Majority of Republicans Support Trump’s Immigration Policy: Poll

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During a White House press briefing Monday, despite all available evidence to the contrary, United States Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen claimed that the U.S. government “does not have a policy of separating children at the border.” If she was concerned about possibly alienating the president’s voters, she needn’t have worried. New polling data indicate more than half the GOP favor a practice that has drawn comparisons to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

According to Quinnipiac, 55 percent of Republicans back family separation while just 35 percent oppose it. By contrast, 91 percent of Democrats oppose the president’s latest gambit versus 7 percent who support it. More than a quarter (27 percent) of the country overall approves the administration’s “zero tolerance” approach to immigration.

For his part, Trump has repeatedly attempted to blame the political opposition for his own policies, even as his own senior White House adviser has bragged about tearing immigrant children from their parents.

Quinnipiac’s were not the only disturbing findings published Monday. An Ipsos survey conducted exclusively for the Daily Beast reveals that Kim Jong Un, who has executed his own officials with anti-aircraft weapons, is slightly more popular with the GOP than Nancy Pelosi. Nineteen percent hold a favorable opinion of the North Korean dictator against just 17 percent for the Democratic House minority leader, per the poll. Sixty-eight and 72 percent of Republicans disapproved of Kim and Pelosi respectively.

New data from Gallup are no less dispiriting. Weekly polling reveals that the president’s approval rating currently sits at 45 percent—his best mark since the first week of his presidency. Similarly, his support within the GOP has swelled to 90 percent, matching a personal high.

It would be unwise to extrapolate too much from a handful of polls in June of 2018. The Ipsos survey, for instance, was based on a sample of 1000 respondents, while the midterm elections remain several months away. Still, amid reports that migrant children are being kept in cages, and that the Trump administration is weighing the construction of tent cities across Texas, it seems reasonable to wonder whether Republican voters are beyond reaching.

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Trump Administration Weighs Tent Camps for Migrant Children

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“Cages that looked a lot like dog kennels.” That was Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley’s description of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility he visited in McAllen, Texas last week. (He was denied access to another facility in Brownsville, Texas, whose windows appeared to be blacked out.) Both facilities reportedly house migrant children who have been separated from their parents at the border. Now, according to a report by McClatchy, the Trump administration is pursuing the construction of tent cities near military sites across the state to “shelter the increasing number of unaccompanied [minors] being held in detention.”

“The Department of Health and Human Services will visit Fort Bliss, a sprawling Army base near El Paso, in the coming weeks to look at a parcel of land where the administration is considering building a tent city to hold between 1,000 and 5,000 children,” reports Franco Ordoñez, citing officials in the Department of Health and Human Services and others familiar with the project.

HHS, which oversees the Office of Refugee Resettlement, is responsible for 11,200 children without a parent or guardian at approximately 100 facilities, 95 percent of which are full to capacity. Ordoñez notes that the number of such children has increased 20 percent since Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson introduced a “zero tolerance” policy that criminally prosecutes those who have entered or re-entered the country illegally while their asylum claims are being processed.

“Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children and families have been apprehended since 2014, when a surge of Salvadoran, Honduran and Guatemalan mothers and children raced into the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, fleeing violence and poverty,” Ordoñez writes. “The unaccompanied children are generally turned over to family or held in an HHS shelter, like a detention center or tent city. Now those who arrive with their parents are being separated from them and also sent to HHS shelters or sponsor families.”

McClatchy’s findings are the latest in a series of disturbing reports about the Trump administration’s escalating cruelty. Last week, The Washington Post reported that Marco Antonio Muñoz, a Honduran asylum seeker, committed suicide in U.S. custody after losing his son at a Texas processing center. On Monday, Sessions announced that fleeing domestic and gang violence would no longer be grounds for political asylum, a decision that could imperil hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.

