Posts © 2011-2012 by Gerald G. Day

Monday, November 23, 2015

November 23, 2015

The Seattle Times carried a column recently captioned "America isn’t broken; its leadership is." While there is something to be said for the former statement, and much for the latter, I think the formula gives the citizenry too easy a pass. It’s true that politics, in the sense of the actions of the political class, is in terrible shape, and there is no reason not to be frank about the primary source: the Republican Party, in action and in obstruction. Adding the failings on the Democratic side, we could, therefore, legitimately focus on "leadership" as the problem to be solved. However, that analysis avoids the root cause: too many voters choose Republicans.
At first glance, it’s difficult to see how GOP dominance will end, given the flood of money available, directed unevenly toward Republicans, and the effects of gerrymandering and voter suppression. Neither of the latter two are going to go away soon since both are the work of Republican legislatures. However, that dominance need not last forever; there are many potential votes not being cast.
An illustration came from a column by Ron Judd, also in The Seattle Times, which pointed out the irony in the passage of Initiative 1366 - the convoluted attempt to require a two-thirds majority in the Legislature for any tax increase - with only a bare majority of votes, far less than two thirds. He pointed out that the "yes" vote amounted to 16% of registered voters: a super majority rule imposed by a small minority. (The final tally put the yes vote at 19.06% of registered voters, but his point stands). According to the Secretary of State’s office, the number of registered voters, 3,975,958, is only 76% of those eligible to register (hereafter "eligible voters" or "eligibles") have done so. That would put the number of eligible voters at 5,231,524, so the yes vote on I-1366 amounted to 14.4% of eligible voters, and the total vote, yes and no, was 28.12% of the eligibles. Apart from whatever significance that has for the Initiative, it reflects a serious disconnect between citizens and their government.
It isn’t a phenomenon peculiar to Washington, or to this year’s election. In the 2014 election — an "off year" in the sense of not including a presidential race, but more significant than this year — the national turnout was 36.3% of eligible voters. As The New York Times put it, "The abysmally low turnout in last week’s midterm elections — the lowest in more than seven decades — was bad for Democrats, but it was even worse for democracy. In 43 states, less than half the eligible population bothered to vote, and no state broke 60 percent." That is indeed a problem for Democrats, but it also suggests a solution. Yes, they need to continue opposition to voter-suppression laws, but they need to get out the vote, and if demographics are any guide, there are a lot of potential Democratic votes out there. The Times attributed the poor turnout to "apathy, anger and frustration at the relentlessly negative tone of the campaigns." Not much can be done about the last, and anger, it seems to me, is more significant as a spur to conservatives than a disincentive to liberals. Apathy is the problem for Democrats. They need to present a program which people will believe is in their interest. Thus far, Bernie Sanders is one of the few to realize that.

