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The Sunny Day Massacre: Legacy of a school shooting



The slaughter last October at Sunny Day Middle School was compounded by “a comedy of errors” that made it worse than it had to be, according to a report of the Investigative Committee called by Idaho’s Republican Governor, Daniel McNutt, into the tragedy that left 77 children, 19 teachers, a school janitor and 24 police officers dead. An additional 219 people were injured in the melee.

The report, released on Twitter, found that a variety of mishaps contributed to the death toll. The first was that the school’s official Armed Teacher, Lillian Waggle-Jones, mistook five-year old Caitlyn McDruthers for the shooter; the real shooter was Calvin Boyd, 17, who had been expelled from the school five years previously. While Waggle-Jones was shooting little Caitlyn (whose lunchbox the near-sighted teacher mistook for a gun), Boyd ran into the hallway, mowing down more children with his AR-15.

When the other students in Waggle-Jones’ classroom realized their teacher had shot Caitlyn, they attacked her in an effort to disarm her. Waggle-Jones, panicking, continued to spray the room with a hail of bullets, causing additional deaths and injuries. Meanwhile, a SWAT team from the Pleasantville Police Department had arrived. Swarming the school, they mistook Waggle-Jones for the shooter and shot her dead, but unfortunately, eleven children who were near her also were killed.

Thinking they had stopped the massacre, the SWAT team put down their arms. But by that time, Boyd had made his way into the lunchroom, where he continued his killing spree. Hearing the sound of shooting, the SWAT team headed in the direction of the cafeteria. But a second SWAT team had arrived and, encountering the first SWAT team, mistook them for terrorist assassins. A shoot-out between the two SWAT teams ensured, during which more teachers and children were struck. Most of the slain police officers died during that confrontation.

Boyd shot and killed 34 children in the cafeteria before heading for the gymnasium, where a volleyball game was underway. Since the gym is in a separate building, those at the game were unaware of what was happening in the school, across a grassy knoll. Entering the gym, Boyd opened fire. The three hundred students and parents at the game attempted to flee, causing a stampede in which 17 were trampled to death. At that moment, a contingent of armed soldiers from nearby Fort Bigelow, who had been called to the scene via the emergency police broadcast, stormed the gym. They opened fire, shooting another 34 children and adults before realizing their mistake. Boyd apparently saw the chaos as his chance to escape and continue his rampage. He went outside to the parking lot, which was quickly filling up with children, teachers, parents, neighbors, police, EMT personnel and news reporters. Seeing him brandishing his AR-15, Pleasantville police officers opened fire, striking at least 25 individuals, but somehow missing Boyd, who, knowing that he was surrounded and running out of ammunition, turned the semi-automatic weapon on himself. The bullets killed him, but, passing through his body, also killed three more teachers, seven police officers, and the school janitor.

The report also revealed that Waggle-Jones’s mental state and physical health had not been adequately determined before officials named her as Sunny Day’s sole Armed Teacher. Waggle-Jones, 67, suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, was in psychotherapy for undisclosed reasons, and was taking the medications Clonazepam and Diazepam, both of which are prescribed for conditions such as anxiety and depression. She also had complained about her eyesight, according to several witnesses who knew her. The Pleasantville School District officials who appointed her as Armed Teacher were unaware of her conditions. Waggle-Jones received a “signing fee” of $1,000 for volunteering as Sunny Day’s Armed Teacher.

“This comedy of errors could not have been foreseen,” Gov. McNutt insisted, at a contentious press conference. He added, “I mean, arming Ms. Waggle-Jones seemed like a good idea at the time. President Trump himself said so. So we had no reason to think anything could go wrong.” In Washington, D.C., President Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, when asked about the massacre, responded, “The President stands by his assessment that arming teachers is the best way to prevent school shootings.” Sanders insisted that the dead-and-wounded toll at Sunny Day “would have been a lot higher, if Ms. Waggle-Jones had not been armed.” Later, in a tweet, President Trump said that there would have been “no deaths at all, if all the teachers had been armed, as well as all of the students. You figure, every gun in that school would have meant at least one less death. So the solution is to fill the schools with more guns than people. That’s what Wayne LaPierre tells me, and believe me, he’s a patriot. He loves children and America and his mom.”