Like Merkley, Rep. Pramila Jaypal, a Washington Democrat, recently visited a detention center where migrant parents had been separated from their children, this one just outside of Seattle. There, mothers told of being informed by border patrol agents that “their families would not exist anymore” and that they would “never see their children again.”

“Thirty to 40 percent of these women came with children who had been forcibly taken away from them,” Jaypal told The Nation’s Joan Walsh. “None got a chance to say goodbye to their children—they were forcibly taken away. … Some of them said they could hear their children screaming for them in the next room. The children ranged anywhere from [age 1] to teenagers.”

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The Insidious Republican Plot to Hijack the Census

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In a 5-4 decision along party lines, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that Ohio can purge thousands of voters from its rolls, freeing fellow red states to follow suit ahead of the 2018 and 2020 elections. Critics have rightly observed that Husted v. Philip Randolph will disenfranchise innumerable minorities and low-income earners, and yet its potential harm to American democracy would likely pale in comparison to the Trump administration’s efforts to rig the 2020 census.

Last December, at the Justice Department’s behest, the Census Bureau was instructed to add a question to its decennial survey about its respondents’ citizenship status. When the move was announced in March, officials justified the decision as one necessary to “fully enforce” the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But as a new NPR release reveals, their true agenda was decidedly more insidious.

According to more than 1,300 pages of documents published last week as part of a multi-state lawsuit filed against the Trump administration, erstwhile White House adviser Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach, former vice chair of President Trump’s now-defunct Election Integrity Commission, aggressively lobbied Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for the question to be added.

“[Kobach] told Ross that he was writing ‘at the direction of Steve Bannon’ and said it was ‘essential’ that the citizenship be added to the census,” notes Mother Jones’ Ari Berman. “Kobach wrote that the absence of a citizenship question ‘leads to the problem that aliens who do not actually “reside” in the United States are still counted for congressional appointment purposes.’ 

Along with Stephen Miller and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Bannon and Kobach have been two of the most virulent xenophobes in the Trump administration. Bannon previously served as executive chairman of Breitbart News, an open sewer of racist and Islamophobic propaganda, while Kobach is an established nativist and the mastermind behind former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” plan in 2012. (Kansas’ secretary of state, Kobach was last seen driving through the city of Shawnee in a Jeep with a fake machine gun mounted on its roof as part of an annual parade.)

It’s no mystery why the pair might stump for a citizenship question on the census. The survey’s data not only determine where nearly $700 billion in federal aid is distributed across the country, but how many Congressional seats a given state is appointed. By systematically underfunding and undercounting immigrant communities that traditionally vote Democratic, the GOP can further tilt an already gerrymandered electoral map in its favor. (A recent report from the Brennan Center for Justice found that Democrats could win the popular vote by as much as 10 percentage points this November and still fail to recapture the House.)

Ultimately, this gambit is but a single component of a larger Republican project to consolidate its minority rule. The only question that remains is how much the judiciary will enable the president’s party.

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Donald Trump’s Immigration Policy Is Even More Sadistic Than It Looks

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This week, between disinviting the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles to the White House and stumping to keep the country “out of the hands of High Tax, High Crime Nancy Pelosi (sic),” Donald Trump took to Twitter to blame the Democratic Party, again, for his own brutal immigration policy. “Separating families at the Border is the fault of bad legislation passed by the Democrats,” he tweeted. “Border Security laws should be changed but the Dems can’t get their act together! Started the Wall.”

As numerous political analysts have pointed out, the president’s claim is complete bunk; there is no law requiring border patrol to snatch a 53-week-old infant from his mother, just a brutal method of deterrence the White House has advocated for and adopted. While Obama helped assemble the lethal deportation machine that Trump is currently operating, forcibly expelling as many 2.5 million people, the cruelty of such a policy is without precedent. And as a new Vox report makes clear, the sadism of Trump administration extends well beyond its prosecution of those seeking asylum without documentation.

There are two means by which refugees can find haven in the United States: They can present themselves at an official port of entry, such as an airport or a highway checkpoint, or they can eschew these ports and enter the country on their own. (Although this method of entry is technically illegal, it has no bearing on their claims of asylum.)

