Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag:

#EndorseThis: John Oliver Exposes Alex Jones’s Snake Oil Empire

In his first ultra-long-but-incredibly-well-worth-it segment after returning from hiatus on Sunday, “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver examined Alex Jones “in his full context.”

For the none of you unfamiliar with Jones, he founded conspiracy-based media outlet InfoWars.com and then ate a “big bowl of chili” and lost custody of his kids.

Of course, there’s much more to the Sandy Hook denier. But we’ll let Oliver explain.

Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones Claims The CIA Is Trying To ‘Assassinate’ Trump

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters for America.

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been repeatedly warning President-elect Donald Trump that “rogue elements” within the CIA are trying to “assassinate” him before he takes office. Trump, who has been publicly feuding with the CIA in recent weeks, reportedly speaks to Jones on the phone and watches his videos. He has previously echoed Jones’ other conspiracy theories and rhetoric.

Jones is a toxic promoter of conspiracy theories, including that the United States government perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and the tragedies at Columbine, Oklahoma City, Sandy Hook, and the Boston Marathon, among others. He was also a leading promoter of the false “pizzagate” conspiracy theories that led a Jones listener to fire a gun inside a Washington, D.C., pizzeria.

Trump has mainstreamed Jones: He appeared on Jones’ program in December 2015 and said he has an “amazing” reputation. Trump also called Jones after the election to thank his audience for supporting his candidacy and promised to appear on his program soon.

Trump reportedly watches Jones’ program and he has repeatedly echoed Jones’ ideas and rhetoric, prompting Jones to remark that it’s “surreal to talk about issues here on air and then word for word hear Trump say it two days later.” Top Trump adviser Roger Stone is also a contributor and frequent guest to Jones’ program. He told Jones that Trump appreciates his work and “knows that you are the centerpiece of the resistance.”

The CIA recently “concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency,” according to The Washington Post. Trump has responded to the report by dismissing and attacking the CIA. The Post subsequently reported that Trump’s attacks “will probably deepen an existing rift between Trump and the agencies and raised questions about how the government’s 16 spying agencies will function in his administration on matters such as counterterrorism and cyberwarfare.”

Meanwhile, Alex Jones has been repeatedly warning Trump that people within the CIA are “planning to assassinate” or “overthrow” Trump and that the agency is “thinking about bringing in outside mercenaries or other agencies” in order to do that.

Author Jon Ronson reported that Jones told him he and Trump speak on the phone and he also communicates with the president-elect through YouTube videos. Jones reportedly said: “I put a video out … a message to Trump. And then two days later he lays out the case. It’s like sending up the Bat Signal.”

Following the Post’s CIA story, Jones issued an “emergency alert” video on December 11 warning Trump that the CIA is trying “to assassinate” the president-elect. From his December 11 video:

ALEX JONES: Why I’m really concerned is that this could be used inside government to trigger emergency systems under COG (continuity of government) that if a major leader like the president is actually a foreign agent they can then reportedly be taken out. And so to have the bold move of implying that a president-elect is being manipulated and controlled by the Russians is a very, very serious telltale sign that they could be thinking about bringing in outside mercenaries or other agencies to actually try to assassinate the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, before he even gets into office. Because remember: They are incredibly desperate right now.

Jones added later in his video that “criminal corporate elements inside the CIA and other agencies” are “moving right now to try to basically overthrow Trump.”

On December 11, he issued another “alert” in which he accused the CIA of subverting Trump and the election. Jones said he “contacted the proper parties. I have run this intel up a lot of important, informed flagpoles, and they all concurred that there is a plan, which we now see is quite evident, to try to steal the election from the American people and Donald J. Trump.” He added that “rogue elements of the CIA are planning to assassinate Trump if they can. They’re definitely looking at it right now.”

Jones also appeared live in an “emergency” Facebook video on December 12 under the caption “CIA Now Stealing Election Trump Must Go On Offense!” In a “message to the president,” Jones told Trump, “I know you see some of my reports, but you’ve got to go on the offense” against perceived anti-Trump forces because “they’re going to politically kill you, and your name first, then they’re going to kill you.” He then suggested that members of the CIA are “enemies” and encouraged him to “go all the way” against them.

Jones’ YouTube channel has published numerous other videos accusing the CIA of trying to kill or “overturn” Trump’s election. Headlines include “It’s Official: CIA, Dems, MSM Planning To Overturn Trump Election!”;National Emergency: CIA Attempting To Overthrow Election”; “Entire MSM Promote Assassination Of Trump, In Prep For CIA Takeover”; and “CIA/Dems Move Forward With Plan to Steal Election From Trump.”

Jones has accused the CIA of being involved in some of the worst terrorist attacks in recent history. Jones said roughly a week after September 11 that the attacks were “a federal operation” and he had “smoking gun evidence” that Osama Bin Laden was “a CIA asset” and “a CIA hireling doing his job” for the government.

