Josh Marshall wrote this a few hours after the Uvalde shooting, and, regrettably, he’s right:
The inability of the U.S. to do literally anything about the scourge of mass shootings is itself one of their greatest draws, the magnetic heart of their attraction. Mass shootings are fundamentally about losers, rage and the draw of total power. For a few minutes a school shooter holds the power of life and death. That power speaks for itself. But that’s only part of it. Nothing reinforces the power of the gun like the way a whole country remains in thrall to them. The gun — and all the fetishes and cultural baggage surrounding them — is the one totally unassailable, unchallengeable thing in American society.
It doesn’t matter how many kids get shot or what new turn of perversion is added to the stale choreography of the latest mass school shooting: Literally nothing happens. That is power.
… That power is so total it’s no surprise that angry losers flock to become part of it.
Right — given the way our politics are structured, it’s impossible to enact any reforms that could prevent the next massacre, so every potential mass murderer knows he really will leave us flailing and powerless.
But I don’t think mass murderers are the only ones who revel in that sense of absolute power. Look at the GOP:
In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey unpacked lipstick, an iPhone and something else from her purse in one campaign advertisement — “a little Smith & Wesson .38,” she said….
In Nevada, an ad for former Senator Dean Heller, now a Republican candidate for governor, bragged about his wife’s shooting skills. And in North Carolina, a spot for Representative Ted Budd, a Republican Senate candidate, boasted that he owned a gun range.
… more than 100 television ads from Republican candidates and supportive groups have used guns as talking points or visual motifs this year.
… Republican primary candidates are often competing to show how conservative they are in a polarized landscape ever more defined by white-hot cultural battles. And guns are an easy visual shorthand.
“You basically have Republican primary candidates trying to explain to Republican primary voters that they are going to be on their side when it comes to the cultural cold civil war that’s being fought right now,” said Robert Blizzard, a Republican strategist.
It’s a signal to fellow Republicans, but it’s also a way of taunting liberals — Yeah? What are you gonna do about it? The ad shown above, from Brian Kemp’s previous gubernatorial campaign, is a good example. It’s just a series of taunts, on guns and other issues.
The message is: Liberals think they run the country, but they can’t stop me. And on guns, at least, we can’t. On several other issues as well, of course — abortion, taxes, the minimum wage, voting rights….
The ability to leave large groups of people powerless is intoxicating — for mass shooters and Republicans.
Republished with permission from No More Mister Nice Blog.
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While Ted Cruz was in Houston, whoring himself out to the NRA for their annual convention, he got an unwelcome surprise when Indivisible Houston‘s Benjamin Hernandez confronted him. “19 children died! That’s on your hands! Ted Cruz, that’s on your hands!” yelled Hernandez to his face, before Cruz’s security detail pulled him away.
Apparently, not everyone is a fan of Ted Cruz in Houston.
The disgraced head of the NRA, Wayne La Pierre, opened up today’s convention by offering up meaningless affirmations of sorrow for the victims of Uvalde, while uttering mealy-mouthed words, lies and claims about Second amendment rights.
“Restricting the fundamental human right of law-abiding Americans to defend themselves is not the answer and never has been,” La Pierre said, as if AR-15s have entered the list of human rights.
Really? Please give us examples of how an AR-15 saved an American life ever, much less more times than the 21 teachers and children that were slaughtered on Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas by AR-15’s? Give us one example. Or those 10 people that were slaughtered in Buffalo. I’m sure the NRA Convention never mentioned them since they weren’t white.
Then La Pierre lied as usual.
“Each year over one million law-abiding men and women use a firearm to save their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. That is over one million innocent Americans every year, who owe their lives and the lives of their loved ones to their second amendment rights,” he boasted with no proof to back up his bullshit claim.
All the dead children who were murdered by an AR-15, as well as every innocent person owe their deaths to you the NRA. Way to go, Wayne.
Outside of that, show us your stinking data.
Every one of the children and teachers, shoppers and concert-goers, and every person murdered by an AR-15 was denied their human right to live. But Wayne doesn’t care about that.
This is a constant theme by the gun lobby, but as NPR reports, the latest data show that people use guns for self-defense only rarely.
“The average person … has basically no chance in their lifetime ever to use a gun in self-defense,” he tells Here & Now‘s Robin Young. “But … every day, they have a chance to use the gun inappropriately. They have a chance, they get angry. They get scared.”
Again this bastard said,”Taking away their rights to self-defense is not the answer.”
How are law-abiding Americans having their second amendment rights taken away if we pass common sense gun laws and ban weapons of mass death?
They aren’t, of course.
Digby writes so brilliantly, as Wayne and Don getting their party on. “What’s a few dead 4th graders?
Last year, NPR correspondent Tim Mak came into possession of some recorded calls between NRA officials right after Columbine which showed that their primary concern at the time was that they would look weak if they canceled the meeting.
I wonder how these motherf**kers would feel if their children or grandchildren were gunned down by an AR-15, in a school, or in a Supermarket with 19 police officers standing around and doing nothing?
Right-wing pundits, particularly those at Fox News, have been scrambling to come up with something, anything that sounded like a somewhat plausible response to the plague of AR-15 massacres, as the Uvalde school shootings this week marked the latest in a mounting list of gut-wrenching atrocities—anything, of course, except gun control. “Schools are soft targets,” so turn them into virtual bunkers with “single-doors entry”; place armed security agents at the door, and hire retirees to do it; blame the schools for their flimsy fencing or their lack of booby traps. Over the course of 24 hours, Fox News posed 50 “solutions” to the problem—none of which, of course, included any kind of gun restrictions.
Naturally leading the gaslight parade at Fox News was Tucker Carlson—continuing last week’s “waving the bloody shirt” response to the Buffalo massacre, loudly proclaiming indignant outrage at the “politicization” and “exploitation” of the tragedy as a greater problem than the violence itself. Carlson, indeed, not only suggested that any attempts to pass gun-control measures would result in “civil war,” he then cynically blamed mental illness and the COVID-19 pandemic measures for the violence.
All the Fox News hosts, and Carlson particularly, denounced Joe Biden’s speech to the nation on Wednesday night, bitterly decrying his “politicization” of the Uvalde murders that left 21 people, 19 of them schoolchildren, dead at the hands of an 18-year-old gunman. Immediately after the speech, Carlson came on and launched into a classic “bloody shirt” denunciation:
The president of the United States—frail, confused, bitterly partisan, desecrating the memory of recently murdered children with tired talking points from the Democratic Party, dividing the country in a moment of deep pain rather than uniting, his voice rising, amplified only as he repeats the talking points he repeated for over 35 years in the United States Senate—partisan politics being the only thing that animates him. Unfit for leadership of this country.
On his own show a little later that evening, he continued in the same mode, again decrying the “politicization” of the massacre as a more egregious problem than the murders of 19 children and two teachers. He also suggested that any effort by Democrats would spark “civil war”:
A person who is intent on committing violence is very hard to stop under any circumstances. An act of Congress isn’t going to do it. Neither will gun control. There are more guns in this country than there are people. There always have been. However you feel about that fact, you can acknowledge that you will never get rid of all of those guns. The Constitution prohibits that and you would set off a civil war if you try to do it.
So gun control, whether you find the slogans appealing or not, will not stop Payton Gendron or Salvador Ramos, and every rational person knows it.
Then, after denouncing Biden for politicizing the massacre, Carlson set out to politicize it himself by trying to build a case that the rise in mass shootings is the result of one of his favorite bugaboos: namely, the COVID-19 pandemic measures, which he contends set off a nationwide mental health crisis that is responsible for all these shootings.
“Oh, so the lockdowns dramatically increase the incidence of mental illness among young people and in 10 days, we’ve seen two mass shootings by mentally ill young people. Could there be a connection?” he asked. “Now, that’s not finger-pointing. It’s not to blame [Dr. Anthony] Fauci for yesterday’s shooting. We’re not that low. We’re not Joe Biden. But if people are becoming mentally ill because they’re disconnected from others, what can we do to connect them to others and thereby reduce the incidence of mental illness? That’s a real conversation.”
