Awakening to the News of the Most Deadly Shooting in U.S. History

by Jim Geraghty

An awful way to start the week:

At least 50 people are dead and more than 200 wounded after a gunman opened fire on a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in the most deadly shooting in U.S. history.

Police said the suspect, identified as 64-year-old local resident Stephen Paddock, was located on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino when he took aim at the nearby Route 91 Harvest Festival.

Local television news reports showed crowds of people in Las Vegas ducking for cover as the sound of rapid gunshots rang out, while dozens of patrol vehicles descended on the Strip.

Joseph Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said the suspect was shot dead by officers and that authorities were confident there was no longer a threat.

He said police found numerous firearms in the room he occupied and that officers were also at his residence.

The death toll may surpass the current total, from the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, when jihadist Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured 58 more. The death toll from Virginia Tech was 32; Sandy Hook, 27.

Notice this detail: “The suspect was known to police in Mesquite and had a criminal history, the sources said. Lombardo said authorities believe they had found a traveling companion of the deceased gunman they were seeking, who Lombardo identified as Marilou Danley, 62. Law enforcement sources tell Milton that Danley was Paddock’s wife.”

One can’t help but wonder if she is related to this particular unnerving detail from a survivor’s account:

A woman who was at the concert told a local news station that a “lady pushed her way forward in the concert venue. And she started messing with another lady and told us that we are all going to die tonight. … It was about 45 minutes the shots were actually fired. But then she was escorted out by security.” But police have not confirmed if they believe that was related to the shooting.

Is it possible this was a case of a woman knowing the man in her life was about to do something terrible and rash, but she didn’t have the mental wherewithal to stop him or call the police, so she ran into the crowd and tried to warn people?

One of the most enraging aspects of mass shootings in recent years is the now almost predictable reports of individuals close to the shooter feeling threatened and  warning authorities, only to see either insufficient response or no response at all. Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora — in each case, individuals went to school administrators or campus police, only to have their warnings fall on deaf ears.

Two off-duty police officers attending the concert were killed, according to Clark County sheriff Joseph Lombardo. The Las Vegas Police Department reported that two on-duty officers were injured during the shooting. “One is in stable condition after surgery and the other sustained minor injuries.”

We’re going to hear a lot of questions in the coming days about “why did he do it? Does it matter? Aren’t all of these shooters more or less the same?” In their minds, they’ve been wronged by the world; the world owed them something, and it refused to give it to them. The Isla Vista shooter believed he deserved pretty women; the Alexandria shooter who tried to kill GOP congressmen believed he deserved a world where his party was in charge. The Columbine killers believed they deserved a world where they would never feel ostracized.

After mass shootings, I often find myself referring back to the observations of Willard Gaylin, one of the world’s preeminent psychology professors. Gaylin writes about the dangers of “grievance collecting” in his book Hatred: The Psychological Descent into Violence:

Grievance collecting is a step on the journey to a full-blown paranoid psychosis. A grievance collector will move from the passive assumption of deprivation and low expectancy common to most paranoid personalities to a more aggressive mode. He will not endure passively his deprived state; he will occupy himself with accumulating evidence of his misfortunes and locating the sources. Grievance collectors are distrustful and provocative, convinced that they are always taken advantage of and given less than their fair share.  . . . 

Underlying this philosophy is an undeviating comparative and competitive view of life. Everything is part of a zero-sum game. Deprivation can be felt in another person’s abundance of good fortune.

In this light, a worldview of gratitude, counting one’s blessings, and always keeping in mind that no matter how bad our troubles, there’s someone else out there who’s dealing with worse ones, isn’t just nicer, more optimistic, or more Christian. It’s a tool for warding off self-absorption, bitterness, and madness. A relentless focus on how others have failed you and how the world at large doesn’t live up to your standards could just turn you into a monster.

I Thought Spaniards Were Laid Back . . . 

A NATO ally just violently suppressed a referendum on independence by a region. And surprise! It wasn’t Turkey this time.

Catalonia’s defiant attempt to stage an independence referendum descended into chaos on Sunday, with hundreds injured in clashes with police in one of the gravest tests of Spain’s democracy since the end of the Franco dictatorship in the 1970s.