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 15, 2015
The Roberts Court has made its mark in judicial history, although not in a way any believer in good government would admire. A recent issue of The Nation contained reviews of its most controversial decisions in an article entitled "The Case Against the Roberts Court: A Decade of Justice Undone." Included were District of Columbia v. Heller, (guns), Citizens United v. FEC, (money in elections), Shelby County v. Holder, (voting rights), Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (religious rights of corporations), along with restrictive decisions on access to federal courts, among others.[79]  The significance of three of the decisions was graphically portrayed in charts. Gun homicides per capita in the U.S. are more than four times the nearest developed nation; the ratio to the UK is about 25:1. "Outside group" spending on elections was about 3.5 times greater in 2012 than in 2010, the year of Citizens United, and the ratio of conservative to liberal spending in 2012 was about 2.5:1.[80]  Since Shelby County, legislation restricting voting has been introduced in forty-one states. The first illustrates the uncivilized dimensions of the gun problem, which Heller made worse. The other two measure the results of the decisions.
The Nation included a review of the Court’s more liberal decisions, including recognition of same-sex marriage and rejection of efforts to invalidate the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"). However, the principal challenge to the ACA, National Federation of Independent Business et al. v. Sebelius, illustrates another problem: the Court’s misuse of authority. A majority, speaking through Chief Justice Roberts, held that the individual mandate — the requirement to purchase insurance — could not be sustained under the Commerce Clause.
Justice Roberts acknowledged an impact on commerce: "People, for reasons of their own, often fail to do things that would be good for them or good for society. Those failures—joined with the similar failures of others—can readily have a substantial effect on interstate commerce." In this case that means that those who fail to purchase health insurance drive up the cost for everyone else. "Under the Government’s logic, that authorizes Congress to use its commerce power to compel citizens to act as the Government would have them act." True; what is the problem? "That is not the country the Framers of our Constitution envisioned."
Why does he think that? "James Madison explained that the Commerce Clause was ‘an addition which few oppose and from which no apprehensions are entertained.’ The Federalist No. 45, at 293." Madison did say that, but he did not, as Roberts seems to imply, state that the Clause was innocuous and must not be used vigorously. Never mind: "While Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause has of course expanded with the growth of the national economy, our cases have ‘always recognized that the power to regulate commerce, though broad indeed, has limits.’ Maryland v. Wirtz, 392 U. S. 183, 196 (1968)." The issue there was the reach of the federal minimum wage law; several states and a school district argued that the law could not extend to schools and hospitals operated by the states or their subdivisions. The opinion in Wirtz indeed recited the rule about limits, but did not apply it, holding that, under the Commerce Clause, the minimum-wage rules applied to the state entities. Justice Roberts’ restrictive reading of the Commerce Clause was in aid of states’ rights, so his citation of Wirtz is doubly inappropriate.
However, ignoring the holding and relying on the quote out of context, the Chief Justice concluded: "The Government’s theory would erode those limits, permitting Congress to reach beyond the natural extent of its authority, ‘everywhere extending the sphere of its activity and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.’ The Federalist No. 48, at 309 (J. Madison)." However, Madison was describing the actions of state legislatures, not Congress; the Constitution, including the Commerce Clause, had not yet been adopted. Ignoring that, Roberts continued: "Congress already enjoys vast power to regulate much of what we do. Accepting the Government’s theory would give Congress the same license to regulate what we do not do, fundamentally changing the relation between the citizen and the Federal Government." That appears to be a convoluted way of saying that the government may forbid, but may not compel, conduct, at least under the Commerce Clause. Interestingly, Roberts contrasted the limited power of the Federal Government with the broader "police power" of a State. "Any police power to regulate individuals as such, as opposed to their activities, remains vested in the States." He approved of that despite the legislature’s habit of "drawing all power into its impetuous vortex."
Under the Affordable Care Act, the "commerce" is the health care system, of which insurance is a part, and purchasing insurance is part of that, all of which Justice Roberts acknowledged. He simply thinks that the prohibit/require dichotomy must be maintained to prevent the Government from reaching too far . However, he decided that, simply by calling the penalty a tax (and thereby removing it from the Commerce Clause and placing it under the taxing authority) it was possible to uphold it, even though the penalty is a lever to force people to buy insurance: "Although the payment [of the penalty] will raise considerable revenue, it is plainly designed to expand health insurance coverage." Although "the statute reads more naturally as a command to buy insurance than as a tax," it can be upheld as a tax. Pretending that the penalty is a tax is especially odd after declaring, in another part of the opinion, that it is not. However, it has this advantage for Justice Roberts’ theory: "it is abundantly clear the Constitution does not guarantee that individuals may avoid taxation through inactivity." Therefore Congress may not command purchase of insurance and assess a penalty for failure to do so, but it may tax the failure to do so, even though the "tax" really is a "command to buy insurance."[81]
Opinions such as this do not engender confidence.


My comments on the named cases are here: Heller 7/6/08, Citizens United 2/6/10, Shelby County 7/1/13 and Hobby Lobby 7/15/14.

The ratios are approximate; I’ve scaled the bar charts as well as I can.

I discussed the opinion at greater length on 7/15/12.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

October 29, 2015

On a recent cruise, we were the only Americans, the other one hundred ten or so passengers being Brits. Conversations tended to reveal, amid perfect courtesy, that certain American phenomena are puzzling - well, strange - to them. One of them is our endless and money-driven election season. That inevitably led to: "Is Donald Trump really running for the Presidency?" and "Might he win?"
Of course they are baffled by our gun culture, and who in his right mind would not be? Well, Ben Carson, current front-runner among the Republicans, wouldn’t. (I’m assuming that he is competent, although many of his comments give one pause). Shortly after we arrived home, the Umpqua massacre took place. Dr. Carson’s reaction included this: As a Doctor, I spent many a night pulling bullets out of bodies. There is no doubt that this senseless violence is breathtaking – but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away." He doesn’t even have the excuse of never seeing a shooting victim; faced with the result of gun possession, his reaction is to swoon over the alleged benefits of the Second Amendment. Leaving aside his politics and the illogic of his position, the man appears to be utterly insensitive. Apparently eager to emphasize that failing, he added the boast that, had he been there, he would have rushed the gunman. In other words, it was the victims’ fault that they died.
A grass-roots reaction to the shooting illustrated how fractured, hate-filled and simply stupid our culture has become: when President Obama traveled to Oregon to console the victims’ families, he was met by hundreds gun-toting protesters carrying signs reading "Obama Go Home," "Obama Not Welcome Here" and "Go Back To Kenya." This underscores not only the fanaticism and rage of gun nuts, but the fracturing of the polity: a twice-elected President is not welcome in part of his country. He received the same reception when he went to West Virginia to talk about drug abuse: at a rally to protest environmental rules that would limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, a man held a sign reading "Obama is not West Virginia’s President!"
Add a few other factors, such as the concentration of wealth at the top and the reimposition of impediments to voting, and it’s difficult to feel optimistic about the state of the Union.