In a separate tweet, the president offered his “thoughts and prayers” to the families of the victims. He also seemed to criticize Caitlyn McDruthers, the five-year old girl who was shot by her own teacher. “Her lunchbox obviously looked like a gun. We’re looking into why her parents allowed that to happen. I understand that they are Democrats. We’ll see. In my opinion, that teacher did exactly what she was trained to do: open fire on a threat. Lillian Waggle-Jones is a hero.”

A spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, Dana Loesch, said the NRA “will not be gaslighted into thinking we’re responsible for a tragedy we had nothing to do with.” She blamed the Sunny Day Massacre on “Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, the elitist fake media, snowflake libtards and the Deep State. MAGA!”

After Florida, Trump is losing it

1 comment


The proof of how freaked out Trump is by the Florida shooting and the reaction of the surviving students was vividly illustrated by something very stupid he did on Wednesday: at his little White House “listening session” he accidentally held the piece of paper containing his talking points with the writing facing outward, instead of concealing it against his body.

This should have been something Sarah Sanders Huckabee and Kellyanne Conway warned him against. It should have been something they practiced with him over and over: “If you have to have the piece of paper with you—if you can’t memorize the talking points—then please hide the writing against your body! We don’t want anybody to see it except you.”

Either such warnings were never issued, or Trump was too nervous to heed them. The result: in his chubby little hand he clutched the talking points the wrong way, so that all the world could see how phony and manufactured the entire event was.

Here are Trump’s five talking points:

  1. What would you most want me to know about your experience?
  2. What can we do to help you feel safe?
  3. Do you [obscured] see something [obscured] effective?
  4. Resources? Ideas?
  5. I hear you.

(Point #3 was obscured by his fat fingers.)

If I were the Florida survivors who forced Trump on this, I would be outraged. As, indeed, the students and their supporters were, when they saw the photo and learned of Trump’s callous, insincere indifference towards them and the tragedy. On Twitter, one woman wrote, “He has crib notes on how to behave human.” A man similarly tweeted, “When someone needs crib notes on how to show common decency, they are not qualified to be president!” At Shareblue Media, they tweeted, “Trump seriously needed notes to remind him to show empathy for grieving families.”

 You can see many more reactions on social media at Raw Story, including this one: “Barack Obama sang ‘Amazing Grace’ at a funeral in Charleston and Donald Trump needs a fucking cheat card to show empathy.” Here’s one of my favorites, cited overseas in the International Business Times: Here mr. President, use these responses—they might trick grieving families in to thinking you care even the slightest bit about them. (Unfortunately, his henchmen forgot to tell @realDonaldTrump not to filddle with his empathy cheat-sheet in front of the cameras.)”

That Trump has little or no human decency is conceded even by his fans. Even Franklin Graham, the rightwing son of the late Billy Graham, said of Trump, “He is not President Perfect,” adding, “We certainly don’t hold him up as the pastor of this nation and he is not.” That was after the news about Stormy Daniels arose; imagine the outcry from so-called Christians if the president who utilized the services of a porn star were a Democrat!

Well, the Rev. Graham’s mild rebuke is as close as we’re likely to get from Republicans to outright condemnation of an adulterous, profane sexual abuser, so let’s be grateful for that little crumb. Meanwhile, the crib sheet is continuing to have repercussions. At a glance, it tells the world how shallow Trump is, how calculated, how fake. Any emotion from him suggesting empathy or sympathy is ersatz. When he tries to be pious, he comes across as stiff, unconvincing and mendacious. Reagan could get away with it. Trump can’t. We know that the only authentic emotions he feels are anger, resentment, fear and sexual arousal.

I hope you will support the Florida students and students across America, who are standing up to the bullies at the NRA, the thugs at Breitbart and the felonious president. Common sense gun control is within sight for the first time ever. Yesterday, of course, Trump trotted out his pitifully limited response to Florida—a thimble of “reforms” that the NRA told him it is prepared to accept. But it’s not enough; it’s nowhere near enough. True reform has got to include a complete ban on assault guns by anyone except law enforcement! The latest Quinippiac Poll shows that Americans favor a total ban on assault weapons by an overwhelming 67% to 29%.

The #NeverAgain students must insist on such a ban.