He claimed that the CIA was part of a government cabal that bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Jones said, “Oklahoma City was a total false flag with NATO, the ATF, and the CIA and the FBI.”

Jones claimed that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted of the Boston Marathon bombing, “was totally set up, ladies and gentlemen, to sell the police state.” Jones also claimed that Dzhokhar’s deceased brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, “worked for the CIA.”

The conspiracy theorist also recently claimed that Facebook’s new plan to fight fake news is a CIA plot and called on Trump to “unfund the CIA trying to run this.”

Gun Control Groups Spend Millions On State Ballot Initiatives

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Gun safety advocates are pouring tens of millions of dollars into Maine and Nevada to support ballot initiatives that would mandate background checks for gun sales in an effort to clinch state-level victories after years of failed drives in Congress.

The avalanche of money spent on supporting such initiatives ahead of the Nov. 8 vote could hand gun control organizations their biggest win since they failed to secure the passage of federal legislation after the massacre of 26 children and educators at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school in December 2012.

Voters in California and Washington state will also cast ballots on gun control initiatives, and opinion polls show the measures are likely to pass in all four states.

Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun control group founded by billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been leading the charge, throwing its financial weight behind three of the four measures. The organization plans to spend $25 million nationwide on the issue, almost as much as the powerful National Rifle Association has spent on television advertising for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The right to own firearms is protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and any efforts to restrict that guarantee are fought vehemently by gun rights advocates, who are highly influential within the Republican Party.

Victories by gun control groups in Maine and Nevada would mean that half of the U.S. population would live in states with expanded background checks, including private sales not involving a licensed dealer.

Gun control supporters say that would be a symbolic and strategically important threshold.

Opponents of the measures say the laws are poorly written, would do little to combat crime and would punish law-abiding gun owners.

A University of New Hampshire poll in late October found 52 percent of Maine residents support the measure and 43 percent oppose it. In Nevada, two polls in late October found a 16-percentage-point margin and a 25-point margin in favor of the initiative, respectively.

The measures come in a year that voters around the United States will weigh in on 71 citizen-submitted ballot initiatives on topics ranging from marijuana legalization to raising the minimum wage, the largest number in a decade, according to Ballotpedia.org, a website that tracks voting data.

EXPENSIVE BATTLEGROUND

Everytown described its strategy as part of an effort to copy the state-by-state tactic that helped legalize gay marriage across the United States, with Congress unwilling to pass universal background check legislation.

“One of the great advantages of going directly to the electorate is that you can go around the legislative bodies and make law,” said Zach Silk, a consultant who has worked with Everytown in Nevada and previously helped oversee Washington state’s 2014 successful background-check ballot initiative.

Nevada in particular has become an expensive battleground. Bloomberg has personally donated nearly $10 million to the effort there, and Nevadans for Background Checks had collected $14.3 million as of Oct. 18. That is nearly triple the $4.8 million that the leading opposition group, NRA Nevadans for Freedom, had received, all from the NRA.

In Maine, supporters of background checks have outspent opponents by more than 5-to-1, with the Everytown-backed Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership Fund reporting $5.3 million in contributions as of last week.

The NRA did not respond to a request for comment on its campaign spending decisions.

Critics have accused Bloomberg of trying to buy victory.

“This law is convoluted and way overregulatory,” said David Trahan, the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and a former state legislator. “It reflects the person funding this initiative, Michael Bloomberg. His solutions are overkill, and they border on social engineering.”

But Everytown’s executive director, John Feinblatt, said it was the gun lobby that has tried to take power away from the citizenry.

“While the NRA can control legislators and the government, they can’t control the people,” he said.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

IMAGE: Guns are seen inside a display case at the Cabela’s store in Fort Worth, Texas, June 26, 2008. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

The Sandy Hook Lawsuit Is Bad News For Bernie Sanders In Connecticut

Update, 4/28/2016: This article was edited to reflect that Remington makes the “AR-15” rifle, not the “AK-15”.

Only a few days ago, conventional wisdom had it that Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton would be cleaning Senator Bernie Sanders’s clock in tonight’s Connecticut primary after her big win in New York’s presidential nomination. But a poll out yesterday showed the two rivals in a virtual dead heat, despite Sanders’s views on gun control, which pundits had claimed would hurt him badly in the ultra blue Nutmeg state.

Wounds from the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre of school children are still raw here. Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist from Vermont, took a serious hit in the media even before he told the New York Daily News editorial board that he opposed a lawsuit filed by nine Sandy Hook families of victims and a surviving teacher against gun manufacturers like Bushmasters Firearms and Remington who make the AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle. The weapon was used by Adam Lanza in his killing spree at the elementary school in Newtown that claimed the lives of 20 first grade students and six adults in five minutes.

Sanders had voted for a 2005 federal shield law that generally provides immunity to gun manufacturers against such lawsuits, claiming in a Michigan debate that gun companies and dealers would go out of business if they were sued for selling guns legally to people who might later use them for criminal acts. It was a position that drew an impassioned response by Mark Braden and his wife Jackie Braden, whose 7-year-old son Daniel was killed by Lanza at Sandy Hook. They are among the plaintiffs who sued the gun manufacturers, dealers and distributors in an amended complaint filed October 29, 2015.