Monday, August 24, 2015

August 24, 2015
Americans joining ISIS may seem bizarre — Islam is not a force here, ISIS is an aberration of Islam, etc. — but in a way it’s not surprising. It is part of a tradition or, perhaps more accurately, a trend in American culture, that of the society-rejecting loner. We see this trend in the claim of sovereign citizenship, in the law-unto-oneself violence of the NRA, in the idiots from Oath Keepers who brandish assault weapons, in the self-appointed militia who purport to guard military bases, in resistance to mandatory vaccination. We see its rhetorical form in the ramblings of conservative politicians who want to abolish the IRS or the EPA or Medicare or government in general. We see its semi-collective form in the advocacy of nullification or secession, its fully collective form in the delusions of politicians, Democratic and Republican, who think that this country can exist apart from the rest of the world. It is in short the breakdown of society, of the knowledge that no man, state or country is an island.
Mark Lilla put it this way five years ago: "A new strain of populism is metastasizing before our eyes, nourished by the same libertarian impulses that have unsettled American society for half a century now. Anarchistic like the Sixties, selfish like the Eighties, contradicting neither, it is estranged, aimless, and as juvenile as our new century."[78]  Lilla referred to the phenomenon as populism, in part because his article was focused on the Tea Party movement. The use of that term emphasizes the collective aspect, but even the seemingly collective manifestations are driven by the attitude of the self-absorbed individual. Lilla made that point clearly: this kind of populism "appeals to petulant individuals convinced that they can do everything themselves if they are only left alone, and that others are conspiring to keep them from doing just that. . . . They don't want the rule of the people, though that's what they say. They want to be people without rules — and, who knows, they may succeed."

