Aug 5, 2019

Bernie vs. Warren.

Bernie vs. Warren.

Also, a series of mass shootings.

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Today’s read: 8 minutes.

We’re covering the mass shootings, Bernie vs. Warren, and some good news in Texas.

What D.C. is talking about.

Another mass shooting. Three of them. First, the Gilroy Garlic festival, which we detailed in Tangle last week. Three people were killed, including a 6-year-old boy, and 12 were injured. Then, a mass shooting in an El Paso Walmart that killed at least 20 people and left another 26 injured on Saturday. Then, less than 24 hours later, another shooting in Dayton, Ohio, that left nine dead and 27 injured, including the shooter’s sister. The El Paso shooting was the eighth deadliest in modern United States history.

What Democrats are saying.

Gun control. Gun control. Gun control. It appears the shooters bought their weapons legally, had military style firearms and some were equipped with body armor. Despite relatively low homicide rates here, the mass shooter problem is totally unique to America. The House already passed a bill to lengthen the time a background check takes place before someone can get a gun, but Democrats want stricter gun laws that will allow law enforcement to seize weapons from people who have exhibited warning signs (also known as red flag laws). All three shooters fit the profile of domestic terrorism that Democrats have been ringing the alarm about for years: young, white and male. With a troubling history related to women. Tangle will not publish the names or link to the manifestos of the shooters, due to the well-documented contagion effect. But Democrats have noted that the El Paso shooter left writings that expressed fear of “immigrant replacement,” using language that sounds a lot like what we hear from people in the far-right political sphere. To illustrate that, we will share the image below, which a Tangle reader sent in last night. It contains the first page of the El Paso shooter’s alleged manifesto and links it to language from popular conservative politicians or talking heads. You can zoom in to read.

What Republicans are saying.

It depends which Republicans. Some are noting that the Dayton, Ohio shooter was a registered Democrat with a far-left, secular writing history. That’s their way of saying, “don’t blame this on us.” Others, like the popular conservative writer David French, are joining the rallying cries to do something about white nationalism, the alt-right and the rhetoric from President Trump and Fox News. There have been plenty of bad takes, too: Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader in Congress, went on Fox News and tried to link the shootings to video games. He was rightly ridiculed for the take, which has been debunked over and over. President Trump took to Twitter and suggested Congress “marry” gun reform to immigration and pass something “great” for America. It was unclear what changes he was actually suggesting, and the proposal of marrying stricter gun laws to immigration reform is unlikely to find favor with either side. Later on, he gave a speech where he condemned white supremacy and bigotry. He also said "mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun.” Then the internet exploded when he said “may God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo,” a city 150 miles north of where the shooting happened in Dayton.

My take.

This can’t just be explained away by video games, far-right extremism or mental health issues. Across the globe countries have all of those things but no mass shooters. The special ingredient is that we have an unthinkable number of guns in this country and they are easier to access than in a lot of other places. 270 million guns are owned across the U.S. and we’ve had close to 100 mass shootings between 1966 and 2012 (the definition of a mass shooting varies). Via The New York Times: “No other country has more than 46 million guns or 18 mass shooters” in that time period. All that being said, there’s no easy solution and the problem does not belong to one side. America’s mass shooters have been alt-right Trumpers, far-left Sanders supporters, Muslims, Christians, religious and atheist. What to do is the hard part. Confiscating someone’s property is not a workable solution. Gun buyback programs probably wouldn’t work like they have in other countries. Restricting the second amendment has proven difficult. Implementing red flag laws and stricter gun control on a local level has had smatterings of success, but we’ve got a long way to go to move the needle. This problem isn’t going away and whichever candidate sells a plausible solution will have a leg up in the 2020 presidential race.

One tweet that got people talking.

Your questions, answered.

Reminder: readers run this newsletter. Send a question in by replying to this email and I’ll get to it as soon as I can.

Nick from Philadelphia, PA said: Wondering if you could compare/contrast Warren and Bernie in a meaningful way? Specifically how different their policies would look (if at all) and your opinion of their respective rhetorical styles.

This is a fantastic question and it’s one that has huge implications for the upcoming election. It’ll be the only question we tackle today.

Let me start by saying that Sen. Warren and Sen. Sanders are, obviously, aligned on a lot of issues and goals for the country. They both want free college, Medicare for all, more taxes on the wealthy and policies to address climate change. They’re both decidedly liberal and pro-choice. They’re also great friends. But our political punditry does suffer from a habit of discussing them as a monolith when they have real, tangible differences.