“Sanders suggested that the ‘point’ of our case is to hold Remington Arms Co. liable simply because one of its guns was used to commit mass murder. With all due respect, this is simplistic and wrong,” the couple wrote in an April 19 Op Ed piece in the Washington Post.

“This case is about a particular weapon, Remington’s Bushmaster AR-15, and its sale to a particular market: civilians. It is not about handguns or hunting rifles, and the success of our lawsuit would not mean the end of firearm manufacturing in this country, as Sanders warned. This case is about the AR-15 because the AR-15 is not an ordinary weapon; it was designed and manufactured for the military to increase casualties in combat. The AR-15 is to guns what a tank is to cars: uniquely deadly and suitable for specialized use only.”

More recently, Sanders has said that the plaintiffs “have the right to sue, and I support them and anyone else who wants the right to sue.”

Ron Schurin, an associate political science professor at the University of Connecticut, said yesterday morning that he didn’t believe Sanders had much of chance in Connecticut against Hillary Clinton who has made gun safety a signature issue in her campaign. He added however, that her “margin of victory could be less than 20 percent.”

Hours later, in another phone conversation with The National Memo, he cited the aforementioned poll and said the race had tightened, with only a two percentage point lead for Clinton. “But that’s just one poll. We’ll see,” he said.

Schurin noted that the former Secretary of State, who was New York’s junior senator for eight years, had the backing of Connecticut’s Democratic Party establishment, from Gov. Dannel Malloy “on down the line.” He said her record on gun safety over the years dates back to her husband Bill Clinton’s support of the Brady Bill on background checks when he was president.

“She ran a commercial here featuring the daughter of the Sandy Hook principal who was killed,” he said, referring to Erica Smegielski and her slain mother Dawn Hochsprang.

By contrast, “Sanders has a mixed record” on gun safety, Schurin observed, adding that Malloy only survived his 2010 bid for reelection against Tom Foley, former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, because of his strong advocacy for strict gun control.

Malloy, a Clinton surrogate who chairs the powerful Democratic Governors Association, attacked Sanders for voting against the Brady Bill five times in an MSNBC interview with Chris Matthews. He even accused the leftist senator of “protecting an industry that is designed to kill people.”

Sanders’s supporters in Connecticut repeat the mantra that their candidate is no friend of the National Rifle Association and has voted to ban assault weapons.  “I think Senator Sanders has made it loud and clear that he has a D-minus rating from the NRA,” said attorney Audrey Blondin, a longtime member of Connecticut’s State Central Democratic Committee and owner of a mother-and-daughter “all woman” law practice in Torrington.

She believes Sanders will “do very well” among Democratic voters, noting Connecticut has a history of support for progressive politicians. These include Gov. Jerry Brown of California who beat Bill Clinton in the Democratic primary for president in 1992 and then Senator Barack Obama who prevailed over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary here.

As for the lawsuit filed by the Sandy Hook families, Blondin said she didn’t know enough about it to comment. But the litigation could dog the Sanders campaign. Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis denied a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Soto et al versus Bushmaster, on April 19 in Bridgeport, setting a date of May 5 to rule on whether discovery can move forward to a potential trial set for April 3, 2018. A spokesperson for the gun companies, who now operate under a corporate entity called Freedom Group, Inc., did not respond to a request to interview defense lawyers.

But legal scholars say that such cases have little chance of success since passage by Congress of the 2005 federal shield law, known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce Act. Hillary Clinton has vowed to lobby for its repeal if she becomes president.

Eugene Volokh, a Gary T. Schwartz professor of law at UCLA who teaches a seminar on regulations of firearms and writes a blog called “The Volokh Conspiracy,” for the Washington Post, said the defendants’ first motion to dismiss the lawsuit only challenged the Connecticut court’s jurisdiction to hear a case that centers on a federal statute.

“And she said, ‘We do,’ because the statute’s defense against lawsuits doesn’t strip the court of jurisdiction,” Volokh said. “It’s in the news because she said we have jurisdiction.” He noted that the defendants in the case would get something “more substantive” when their motion to strike is heard.

Volokh noted that The Protection of Lawful Commerce Act doesn’t totally protect gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits. “It’s true that plaintiffs lose these claims routinely because the statute is so clear. However, immunity is not unlimited. For example, if you sell or lend a devise to someone who is likely to use it unreasonably, you can be held liable. It’s like lending your car to someone you know drinks and has been in seven accidents over the years. All guns are dangerous, just like all cars are dangerous.”

The legal concept is called “negligent entrustment.” Volokh noted that his sense of the people who support lawsuits of this kind is that they “think it will highlight the issues.”

Photo: A selection of AK and AR rifles are seen for sale at the Pony Express Firearms shop in Parker, Colorado December 7, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking