Friday, June 17, 2016


This is not about the fraud that is Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Nor is it about the fraud which is Florida Governor Rick Scott, nor the fraud answering to the name of Senator Marco Rubio. (Florida is a huge state, and they evidently grow con artists like they do citrus fruit.)

On Tuesday, 2-3 days after the mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub, Anderson Cooper interviewed Attorney General Bondi and suggested the latter's rhetoric reflected a "sick irony" in view of her office's tireless effort to defend Florida's anti-gay marriage amendment.  As Think Progress' Josh Israel summarized (and Cooper explained Wednesday, below), Bondi was not amused, and on Wednesday and on Thursday criticized the anchorman's approach. On the latter occassion

She conceded that Cooper “did not know in advance” that she wanted to talk about scams, but objected to the fact that he “just flipped on me.” “There’s a time and place for everything. If he wants to ask me about doing my job, defending the constitution. But to incite anger and hatred — was not the time not the place in front of a hospital.”

There was no indication Cooper tried to incite anger and hatred but plenty of indication that Bondi expected him to play a role in her public relations offensive.  (Mercifully, Cooper did not ask about Florida's policy of denying civil rights protection to gay people.) She gave most of it away when she referred to "defending the constitution," one of the last refuges of a scoundrel, and of conservatives who ignore the constitution. Then she gave the rest away when she noted she had placed herself  "in front of a hospital." Good optics, if you can get it.

Bondi is a very important public official in an extremely important state but she has company in her preference for appearance.  After the catastrophe in Orlando, most Republicans are doing whatever they can to stymie any gun safety legislation which might curb the carnage of mass shootings  or more regular acts of street crime. In its place, they are putting on a show of concern. At least they're good at faking sincerity.

However, as with Cooper,  most Democrats are not buying into the charade.  Asked Monday morning about moments of silence in the House chamber, Representative Jim Hines, who represents a district near Sandy Hook Elementary School, told Slate's Ruth Graham

We’ve done a half-dozen of these already this year. As I told someone else yesterday, we should be shouting the names of the people who are killed in preventable violence, not standing there in some mock and tepid ritual of sanctity—this smug “We care” statement in the face of gross negligence. I’m not going to be part of it anymore.

It turned out he wasn't kidding because

After Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) led the House in the moment of silence in honor of the 49 people who died in the massacre on Sunday, the chamber erupted into shouting as Democrats expressed frustration over the lack of votes to restrict guns after repeated mass shootings.

"Where's the bill?" Democrats chanted. 

"Show some respect!" other Democrats shouted.

Some lawmakers walked out of the House chamber before the moment of silence began in protest, including Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.). Earlier in the day, Himes declared he would not participate in any more moments of silence as a form of protest over the lack of legislative responses to mass shootings.

"The fact is that a moment of silence is an act of respect, and we supported that. But it is a not a license to do nothing," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters off the House floor afterward.

"Members have just had enough of having one minute, a moment of silence on the floor, and then take no action," she said.

At times like these, politicians and celebrities often tweet their "thoughts and prayers," Graham pointed out. Himes responded "'Thoughts and prayer'” are three words that cost you nothing. I’m sick of it. Show some courage. There’s an array of pathetic arguments with the ideologues you hear, that we can’t ever end gun violence."

He's asking a lot.  Donald Trump got clobbered by his own party (and Democrats, for a different reason) when he admitted that if abortion were illegal, the woman as well as the doctor would have to be penalized. Republicans pounced because "prosecute the abortionist" are, also, three words which cost nothing.  Republicans show no courage on that. They show no courage on gun violence. As Pam Bondi understands, it's easier to preen and pose.

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