Of course, the problem of deranged shooters unleashing lethal attacks on schools and other “soft targets” extends to well over 20 years before the pandemic, and studies have demonstrated that only 11% of all mass murderers and only 8% of mass shooters had been diagnosed with serious mental illnesses—but a higher percentage were experiencing undiagnosed mental illnesses.
Carlson’s argument also inaccurately stigmatizes people with mental illnesses, when only 3% to 5% of violent crimes are committed by mentally ill people. Meanwhile, such people are themselves roughly 10 times more likely to be the victims of violence than the general population.
But the chief reason that the eagerness of Carlson and other Republicans—notably Texas Gov. Greg Abbott—to pin the blame on mental illness is, as Matt Gertz of Media Matters puts it, such a cynical dodge is that they have a long track record of gutting the funding for mental health programs that goes back at least 30 years and longer, one that became acute during the Donald Trump administration.
Blaming mass shootings on mental illness, in fact, is an old ploy that Trump and his team trotted out in 2018, even as they were fully engaged in an effort to gut Medicaid in the form of their ill-fated effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, which would have cut Medicaid by more than $800 billion, ended the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, and imposed arbitrary caps on benefits for people still in the program.
Even though the plan lost in Congress and in the court of public opinion, the Trump team continued its vendetta against Medicaid by cutting the program by $800 billion in the 2018 budget, and giving local officials and administrators unprecedented authority to limit coverage and benefits. This meant that states like Kentucky, Indiana, Idaho, Arkansas, and Texas were greenlighted to refuse Medicaid expansion, cutting Medicaid access for people who lose their jobs, and moreover restricting the ability of families to keep the health care they need—physical and mental alike—to get back on their feet.
That’s not all: the Trump administration’s 2018 federal budget also included a 26% cut to community health services. So states across the nation responded by slashing their allocations to community-based mental health service providers because of these cuts.
Among them was Texas, which has continued to slash mental health budgets. In April, Abbott cut $211 million from the department overseeing mental health programs. Texas ranks last out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia for overall access to mental health care, according to the report on the 2021 State of Mental Health in America.
Fox News hosts, naturally, would never impart that information to their viewers. Being an unrepentant Republican propaganda operation, their response was to concoct 50 different possible solutions to mass shootings that included a significant number—particularly increasing armed guards—that were proven ineffective in Uvalde. Other solutions included “God” and “prayer.”
It was nonstop politicization of the event, which meant of course that the centerpiece of their response to Biden would, in the great tradition of the “bloody shirt” trope, transform any attempt to build accountability for the violence into an arrogant act of demagoguery and political violence that dwarfed the originating event. Laura Ingraham, on her show, called Biden’s words “despicable.”
“He spoke tonight because politics is selfish. Because in today’s twisted world, it’s considered perfectly appropriate to exploit the massacre of innocent little kids in order to try to turn around your own sagging poll members,” she said.
Carlson and his sidekick Glenn Greenwald—who teamed up last week to denounce the people who dared connect Carlson’s extremist rhetoric to the Buffalo shooting in similar—engaged in a bit of shared right-wing projection at the show’s end, shaming Biden for daring to think that political solutions might be needed. Greenwald seemed to be looking into a mirror as he exuded his thoughts:
I think that the obsession that the people who are doing politics full-time have with seeing the world through this prism of partisan warfare is so consuming that it basically drains their entire souls so that nothing is left but this kind of immediate need to use every situation no matter how tragic to gain some kind of an advantage. …
They don’t wait at all because they want to exploit those emotions that they could be using to unite people, to instead work them to their own advantage. It’s so ghoulish and grotesque to watch.
Republished with permission from Daily Kos.
Col. Stephen McCraw, the director of Texas Department of Public Safety admitted in Friday’s press briefing that law enforcement wrongly chose not to breach the classroom door immediately.
“In the benefit of hindsight, where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. it was the wrong decision, period,” said McCraw. “There’s no excuse for that, again, — I’m just telling you from what we know, we believe there should have been an entry, as soon as you can. When there’s an active shooter, the rules change. It’s no longer, okay, it’s no longer a barricade, we don’t have time.”
