IMAGE: (L-R) U.S. President Donald J. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan greet one another on stage during the 2017 “Congress of Tomorrow” Joint Republican Issues Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
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Reprinted with permission from AlterNet
Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California is retiring from Congress at the end of 2021 to work for former President Donald Trump.
The news was first reported by Alex Tavlian of The San Joaquin Valley Sun, which initially claimed he'd stay on until 2022 before updating with the much more rapid timeline. The Trump Media and Technology Group later released a statement confirming that Nunes had accepted an offer to become its CEO, a position he'll assume in January of the new year.
Many observers quickly pointed out that Nunes was next in line to be chair of the Ways and Means committee, should Republicans take control of the House of Representatives — a particularly powerful position in Congress. But apparently, his options outside of government were even more enticing.
Nunes came to public prominence as a fierce defender of Trump during his presidency. For the first two years, Nunes led the House Intelligence Committee and waged an aggressive campaign against the government's investigations into the then-president. He was an aggressive opponent of the Russia investigation and stoked conspiracy theories about an inside plot to bring Trump down.
Nunes was also an outspoken critic of the House investigation of Trump's efforts to induce Ukraine into going after Joe Biden, which eventually led to the first of his two impeachments.
Since taking a prominent place in American politics, the California congressman launched a sweeping effort to silence some of his critics by weaponizing a series of lawsuits against media organizations and individuals whose reporting and commentary displeased him. Those lawsuits have been largely unsuccessful in court, but the effort may have nevertheless contributed to a chilling effect on people interested in speaking out against him.
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After the 2012 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, then-Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, evaded calls for banning weapons of war. But he had other ideas. The "more realistic discussion," Rogers said, is "how do we target people with mental illness who use firearms?"
Tightening the gun laws would seem a lot easier and less intrusive than psychoanalyzing everyone with access to a weapon. But to address Rogers' point following the recent mass murder at a suburban Detroit high school, the question might be, "How do we with target the adults who hand powerful firearms to children with mental illness?"
The parents of Ethan Crumbley presented their clearly troubled 15-year-old with a high-powered weapon. He is charged with using the semiautomatic handgun to murder four students at Oxford High School.
This is hardly the first case of parents enabling a sick child to act on his violent fantasies. Nancy Lanza, the mother of the 20-year-old who killed 27 innocents at the Connecticut elementary school, left an unsecured Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle at her tidy house. Nancy was Adam Lanza's first victim.
Laurel Harper had previously placed her son Christopher in a psychiatric hospital, but that did not deter her from keeping unsecured guns at their home. Christopher brought six of them to his 2015 rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Nine students died.
Both Nancy Lanza and Laurel Harper were divorced women left to single-handedly deal with children tortured by inner demons. But rather than steer their sons away from the gun culture, they both dove into it.
Nancy would go to bars at night and brag about all the guns she kept at home. Laurel, a nurse, spent long hours on forums, her subjects alternating between her son's mental illness and her gun collection.
"I keep two full mags in my Glock case," Laurel swaggered online. "And the ARs & AKs (semiautomatics) all have loaded mags." She criticized "lame states" that put limits on loaded firearms in the home.
Concerning disregard for the lives of others, no one would beat James and Jennifer Crumbley. The school called them in after Ethan was found having drawn pictures of a gun, a bullet and bloody figure with the words "the thoughts won't stop" and "help me."
They came in but refused to take Ethan home. They wanted to get back to their jobs.
The day before, the school informed the parents that their son was found searching online for ammunition. Jennifer responded by sending an insanely supportive text to Ethan: "LOL, I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught."
When these details emerged, the parents took off to hide from getting caught. They now face four counts each of involuntary manslaughter.
The central focus of the Michigan horror has rightly moved from a mentally ill high schooler to his socially deviant parents. Which leads to these two questions:
Aren't parents who keep loaded weapons in a home shared by a disturbed child with violent obsessions themselves mentally twisted? And what could be done about them?
A woman had reportedly told investigators in Connecticut that she overheard Adam Lanza say he planned to kill his mother and children at the elementary school. She even called the local police. But since Nancy Lanza, not Adam, owned the weapons, the police couldn't take them away.
If police had removed arms from adults without criminal records, the gun rights fanatics would have exploded with outrage. How dare you go after these noble defenders of the Second Amendment?
Besides, it's easy to identify mentally ill people who use firearms, right? It's certainly easy once the massacre is over.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at email@example.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.
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