Friday, August 7, 2015

August 7, 2015

Often when traveling there is a memorable incident, and sometimes it’s a downer; for example last year our trip ended in Paris. At breakfast on our first day there, my youthful, usually agile wife Bev fell in the hotel dining room, fractured her right hip, and spent our stay in Paris in a hospital receiving an artificial one. One of this year’s events (same city, different hotel) also was in the breakfast room but was less dramatic.
One morning we were startled by a loud announcement in French, then in English: "Attention, attention: due to a glitch in our hotel," everyone must go to an emergency exit. This left us wondering a) where is an emergency exit? b) what do we do once there? c) why are the staff paying no attention? and d) what is the French word for "glitch"? More accurately as to the last, what do the French think that "glitch" means? None of the questions was answered but the announcement ended in mid-sentence on about the ninth repetition. The glitch appeared to have been in the emergency system.
Even with the odd crisis, traveling abroad is enjoyable, and was especially so this year as our good friends the Todds joined us. On a far more elevated note than my reminiscences, Terry Todd set forth his (our) experience in Paris searching for memorials to the composer Jacques Offenbach; here is his record, slightly abused edited by me:
The Opera Lover’s Guide to Europe, by Carol Plantamura, tells us this:
"Jacques Offenbach is, without doubt, the greatest composer of 19th-century opera bouffe. Under the influence of his sparkling, memorable melodies and witty charm, operetta became the rage in Paris, Vienna, and Berlin throughout the second half of the 19th century.
"Three theatres are on the operatic map because of Offenbach. We remember him today for his lyric drama Les Contes d’Hoffman and his extraordinarily catchy melodies (such as the cancan tune). But he was responsible for the worldwide popularity of operetta in the late 19th and early 20th century. . . .
". . . In 1850, he was appointed conductor of the Theatre Francais. Then, in 1855, he opened a summer theatre he called Les Bouffes-Parisiens in the Salle Lacaze, which was then replaced by Theatre Marigny. When he was in residence, he called the theatre Bouffes-Parisiens.
"With this name the theatre presented premieres of ten of his operettas between July 5, 1855 and July 31, 1856. Today the names of Offenbach and (Ludovic) Halevy emblazon the top of the theatre on the corner of Avenue de Marigny and Boulevard des Champs Elysees, directly across from the Grand Palais. Today the theatre holds 1,000 and presents plays."
"Today the theatre holds 1,000 and presents plays." Reading this was sufficient motivation for me to want to search for Offenbach when I found myself in Paris in April, 2015. Could I actually find this theatre and walk where Offenbach had walked? The theatre was still there in 1997 when Ms. Plantamura wrote her book, which included an artist’s sketching of the building, fronted by several impressive trees. Her description even included a phone number and box office hours. Would I be able 18 years later to actually go there and buy a ticket to see an opera bouffe?
I was in Paris in late April, 2015 with my wife Donna and two close friends, Jerry and Bev Day. When they asked what was on my list to see in Paris, I noted the usual---Eiffel Tower, Arch of Triumph---but especially, "I really would like to find a theatre (there were several) where Jacques Offenbach presented his operettas." Many of the operettas are in my music collection, (he composed more than 70), recorded from vinyl to cassette, and several of them I have seen in person on stage. I have for years been addicted to operetta in general, by several composers, but especially those by Jacques Offenbach. In fact, Jerry and Bev had aided by interest in this composer years ago by giving me an outstanding 1965 LP record set of The Tales of Hoffman, his only grand opera, still frequently performed today by major opera companies.
I did not want to let the opportunity pass. I was in Paris, and when would I come back if I didn’t look for the theatre now? The Plantamura book was my guide, along with a map of Paris. But I had to enlist the help of a front desk staffer at our hotel to find avenue de Marigny in the maze of streets on the map. There it was, just off the Champs Elysses, as described. It could be done; I could get there.
And we did get there, after a walk of several long blocks down the Champs Elysses from the Arch of Triumph. The drawing in the Plantamura book was accurate—it was Theatre Marigny, or Theatre Bouffes-Parisiens, as Offenbach called it. I circled the building several times to enjoy the full measure of its location and history. The building was closed, but it didn’t matter. There was a workman scurrying around, and a sign on the door said closed for remodeling. Donna did take a picture of a poster near the door, advertising the last production. I thought that probably the theatre would open again for the summer, just as it had during Offenbach’s tenure.
Two more theatres were part of Offenbach’s life in Paris. In 1856 he took over a theatre at 4 rue Monsigny and again used the name Theatre les Bouffes-Parisiens. Hitting his stride in a new venue, he sponsored a competition for young opera composers, entered by 78 hopefuls and won by Georges Bizet and Charles Lecoq. Over the next several years, 44 of Offenbach’s operettas premiered here, notably the enduring Orphee aux enfers (1858). The Plantamura book notes that today this theatre is still presenting light comedies and seats 690. Finally, there was a third theatre, also still standing. "Built in 1807, Theatre des Varietes at 7 Boulevard Montmarte experienced its heyday in the Offenbach period of the 1860s," Plantamura wrote. Among the premiers were La Belle Helene (1864), Barbe-bleue (1866),La Grande-Duchesse de Gerolstein (1867), La Perichole (1868).
I would have wanted to try to find these theatres as well, but there was only so much time in Paris, and our foursome moved on, but I was still searching for Offenbach. All I knew was that Offenbach is buried at Montmarte cemetery, and that the Montmarte district, famous as an artistic center and home to well-known 19th-century impressionist painters, included the beautiful cathedral Sacre-Coeur, which we planned to see anyway.
The next day, after touring the cathedral, we decided to walk to the cemetery, not realizing that the walk would be about 2 miles! It did include a stroll through the narrow streets of the Montmarte district, this year the center of a city-wide March-to-September celebration in honor of Vincent Van Gogh, who had lived and painted here. We had a delightful lunch at La Cremaillere Restaurant/Cabaret, where Donna persuaded the waiter to give her the impressive menu as a souvenir. Suitable for framing, as they say. The people-watching in this area was wonderful.
Back on our feet, we started walking in the direction shown on the map for Montmarte cemetery. The streets are narrow, car traffic and parking was congested, and all the doors led to small art shops, restaurants and living quarters. There are a few small hotels for those who want the authentic Parisian lodging, but we had the impression that nothing had ever changed here. Uncertain as to whether we were headed in the right direction, and gradually tiring, we finally came upon a major thoroughfare Rue de Caulaincourt, the name shown on our map for the cemetery. Lo and behold, there it was, on both sides of the busy street, with an underpass below. The cemetery was gigantic, absolutely packed with large burial structures. And there was nobody around to answer the big question, where is Jacques Offenbach?
Thankfully, there was a display board showing where about twenty-five famous people are buried, those commonly sought by tourists, including Offenbach. We found the site, beyond the underpass below Rue de Caulaincourt, at the farthest corner of the cemetery. Donna took many photos, and we lingered for awhile.
Walking back, we noted the impressive grave sites of many important Parisians from all walks of life. Many composers, performers, artists and writers are here, honored by large structures and statues, among them Adam, Berlioz, Degas, Delibes, Dumas, Halevy, Heine, Jaubert, Jolivet, Maillart, Moreau, Nijinsky, Stendahl, Thomas, Truffaut and Zola. However, we were there for 1 ½ hours and saw only one other person—a groundskeeper.
Terence N. Todd
May, 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 27, 2015