Holding his cheat sheet backwards was only a small thing, but a telling one: Trump is losing his grip. He’s starting to screw up in little ways. He’s losing it. He hears the clock ticking: tick…tick…tick. Behind it is Mueller. It’s unnerving him. We have got to keep up the pressure.

Have a great weekend!


“The Speech” we’re all waiting for a Republican to give



“Nixon goes to China” (or some variant of that phrase) has become a metaphor for the ability of a politician with an unassailable reputation among his or her supporters for representing and defending their values to take actions that would draw their criticism and even opposition if taken by someone without those credentials.” By this reasoning, only the conservative Republican president Richard Nixon could have gone to Red China in 1972; had Hubert Humphrey or George McGovern been president, it would have been politically impossible for either to reach out to the dreaded Communists.

Bill Clinton had his own “Nixon goes to China” moment in 1992, when he severely criticized the rap singer Sister Souljah for her hateful comments. Clinton’s repudiation of a black activist was remarkable given the black community’s historic association with the Democratic Party; indeed, some called Clinton’s move “a Sister Souljah moment” rather than a “Nixon goes to China” moment. Years later, candidate Barack Obama had his own Sister Souljah moment when he condemned the remarks of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, as “incendiary.”

“Nixon goes to China” or “Sister Souljah” moments pique the popular interest, often making it into Wikipedia pages and boosting politicians’ careers. But they’re increasingly rare in these polarized times. True, the occasional Republican, like Bob Corker, Lindsay Graham, Floyd Flake or John McCain, dips his toe into Sister Souljah-moment waters with mild or oblique criticisms of Donald Trump. But for the most part, politicians are loath to depart from entrenched positions demanded of them by their bases. There is, however, a potential “Nixon goes to China” moment awaiting a senior Republican politician that could launch him or her to great national prominence…or ruin his career. And that would be to give The Speech.

“The Speech” would be precisely that, a formal presentation in words, perhaps delivered at a press conference, party meeting or town hall. It would be videotaped; it would be simple and direct; it would be by a Republican denouncing Donald J. Trump in the strongest possible terms; and it would instantly become one of the most famous speeches in U.S. political history.

It would state unequivocally that Trump is uniquely unqualified to be president of the United States of America. It would accuse him of undermining and devaluing the presidency and the Constitution by his repeated lies, insults and misrepresentations. It would point out his dereliction of duty, and come to the verge of accusing him of treason through his collaboration with Russia. It wouldn’t dance around the issue; it would call him out by name and demand his removal from office. Actually, there are so many indictments against Trump it’s impossible to summarize them all, but The Speech would do its best to enumerate them in, say, twenty minutes or so. It would lead every news report the night it was issued; it would dominate the headlines the next day; social media would explode. Written and delivered adroitly, and given by the right Republican politician, it could cause Trump’s poll numbers to plummet overnight, and even spark a revolt against him—the fabled “tipping point”–by Republicans in the Congress.

A Republican can and should deliver The Speech as soon as possible. But which Republican? It has to be a senior one with national visibility, not a minor Congressman nobody ever heard of. The more famous the Republican, the more effective The Speech’s impact would be. Moreover, its effectiveness would be boosted by coming from a Republican politician previously viewed as diehard conservative, Christian and pro-Trump. That’s why McCain, Graham, Flake or Corker wouldn’t be ideal; they’re already perceived as wobbly on Trump. The person who gives The Speech must have the most impeccable rightwing connections and be seen as making a 180-degree U-turn on his previous position.

Paul Ryan is an obvious candidate. He’s totally in the tank for Trump, so if he were to give The Speech it would blow everybody’s mind. Ditto for Mitch McConnell. I don’t know that there are any other Republicans in the House, besides Ryan, who could do it (Kevin McCarthy? Nope), but there are other Senators. John Cornyn, the Majority Whip, could. So could other senior Republican Senators: Thune, Barrasso, Blunt, Gardner, Mike Lee, Crapo.

There are plenty of Republicans not currently holding office who could give The Speech and get a lot of attention: George W. Bush comes to mind. So do Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie. It doesn’t have to be a single person: a panel of former Republican Secretaries of State and Defense could do it. Retired U.S. military generals and admirals long identified with Republican causes could do it. In an extremely unlikely scenario, a rightwing Republican talk show commentator could do it, the way Walter Cronkite talked about losing the Vietnam War: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Alex Jones. But a sitting, senior Republican would have the greatest impact.

