The following editorial appears on Bloomberg View:
America’s extraordinary gun violence is enabled by a lack of both laws and responsibility. In a small but significant way, bipartisan legislation proposed by Sens. Jeff Flake and Martin Heinrich seeks to address both failings.
A record of domestic violence is a frequent denominator in cases of gun violence. About 50 U.S. women are shot dead each month by an intimate partner. More than 4 million women say they have been threatened with a gun by an intimate partner.
The man who killed 26 and injured 20 last weekend at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, had been court-martialed in 2012, while he was in the U.S. Air Force, on charges of assault on his wife and stepson. A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety said a “domestic situation” was also at the root of the church massacre.
This conviction should have prevented the killer from purchasing several guns he acquired, including a semi-automatic rifle used in the church massacre, from licensed dealers. Yet the Air Force acknowledged this week that it had failed to enter the man’s name into a federal database used for instant background checks of firearm purchasers.
The problem goes beyond a single instance of incompetence. The military has often failed to report criminal records as required. Many states, whose participation in the background-check system is voluntary, also fail to report key records of drug abuse, mental health or felony convictions that would prohibit a firearm purchase.
Background checks are still the best way to keep guns away from dangerous people, which is why safety advocates must continue to push to close the private gun sale loophole and to improve sloppy reporting to the background-check databases by all levels of government.
The bill from Flake, an Arizona Republican, and Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, is a step in the right direction. It would require the military both to identify cases of domestic violence and to promptly submit conviction information to the criminal background database. To make sure the system is working, and supervised, the bill would also require annual reports to Congress.
The Pentagon’s failure may be a remnant of an era when domestic violence wasn’t taken seriously. Or it may simply be more evidence that nonchalance about guns makes gun violence more likely. Times, and attitudes, have changed about domestic violence. This Senate bill will help move the law, and the nation, to a more responsible position on gun violence as well.
We have come to see this routine regularly. President Donald Trump travels to an autocratic regime with whom the United States has serious issues. Its leaders wine and dine him, outdoing previous hosts. More bands! More children waving flags! Trump is mesmerized by the spectacle and laps up the attention. Our issues and Trump’s previous tough rhetoric disappear, wafting into the air like the balloons (no, doves, make it hundreds of doves, the most doves ever!) released in his honor. The author of “The Art of the Deal” is a sucker, a patsy, an easy mark.
This was vividly demonstrated in his China visit. The Post reports:
“President Trump lavished praise on Chinese leader Xi Jinping here Thursday, touting ‘great chemistry’ between them while refusing to criticize his counterpart for the trade imbalance that Trump railed against during his campaign.
“Speaking at a joint appearance with Xi in front of business leaders, Trump said the U.S. trade relationship with China is ‘a very one-sided and unfair one.’ But, he quickly added: ‘I don’t blame China. Who can blame a country that is able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit.’
“During the presidential campaign, Trump accused China of ‘raping’ the U.S. economy and threatened to label the country a ‘currency manipulator’—even though economic analysts have said Beijing has not artificially inflated the renminbi for years. In his remarks here, Trump reiterated that the United States must ‘change its policies,’ but he offered no details about actions his administration will pursue”
He gushed in a tweet directed at the Chinese dictator: “Thank you for such an incredible welcome ceremony. It was a truly memorable and impressive display!”
The hapless Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried gamely to ignore the boot-scraping by the president. He was, perhaps, joking—yes, that dry wit!—when he blamed his own country. Obsequiousness? Tillerson saw nothing of the kind. (“I didn’t detect that at all,” he insisted.)
It was as embarrassing a display as we have seen on the world stage in a decade or more. President Barack Obama was skewered for apologizing for the United States, for refusing to recognize American exceptionalism. Trump confesses (falsely) on America’s behalf, sounding timorous and needy.
“Trump was alarmingly weak and passive in China. He continued to blame America first, something he has done on other overseas visits, and hasn’t delivered any tangible wins for America on this visit,” says Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress. “In fact, if you add up his domestic policies and tax proposals and combine it with his fawning approach to China on this trip, it seems that Trump is willing to throw American workers under the bus because of his deep ties to corrupt corporate cronyism and his odd affinity for authoritarian countries like China.” This is not merely cringe-inducing but dangerous. “Our allies and adversaries alike see the gap between his rhetoric and his actual policy—and they also see the disarray and disorganization inside of his administration when it comes to national security,” Katulis observes. He says that “it’s incredible to see how difficult it is for Trump to face down a competitor in person. For all of his bluster about China, he found it very hard to defend America against China while Chinese officials were in the room. Could you imagine what would happen if he actually sat down with Kim Jong Un? Or if he actually got that meeting he wanted with Iran in September?”