“And by the way, Texas embraces active shooter training, active shooter certification, and that doctrine requires officers, we don’t care what agency you’re from, you don’t have to have a leader on the scene. Every officer lines up, stacks up, goes and finds where those rounds are being fired and keep shooting until the subject is dead, period,” he added.
Republican senators and congressmen like Ted Cruz and Andrew McCarthy continually claim that having more resources for law enforcement to be involved in all schools is one of their big solutions to these mass murders.
America saw firsthand that it is a fairy tale.
What transpired at Robb Elementary School disproves that notion entirely.
Schools cannot be set up at as war zones in every county, city, and state throughout the country.
There is always a human element that comes into play and humans failed the children of Uvalde. Indecision and mistakes can happen which leaves children and adults dead in the wake of the use of a weapon of war.
If the shooter had used a handgun instead of a AR-15, he most likely could have been stopped much easier by law enforcement, (maybe without entering the school) with far less loss of life.
But Republicans cling to their semiautomatic weapons with high-powered magazines as if they are life-saving pacemakers attached to their shriveled and cold hearts.
It’s a total disgrace.
CNBC covered more of the remarkably depressing conference:
- The back door of the school the gunman entered had been propped open by a teacher earlier in the day.
- A school resource officer was not already stationed at the school. When he arrived at the scene, he inadvertently passed the shooter, who was crouched down next to a car.
- One desperate 911 call came from a little girl in a classroom the gunman stormed. “Please send the police now,” she said.
- One student in room 112 called 911 at 12:03 p.m. She called back several times. At 12:16, she said there were “eight to nine students alive,” McCraw said.
- At least two children called 911 pleading for help. They survived the shooting, McCraw said.
- McCraw said the on-scene commander believed “this was a barricaded subject situation” and did not think there were “more children at risk.”
- Fifty-eight magazines were recovered. Three were on the shooter’s body, two were found in classroom 112 and six in classroom 111. Five others were found on the ground, and one was in the rifle the gunman wielded.
- The shooter asked his sister to buy him a gun in September 2021 and she refused.
- The gunman made several alarming posts on Instagram. In a group chat of four people in March, he made comments about buying a gun.
- On March 14, he posted on Instagram “10 more days.” When a user asked if he was going to shoot up a school, he said: “No. Stop asking dumb questions and you’ll see.”
For the candidates running to unseat California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta, the fight for political survival is now.
California’s primary election rules send only the top two vote-getting candidates, regardless of political affiliation, to the general election. As the incumbent and only Democrat on the ballot, Bonta is expected to cruise out of the June 7 primary and on to November with little fanfare. Bonta, who Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed to the job last year, was endorsed by the California Democratic Party and has raised more than $5 million for his campaign.
But for the two Republicans and one unaffiliated independent who want to oust the incumbent, the real fight is against each other.
“Rob Bonta as the incumbent is going to get the vast majority of Democratic votes. He’s going to be number one,” said Christy Wilson, a Republican campaign manager.
Bonta’s top contenders include the California Republican Party-endorsed candidate Nathan Hochman, a former assistant U.S. attorney general, and Eric Early, a Los Angeles lawyer who is running a more politically far-right campaign. Sacramento Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert is seeking the office as an unaffiliated independent after she dropped her GOP registration in 2018.
The political odds for each of them are complicated.
The ranks of Democratic voters are double that of Californians registered either as Republicans or voters with “no party preference.” As Democrats have risen to a supermajority in both houses of the Legislature, Republicans have withered to near political irrelevance in Sacramento. And although California voters were told in 2010 that the creation of the “top two” primary system would boost the political fortunes of moderates, no independent candidate has since won statewide office.
Schubert, 58, is undeterred. Known for her work on the arrest and conviction of the serial murderer and rapist known as the Golden State Killer, she has promised to crack down on criminal activity as attorney general and focus on solutions to a growing homelessness and drug addiction crisis.
Dozens of law enforcement and corrections organizations are backing her, along with the majority of California’s 58 district attorneys. Bail bonds companies and groups representing bail bonds agents have shown particular interest in Schubert’s campaign, probably due to her strong opposition to a law Bonta co-authored in 2018 to eliminate cash bail in California.