The high visibility Republicans you see on T.V. every day understand that they could give The Speech. They know that they should, and no doubt their wives, daughters and some friends are urging them to. In their private daydreams, they fantasize about giving it and riding the acclaim all the way into the White House. But those same fantasies also turn into the nightmare of being primaried out of office. We need a Republican profile in courage to give The Speech. Will we get one?

Right after I wrote this post, I was reading yesterday’s Wall Street Journal and the latest column by William A. Galston. Now, I’ve criticized Galston before, but something clearly has happened to him–something unexplained–that has made him strongly anti-Trump. Entitled “The Clear and Present Danger of Donald Trump,” Galston’s op-ed piece calls for “the secretary of defense, the secretary of state, and the national security advisor to confront Mr. Trump…to inform him that unless he publicly affirms the reality of the Russian threat…they will have no honorable alternative to resignation.” If that doesn’t happen, Galston recommends “a starker alternative…Section 4 of the 25th Amendment [which] gives the Vice President, supported by a majority of the cabinet, the authority to declare that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Wow. Coming from Galston, in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal, that is a mouthful. It’s not The Speech. But it’s as close to it as we currently have.

From the personal diary of Jared Kushner



Dear Diary,

You’re the only one I can trust these days! Even Ivanka’s been giving me weird looks. As for Dad—Donald—I can barely get into the Oval Office to see him anymore. That schmuck, Kelly, doesn’t like me, and he’s even convinced Dad to revoke my security clearance! I guess that means I’m not going to be the special envoy to the Middle East anymore. Or to China. Or the social media guy. Or the infrastructure guy. Or the opioid guy. Or the guy who reforms the V.A. Of course, I had no idea what I was doing in any of those things—but it was fun while it lasted, and I got a lot of good business done for the Kushner Companies.

Hey, what’s wrong with that? People act like I have this huuuge conflict of interest, but let me ask you this: Like, I was meeting with King Salman, in Saudi Arabia—a great guy, by the way, real down-to-earth—and, when we were finished talking about politics, I asked him if he had any interest in Kushner Companies building some luxury apartment buildings in Riyadh. I don’t see any problem with that! Like, we’re in the same room together, and it took weeks to get this meeting organized, so am I supposed to ask for a second meeting for the business part? That’s stupid. It’s more efficient to do it all in one meeting. It saves the taxpayers money, and, after all, I’m a busy guy. So I guess you could say that what’s good for the Kushner Companies, and for the Trump Organization, is good for America. Oh, and for the Middle East.

So now, the #FakeNews media is trying to make it sound like I’m gonna be indicted by Mueller. Well, Dear Diary, this is just between you and me, okay? I mean, it has to be realllllly private!!! I didn’t even tell Ivanka. So, when I met with Sergey Gorkov in New York, on Dec. 13, 2016, we talked about how Dad was going to reduce or eliminate the sanctions on Russia after Putin helped get him elected president. That was the deal Dad and Putin made. I don’t know exactly when—they must have talked about it on the phone, or maybe when Dad was in Moscow. Dad told me about it once. He said Putin told him the Russians had kompromat on him [Dad] in the form a videotape, but that Putin would make sure the tape never got out if Dad would reduce or eliminate the sanctions, if he was elected. Dad told Putin that he [Dad] didn’t think he’d ever really be elected, and only wanted to run because he figured that, as the losing Republican candidate, he’d easily make a billion dollars with new T.V. and book deals.

Well, Putin told Dad that he [Putin] thought Dad really could win! And then he added the sweetener: He would have his security forces work in social media to get him elected! Putin described to Dad exactly how the fake websites, bots, trolls and phony identities would work—who would run the operation—how much it would cost—and how he [Putin] would insulate Trump from any connection with it. And then Putin showed Dad some studies showing how it could all work to put Donald Trump in the White House!