Trump is handicapped intellectually and emotionally. He is too ignorant to understand the implications of his words and gestures—and uninterested in educating himself further. And his well of neediness makes him a sitting duck for anyone who understands the art of flattery and personal manipulation. Faced with a vain, narcissistic, unserious U.S. president, foreign leaders understand that this is a unique time to pick the United States’ pockets clean.
How do they do it? I am not the first to compare the Clintons to Harry Houdini, the great magician and escape artist, but Bill and Hillary make him look like a rank amateur.
No law seems to touch them. No regulation seems to control them. No prosecutor wants to take the risk of holding either Clinton accountable for anything. OK, Bill was impeached by a Republican House, but not convicted in the Senate.
The latest escape for Hillary involves former FBI Director James Comey and the law governing classified materials. The Hill newspaper’s John Solomon has obtained an early draft of Comey’s statement about Hillary’s mishandling of classified documents on her email account.
Initially, Comey was going to charge her with being “grossly negligent,” a violation of the law which subjects one to prison and fines. In his public statement that sounded like an indictment, Comey changed his description of her actions to “extremely careless,” a distinction without a difference, but which he said was not an indictable offense because she didn’t intend to violate the law.
About Comey’s rationale for changing the words in his draft memo, the public does not yet know, but Comey testified before a Senate committee that it made him “mildly nauseous” when he considered the FBI’s impact on the election.
Gregg Jarrett, an attorney who frequently offers legal opinions on the Fox News Channel, has been keeping track of Hillary Clinton’s skirting of the laws and escapes from its penalties.
Here is his account of only a few recent examples of what might be a twist on the song “I Fought the Law (And the Law Won).” In her case, Hillary fought the law and bested it.
Speaking about a deal that allegedly allowed for the sale of some U.S. uranium to the Russians via a Canadian, who heavily contributed to Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, then receiving $500,000 for a speech in Moscow (a sale some other commentators say didn’t occur), Jarrett says, “...it’s a crime to use a public office to confer a benefit to a foreign government in exchange for money ... it can be prosecuted under a variety of anti-corruption laws passed by Congress, including the federal bribery statute (18 USC 201-b), the federal gratuity statute (18 USC 201-c), the mail fraud statute (18 USC 1341), the wire fraud statute (18 USC 1343), the program bribery statute (18 USC 666) and the Travel Act (18 USC 1952).”
As for the anti-Trump Russian dossier, which Democrats, including those associated with the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for, Jarrett says it’s a violation of federal law to pay foreign nationals to impact a U.S. political campaign (52 USC 30121), and it’s also a violation to file a false or misleading campaign report (52 USC 30101).
“I’ve been hearing Democrats say, ‘Oh, those are just civil penalties,’” says Jarrett. “They are not. The government produces a book — it’s 319 pages — outlining the federal election laws and all those who have been criminally prosecuted and ended up in prison.”
How does Hillary Clinton get away with it? Jarrett says: “The Clintons are escape artists that would make Houdini proud. Whenever they are caught dangling their feet over the edge of illegality, they usually dummy up.”
He pointed out that when Hillary Clinton spoke with FBI investigators about her private email server last year, she said, “I cannot recall” 39 times.
If the Justice Department refuses to appoint a special counsel to hold Hillary accountable under the laws the rest of us can’t escape, and if Robert Mueller won’t do it, then Congress should continue with its own investigations.
We often hear “no one is above the law.” That has never applied to the Clintons.
I have been requested to comment on the NFL’S disgraceful actions in not honoring the national anthem. I am a United States Marine Corps veteran and have coached high school football for 30 years. My football teams took great pride in asinging the anthem or reciting the pledge. So, I will comment on Collin Kapernick who was the original “kneel downer,” and is now suing the NFL because no team will sign him.
Question for Collin: Did you skip school when free enterprise in America was being taught? Here is the bottom line: As an owner, coach, or employer, I am not going to bring anyone onto my team or organization that is going to be detrimental to our established goals ... period!
For you other “fine gentlemen,” here are some ideas to improve your attitudes: Take your over inflated paychecks, donate them to Red Cross, Salvation Army, public schools, ect., and book passage back to your country of origin. You will find a plethora of people kneeling. They are looking for food and shelter! Perhaps then you might just understand what a great country the United States is and always will be!