Schubert has raised $2 million, with an average contribution of $1,400, according to state campaign finance records. She has received support from companies and employees in the agribusiness, real estate and construction industries, and is backed by several Native American tribes that operate large casinos.
Some of the groups have never contributed to a California political campaign before, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis. While most of her financial support is from donors in Sacramento, she’s culled donations from throughout the state.
Schubert’s independence leaves her without either a pre-existing voter base or a party endorsement to promote on the campaign trail. But she’s seeking to use those loose affiliations to her advantage, proclaiming herself as the candidate for Californians who are “sick of politics.” Her prosecutorial record and tough-on-crime proposals are likely to attract Republicans and Democrats, said Rob Stutzman, her campaign strategist. Schubert supports more socially liberal issues such as abortion rights and marriage equality, which could also draw in moderate Democrats.
“The registration disparity, I don’t see a Republican being able to do it. That’s where Schubert is a unique opportunity,” Stutzman said.
Hochman, in contrast, sees the numbers stacking up in his favor.
The progressive incumbent Rob Bonta will have to defend his record against tough-on-crime campaigns including Anne Marie Schubert’s.
Unaffiliated voters don’t reliably vote for “no party preference” candidates, said Matt Rexroad, Hochman’s campaign strategist, while Republicans and Democrats usually support their party’s candidate. The two Republicans — Hochman and Early — could split their party’s vote and create a narrow window for Schubert to advance out of the primary. But Rexroad said she would need more GOP candidates on the ballot, creating a wider spread of the votes, for that strategy to work.
“Anne Marie Schubert could very well get fourth [in the primary],” Rexroad said.
Hochman, 58, is running as an establishment Republican with a resume that spans from Washington to Los Angeles. He has touted his experience as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, as well as his tenure as an assistant U.S. attorney, as evidence of his qualifications for attorney general. Hochman said he would seek to rebalance politics in Sacramento through an approach that lands somewhere between the tough-on-crime policies of decades past and more recent criminal justice reform laws.
Hochman has raised nearly $2.2 million, mostly through large individual donations in the Los Angeles area. The average donation is close to $2,100 and his candidacy is also supported by an independent committee that has raised a total of more than $440,000 from 10 contributions. Contributors to the independent effort include Hochman’s mother as well as real estate investment and financial services companies, along with individuals associated with those businesses. The California Republican Party endorsed Hochman but has not yet contributed or spent money in support of his campaign, campaign finance records show.
“The voters aren’t necessarily going to look at which party we’re registered to,” Hochman said. “They’re going to look to the person who they think can basically bring back safety and security and run the attorney general’s office in the most effective way. I believe voters have concluded that is myself.”
Early, 63, has embraced a sharply ultra-conservative platform. He has promised to do everything he can as attorney general to “outlaw” critical race theory in California classrooms and said he would investigate school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite California’s mostly Democratic electorate, Early unapologetically supports former President Trump, broad gun ownership rights under the 2nd Amendment and new restrictions on abortion.
He called Hochman and Schubert “resume” lawyers and “interchangeable widgets.”
“The people of California across the board, except for the far-left, are prepared and actually want a tough, strong conservative voice that they know and will trust will protect them,” he said.
Early has raised the least amount of money of the three contenders with almost $600,000, including his own personal funds. But he said he believes a network of grass-roots volunteers and donors will help propel him to victory. The vast majority of his fundraising is from small individual donations spread throughout the state.
Early said he’d welcome Trump’s endorsement but isn’t actively seeking it. He’s instead leaning on other allies, including Larry Elder, the conservative talk show radio host who ran unsuccessfully to replace Newsom in last year’s recall. It’s a strategy that could help Early with Republican voters in the primary, but one that might backfire in the general election. Newsom painted Elder as a Trump-like candidate on the way to overwhelmingly defeating the recall with nearly 62% of the vote.
“Eric Early is a big 2nd Amendment defender, and he’s very pro-life,” says the ad’s narrator.
The ad serves as a lesson in how campaigns use California’s top-two primary system to their advantage, often by elevating a candidate that’s easier to beat, said Paul Mitchell, a political data specialist.
“If you want to be able to float to a November victory, why not have a Republican against you in California?” Mitchell said.