As part of its “zero tolerance” policy, the Trump administration has elected to prosecute those who enter or reenter the country illegally, even as their asylum claims are being processed. Ostensibly this is to discourage immigrants and refugees alike from evading Customs and Border Protection. In practice, officials have made it increasingly difficult for the latter group to find legal asylum altogether.

“Some immigrants who try to seek asylum the ‘right way’ are being turned away and told there’s no room for them now,” writes Vox’s Dara Lind. “And there’s evidence that border agents are physically blocking some asylum seekers from setting foot on U.S. soil—in other words, from triggering a legal right to claim asylum in the U.S.—to begin with.”

Citing Texas Monthly’s Robert Moore, Lind reflects on a caravan of Guatemalan emigres who recently attempted to cross a bridge connecting Ciudad Juárez in Mexico to El Paso, Texas. In Moore’s telling, CBP officials turned the group back at the physical border of the United States, claiming that the nearest port of entry had no room to process asylum claims. (The three who managed to cross over were reluctantly ushered through.)

Federal law guarantees that anybody seeking refuge without legal status is entitled to an interview to determine the credibility of their claims, while international law prohibits the U.S. from denying entry to those escaping persecution or from returning them to their home countries.

Although Lind acknowledges the CBP “simply [doesn’t] have room to house all the people who come in seeking asylum while they’re initially processed,” she nonetheless observes that the federal government has no plans to marshal resources to its checkpoints, even as its draconian new practices should, in theory, direct more asylum seekers their way. “The only way that wouldn’t result in more people coming through at ports of entry,” she concludes, “would be if asylum seekers ended up not trying to come to the U.S. at all.”

On Monday, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Or., was physically barred from entering a detention center run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement in Brownsville, Texas, where children who had been separated from their parents at the border were reportedly incarcerated. At another, he claims to have seen “big cages made out of fencing.”

“I wanted to be able to visit the facility where apparently upwards of 1,000 children are being held in that massive building, a former Walmart,” he told CBS. “The federal government, President Trump and team, Attorney General Sessions, Homeland Security, they do not want members of Congress or the public to know what’s going on.”

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Trump’s German Ambassador Aims to Empower Europe’s Far Right

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From Sweden to Greece to Poland and Hungary, neo-fascism is on the rise across Europe, and at least one Trump administration official appears bent on seeing its proponents assume the halls of power. In an exclusive interview with Breitbart London, German Ambassador Richard Grenell intimated he would work to unseat Germany’s existing government.

“There are a lot of conservatives throughout Europe who have contacted me to say they are feeling there is a resurgence going on,” he told Breitbart’s Chris Tomlinson. “I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders. I think there is a groundswell of conservative policies that are taking hold because of the failed policies of the left.”

While the statement might appear benign on its face, Germany’s parliament is already controlled by the centre-right Christian Democratic Union; the party’s leader, Angela Merkel, has served as the country’s chancellor since 2005. As Vox’s Zach Beauchamp observes, the remarks “[suggest] that Grenell views his job not merely as representing America’s policies to the German government but also working to actually strengthen German—and other European—factions that he and the Trump administration approve.”

The one-time Republican operative also mentioned that he is a “big fan” of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, calling him a “rock star.” The Chairman of the Austrian People’s Party, Kurz has enforced a ban on the use of burqas in public and opposed the resettlement of refugees within the nation’s borders, among other xenophobic policies.

Grenell’s interview has sparked an uproar in the Bundestag, with German officials demanding he clarify his comments. As of this writing, the Trump appointee has yet to do so.

“When I raised concerns to Grenell about politicizing this post, he personally assured me that once he became Ambassador he would stay out of politics,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Ct., tweeted Monday. “This interview is awful—Ambassadors aren’t supposed to ’empower’ any political party overseas.”