Television news, whether local or national network, could be entitled Trivial Pursuit. Few of the reports are of much importance and, when one is included, such as the rash of forest fires or the latest shooting, the obvious underlying issues usually are ignored. It’s no wonder that voters are uninformed. On ABC, the latest fad is to make the reports sound like newspaper headlines, devoid of verbs, laden with gerunds. The local NBC outlet has lowered credibility and seriousness still further by hiring anchors who appear to be barely out of their teens. Much of local the broadcasts is given over to the weather, where forecasts mimic precision by giving us one or two degree variations for adjacent communities.
Speaking of voters, we in King County have received "Official Primary and Special Election Ballots." We are to vote for the County Director of Elections and two Port Commissioner positions. Why the first is an elective office is beyond me. It may be necessary to elect Port Commissioners, but the seriousness with which that process is taken is illustrated by the presence of Goodspaceguy in the race for Position 2. Goodspaceguy is an actual person who has run under that alias often enough — for various offices, unsuccessfully — to be described on Wikipedia as "a perennial candidate." It adds: "He is a self-described extraterrestrial life", who has introduced himself as coming from "Phoebe, one of Saturn's many moons." Having such a person on the ballot is a bit strange, but then Donald Trump is running for the presidency.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

July 5, 2015
The Confederate flag long has been overdue for removal, from the culture as well as from flag poles. It finally took a mass murder of African-Americans in a church, by a young racist who had posed with Confederate flags, to set off a wave of protest. The revulsion against the flag began with photos of the South Carolina capitol showing American and state flags at half-staff, but the rebel flag at full height. Once begun, it spread with surprising speed, catching some Republican politicians off guard, requiring a hurried reversal of position. 
The reason — excuse — for flying the Confederate flag has been that it symbolizes Southern pride, culture or history, or that it honors confederate war veterans. Always left out is that the Southern culture in question was based on slavery, and that secession, creation of the Confederacy and the Civil War grew out of the determination to preserve and extend it. Ordinances or declarations of secession in several states expressly referred to slavery as the issue. Here is an excerpt from the Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union:
We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.
That . . . the servitude of the African race . . . is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, . . . while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states.
South Carolina, in its Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union, complained that fugitive slaves were not being returned and that northern states "have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign [62] the property of the citizens of other States."[63]
The Constitution of the Confederate States of America protected slavery:
No. . . law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed. [Article 1, §9, ¶4]
The Confederate States may acquire new territory. . . . In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the Territorial government; . . . [Article 4, §3, ¶3]
The Confederate flag is a symbol of racism, and should be taken down everywhere.

The other aspect of culture represented by the Confederate flag is rebellion, in its extreme form secession. Consider The League of the South, the web site of which features the Confederate flag. An article by its president, J. Michael Hill, declares that secession is "As American As Apple Pie!" and offers ten reasons to secede, including (odd syntax in the original):
1. The U. S. government is an organized criminal enterprise, secession is the only way to return to legitimate government . . .
3. The South's unique history and culture is worth protecting . . .
6. Third World immigration into the South, secession removes the federal government's interference and lack of performance . . . .[64] 
The unique history and culture include the notion that the South belongs to "Anglo-Celtic" people. The threat to that dominance (from immigration) is called "Southern demographic displacement."

