One Man's Stand, Help & Leads, Collusion Delusion Continues

Thursday, October 5, 2017

One Man's Stand
I'd like to start today with some encouraging news.  So kudos to citizen Thomas Gunderson, who displayed tremendous strength and patriotism yesterday.  Gunderson was among the hundreds of victims of the Las Vegas shooter. 
He was hit in the leg and feared he might "bleed out" on the field.  But, according to NBC News, he was dragged to safety by a group of women "who said they were off duty cops."  One used her belt as a tourniquet for Gunderson's leg.
During his visit to Las Vegas yesterday, President Trump stopped by the hospital where Gunderson is being treated.  And in spite of his injury, Gunderson insisted on standing when First Lady Melania Trump came into his room. 
When President Trump walked in, he said, "Hey, this guy looks tough to me."  Indeed! 
Gunderson posted a video of their meeting on his Facebook page, along with these words:
"I will never lie down when the President of this great country comes to shake my hand!  There may be plenty of issues in this country but I will always respect my country, my president and my flag.  Shot in the leg or not, I will stand to show my President the respect he deserves!"
God bless you, Mr. Gunderson!

Help & Leads
Here are some of the latest developments from the Las Vegas investigation:

  • Stephen Paddock did not plan to die in his 32nd floor hotel room.  Asked by reporters if there was any evidence that Paddock planned to escape the Mandalay Bay hotel, Sheriff Joe Lombardo answered, "Yes.  He was doing everything possible to see how he could escape."
  • In addition to the extensive cache of weapons found in the room, police also discovered 50 pounds of explosive material and 1,600 rounds of ammunition in his car.
  • It has also been revealed that Paddock rented a room at another Las Vegas hotel that overlooked a music festival that ran the week before.  In July, Paddock also booked a hotel in Chicago that overlooked the Lollapalooza concert but never showed up.
  • Sheriff Lombardo also said that it is likely Paddock had help at some point.  "Maybe he's a super guy.  You know, a super yahoo that was working out all this on his own," Lombardo said. "But it would be hard for me to believe that."
  • FBI special agent Aaron Rouse said yesterday, "We have multiple leads across the United States and all across the world. . .  A lot of these leads will go nowhere but we have to follow them."

This brings me back to initial reports that a woman told concert goers an hour before the attack that a lot of people were going to die.  Fox News reports that its sources in the Las Vegas law enforcement community say nothing has been ruled out.  Anything and everything remains under consideration.

Collusion Delusion Continues
Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA), the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, briefed reporters yesterday about the progress of their ongoing investigation of Russian meddling in our elections. 
One issue that has received a lot of media attention recently has been the revelation that Russia ran political ads on Facebook during the campaign.  MSNBC and other outlets have run sensational headlines like this:  "Russia-Linked Facebook Ads Reportedly Aimed For Swing States." 
Let me be clear:  I don't want Russia or any country buying campaign ads and trying to influence our elections.  But there is some important context missing from much of the media's reporting.  For example:

  • The total cost of all political ad spending in 2016 was approximately $9.8 billion.  The Russia online ad buy was just $100,000. 
  • While the media are focusing on Michigan and Wisconsin -- two states critical to Trump's victory -- the ads ran in more than a dozen states.  They ran in many non-competitive states, including blue states like California, Maryland and New York, and red states like Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. 
  • The ads were not intended to benefit a specific candidate.  A Facebook executive said the ads spanned "across the ideological spectrum."  Chairman Richard Burr said that the purpose of the advertising "seems to have been to create chaos in every group that they could possibly identify."

In short, the idea that such a small and unfocused campaign had any impact on the 2016 election is laughable.
Should we guard against this?  Yes.  Foreign nations are not supposed to be involved in U.S. campaigns.  So it's up to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to aggressively police their own practices. 
But here's something else we should do:  All candidates should be required to use common security practices when it comes to online fundraising in order to prevent foreign and fraudulent donations.  The Obama campaigns were notoriously lax in tracking foreign donations. (Herehere and here.) 
One final point from yesterday's briefing by the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee:  Chairman Burr told reporters, "The committee continues to look into all evidence to see if there was any hint of collusion."  In other words, after months of investigation, they haven't found any collusion yet.