The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

How to Stop the Next Mass Shooter

When you express skepticism about the value, legality, or effectiveness about gun control proposals after a mass shooting, you’re often asked, “okay, smart guy, how would you prevent the next one?”

When you look at the more infamous mass shootings in recent years, you see a disturbing pattern.

After the Virginia Tech shooting, Lucinda Roy, co-director of the university’s creative writing program, described her meeting with police, attempting to describe her concerns about the shooter:

“The threats seemed to be underneath the surface. They were not explicit,” she recalled. “And that was the difficulty that the police had. I would go to the police and to the counselors and to student affairs and everywhere else, and they would say, ‘There’s nothing explicit here. He’s not actually saying he’s going to kill someone.’ And my argument was he seemed so disturbed anyway that we needed to do something about this.”

In Aurora, Colorado: “When [the Aurora shooter’s] psychiatrist warned campus police at the University of Colorado how dangerous he was, they deactivated his college ID to prevent him passing through any locked doors.”

In Tuscon, Arizona:

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told ABC News that campus police had to get involved at the college where [the shooter] once attended after a number of complaints.

“All I can tell you is that teachers and fellow students were concerned about his bizarre behavior in class to the point where some of him were physically afraid of him,” Dupnik said. “He was acting in very weird fashion to the point where they had several incidents with him to the point where law enforcement at Pima College got involved and they decided to expel him. And they did.”

In Isla Vista, California: “Last month, the 22-year-old wrote, his mother was so concerned about his well-being after seeing some of his videos on YouTube that she contacted mental-health officials, who dispatched sheriff’s deputies to check on him at his apartment in Isla Vista, an enclave near the University of California at Santa Barbara.”

The Sandy Hook shooter made unbelievably bloody and disturbing drawings. In case after case, we see fairly clear signals that the shooter is deeply troubled and in many cases is growing obsessed with violence.

A stunning number of school shooters since Columbine indicated an obsessive interest in that shooting. Fascinating and disturbing research by Mother Jones found that the shooting inspired “at least 74 plots or attacks across 30 states” and “in at least 14 cases, the Columbine copycats aimed to attack on the anniversary of the original massacre. Individuals in 13 cases indicated that their goal was to outdo the Columbine body count. In at least 10 cases, the suspects and attackers referred to the pair.”

We have all heard the slogan, “If you see something, say something.” Lots of people do say something; quite a few of the infamous mass shooters of recent years had already been reported to police for strange, threatening, or troubling behavior. Unfortunately, the police did not see sufficient reason to press charges or have the person placed in a mental institution.

What will stop the next mass shooting? The family, loved ones, peers and psychologists of the next shooter taking their disturbing or threatening behavior seriously, reporting it to the police, and the police taking it seriously.

Were there warning signs or strange behavior in the case of the Las Vegas shooter? Maybe.

Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock encouraged his girlfriend Marilou Danley to leave the country before his attack that left 58 people dead, her sisters told CNN affiliate in Australia 7 News.

The sisters, who spoke to 7 News exclusively, did not want to be identified by name and requested their faces be blurred.

“I know that she don’t know anything as well like us. She was sent away. She was away so that she will be not there to interfere with what he’s planning,” one of Danley’s sisters told 7 News from their home in Australia’s Gold Coast region.

“In that sense, I thank him for sparing my sister’s life,” she said, adding her sister was “really in love with Steve.”

The other sister said Danley, who arrived back in the US from the Philippines on Tuesday, “didn’t even know that she was going to the Philippines, until Steve said, ‘Marilou, I found you a cheap ticket to the Philippines.’”

Do people often urge their significant others to leave the country suddenly and out of the blue?

Reagan’s Argument for Eliminating the State and Local Tax Deduction

You’ll recall that I’m wary about the GOP proposal to eliminate the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes. I argued it amounts to a punishment for a lot of people who voted for Trump in places like New York, New Jersey, and California. I thought one of the reasons Republicans wanted to cut taxes was to let people keep more of their money, so they will then use it to buy things and stimulate the economy. Eliminating the deduction would dramatically reduce the impact of the coming tax cut for millions of Americans.

