Plus, Labor Day history and terror in Texas.
To my big brother and newly minted sister-in-law, who were married in Maine this weekend. Thank you all for the awesome recommendations on things to do in Portland. It was an amazing celebration and I am officially a fan of the Pine Tree State. I also love the slogan all over Maine’s state highway signs: “Maine, The Way Life Should Be.”
Happy Labor Day.
Most Americans I know often overlook Labor Day’s history, which is a celebration of America’s workers and unions (i.e. its laborers). This is the 125th celebration of Labor Day, which some historians say began as a way to recognize low-wage, blue collar workers in factories across America. Here’s an interesting read on the murky Labor Day history from Teen Vogue.
Today’s read: 5 minutes.
It’s Labor Day. Enjoy this short read and, if you have one, soak up your day off.
Send in a question.
Remember: Tangle is about repairing the relationship between readers and journalists. I’m here to wade through the news for you and tell you what you really want to know. Submit a question by simply replying to this email.
What D.C. is talking about.
The mass shooting in Midland-Odessa, Texas. On Saturday, during a routine traffic stop for not signaling a left turn, a driver opened fire on state troopers and sped off on a highway in West Texas. The gunman then hijacked a United States Postal Service van, killed the driver, and repeatedly opened fire during a high speed pursuit through Midland-Odessa. All told, the shooter — who was identified as a 36-year-old white man — killed seven people and wounded 22 others, including a 17-month old toddler who survived shrapnel wounds. The gunman was eventually killed by police. Authorities say the shooter’s motive is still unknown but they ruled out an act of terrorism. On Sunday, just a day after the shooting, a number of gun law changes that were passed in June of this year went into effect across Texas. The changes loosen restrictions on gun ownership and make it easier for Texans to have firearms and store ammunition in public places like schools, churches and even foster homes.
What Democrats are saying.
Here we go again. Texas, notorious for its loose gun laws, has “had more casualties from major mass shootings than any state except Nevada,” Richard Parker, author of “Lone Star Nation: How Teas Will Transform America,” wrote in a New York Times op-ed. Once again, it’s a young or middle-aged white male. Once again, it’s an AR-15 style rifle. Once again, Republicans are offering little more than “thoughts and prayers.” Once again, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott will do little to fix the laws. And how symbolic that just a day after the shooting, new laws go into effect that make it easier, not harder, for people to have weapons in public spaces. All this comes just 28 days after a shooter killed 22 people at a Walmart in an anti-Hispanic attack in El Paso, which is a couple hundred miles from Midland-Odessa. 37-year-old presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg posted a four-minute video on Twitter where he read a list of “less than half” of the mass shootings that have happened in his lifetime.
What Republicans are saying.
“I’m heartbroken by the crying of the people of the State of Texas,” Gov. Abbott said. “I’m tired of the dying of the people of the State of Texas. Too many Texans are in mourning. Too many Texans have lost their lives. The status quo in Texas is unacceptable and action is needed.” Abbott defended the state’s new gun laws that went into effect and said they were designed to make the community safer. Second amendment advocates say more guns in the hands of well-intentioned Texans will be a positive for the state. Abbott also said Texas needed to do more to keep guns out of the hands of criminals “while also assuring that we safeguard Second Amendment rights, and we must do it fast.” For President Trump’s part, the shooting doesn’t seem to have moved the needle on any plans for new gun reform. “This really hasn’t changed anything,” President Trump said. “We’re looking at a lot of different bills.”
I’ve flown into Midland-Odessa about a dozen times on my way to visit family in West Texas. I was actually with a cousin from Texas this weekend who, when we heard the news, immediately mentioned the boom of meth in what is now one of America’s biggest oil towns. Some reports say the gunman was fired from his trucking job just hours before the shooting began, but that still doesn’t paint a clear motive. I have a difficult time believing that any of the new laws that went into effect Sunday will make Texans safer. One new law ensures that condominium and rental housing complex owners can’t stop firearms from being stored on their properties. Others end the regulation of how gun owners can store their guns on school property and loosens restrictions on how many armed school marshals a district can appoint. At some point, we should all be able to accept that it’s no coincidence a state with very loose gun laws and lots of guns has more mass shootings than 48 other states. Still, it’s not just a matter of tightening gun laws. It’s also a matter of enforcing the ones we have and adding a few to address people who may be “at risk” of violent outbursts. I’ll be curious to see if Gov. Abbott, who promised that action will be taken in the wake of strong words, will actually follow through on making any changes.
Your questions, answered.
Q: How do you rate the chances of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump given his hugely negative impact on the markets? Is there anybody in a position of power with backbone enough to do it?
- Bob, Glenside, PA
Tangle: Very, very low. Even supposing there was consensus that Trump was mentally unfit to service, the idea that he could be removed from office using the 25th amendment is basically a myth. The 25th amendment was designed to explain how a president would be succeeded in the event he was killed or seriously ill. Its main purpose is to clarify whether a Vice President became president when succeeding a president or whether he was simply “enjoying presidential powers,” as POLITICO’s Joshua Zeitz put it. Cable TV hosts and liberal activists have, for some reason, grasped onto the idea that Trump could be removed using the 25th amendment, though it’s entirely unclear if it’s possible to be leveraged how they want it to be. Even if it were, though, and even if rumors are true that his original cabinet members entertained the idea, I’d say the chances of anyone acting on it these days are about one in a million. President Trump has successfully purged his cabinet of anyone who questions or doubts him, he enjoys near unanimous support from Republican voters and Republican members of Congress, and he’s approaching an election that he’s got a very good chance to win. Market volatility be damned, Trump isn’t going anywhere unless he’s beaten at the ballot box.
In case you missed it.
A Category 5 hurricane is barreling through the Bahamas and headed for the U.S. next. Someone put together this remarkable compilation of President Trump pontificating on the rarity Category 5 hurricanes, despite this being the fourth of his presidency.
Also, here is some footage from the destruction in the Bahamas.
A story that matters.
The Senate, which Republicans were thought to have a stranglehold on, is apparently up for grabs in the 2020 election. After Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson announced his retirement last week, things become a bit more of a toss-up. You can read more here.
Have a nice day.
There are several kinds of “good news” stories that I come across on a day-to-day basis. Science breakthroughs, innovation, new sensible laws and heroes in tragedies are some of my favorites. But every now and then there is a unique story of personal journey that catches my eye. Today, that story is about Michael Atkins, a former janitor who is now a school principal. The story is a local piece from June that came across my Twitter feed but I think it’s worth sharing if you need a pick me up. You can read it here.