May 7, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 5:48 PM


Texas mall shooter wore neo-Nazi symbol and shared 'white-supremacist content online': report (Maya Boddie, May 07, 2023, AlterNet)

Allen resident Mauricio Garcio, according to The Post wore a "patch on his chest" at the time of the shooting that read "RWDS," meaning "Right Wing Death Squad," a "phrase popular among right wing extremists, neo-Nazis and white supremacists."

Additionally, NBC reports Garcia "interacted with neo-Nazi and white supremacist content online."

Last year, an Anti-Defamation League's Center (ADLC) on Extremism report revealed "all extremist-related murders in 2022 were committed by right-wing extremists," adding, "More than four out of five extremist-related murders last year were committed by white supremacist right-wing extremists."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


In 1st, Ukraine says it downed Russian hypersonic missile with US Patriot system (DAVID RISING, 5/06/23, AP)

Ukraine's air force claimed Saturday to have downed a Russian hypersonic missile over Kyiv using newly acquired American Patriot defense systems, the first known time the country has been able to intercept one of Moscow's most modern missiles.

Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk said in a Telegram post that the Kinzhal-type ballistic missile had been intercepted in an overnight attack on the Ukrainian capital earlier in the week. It was also the first time Ukraine is known to have used the Patriot defense systems.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Best States Rankings (US News, 5/05/23)

Some states shine in health care. Some soar in education. Some excel in both - or in much more. The Best States rankings by U.S. News draw on thousands of data points to measure how well states are performing for their citizens. In addition to health care and education, the rankings take into account a state's economy; its roads, bridges, internet and other infrastructure; its public safety; its natural environment; the fiscal stability of state government; and the opportunity it affords its residents.

More weight was accorded to some categories than others, based on a survey of what matters most to people. Health care and education were weighted most heavily. Then came state economies, infrastructure, and the opportunity states offer their citizens. Fiscal stability followed closely in weighting, followed by measures of crime and corrections and a state's natural environment.

See the overall Best States rankings below, and check out the Best States methodology for a detailed look at the data behind the Best States rankings.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Arch Conservative Jurist Who Helped Save American Democracy From Trump (STEVE CHAPMAN, MAY 6, 2023, The UnPopulist)

A decisive moment leading up to the riot at the U.S. Capitol came when Vice President Mike Pence was considering whether he could reject electoral votes submitted by some states, thus blocking the certification of the 2020 presidential election. A lawyer for Pence reached out to J. Michael Luttig, a former federal appeals court judge, who told him that the vice president had no such authority.

In a series of tweets on Jan. 5, Luttig proceeded to refute the claim of John Eastman and others who told Donald Trump that Pence could keep him in office,. Luttig wrote: "The only responsibility and power of the Vice President under the Constitution is to faithfully count the electoral college votes as they have been cast. The Constitution does not empower the Vice President to alter in any way the votes that have been cast, either by rejecting certain of them or otherwise." Pence followed that guidance--and, despite the mob attack the next day, Congress proceeded with the transfer of power to Joe Biden.

The former judge has won considerable praise for his counsel to Pence. To many people familiar with Luttig's record as a devout conservative, his decision to oppose Trump's effort and to testify against him before the Jan. 6 House committee last summer may have been a surprise. But it was not the first time Luttig had shown the courage and integrity to stand up to an overreaching Republican president.

At first glance, Luttig would seem an unlikely candidate to become a hero to liberals and Never Trumpers.

As assistant attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, he helped to guide Clarence Thomas through his confirmation to the Supreme Court. Among his closest friends were Justice Antonin Scalia and Trump Attorney General William Barr. His law clerks included Alex Azar, who was secretary of health and human services under Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who once described Luttig as "like a father to me," and John Eastman - the same one who told Trump that Pence could refuse to accept electors. Being highly conservative,  intellectually formidable and suitably young, Luttig was on George W. Bush's shortlist for the Supreme Court. Though he was passed over for two vacancies,  filled by John Roberts and Samuel Alito in 2005, he remained a strong contender for a future nomination.

But while innumerable prominent conservatives fell under the spell of Trump before or during his presidency, surrendering their principles in the process, Luttig did not.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


May 6, 2023 (HEATHER COX RICHARDSON, MAY 6, 2023, Letters from an American)

The Second Amendment to the Constitution, on which modern-day arguments for widespread gun ownership rest, is one simple sentence: "A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." There's not a lot to go on about what the Framers meant, although in their day, to "bear arms" meant to be part of an organized militia.

As the Tennessee Supreme Court wrote in 1840, "A man in the pursuit of deer, elk, and buffaloes might carry his rifle every day for forty years, and yet it would never be said of him that he had borne arms; much less could it be said that a private citizen bears arms because he has a dirk or pistol concealed under his clothes, or a spear in a cane."

Today's insistence that the Second Amendment gives individuals a broad right to own guns comes from two places.

One is the establishment of the National Rifle Association in New York in 1871, in part to improve the marksmanship skills of American citizens who might be called on to fight in another war, and in part to promote in America the British sport of elite shooting, complete with hefty cash prizes in newly organized tournaments. Just a decade after the Civil War, veterans jumped at the chance to hone their former skills. Rifle clubs sprang up across the nation.

By the 1920s, rifle shooting was a popular American sport. "Riflemen" competed in the Olympics, in colleges, and in local, state, and national tournaments organized by the NRA. Being a good marksman was a source of pride, mentioned in public biographies, like being a good golfer. In 1925, when the secretary of the NRA apparently took money from ammunition and arms manufacturers, the organization tossed him out and sued him.

NRA officers insisted on the right of citizens to own rifles and handguns but worked hard to distinguish between law-abiding citizens who should have access to guns for hunting and target shooting and protection, and criminals and mentally ill people, who should not. In 1931, amid fears of bootlegger gangs, the NRA backed federal legislation to limit concealed weapons; prevent possession by criminals, the mentally ill and children; to require all dealers to be licensed; and to require background checks before delivery. It backed the 1934 National Firearms Act, and parts of the 1968 Gun Control Act, designed to stop what seemed to be America's hurtle toward violence in that turbulent decade.

But in the mid-1970s a faction in the NRA forced the organization away from sports and toward opposing "gun control." It formed a political action committee (PAC) in 1975, and two years later it elected an organization president who abandoned sporting culture and focused instead on "gun rights." [...]

In 1972 the Republican platform had called for gun control to restrict the sale of "cheap handguns," but in 1975, as he geared up to challenge President Gerald R. Ford for the 1976 presidential nomination, Movement Conservative hero Ronald Reagan took a stand against gun control. In 1980, the Republican platform opposed the federal registration of firearms, and the NRA endorsed a presidential candidate--Reagan--for the first time.

...doesn't stop being judicial activism just because you personally prefer the result.