America Rising reaches out, sharing two clips of President Ronald Reagan calling for this deduction to be eliminated. First, in an address to the nation, May 1985:

REAGAN: “We’re reducing tax rates by simplifying the complex system of special provisions that favor some at the expense of others. Restoring confidence in our tax system means restoring and respecting the principle of fairness for all. This means curtailing some business deductions now being written off; it means ending several personal deductions, including the state and local tax deduction, which actually provides a special subsidy for high-income individuals, especially in a few high-tax states. Two-thirds of Americans don’t even itemize, so they receive no benefit from the state and local tax deduction. But they’re being forced to subsidize the high-tax policies of a handful of states. This is truly taxation without representation.”

Then a month later, speaking to state and local officials at the White House:

REAGAN: “Now, I know that many are concerned about our proposed elimination of the state and local tax deduction. Well, the first point to make here is an argument for fairness — and I have a hunch that maybe somebody here’s already made this argument — but only about one in three itemize their deductions and get the benefit of that deduction. There can be no justification for a preference that gives the wealthiest — one taxpayer in three — a rebate on local taxes while its less fortunate members or neighbors pay a full dollar locally plus higher Federal taxes in order to fund that rebate. Recently, too, I heard some good news from my home state of California. Now, California is generally considered one of the high-tax states and so, according to the prevailing wisdom, would have the most to lose from the loss of deductibility. The Los Angeles Times has reported, however, that the State Franchise Tax Board has completed a study, finding that Californians would dramatically benefit under our new plan. In the end, all America will benefit from this fairer, pro-growth tax plan. In the words of Democratic governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, ‘If my taxpayers are better off, particularly my middle-income taxpayers are better off under this plan, that’s really the issue, isn’t it?’”

First, doesn’t it feel good to hear that voice again?

Second, the Reagan argument is compelling, but it basically contends that those who find their cumulative level of federal, state, and local taxation unbearable should move to different states. That may work as economic theory, but many Americans won’t find that easy to do for a variety of reasons — jobs, families, roots, etc. And if these frustrated taxpayers did move from these blue states to red states, this policy change would basically drain the blue states of the voters most concerned about taxes.

Third, did Republicans tell the voters they wanted to do this on the campaign trail in 2016? It wasn’t mentioned in the party platform at the convention.

Fourth, in the House of Representatives, there are 14 Republicans from California, nine Republicans from New York, and five Republicans from New Jersey. How many of those Republicans get reelected if their constituents feel like they missed out on the tax cut the rest of the country got? Keep in mind, Democrats need to flip 24 seats to take over the House.

Who Wants to Work in Trump’s Cabinet?

This is why presidents don’t usually berate, criticize, or mock members of their own cabinet in public. Your own people stop wanting to work with you.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on the verge of resigning this past summer amid mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House, according to multiple senior administration officials who were aware of the situation at the time.

The tensions came to a head around the time President Donald Trump delivered a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led, the officials said.

Just days earlier, Tillerson had openly disparaged the president, referring to him as a “moron,” after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials, according to three officials familiar with the incident.

While it’s unclear if he was aware of the incident, Vice President Mike Pence counseled Tillerson, who is fourth in line to the presidency, on ways to ease tensions with Trump, and other top administration officials urged him to remain in the job at least until the end of the year, officials said.

In light of Trump’s continuing mocking of Tillerson on Twitter, is it likely Tillerson is out by January? Or perhaps even sooner?

Tillerson must be thinking, “I left Exxon Mobil for this?”

Working in the Trump administration has brought frustration, humiliation, and/or sudden departures to Tom Price, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Anthony Scaramucci, Steve Bannon, and Sebastian Gorka.

Yesterday in the Corner, we discussed the notion of former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal joining the Trump administration as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services.  His name came up as an option during the transition, and I, super-Jindal-fan, was excited at the thought then. But now that we’ve seen the Trump administration in operation for eight months?

How likely is it that the relationship would run smoothly, or that Trump and the new HHS Secretary will get the results they want? When Trump gets frustrated, he blames his staff, often publicly.

So yes, I concur with Jonah and Yuval Levin that Tevi Troy would be an excellent choice to be the next HHS Secretary, perhaps even the best possible choice. I just don’t know why we would want to punish Tevi that way.

ADDENDA: I’m told listeners to the Three Martini Lunch podcast are reaching amazing rates for completion; that is, people who start listening tend to listen to the end. (Most episodes range from about twelve to twenty minutes.) Either Greg and I are really good, or our show is just quicker than our audience’s attention span.

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