National police officers in riot gear, sent by the central government in Madrid from other parts of Spain, used rubber bullets and truncheons in some places as they fanned out across Catalonia, the restive northeastern region, to shut down polling stations and seize ballot boxes.

The clashes quickly spoiled what had been a festive, if expectant, atmosphere among voters, many of whom had camped inside polling stations and stayed on into late Sunday night, fearful that officers might seize ballot boxes.

More than 750 people were injured in the crackdown, Catalan officials said, while dozens of Spanish police officers were hurt, according to Spain’s interior ministry.

The Madrid government, with the backing of Spanish courts, had declared the referendum unconstitutional and ordered the vote suspended. But that did not stop Catalans from gathering before sunrise on Sunday, massing on rain-slicked streets across the region.

Catalonian independence may or may not be in the interest of the United States. But it is not in our interest to just shrug when one of our allies engages in heavy-handed political censorship:

The website of the National Catalan Assembly at assemblea.ca was also shut down and for a while displayed a message from the Spanish military police announcing in Spanish and English that the domain has been “seized pursuant to a seizure warrant.” The domain has since been redirected to assemblea.eu, outside the purview of the Spanish authorities.

The Spanish government has not officially admitted it ordered ISPs to prevent people from accessing specific websites, but DNS observers have seen unusual activity, suggesting servers are being blocked by domain name. Meanwhile, the Catalonian government has sent a letter to the European Commission claiming that the Spanish government is in breach of EU law.

“These articles have been violated by the order sent to Spanish telecommunications operators to cut access to web pages that inform about the referendum on self-determination, as well as those internet domains that are publicized or published to the social networks of the . . .  members of the Government,” the Catalonian government complains in the letter.

The Federal Response to the Crisis in Puerto Rico

FEMA has a detailed timeline of their response to hurricane damage in Puerto Rico. As of Friday:

There are more than 10,000 federal staff representing 36 departments and agencies, including more than 800 FEMA personnel on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands engaged in response and recovery operations from hurricanes Maria and Irma.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) made $40 million available to the PR Highways and Transportation Authority (PHRTA) for emergency relief work to impacted roads.

In Puerto Rico, 56 of 68 hospitals are partially operational, and one hospital is fully operational.

The Concordia potable water pump station is online in St. Croix.

FEMA search and rescue teams have accessed 90 percent of Puerto Rico, conducting search and rescue operations and helping to assess hospitals.

All municipalities in Puerto Rico have been reached by FEMA US&R, the Department of Health and Human Services, Commonwealth officials, and/or the National Guard.

17 chainsaw teams (34 individuals) and one Incident Management Team (IMT) (23 individuals) from the Department of Agriculture United States Forest Service arrive in Puerto Rico to conduct emergency road clearance and manage logistics.

To bolster the delivery of fuel throughout Puerto Rico, 100 delivery trucks were dispatched by the Defense Logistics Agency.

Then there’s this stunning bottleneck:

A mountain of food, water and other vital supplies has arrived in Puerto Rico’s main Port of San Juan. But a shortage of truckers and the island’s devastated infrastructure are making it tough to move aid to where it’s needed most, officials say. At least 10,000 containers of supplies — including food, water and medicine — were sitting Thursday at the San Juan port, said Jose Ayala, the Crowley shipping company’s vice president in Puerto Rico.

As of last week, the San Juan port was at capacity. The arguments against the administration are predictable: “Donald Trump Doesn’t Care About Puerto Ricans.”

The San Juan Mayor’s infamous “I am mad as hell” speech was delivered . . .  in front of pallets of food and water.

“We are dying here, and I cannot fathom the thought that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out logistics for a small island of 100 miles by 35 miles.” If the situation is that dire, literally life-and-death, why is the food and water sitting on pallets behind her during the press conference, instead of being distributed right then and there? Who had the time and resources to print up a “Help Us We Are Dying” t-shirt for her in the middle of an ongoing crisis?

Naturally, President Trump responds to the criticism in the most inflammatory and least illuminating way possible: “Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”

ADDENDA: Hey, look at those AFC East standings . . . 

Raise your hand if you expected, after one quarter of the season, for the Patriots defense to have allowed 36 more points than the Jets’ defense.

The Morning Jolt

By Jim Geraghty