Well, that was good enough for Dad. They agreed to the deal. It was just the two of them: no witnesses, no tapes, no notes, nothing. But that’s why I met with Gorkov on that Dec. 13. Dad had just been elected; it was time to pay the piper. Putin wanted to know what Dad was prepared to do about the sanctions. And that’s when Gorkov gave me a warning he wanted me to pass along to Dad. He said, “Jared, President Putin would like to do your father-in-law a favor. He still has that videotape, and he always will. It would ruin Mr. Trump to have it go public. So please inform your father-in-law that President Putin is raising the stakes. Not only does President Putin insist on reducing if not eliminating the sanctions, he insists the President Trump resist all the investigations into so-called ‘Russian meddling’, attack the investigating committees, attack the FBI, attack anyone who supports the investigations, and discredit the entire story. No matter what, President Putin insists that your father-in-law discredit the investigation and insist Russia never did anything wrong!”

I remember when Dad told me that, he sort of went all quiet for a minute. And then he said, “Jared, I’ve got to do what Putin wants. He has me over a barrel.” I told him, “Dad, don’t worry. I got your back. It’s all good.” But to be honest, Dear Diary, now I’m not so sure. Mueller is moving fast. I’ll probably have to be re-interviewed by him again. I don’t know what he has. One of the big problems, for me anyway, is that when I was meeting with Gorkov we talked about him and his friends lending Kushner Companies a few billion to pay off our debt. Once again, Dear Diary, I didn’t see anything wrong with bringing that up in the meeting. But I hear Mueller is sniffing around, and between Flynn, Gates, Papadopolous and Manafort, there could be emails or paper trails or even—God help me!—somebody was wired at some point.

I think that’s why Ivanka’s been so cool towards me. It’s like the whole family is taking sides, looking at each other suspiciously, not sure who to trust. Melania won’t even make eye contact with me anymore, and we used to be so close! As for Eric and Don Jr., they’re talking about another big game hunting safari in Africa. I think they just want to get out of Dodge.

Well, Dear Diary, like I said, you’re the only one I can confide in. Thanks for being there. It’s lonely being me these days.

The beginning of the end for the NRA?



Count me among those Americans who are cheered by the Florida students rising up against the National Rifle Association and Donald Trump for his refusal to acknowledge that America has a problem with too many guns.

The reaction by the students has been swift and strong. Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, has emerged as a particularly articulate voice. In one of the fiercest, most moving addresses on out-of-control gun violence I’ve ever heard, she said at a rally on Saturday, If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.” (You can read her remarks in their entirety here.)

The President, sadly, will never meet with Emma because he’s afraid to. As for her question about how much the NRA paid Trump to be a Republican shill, I can answer that: $21 million to him directly, and another $15 million to other Republicans connected with the campaign.

The Florida survivors, together with the folks who organized the highly-successful Women’s Marches, are planning a National School Walkout on Wednesday, March 14, to to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.” And, in the Florida shooting’s aftermath, a spontaneous movement, also organized by the Florida survivors, has arisen, March For Our Lives, with local chapters quickly organized from Alaska to Wisconsin to Alabama and even Liverpool, England. They are calling for a second mass rally, on March 24, that “will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today.”

This is very exciting to those of us who saw the Occupy movement arise in a similar hopeful vein, only to wither away through its own internal blunders. But the Florida student movements have something Occupy never did: moral standing. Where Occupy was a mélange of people and causes, some profoundly wrong, the Florida movement is simple to understand and movingly spiritual. These are young people who underwent trauma, and whom everybody loves.

Now Trump is saying he’s going to have a “listening session” with an audience yet to be identified, but the Florida students see this hoax for what it is: an attempt to make it look like he cares and is doing something when in fact he’s doing nothing—precisely as Wayne LaPierre has instructed. The students first invited him to speak at a town hall on gun violence. But this was something Trump is not prepared to do; obviously, the loose structure of a town hall threatens him with T.V. footage of students, some still in bandages, calling him out for being an NRA tool. Instead, Trump’s surrogates came up with the “listening session,” a bogus non-event that I guarantee you will either never happen, or be an embarrassment to the White House if it does.

Americans can hope that the Florida massacre represents a turning point. Can we finally slow down, if not end, the stranglehold that the reprehensible NRA has on the Republican Party and on all Republican presidents? We can. And if anyone has the stamina and national good will to do it, it’s those Florida survivors. I wish them luck; they should know that the vast majority of Americans are with them!

Trump isn’t denying obstructing justice. Why not?



Donald Trump keeps insisting, “No collusion!” but notice how he never says “No obstruction!” Why is that?