A former spokesman for George W. Bush’s U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, Grenell has a long history of provocation. According to the Advocate, “Grenell once tweeted that Rachel Maddow ‘needs to take a breath and put on a necklace.” … Other women he insulted included Calista Gringrich, who he accused of having hair that she ‘snaps on.’ ” At the time of his confirmation, several Democrats voiced their concern about Grenell’s ability to work with Merkel, Germany’s first woman chancellor.

This latest controversy couldn’t come at a worse time. The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) made huge gains in the 2017 elections, winning 88 of a possible 630 seats to become the country’s third largest political party. (Over the weekend, its lead official attempted to downplay the Holocaust, calling it a “speck of bird shit in more than 1,000 years of successful German history.”)

Meanwhile, the anti-immigrant Lega Nord has assumed power in Italy after forming a coalition with the 5-Star Movement—a development that has delighted former White House adviser and self-styled Leninist Steve Bannon.

Grenell’s remarks offer just the latest reminder where this administration’s true sympathies lie.

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NFL Admits the Obvious About Anti-Kneeling Policy: It Was Trump

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Last week, the NFL unveiled a punitive national anthem policy that subjects teams whose players kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to league fines. Critics have lambasted the new guidelines for their rank nationalism and racial pandering, but it wasn’t just white fans the league was hoping to appease. As a new Wall Street Journal report reveals, President Trump personally lobbied team owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell to take action—and coerced them into doing so.

“This is a very winning issue, strong issue for me,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones claims the president told him over the phone. “Tell everybody, you can’t win this one. This one lifts me.”

Jones delivered his statement as part of a deposition in the collusion case of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. In a gesture that touched off the current debate, Kaepernick first knelt during the national anthem in 2015 as a protest against police brutality and systemic racism. He has been unemployed since 2016 despite multiple NFL executives reportedly viewing him as a starter in the league as recently as last year.

Jones was not the only NFL owner to address Trump’s maneuverings. In a separate deposition, Stephen Ross of the Miami Dolphins admitted the president “changed the dialogue” surrounding the anthem protests. “I was totally supportive of [the players] until Trump made his statement,” he said. (During a campaign rally for Alabama Senate hopeful Luther Strange, Trump called any player who chose to take a knee a “son of a bitch.”)

Several owners, including Ross, Jones and the Houston Texans’ Bob McNair, testified that national anthem protests have impacted their teams financially, but as Deadspin’s Dom Cosentino observes, it’s unclear “how much of that can be attributed to fans avoiding the NFL because of protests, versus those staying away out of solidarity [with] Kaepernick.” Both McNair and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft expressed grave misgivings about the president’s anthem stance but were unwilling to thwart him.

Ultimately, the Journal’s latest revelations merely confirm what was already readily apparent: President Trump is willing to employ strong-arm tactics to achieve his political ends, and the NFL’s owners will do anything to protect their bottom lines.

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Roseanne Barr Has Been a Dangerous Conspiracy Theorist All Along

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It began, as so many scandals do today, with a tweet. On Tuesday morning, actress Roseanne Barr cracked a racist “joke” at the expense of Valerie Jarrett, comparing the former Obama adviser to an ape. Within hours, Barr had issued a public apology and vowed to “leave Twitter.” Before noon in Los Angeles, she was unemployed, with ABC cancelling the second season of her eponymous sitcom “Roseanne.” “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” President of ABC Entertainment Channing Dungey said in a statement.

Dungey, who is the network’s first black president, has earned plaudits for her decisive action. Still, in an age when the president of the United States regularly obscures the truth while degrading entire races and populations, the question remains: Why did ABC feel compelled to revive Barr’s television career in the first place?

Tuesday’s tweetstorm is hardly the comedienne’s first brush with ignominy. Less than a decade ago, Barr, who grew up in a working-class Jewish household in Salt Lake City, posed for a “Germany” issue of the now-defunct magazine “Heeb” in a swastika arm band and Hitler mustache. The photo shoot included pics of her displaying a batch of burnt gingerbread men that accompanied an article titled “That Oven Feelin’.”

