the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when he was arrested Wednesday shortly after the shooting. Former JROTC cadets told The Associated Press that Cruz was a member of the small varsity marksmanship team that trained together after class and traveled to other area schools to compete.

The honest description would have been to say that the Army was running a training program, but I suppose that doesn’t make for as good of a fundraising letter. Getting these programs off the ground isn’t cheap, however, so they accepted a grant from the NRA, just as hundreds of schools across thirty states do every year. The NRA also offers grants to local gun clubs, Boy Scout troops and churches. One of their educational outreach programs where they actually do go to schools is for safety training, where Eddie Eagle helps teach younger children to never touch guns without parental supervision and to “run away” from them to avoid danger.

At Marjory Stoneman Douglas they used the NRA funds to supplement the small amount of money the JROTC gets from the U.S. Army. They used the NRA grant to purchase things such as safety glasses and Kevlar curtains. And just to stress this again, they use air rifles, similar to the ones you see the Olympic athletes firing in the biathlon.

So this isn’t “an NRA program.” And the NRA didn’t “train the shooter.” But don’t let a little thing like facts stand in your way when you’re trying to do some fundraising.

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Trump was reportedly ecstatic that the indictments noted that his associates were “unwitting” in their contacts with Russians. I understand that reaction, but he’s being outmaneuvered here and I’m not sure he realizes it yet.

By laying out a meticulous case for how Russia tried to tip the electoral scales toward Mr. Trump in 2016, Mr. Mueller has made it much harder for the president to dismiss the investigation as mere politics. He may also have made it harder for Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Mueller himself, since, as some Democratic lawmakers argued, that would look like an attempt to help Russia further undermine American democracy…

Far from being rattled, Mr. Trump was elated, according to his advisers, because he viewed it as evidence that Mr. Mueller now knows who the malefactors are — and they do not include him or members of his team. (The indictment refers to campaign officials who met or communicated with Russians, but says they were “unwitting.”)

POTUS has spent the last 16 months questioning Russia’s involvement in the campaign despite the fact that ev-uh-ree-one in his intel bureaucracy insists they’re guilty. It was only a few days ago that CNN reported that he still doubts Russian interference even now. The theory for his skepticism is that he’s succumbed to motivated reasoning: If Russia meddled, he may be thinking, then my great victory wasn’t truly earned. That’s not necessarily true — Russia’s impact on influencing how Americans voted was probably marginal, almost certainly less significant than the eleventh-hour Comey letter about reopening Emailgate. (Russian propaganda on Trump’s behalf also surely mattered much less than the endless tons of free media his campaign received during the primaries from cable news.) But you can understand his sensitivity about the subject. Plenty of Democrats have convinced themselves, however foolishly, that Hillary would have won if not for the sinister schemes of Vladimir Putin.

So here we are, a day after indictments were published alleging with specificity that Russia meddled in 2016 and spent millions of dollars to do so, and Trump is … elated. Mueller just blew a hole through any remaining doubts about Russian interference, validating his appointment as special counsel, to the point where Trump’s own National Security Advisor is crowing about his findings on Russia onstage at an event today. Trump’s skepticism about Russia looks even more feeble now than it did before. You could understand him popping the champagne anyway if Mueller had paired the indictments with an announcement that his investigation into Trump’s campaign was finished and no indictments would issue against the president or his deputies. In that case, having been vindicated personally, Trump might decide that it’s okay to finally acknowledge Russian interference. (Even though that would still leave Democrats free to believe that Putin, not Trump, was the prime mover in the GOP victory.) But all Mueller said was that there was no knowing coordination by Trump associates with Russia in *this prong* of the probe.

