Goodman: Rubio destroyed his own argument against gun control (Does he realize it?)

Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky asks Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), right, if he will continue to accept money from the NRA during a CNN town hall meeting on Wednesday at the BB&T Center. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS)

Marco Rubio provided much of the drama at Wednesday night’s remarkable town hall on gun violence.

First, simply by showing up in blue Broward County, and to face hundreds of grieving teenage survivors of the Parkland school shooting and their traumatized friends and parents.

There was the moment when Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year-old daughter Jaime in the slaughter, told him: “Your comments this week, and those of our president, have been pathetically weak.”

The moment when student Cameron Kasky asked Rubio to refuse accepting any more money from the National Rifle Association (NRA) — and, perhaps mentally flashing on the $3.3 million he got from NRA in 2016, Rubio said no. “The answer to the question is that people buy into my agenda.”

But to me, the most important moment came when Chris Grady, a Douglas High senior, asked Rubio, “Would you agree that there is no place in our society for large capacity magazines capable of firing off — over — from 15 to 30 rounds and if not more?”

And Rubio said that “after this and some of the details I learned about it, I’m reconsidering that position, and I’ll tell you why… Because while it may not prevent an attack, it may save lives in an attack.”

With fewer bullets for the killer to fire, “three or four people might be alive today.”

“It wouldn’t have prevented the attack but it made it less lethal,” Rubio said.

Bingo! That’s exactly what people who urge banning semiautomatic weapons are saying.

Nothing is going to eliminate all gun deaths in America. And nothing is going to completely keep demented people from getting hold of firearms. But we can at least limit those guns’ lethality.

Guns like the AR-15, which fire with such force that they left victims of the Parkland school shooting “with only shreds of the organ that had been hit by a bullet,” an emergency room radiologist tells us, via The Atlantic. “There was nothing left to repair.”

If you see the logic of making gun cartridges less lethal, then you must see the logic of  making guns themselves less lethal.

Rubio, possibly without knowing it, destroyed his own longstanding argument. The day after the Parkland shooting, Rubio took to the Senate floor to say gun-control measures don’t work. “Whether it is a political assassination of one person or the mass killing of many, if one person decides to do it and they are committed to that task, it is a very difficult thing to stop,” he said, before adding, “that does not mean we should not try to prevent as many of them as we can.”

Yes, stopping a determined killer is a hard thing to do. But once you’ve allowed that the lethality of the instrument is the determining factor in whether something should or shouldn’t be lawful, then why not be consistent? Why not concede that we should be making it much harder for would-be killers to get their hands on armaments that are essentially weapons of war?

Rubio should be applauded for changing his mind on high-capacity ammo magazines. It should be a short step to changing his mind on assault weapons, period.

Take it, Senator.

Hurricane Irma: Scott says Florida needs 17,000 volunteers for relief effort

DORAL, Fla — Florida Governor Rick Scott gives an update to the media regarding Hurricane Irma. It’s still too early to know where the direct impact of the hurricane will take place but the state of Florida is in the area of possible landfall. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott continued his plea today for more volunteers in preparation for, and in aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

“We’ve had 6,800 volunteers sign up in the past 24 hours,” Scott said during a 10 a.m. televised update from an emergency operations center in Hialeah. He said most of those have been government employees.

“That’s great, but we need more,” he added. “We going to need 17,000 volunteers statewide.”

Even that may not be enough.

Hurricane Irma is still a Category 5 storm packing winds of 175 mph, the most powerful to hit the Atlantic Ocean outside of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. And it is expected to be the most powerful to make landfall in Florida since Hurricane Andrew 25 years go.

Irma is also a large storm that, if it follows a track of heading down the center of the state, has the potential to cause up to half-a-trillion dollars in damage and leave thousands of Florida resident without homes.

RELATED LINK: Hurricane Irma: Plywood lines, Gov. visit ahead of storm; Here’s the latest

“The storm is bigger, stronger and faster than Hurricane Andrew,” said Scott, who is scheduled to visit the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center today and give a noon briefing. “We have to understand that this is serious and not take chances.”

Scott said the non-profit Volunteer Florida has 43 teams on stand-by and the American Red Cross is arriving with 1,000 volunteers and several tractor trailers. A Red Cross disaster relief operation is setting up in Orlando, and the Salvation Army and Florida Baptist Convention have kitchens on stand-by to distribute food.

But with the prospect of widespread damage from a direct hit from Hurricane Irma — and Houston’s devastation from Hurricane Harvey still fresh in Floridians’ minds — Scott has been sounding the volunteer alarm for days.

 

Scott’s pleas are made necessary because relief resources are stretched thin in the wake of Harvey. That goes for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as well.

DORAL, Fla — (L-R), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Gov. Rick Scott discuss the need to FEMa aid with the media about Hurricane Irma. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio reminded that FEMA is scheduled to run out of money on Friday. The agency is hoping to get a $7.5 billion infusion just to deal with Harvey alone; but Nelson and Rubio are pushing their Senate colleagues to add more for Florida to the disaster relief bill because “even with the Harvey supplemental aid package, FEMA is likely to run out of funds before the end of September.”

And Nelson took the Senate floor today to urge the immediate passage of a $15 billion disaster aid package needed to fund FEMA past Friday.