“There’s another, deeper lay to it,” Barr explained to “Aristocrats” producer Paul Provenza at the time. “You know just the every day. Moving off this Holocaust. There’s been about fifty of them since then. That’s what I’m kind of trying to say. Jesus Christ it’s so every day now, holocausts, it’s like baking cookies…You know what I mean, I don’t know. I’m just really old. When you’re post-menopausal, you’re just really crazy.”

If the incident can be dismissed as an attempt at edgy humor for a Jewish satirical magazine gone awry, her more recent behavior cannot. An avid Trump supporter, Barr has emerged in recent years as one of the right’s more delirious conspiracy theorists. On several occasions, she has suggested, baselessly, that former DNC staffer Seth Rich was assassinated, and that the Clinton campaign operated a child sex ring out of the Washington, D.C. pizzeria Comet Ping Pong. Prior to her departure from Twitter Tuesday, she retweeted an account offering information about Reddit invention QAnon, a shadowy Trump official whose dispatches detail the president’s plan to combat the deep state and (what else) a cabal of liberal pedophiles—or so his followers have convinced themselves.

Tuesday’s episode wasn’t even the first time Barr has engaged in overt bigotry on social media. In a tweet from 2013 that has since been deleted, the actress called then-ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice “a man with big swinging ape balls.” (A separate attack this morning saw her accuse billionaire philanthropist and Holocaust survivor George Soros of being a Nazi collaborator, an anti-Semitic smear popular among white nationalists). As of this writing, she has just shy of 700,000 followers on Twitter.

ABC executives have known who Barr was all along, and they greenlit a second season of “Roseanne” anyway. Whereas the original sitcom offered a nuanced portrait of a working class American family, the reboot has served, at least in part, to sanitize the voice of Trump voters. Roseanne Barr reveals what one actually sounds like.

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One Dire Prediction for Trump’s Tax Cuts Is Already Coming True

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Six months after Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 into law, “the days of most people getting a pay raise are over.” Those are the findings of a disturbing new report from Axios, which also notes that major corporations are planning on cutting their respective payrolls, despite having secured trillions in savings from Republican legislators.

During a conference held Thursday at the Dallas Fed, several of the country’s leading CEOs were asked if they had any plans to use their collective tax windfall to increase wages. Their answers, according to Axios’ Steve LeVine, were “candid and bracing.”

“It’s just not going to happen,” Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Beverages Florida Troy Taylor told the discussion’s moderator. “Absolutely not in my business.”

Taylor and several others suggested that if workers wanted to increase their salaries, or even save their jobs, they would have to pursue more “technically-skilled” employment. As AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens remarked, “I don’t need that many guys to install coaxial cables.”

Meanwhile, the chasm separating the incomes of corporate executives from rank-and-file laborers has never yawned wider. Thanks to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which requires major corporations to compare the earnings of CEOs with median-compensation employees, we now know it would take workers at companies like Walmart and Time Warner centuries, even millennia, to match the annual salaries of their higher-ups.

Last week, The New York Times highlighted six outrageous CEO pay packages that help put this gap in perspective. They include disgraced casino mogul Stephen Wynn, whose $34,522,695 income totaled 909 times that of an average Wynn Resorts staffer; First Data CEO Frank Bisignano, whose compensation was $102,210,396, or 2028 times that of his employees; and former Mattel CEO Margaret Georgiadis, whose $31,275,289 salary registered at 4,987 times that of her workers.

If the Trump tax cuts have widened this gulf, the American people can’t say they weren’t warned. Prior to its passage, Sen. Bernie Sanders derided the legislation as a thinly veiled gift to billionaire donors, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren called it “the biggest tax giveaway to giant corporations in modern memory.”