That is to say, I think we have an answer as to why Mueller indicted a bunch of Russians who’ll never be extradited to the U.S. to stand trial. To some extent, it was PR: He wanted to prove that the Russiagate investigation was paying dividends and to shore up public support for it before Trump finally tries to pull the plug. Now he has a big vote of confidence in his findings from the president’s own top intelligence advisor, and if Trump tries to fire him later it’ll look like he’s protecting Russia by doing so as much as he’s protecting his own team. That was well played by the special counsel. And well played by Rod Rosenstein too. If I recall correctly, Rosenstein didn’t appear before any cameras when Paul Manafort was indicted or Mike Flynn copped a plea. Manafort and Flynn were top Trump campaign aides and Rosenstein wouldn’t want to be on camera crowing about his boss’s associates getting pinched by Mueller. Yesterday, though, gave him an opportunity to tout Mueller’s work in a matter where the defendants weren’t Trump cronies. And more importantly, it tied Rosenstein in the public mind to Mueller’s fruitful efforts to root out Russian influence. Rosenstein is on even thinner ice with the White House than Mueller is for enabling the Russiagate “witch hunt.” How does Trump fire him now that Mueller has found some witches and Rosenstein himself did the honors in announcing it?

One more thing. Is POTUS still intent on a diplomatic reset with Russia or has that fallen by the wayside? No one would blame him if it has. Just this week alone, news is swirling that Russian mercenaries attacked a U.S. base in Syria (at great cost to themselves) and Trump’s administration announced that it was Russia that was behind a major cyberattack across the globe last year. Trump himself has grumbled lately about Russia evading sanctions on North Korea. Maybe he’s given up on the idea of a fresh start with Putin, as the two men who preceded him in office did after beginning their own administrations with hopes for rapprochement. If he *hasn’t* given up, though — and maybe he hasn’t — then I don’t know why he’d be “elated” by yesterday’s indictments. Sure, they pointed away from collusion, but they also pointed squarely at Russia. Making nice with Putin will be even harder politically now.

The post McMaster on yesterday’s indictments: It’s now “incontrovertible” that Russia interfered in the 2016 campaign appeared first on Hot Air.

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Perhaps, but what kind of action? Mitt Romney’s comments to the Salt Lake Tribune got picked up by The Hill and others in a generic manner, making it sound as though Romney might have made a major break with the Republican Party on gun control. Instead, Romney offered the same kinds of solutions that the GOP has tried to push through Congress after other mass-shooting incidents, including expanded federal background checks:

Romney lingered longer on one issue: school shootings. He was originally scheduled to announce his bid Thursday but pushed it back “out of respect for the victims and their families” after a gunman killed 17 people at a Florida high school.

He encouraged states to consider solutions like building security, police patrols and intervention teams. He also said he would back a measure to bolster the federal database for firearms background checks.

“I think we can’t just sit and wait and hope for things to get better,” he said. “It is wrong and unacceptable for children in our schools to fear for their lives.”

None of these are new ideas, but most of them got scuttled by Democrats after earlier tragedies led them to push for outright gun control. Marco Rubio took to Twitter this morning to remind the media that the GOP has tried to address some of the issues that routinely arise after mass shootings, especially on mental health:

Many in media love to use “fact-checkers” in articles.Unless of course the result contradicts their narrative. https://t.co/0KVoImAg3B 1/6

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 17, 2018

Republicans killed the background check push the last time it came up, but that was in part because Democratic leadership made it clear that they would use it as a platform for broader gun-control legislation. This is a continuing problem when it comes to working on the relevant issues in these mass shootings. Even on a common-sense compromise like a ban on bump stocks after the Las Vegas massacre, correcting an ATF decision that should never have been made in the first place, Nancy Pelosi bragged that she would use it as leverage to institute bans on entire classes of legal firearms. It killed the momentum for the bill, even though the NRA endorsed it. Congress ended up referring it back to the ATF.

The NRA has advanced cautious encouragement on improving background checks when the issue doesn’t get used to push broader gun control. Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey tried taking it up in 2015, but distrust of the Obama administration ran too high at the time.  With an NRA-endorsed president in the White House, there may be more room to negotiate what Romney suggests here — a “bolstering” of the federal background check system, likely to capture more mental-health issues or previous law-enforcement contacts. Donald Trump himself suggested that he would be open to that conversation, a suggestion which may have gone farther than Romney went here.