Hill also wrote this, in February of this year: "This 14th of April will mark the 150th anniversary of John Wilkes Booth’s execution of the tyrant Abraham Lincoln. . . . A century and a half after the fact, The League of the South thanks Mr. Booth for his service to the South and to humanity."[65]  Assassination as Southern pride.
Finally, to underscore the League’s devotion to the symbol of rebellion, separatism and racism, Hill offered this on June 19, two days after the Charleston mass murder:
Everywhere leftists are calling for the removal of the Confederate battle flag, especially at the State House in Columbia, SC.
We in The League of the South agree that a flag should be taken down. Not the most recognizable historic flag of the South but the flag of our occupiers for the last 150 years. [indicating the American flag]
Among its sins, the national flag represents "open borders and Third World immigration," but in "sharp contrast, our beautiful battle flag . . . stands for the heroic effort our people made 150 years ago to avoid the fate were [sic] are experiencing today.[66]     

The pro-flag arguments invoke states’ rights or, more defiantly, "state sovereignty." Near the beginning of a long and rather muddled article on The New American,[67] the author quoted the NAACP Southeast Regional Director Earl Shinhoster:
. . . Shinhoster referred to the Confederate flag as an "odius [sic] symbol of a bygone era." But Shinhoster hit the nail on the head when he identified the issue behind the flag: "It represents state sovereignty, state rights, a rejection or resistance to federal control, and it has an adverse effect on basic issues of human need."
Somehow the last phrase got lost in the ensuing discussion. Instead the focus was on sovereignty.
One thing is certain: Respect for the heritage and traditions of the South is still strong. But the greatest Southern tradition of all is not the Confederate battle flag, but the battle for state sovereignty that was fought under it.
That battle is far from over and the participants in the fight have no intention of striking their colors until constitutionally limited government is restored. [68]
He has forgotten that, when it suited the Southern desire to protect slavery, the South invoked federal enforcement of federal law, in the form of the Fugitive Slave Act, and denounced northern states which interfered with it. States’ rights, like other political ideologies, is a flexible instrument.

However, as the author says, the battle for state sovereignty continues, notably among the nullifiers, who continue to pretend that it is a legitimate theory despite its sullied history, illogic and lack of constitutional basis.
The day after the killings, President Obama made brief statement which addressed the racial element of the crime:
The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history. This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked. And we know that hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals.
The "also" in the first sentence refers to his comment on another issue unavoidably raised by the murders:
[O]nce again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. . . .
. . . At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it. And at some point it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it, and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.[69] 
In broadcasting clips of his remarks, ABC Nightly News cut off the entire reference to guns; NBC omitted the part about doing something. Perhaps those networks agree with Fox, whose White House reporter wondered why anyone would be interested: "Why are people getting pulled into other issues like gun control right now in the wake of this tragedy and not talking about the economy, which is what matters most to people?"[70] No wonder it remains an unresolved, unaddressed issue.
It will remain so if certain of the Republican candidates become president. On June 24, Scott Walker signed a bill eliminating Wisconsin’s 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases.[71]  Within days after the murders, during a campaign swing in Iowa, Ted Cruz underscored his reactionary views and his basic stupidity by offering up these comments:
— "You know the great thing about the state of Iowa is, I'm pretty sure you all define gun control the same way we do in Texas -- hitting what you aim at."
— "There's a famous saying, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. There is a reason why the Second Amendment is right after the First."
— "It's sad to see the Democrats take a horrific crime and try to use it as an excuse, not to go after people with serious mental illness or people who are repeat felons or criminals, but instead try to use it as an excuse to take away Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens."[72] 
Mike Huckabee suggested that the congregation should have been packing heat.
In February, South Carolina Governor Haley signed a law allowing those with concealed carry permits to bring their guns into bars. She favored another proposal to eliminate the permit requirement entirely and allow open carry in the state. "Criminals are dangerous, and I think that every resident should be allowed to protect themselves from criminals."[73]  And now? She ducked a question about guns: "Any time there’s a traumatic situation, people want something to blame. They always want something to go after."[74]
The mayor of Charleston is more intelligent: "It is insane: the number of guns, and the ease of guns in America. . . . It's a small -- really small group, well-funded -- that keeps this issue from being appropriately addressed."[75]  He also summed up Huckabee’s suggestion: "That is so nutty I can’t even talk. It’s crazy. Absolutely crazy."[76]
However, as if to illustrate how hopeless the situation is, the Charleston Post and Courier slapped a sticky-note ad for a gun shop on some of its papers on June 18, next to a headline about the shooting.[77]


62.An archaic term meaning "to remove or carry away to a distance, especially so as to conceal."
63. Both quotes from html

67. Published by "American Opinion Publishing, a wholly owned subsidiary of The John Birch Society."