But Bonta may have his own political vulnerabilities. He spent eight years in the state Assembly supporting progressive laws championed by criminal justice reform advocates, which his critics have used to blast him as proof that he’s unwilling to handle certain highly publicized crimes, such as “smash and grab” retail theft. Crime is a top issue for voters in this year’s election, according to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies survey from April, co-sponsored by The Times.
Most political watchers still expect Bonta to win a second term as California attorney general, regardless of his competition. Every attorney general since 1999 has been a Democrat, and Bonta’s endorsements include California’s executive leaders.
“I think Bonta is really strong in the statewide campaign,” Mitchell said. “Just the ballot designation, being attorney general, the polling that I’ve seen, Bonta is really strong.”
When Traci Park looks out on her home community of Venice and much of the Westside, she sees a “dystopian nightmare” — tents lining the Venice Boulevard median, fires erupting seemingly every day in encampments and violent crime spiraling “off the charts.”
Living less than a mile north and east, Erin Darling also sees the expanded ranks of unhoused people and increases in some, but not all, types of crime. Darling views the unhoused largely as working-class people who are the victims of a “structural problem” of low wages and expensive housing and “not the product of some moral failing.”
Park and Darling occupy opposite ends of an ideological spectrum in the race to represent the Westside on the Los Angeles City Council.
Darling, a civil rights and tenants’ rights attorney, wants more housing and services before the removal of street encampments. Park, a lawyer for cities and special districts, says encampments need to be removed immediately, with more work required to figure out how to deal with the most troubled people living on the street.
The two attorneys are among eight candidates competing in the June 7 election in the 11th Council District, vying to replace retiring Councilman Mike Bonin, one of the most liberal voices on the 15-member council. The race is viewed by many observers as the most broadly competitive of the eight council seats on the ballot, with the emotionally charged issue of homelessness challenging the famously tolerant sensibilities of the Westside.
The field in the district — which stretches from Pacific Palisades to Los Angeles International Airport and inland to Mar Vista, Brentwood and West L.A — includes as many as half a dozen candidates thought to have a decent chance of finishing in the top two, thereby earning a spot in a November runoff.
“I think it’s completely wide open,” said Fernando Guerra, director of Loyola Marymount University’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles. In what more than one candidate has called “a battle for the soul of the Westside” the contestants have remained civil, eschewing name-calling and taking mostly veiled swipes at one another.
The topic has been the subject of fervent speculation in recent weeks.
While 11th District residents will talk about other issues, like the need for affordable housing and the importance of reining in global warming, the conversation inevitably returns to one topic. “I don’t hear people complaining about inflation or gas prices or food prices, or about abortion,” said Sheila Goldberg, a liberal activist in Venice for half a century. “They are all talking about the homeless.”
A Twitter user who goes by @VeniceWasteland regularly posts video of fires, fistfights, public urination and more in Centennial Park, a green space in the center of Venice Boulevard that has replaced Ocean Front Walk as an epicenter of outdoor camping.
“If your neighbor was blasting music and screaming at 2 am, you could call the cops and they would hopefully come warn them to turn it down,” one Venice resident wrote to @VeniceWasteland. “But if your neighbors were a bunch of drug addicts setting up a commune at the park library across the street, you now have zero recourse.”
Many in the community have focused blame on Bonin, whom critics depict as out of touch and more sympathetic to the unhoused than he is to encampment neighbors. When a motor home burned on Main Street in Venice last year, someone graffitied it with “Boninville.”
But others on the Westside defend their councilman, saying he has taken the principled position that homeless people mustn’t be uprooted until real alternatives are found. He pleased progressives by declining to use the city’s new anticamping ordinance to designate schools, parks and other public facilities as off-limits.
The councilman survived a recall attempt in January, when opponents fell about 1,350 signatures short of the more than 27,000 needed to force him onto the ballot. But a week after the ouster failed, he announced he wouldn’t seek a third term.
Darling has set himself apart from the other candidates by saying that he, too, believes it’s not right to ban camping without better alternatives. The 41-year-old lawyer decries his opponents for what he says is an “enforcement-only approach” that will just push homeless people from one neighborhood to the next, with the attitude: “I don’t care where they go, but they can’t be here.”