First and foremost, Sanders doesn’t shy away from the “socialist” label (he self-describes as a “democratic socialist”) while Warren is a former conservative and an enthusiastic capitalist. This is the biggest, most important difference between the two: the writer Elizabeth Bruenig described it as Revolution (Sanders) vs. Regulation (Warren). Warren’s campaign is built on regulating Wall Street, bringing forward policies and government agencies that oversee banks, lenders, and credit card companies to prevent fraud and crony capitalism. Her brainchild is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which has returned $12 billion to 29 million consumers since 2011, mostly over scams and predatory lending practices. Sanders wants to upend the structures of capitalism as we know them. He’s hoping to re-distribute wealth to the middle class through government programs, tax the top one percent, and make sure big corporations are paying their “fair share.” His economic language is a lot more about burning down the house and re-building it, while Warren has an ingrained trust in capitalism but wants to put good guys on the corner of Wall Street to make sure America’s wealthiest are playing by the rules.

The two also differ on some more far-left policy ideas. Sanders has rejected the idea of abolishing the Senate filibuster, which requires a 60-vote minimum to pass a law (there are only 100 Senators, so this means 41 Senators can stop any bill from becoming law, giving the minority party in the Senate lots of power). Warren, on the other hand, has said she’d support abolishing the Senate filibuster, claiming it is “used by the far right as a tool to block progress on everything.” Warren has supported reparations for descendants of slaves while Sanders has opposed any legislation that would give out direct payments. Sanders has spoken for decades about the need to pull America out of wars overseas, while Warren has more recently begun trumpeting anti-war rhetoric and has sometimes walked the line of the defense contractors (like Raytheon) who employ thousands of people in her state of Massachusetts. Warren has also supported expanding the number of Supreme Court judges, while Sanders seems ice cold on the idea.

It’s also fair to say that they differ on how they address some of the country’s biggest social justice issues. Warren is an intersectional feminist; she often talks about the way women of color are most impacted by America’s failings. She talks a lot about native people both here and abroad. She doesn’t shy away from race, religion, LGBTQ issues, and so on. Sanders, on the other hand, likes to center those conversations around the economics. He has a storied history working as a civil rights advocate but was criticized in the 2016 race for not talking enough about racial justice issues, intersectionality and for having a predominantly white staff. He’s doing his best to change that this time around. While Warren might propose a federal grant for minority entrepreneurs, Sanders will discuss the importance of addressing the criminal justice system, which has disproportionately impacted minorities, and giving felons the right to vote.

When it comes to the cost of schooling, their plans also differ. Despite Sanders being known for his calls to make college tuition-free, Warren was the first to detail a plan to eliminate student loan debt. Sanders followed suit two months later and has presented a clearer picture of how he’d racially integrate K-12 schools, “freeze federal funding for all new charter schools and ban for-profit charter schools,” according to The New York Times. Warren hasn’t yet presented a plan for K-12 schools or how they’d change during her time as president.

Then, relevant to today’s leading news, there’s the issue of guns. In the 2016 race, Sanders was clobbered for his record on gun control. In his home state of Vermont, there are a lot of gun owners and the second amendment is an important part of life. Sanders has supported expanding background checks and bans on assault rifles, but he also voted against the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in 1993 that set up background checks at the federal level. Warren, on the other hand, has mostly taken a more far-left stance on guns. Shortly after the shootings this week, she promised to do everything she could on gun control by executive order. Sanders’ record on guns is viewed by the left as a bit shaky, while Warren is seen as a reliable anti-gun candidate.

All in all, the Warren vs. Sanders debate is a lot more nuanced than people seem to think. The next debate is their first time sharing the stage, so it will be interesting to see how these contrasts come out. There’s also the possibility the two end up as running mates, so don’t be surprised if they pull some punches.

A story getting buried:

There is a massive exodus happening in Congress. Republicans are retiring in droves, and very few people are talking about it. Six Republicans retired in the last two weeks and eight have stepped down in 2019. Before the 2018 midterms, 23 members of the GOP retired. What happens next is what matters most, though: will the retiring members be replaced by Trump-like politicians, or by Democratic challengers? How that plays out could re-shape the country going forward. But a lot of districts will be up for grabs, and the direction of the Republican party going forward remains unclear. FiveThirtyEight has more for you here.

Have a nice day.

So far this year, Texas has produced 21.37% of its energy from coal and 21.78% from wind. That’s the first time in the history of wind power that Texas has produced more energy from wind than coal, and the state did it with 13,000 wind turbines. Just 16 years ago, in 2003, coal fulfilled 40 percent of Texas’ electrical needs. This huge shift to renewable energy is being celebrated on both sides of the aisle. Read more here.

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