If Republicans do manage to pass a bill with some common-sense answers to mass shootings, they will at least have done better than Democrats in doing something. And if Democrats obstruct such a bill, the media will have no excuse in passing it off as a Republican issue.

Meanwhile, we should wait to craft such bills to find out whether we’re addressing the real problems. For instance, we’re still discovering the issues surrounding the November mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where a failure to follow up on a sexual assault case left the shooter free to conduct his murderous rampage:

Sheriff’s deputies didn’t pursue a sexual assault investigation against the gunman in a mass shooting at a Texas church, even though the woman reporting it signed a complaint detailing the alleged attack, according to records released Friday.

The records also contradict the reason previously given for why the case stalled against Devin Patrick Kelley, four years before the November 2017 massacre at a tiny church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Had Kelley been prosecuted for sexual assault, a conviction could have stopped a trail of violent allegations that culminated in the shooting.

The Pentagon has gotten a lot of criticism, justifiably so, for not transmitting Kelley’s record of crime to the federal background check database. But as it turns out, the sheriff’s department didn’t have a database tracking suspects in sexual assault cases, so when Kelley later got busted for domestic violence, they never found out that he was wanted for questioning in the earlier case. Just as it appears in the Parkland shooting, law enforcement had plenty of opportunities to stop the perp before he began his massacre. We should start our efforts by plugging those holes rather than broadly infringing on the rights of millions of law-abiding, responsible firearms owners.

The post Romney: Congress has to take action on mass shootings appeared first on Hot Air.

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This month’s highly anticipated annual swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated features Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman posing nude. The word “Fierce” and a sentence “Women Do Not Have To Be Modest To Be Respected” cover her side facing the camera. It’s all about empowerment. Or something.  The 23-year-old athlete participated in the “In Her Words” feature of this year’s edition – a response to the #MeToo movement. Women were encouraged to write their own messages on their bodies.

She previewed her photograph on Instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BfJR1JsFR8b/?taken-by=alyraisman

Maybe it’s the mom in me that brought about my initial response to her photo. I have a son not much older than her and I admit my reaction is through a mom’s lens but to me, Aly showed such courage and strength with her testimony during Nassar’s trial that she already proved she is an empowered young woman. The nude statement seems to be too much. I can understand that she wants to send a strong message that a woman’s clothes, or lack thereof, do not make it ok for her to be abused. She’s right. A victim of sexual abuse or rape must never be victimized. All women have the right to live abuse-free.

For some background, last November a bit of a tiff erupted on Twitter between 2017 Summer Olympic gold medalists Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman involving clothes and sexual attacks. After Raisman went public with her story about abuse at the hands of Dr. Larry Nassar, she asked for help in the fight to support victims. Raisman’s point was that no matter how a woman is dressed, sexual assault is never ok. Douglas tweeted about dressing modestly so as not to “entice the wrong crowd.” She said women should be classy, with the implication that a woman may bring the abuse on herself. It was an odd criticism made about a sister gold medalist so another member of the team jumped in to offer her support to Aly. Simone Biles tweeted about her shock and disappointment of Douglas and took a screenshot to capture the moment. Douglas deleted the tweet and apologized after getting blowback for it and went on to say she, too, was a victim.

Raisman is a beautiful young woman and the photo is not porn-like, it just strikes me as exploiting the situation. Was the “In Her Words” feature the best compromise from Sports Illustrated in an issue touted for provocative photos of scantily clad women? It’s a sports magazine, after all.

Aly’s Twitter account shows a more traditional pose.

https://twitter.com/Aly_Raisman/status/963887663651741696

The post Empowerment or exploitation: Olympian Aly Raisman poses nude for SI swimsuit edition appeared first on Hot Air.

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