Perhaps the next-most-liberal candidate, 52-year-old Greg Good, says he would invoke the no-camping ban in some locations, notably adjacent to A Bridge Home shelter, which became a flashpoint when city officials didn’t follow through on promises to increase policing and ban camping in the surrounding neighborhood.
“It’s not tenable to just allow encampments to continue to expand under the auspices of waiting for the perfect housing,” Good said. “We need to build as much permanent affordable housing as possible. But we also need to look for every interim housing possibility that exists.”
The rest of those vying for the council seat say they would take more precipitous action.
Land use attorney and community activist Mike Newhouse, 47, touts a plan that he says would clear encampments within 30 days, claiming that enough temporary or permanent housing will be available, though some homeless services workers reject that assertion.
“If we don’t enforce our anticamping ordinances, more and more people will come here,” said Newhouse. “We have better weather. We’re a tolerant people. We’re a kind people. We have services. If you’re a homeless person, why wouldn’t you come here?”
Allison Holdorff Polhill, an attorney and top aide to Los Angeles school board member Nick Melvoin, said she would emphasize cutting red tape to allow successful homeless service providers an easier path to adding beds and services.
“As a city, we need to get out of their way and streamline those regulations,” said Holdorff Polhill, 56, who lives in Pacific Palisades.
Park rejects those who say her dark descriptions of the condition of the community stoke fear and animus for the homeless.
“I want those folks to get the services that they need … I want them to lead healthy, happy, productive lives,” Park said. “And I’m also extremely sensitive to and empathetic to the widespread anger and frustration of so many voters in this district. I understand it and feel the same.”
When is California’s 2022 primary election? Here’s how to register and how to cast a ballot in the state primary election.
The issue of law enforcement and the appropriate size of the LAPD has also divided the District 11 field.
Three of the candidates — Holdorff Polhill, Newhouse and Park — echo mayoral candidate Rick Caruso in calling for increasing the ranks of the LAPD to something close to 11,000 officers.
Good advocates keeping the force at about its current size but says he would use his district’s discretionary budget to beef up staffing of antinarcotics units. Darling decries attempts to “arrest our way to safety” and said he would focus on hiring more mental health workers.
Good and Darling also set themselves apart from the field as the only two candidates opposed to the recall of Dist. Atty. George Gascón, calling it “undemocratic” to recall an office holder for policy disagreements rather than malfeasance.
Park uses perhaps the toughest rhetoric in rejecting the D.A.: “If you’re tired of the catch and release, you need a D.A. who’s going to do his job and uphold the law and prosecute criminals,” she said. “Period.”
The 46-year-old Park is now considered a leading contender in part because of an infusion of support from law enforcement. Election of an outspoken pro-police representative would mark a sea change for Venice, where rebels half a century ago threatened to secede from Los Angeles to rid themselves of the Los Angeles Police Department.
The lawyer, who has represented cities in bargaining with employees, has the backing of the unions representing rank-and-file officers in the LAPD, the county Sheriff’s Department and city firefighters. The Los Angeles Police Protective League has also helped organize an “independent expenditure” committee — which has attracted funds from apartment owners and real estate interests, among others.
Park already led the rest of the field in fundraising, with almost $390,000 raised by the third week in May — an advantage magnified by the $801,000 infusion of funds from independent committees, including the one organized by the police union.
Good stands second in the campaign funding race, with $245,000 collected, ahead of Newhouse and Holdorff Polhill. A union-supported independent committee has spent $78,000 to support Good, while the owner of a Malibu drug rehab facility has spent $51,000 to help Holdorff Polhill.
Park’s financial edge has allowed her to bombard voters with 91 messages, via email, snail mail, video and the internet, far more than any other candidate, even without the bonus of the independent spending by law enforcement and property interests.
While Darling lagged in fundraising at $72,000, he benefits from endorsements from some of the Westside’s most prominent elected officials, including state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) and Assemblyman Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles). The Los Angeles Times editorial board (which is separate from the news operation that produced this story) also endorsed Darling. And he has the support of the incumbent Bonin, who says Darling represents “the better angels of our nature.”