“I urge the Senate, I implore the Senate, I beg the Senate to pass this package,” Nelson said on the Senate floor. “FEMA is stretched, and, of all things, FEMA runs out of money unless we act by tomorrow.”

“I left Florida in the middle of the night to come back to make sure that it has my stamp of imprimatur on this legislation,” he continued, “And I’m very glad that the majority leader has agreed to double the amount – basically $7.5 billion, for FEMA and another $7.5 billion for CDBG, Community Development Block Grants, both of which would be for natural disasters.”

“I have emailed yesterday to the administrator of FEMA, Brock Long,” Nelson added, “People are trying to get out, but they’re stuck on the roads, and now they’re running out of gasoline … An urgent plea that I made yesterday that I would make to FEMA again, that we get gasoline into the state of Florida.”

Scott has already deployed 1,000 members of the Florida National Guard to begin logistical and planning work ahead of Irma’s landfall. The governor mobilized another 3,000 this morning. The National Guard also has 1,000 high-water vehicles, 17 boats, 13 helicopters and more than 700 generators on stand-by. More can be brought in from other states, if necessary.

However, Scott insists that people who can help will be needed for everything from food and water distribution to checking on residents to clean up to helping with the disabled in shelters and more.

He urged folks to visit www.volunteerflorida.org to sign up for volunteering opportunities.

“It’s not too late,” Scott said. “We know that volunteers can make a huge difference.”

Christie: U.S. hypocrisy on human rights shows in Cuba policy ‘tweak’

Nelson Avila, center, joins anti-President Donald Trump protesters, calling for open relations with Cuba on Friday in Miami. Trump thrust the U.S. and Cuba back on a path toward open hostility Friday with a blistering denunciation of the island’s communist government. He clamped down on some commerce and travel but left intact many new avenues President Barack Obama had opened. (Leslie Ovalle/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz… and lest we forget, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

All have been the subject of compliments from President Donald J. Trump during his infant presidency. From their strength in terms of silencing — even through violence — critics to their facility to write billion-dollar checks to the U.S. government, the president has not been shy about lauding these strongmen for their “leadership” in their respective countries.

President Trump has not been as willing to discuss their dark histories — former and current — when it comes to alleged human rights abuses.

That wasn’t the case last week, when the president made the grand announcement to reverse President Barack Obama’s opening of diplomatic relations with communist Cuba.

There, he drew a line of hypocrisy when it comes to what the U.S. will, and will not put up with when it comes to human rights by its partners.

President Donald Trump signs an executive order on a revised Cuba policy aimed at stopping the flow of U.S. cash to the country’s military and security services while maintaining diplomatic relations on Friday in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

“It’s hard to think of a policy that makes less sense than the prior administration’s terrible and misguided deal with the Castro regime,” Trump said.

“The previous administration’s easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people. They only enrich the Cuban regime,” Trump said. “We will work for the day when a new generation of leaders brings this long reign of suffering to an end. And I do believe that end is within the very future.”
Trump said Obama’s policy has helped Cuba’s Castro regime rather than ordinary Cuban citizens. Of course, this is all about helping the Cuban people. Hard to argue against that. And the fact that the U.S.-Cuban thaw begun by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in 2014 hasn’t noticeably resulted in less human rights abuses — jailing of dissidents, imprisoning political opponents, etc.

A little more impatience about democracy isn’t such a bad thing.

But Trump joined a chorus of Cuban hardliners during his speech on Friday on stage at the Manuel Artime Theater who don’t bother drawing a distinction between our approach to Cuba’s Castro regime versus others of the same ilk.

Truthfully, Trump’s so-called “reversal” of Obama’s policies normalizing of relations with Cuba after 50-plus failed years of isolationism was little more than a “tweak.”

In this file photo, a tour bus along Havana’s Malecon. As President Donald Trump outlined a stricter policy toward Cuba on Friday travel industry representatives scrambled to decode new prohibitions and reassure clients that the island was not off limits. (Daniel Berehulak/The New York Times)

What remains: full diplomatic relations, including an embassy in Havana; reduced immigration favoritism for Cubans, otherwise known as the “wet foot, dry foot” policy; restored commercial flights and cruise-ship visits; enhanced cash remittances and visitation by Cuban Americans; and even removal of Cuba from the list of state terrorism sponsors.

What changes: tightening restrictions on tourist travel to Cuba — technically illegal already — and instituting a broad prohibition on financial transactions with companies significantly controlled by the Communist government’s military holding company.

The rest is mostly rhetoric. Questionable rhetoric that, while it sounds good on a campaign stump, won’t amount to much in terms of helping the Cuban people.

So why bother? Especially given how hypocritical it all sounds when compared to what he administration seems fit to put up with from other de facto dictatorships when it comes to human rights abuses.

Why didn’t we here the same compassion from the Trump administration for the Turkish people who are having their rights trampled on? Would the U.S. be wrong to demand the right to a fair trial for hundreds of alleged drug dealers shot down in the streets in the Philippines? Why didn’t we here the same for the thousands of Egyptians jailed and killed by el-Sisi? And was a $100 billion buy of U.S. military hardware enough to buy our silence on Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women?

Such selective ire makes the righteous indignation from Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Jose Diaz-Balart ring all the more hollow.

Human rights are human rights. You either care about them everywhere, or you don’t care about them at all.