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The NFL Kneels to Trump and His Supporters

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Eight months after Donald Trump called protesting players “sons of bitches” during a rally in Alabama, the National Football League has instituted a draconian new policy punishing those who refuse to stand for the national anthem.

According to new guidelines unveiled Wednesday, players will have the option to remain in the locker room, but their teams will be fined by the league if they elect to kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The plan has the unanimous approval of the league’s owners and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” Goodell told reporters. “We want people to stand—that’s all personnel—and make sure that they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something I think we owe. We’ve been very sensitive in making sure that we give players choices, but we do believe that that moment is an important moment and one that we are going to focus on.”

The National Football League Players Association—the labor union representing the league’s players—issued a withering response, denouncing the league’s policy and hinting at legal action.

“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ‘policy,’ ” it said in a statement. “NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about. … Our union will review the new ‘policy’ and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”

The implications of the NFL’s newest guidelines have not been lost on the American Civil Liberties Union, which similarly descried the NFL’s actions as “un-American.” In a series of tweets Wednesday afternoon, the organization cautioned that the league risks setting a dangerous precedent for other prominent, private institutions.

The timing of the NFL’s announcement is curious, to say the least. Earlier this week, multiple reports indicated that new evidence undermines the NFL’s defense against charges of collusion by Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who began the national anthem protest in 2015. ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio reveals that several teams viewed the one-time National Football Conference champion—who has been out of the league since 2016—as an NFL starter when he became a free agent last year. Kaepernick was set to try out for the Seattle Seahawks this spring, but his invitation was rescinded under vague circumstances related, at least in part, to his refusal to guarantee that he would not participate in future demonstrations.

When Kaepernick first kneeled during the national anthem, he was not protesting Trump’s presidency or even his incipient political candidacy, but rather police brutality and systemic racism. In fact, it was U.S. army veteran Nate Boyer who originally persuaded him to take a knee—a detail willfully ignored or forgotten by the quarterback’s baying critics on the right.

The NFL’s latest decision exposes not just the lengths to which the league is willing to appease the president’s base but the corrosive effect his political rise has had on civil society.

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Texas’ Lt. Gov. Floats Combative Fix for School Shooting Crisis

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Less than 48 hours after Friday’s shooting at Santa Fe High School in southeast Texas that left 10 dead and 10 others wounded, two of them critically, the state’s lieutenant governor came up with another curious fix for the problem of gun violence. This time, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick reverted to one of the president’s newest talking points.

In an interview with CNN that echoed Donald Trump’s remarks after February’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the Texas official called on the country to start arming its educators, in keeping with the Second Amendment. “Our teachers are part of that well-run militia,” Patrick told “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos, adding,  “It’s guns that also stop crimes.”

Shortly after the Santa Fe massacre, Patrick had named an improbable culprit: doors. “We may have to look at the design of our schools,” he said Friday. “And retrofitting schools that are already built. What I mean by that is that there are too many entrances and too many exits to our over 8,000 campuses in Texas. … There aren’t enough people to put a guard at every entrance and exit.”

The absurdity of Patrick’s remarks should be self-evident. Teachers fail to meet any conceivable definition of a militia, and their arming is hardly “necessary to the security of a free state,” as the Second Amendment stipulates. More troubling is that one of the president’s more febrile proposals appears to be gaining currency within the greater Republican Party. (A recent HuffPost survey found as many as 70 percent of Republicans support arming teachers.)

If Sean Hannity truly has Trump’s ear, as a recent New York Magazine report indicates, it probably won’t be the last idea along these lines. This week, the Fox News host proposed the federal government monitor every student’s social media activity, insisting the mounting number of school shootings is “not a gun issue.”

Santa Fe High had taken multiple steps to avoid Friday’s tragedy, having two armed police officers patrol the school’s hallways as part of an “active-shooter plan.” According to The Washington Post, “they thought they were a hardened target.”

As of Friday, 29 students have been slain in 16 such incidents in American schools this year. Just 13 U.S. service members have been killed on active duty over the same time period.

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