Park touts support from the public safety unions, along with the Los Angeles Business Federation and Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Newhouse has backing from the Santa Monica Police Officers Assn. and the L.A. chamber group (which issued a dual endorsement, including Park). Good advertises backing from the Sierra Club, the L.A. League of Conservation Voters and Planned Parenthood.
Loyola’s Guerra said he believes Westside voters maintain their core liberal values, but a series of challenges — the COVID-19 pandemic, an uptick in some categories of crime and an increase in homelessness — “have them questioning whether the approach that liberal, Democratic L.A. has been pursuing is meeting the moment and leads to effective governing.”
Candidates in the 11th District have been arguing that their biographies represent the appropriate balance between understanding the city bureaucracy, while also having the chops to challenge it.
Good, who lives in Del Rey, tells voters that his time as chief of legislative and external affairs for Garcetti and then president of the Board of Public Works means he will know how to win votes and govern effectively from Day One in office. But he says he had enough time working for activist organizations like the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy that he knows how to fight like an outsider.
Holdorff Polhill said her work at the Los Angeles Unified School District earned her a reputation as a “fixer,” who helped get meals to students and families during the COVID-19 crisis and move tent camps away from schools. “I’ve dealt with large budgets and large bureaucracies,” she said, “and I’m known for cutting through and getting things done quickly.”
Park said that though she hasn’t worked inside L.A. City Hall, she has advised local governments for years, including writing one of the first policies in the state for police body cameras. “I have been extremely involved and entrenched in municipal issues across the state for years,” she said.
Newhouse claims “inside City Hall knowledge but outside City Hall experience,” because of his work as president of the Venice Neighborhood Council, then with a coalition of homeowner groups he helped found and as a mayoral appointee to the regional planning commission for the Westside.
The current president of the Venice Neighborhood Council, 69-year-old Jim Murez, claims credit for bringing a farmers market to the community and for the plan to plant 650 trees along Venice Boulevard. Murez has said he would fight against the push, now enshrined in state law, to add more units in neighborhoods previously zoned only for single-family homes.
Mathew Smith, 49, stands apart as a Republican and the “only conservative” in the race. The Westchester resident, who runs a medical courier business, has raised under $10,000 for his campaign, limiting his ability to get his message out. Smith says he would restore respect for police, get rid of encampments and look for solutions to the homeless crisis “outside the district.”
The eighth candidate, Midsanon Lloyd, is a teacher who has raised no money and been largely unseen during the campaign.
Darling says that in his work as a federal public defender and for the Eviction Defense Network gave him unique access to the sorts of ordinary Angelenos who confront homelessness.
“I’ve done the work,” he said, “and I’m running now to maintain the economic and racial diversity of the Westside.”
As the NRA plowed forward with its convention in Houston, just days after 19 elementary school children were mowed down in Uvalde, Texas, thousands of Americans, including Beto O’Rourke and David Hogg stood outside to express their outrage.
From The Guardian:
One group, holding wooden crosses for each of the Uvalde victims and wheeling a child-size coffin, split off from the main group to march around the park. “Protect our kids,” they shouted, “not guns.”
A small child in pink shorts and tiny sneakers stood in the middle of the crowd with a handmade sign: “Protect us.”
A rally with speakers began around noon outside the Houston convention center with a moment of silence. Overhead, a plane carried a banner: “NRA GO AWAY.”
MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace pointed out that what went on outside the NRA convention probably got more attention than what happened inside.
The protesters seem to “feel the wind at their back,” reporter Shaquille Brewster said, even though they’ve felt that same way after other mass shootings, only to be disappointed by the lack of action. But they are persevering regardless. Brewster reported passionate verbal confrontations, nothing physical, between the protesters and the NRA convention goers.
But the gun lovers don’t care. Brewster said he had been talking to some of the convention goers. “Their heart breaks” from the elementary school massacre, he said they told him. “But they feel that the Second Amendment and their protections are what are more important.”
That’s right, they apparently admit openly that guns are more important to them than the lives of young children. But they are out of step with most of America.
Ed. Note: Read about the moms who shoved a right wing provocateur right out of their protest. (Wonkette)