When he says “No collusion!” he’s inoculating his base against the possibility that Mueller says there was collusion. Then Trump can say, “Fake news! Lies from a failing Special Counsel and a crooked F.B.I.! Don’t believe it!” And we’ll have a huge fight over whether or not there was collusion. Did Jared and Donald Jr. take those meetings as “unwitting participants” or were they fully conscious of the illegality of what they were doing? Did Trump concoct that phony memo on Air Force One as part of a secret deal with Russia? Was there a quid pro quo between Trump and Putin whereby Putin would conceal whatever leverage he has over Trump, in exchange for Trump dropping the sanctions? Those things would constitute “collusion” but the Republican/Breitbart party will never concede an inch, not even in the face of an avalanche of evidence. So it’s understandable why Trump keeps repeating “No collusion!” over and over. It’s a form of brainwashing—of tenderizing his base.

But why don’t we hear him saying “No obstruction”? This is harder to answer, and the best I can do is offer some speculation. For one thing, it’s increasingly apparent that there was obstruction of justice, or at least the attempt, by a broad swath of Team Trump: himself, of course, but also including Jared, Don Jr., Reince Priebus, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Sanders, Jeff Sessions, Trump’s lawyers, Devin Nunes and who knows how many others who have tried, repeatedly, to stop the investigation.

Given that we can reasonably expect a charge of obstruction by Mueller, how come Trump isn’t inoculating his base against that? I confess to being genuinely puzzled. His reluctance to say “No obstruction” probably comes from his lawyers’ advice as well as from his own instincts. He may believe sincerely that none of the things he did—firing Comey, especially—amounts legally to an obstruction of justice. He may believe sincerely that he can do whatever he wants in his executive capacity as president. He may feel that to deny obstructing justice gives a hint of legitimacy to the charge, and he does not wish to do that; it’s kind of like asking, “When did you stop beating your wife?” Anything he says makes him sound culpable, so he says nothing. Or it may be because his lawyers fully expect Mueller to charge him with obstruction, and they don’t want a denial of obstruction by the perp to be seen as furtherance of the obstruction conspiracy.

We may never know why Trump has been so mute on the obstruction issue, but what matters isn’t what he has or hasn’t said or done, it’s what he will do when and if Mueller charges him with obstruction of justice. If the past is prelude to the future, we know that Trump will deny it. He’ll take to Twitter and throw out every smokescreen he can. He’ll smear the F.B.I. for letting Nikolas Cruz slip through their fingers. He and his surrogates will throw dirt at Mueller, at Rod Rosenstein, at whomever they target as their enemy du jour. He’ll let Fox “News” and rightwing talk radio rile up the base and turn them against Democrats, law enforcement and liberals. And he may even have additional help if we can’t figure out a way to stop the Russian trolls from continuing to interfere in our politics. Fake hashtags will start appearing: #NoObstruction, #Exonerated, #LetHimGovern. Demonstrations will be organized by Russian agents masquerading as real Americans, and those demonstrations will be attended by real Americans who don’t even know they’re being manipulated.

Trump is terrified by impending charges of obstruction, but the Queens street brawler in him is also weirdly turned on. He’ll always depend on the formula for fighting that’s worked for him in the past: If someone attacks you, hit back ten times harder. And, in the end, he knows that the only way to conclusively determine obstruction of justice is to get inside his head and find out what his motives really were. This is going to be the next national soap opera. Looks like we’ll spend the rest of 2018 in a really eerie place: Donald Trump’s mind. Eeeww. Wear your hazmat suit.

Rebekah Mercer tries to hide her real agenda. Don’t buy it



You might have heard of the Mercer family. They’re one of the ultra-rich billionaire clans, like the Kochs and Adelsons, on the radical-right side of the political spectrum that funnels secret cash into arch-Republican causes. Jane Mayer, in her sensational 2017 book, Dark Money, describes the patriarch, Robert Mercer, this way: “He had long held the [American] government in low regard and shared the Koch [Brothers’] antipathy toward government regulations.” Mercer led the effort to prevent a mosque from being built near Ground Zero, in Manhattan; he “shared deep skepticism about global warming”; and he “paid for ads that manipulated voters’ fears about terrorism and Medicare.”

The Mercers also are “one of the main stakeholders in Breitbart News,” according to the New Yorker magazine, which called the family part of “a tiny group of mega-donors” to the Republican Party who routinely take advantage of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, in which the Court’s Republican majority ruled that unlimited amounts of secret funding can be channeled anonymously into political campaigns. In the 2016 election cycle, the Mercers contributed at least $22.5 to Republican candidates—and that’s only their disclosed donations. That amount is likely dwarfed by the dark money no one will ever know about. In fact, as Steve Bannon himself told Mayer, when you look at the [Republican] donors during the past four years, [the Mercers] have had the single biggest impact of anybody, including the Kochs.”

The Mercers have come under heavy attack from liberals and Constitutionalists, which seems to be why Robert’s daughter, Rebekah, last Thursday wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal. Entitled Forget the Media Caricature. Here’s What I Believe,” it is part apologia, part propaganda: her reply to the “absurd smears” from “gullible, but vicious characters” that describe her family as “racist, anti-Semitic and anti-science.”

Rebekah begins with the kind of standard platitudes we’ve come to expect from someone defending her character. “I believe in a kind and generous United States, where the hungry are fed, the sick are cared for, and the homeless are sheltered.” That sounds pretty good: Barack Obama might have said it. Sounding more and more like a Democrat, Rebekah adds, “I reject as venomous and ignorant any discrimination based on race, gender, creed, ethnicity or sexual orientation.”

All well and good so far. But does the Mercer family’s actual behavior match Rebekah’s inspiring words? Unfortunately, the secretive nature of their funding makes it very difficult to uncover just where all their money and influence goes. But here are some things we know.

For starters, notice how Rebekah’s “I reject” list, above, doesn’t include “discrimination” based on religion, as you’d expect a full list to do. That’s because she does discriminate against Muslims, as proven by her anti-mosque stance.

What else? The Mercers are super anti-Clintonites, although they’ve never been able to explain just why. Mercer millions went to a lawsuit against the Clinton Foundation between 2012-2014, for access to the group’s emails, in a failed effort to delegitimize Hillary Clinton and hand the government over to low-taxing Republicans.

The Mercers also are prime backers of a shadowy organization, the Government Accountability Institute, whose publications were an influential source of talking points for Trump allies during this election cycle, providing fodder for one of Trump’s early salvos against Clinton in a speech in June and regularly populating the pages of Breitbart.” (Rebekah Mercer is on the GAI’s board.) The Mercers also consistently back white supremacist groups; as the website Flagpole reports, “Trump and Breitbart”—both of whom benefit from Mercer money—“serve as ‘bridges’ to white supremacy” through the Mercer’s continued support of racists like Milo Yiannopoulos.

The Mercers initially backed Ted Cruz for the Republican nomination, so it’s fair to look at Cruz’s record as a reflection of the Mercers’ beliefs. Cruz was the only Senator to vote against any form of a path to citizenship for the Dreamers.

So much for no discrimination based on race and ethnicity!

When the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, Cruz said the issue would be “front and center” in his own presidential campaign. Calling the ruling “the very definition of tyranny,” he urged states to ignore it and outlaw gay marriage anyway.

So much for no discrimination against sexual orientation!

Cruz led the fight in the Senate against food stamps.

So much for treating the poor with “dignity and compassion.” So much for “a kind and generous United States”!

Cruz introduced the “Obamacare Repeal Act” to “repeal the Affordable Care Act as if such Act had not been enacted.”

So much for a country “where the sick are cared for.”

In a First Amendment case testing the limits of government sponsorship of Christianity, Cruz represented the American Legion in arguing in favor of a cross that had been erected in the Mohave Desert—a decision that was upheld by the Republican majority on the Supreme Court. And yet Cruz called for more funding of police “to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

So much for “treating all people with dignity and compassion.”

It’s only natural, I suppose, to want to defend your name when it’s been called into question in the media. That is Rebekah Mercer’s right. But what she cannot evade are the facts: her family supports the wrong values, the wrong causes, the wrong candidates, the wrong vision of America. Despite her pious homilies in the Wall Street Journal, Rebekah Mercer’s money funds the anti-science, tea party anger, nationalist ignorance and white supremacism of the far right wing of the Republican Party. She can put lipstick on a pig. But it’s still a pig.


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