5 min read

Wake Up To Politics - May 16, 2022

Wake Up To Politics: A weekend of violence
Wake Up To Politics - May 16, 2022

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Monday, May 16, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 176 days away. Election Day 2024 is 904 days away.

Welcome back to WUTP. I’m very sorry about my absence from your inbox last week. I had thought I would be able to send out the newsletter during my week of final exams and papers — but I decided I needed to focus on schoolwork and a little more sleep to get through the week.

Thanks for your understanding — and for all your kind notes expressing concern.

The good news is: My semester is now over and my plan is to continue writing WUTP throughout the summer (with a one-week break in the middle).

I’m really excited to focus full-time on the newsletter and be able to pursue a bunch of stories and projects I don’t always have time for during the school year. I’ll also be in D.C. for most of it, meaning I’ll be able to cover a slew of stories firsthand — from the Supreme Court’s forthcoming abortion decision to the January 6 committee hearings that are starting soon.

I’ll have more to say about new features and other plans for the summer soon. In the meantime, if you have any ideas, questions, or feedback, send me a note at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com. Or you can just click “reply” on this email. I always love to hear what you all are thinking!

Now, to the news:

A weekend of violence

The United States was rocked by three mass shootings over the weekend:

  • In Buffalo, an 18-year-old opened fire at a supermarket on Saturday, killing 10 people and wounding three others. Officials are investigating the attack as a hate crime; it took place in a Black neighborhood and 11 of the victims were Black.
  • A manifesto allegedly posted online by the gunman laid out plans to attack Black people and promoted racist conspiracy theories. The perpetrator, who was investigated after threatening to attack his high school last year, also livestreamed the shooting on Twitch.
  • In southern California, one person was killed and five others were wounded (four of them critically) in an attack at a church on Sunday, until congregants hogtied and overpowered the shooter.
  • The shooting took place in an Asian community and most of the victims were of Taiwanese descent, but officials are still investigating if the attack was targeted against Asian people.
  • In Houston, at least two people were killed and several others were injured in a shooting at a flea market on Sunday. The local sheriff said the shooting “may have stemmed from an altercation between two parties that turned violent.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (whose back is facing the camera) hugs a grieving member of the community in Buffalo targeted by the shooting. (Hochul’s Twitter account)

Meanwhile, in Washington, politicians from both sides of the aisle issued flowery statements in response to the shootings — but little action is expected to follow them.

“Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America,” President Biden said in a statement after the Buffalo shooting. “Hate must have no safe harbor. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.”

Biden will visit Buffalo on Tuesday; the attack there was the deadliest U.S. mass shooting so far in 2022.

Gun violence thus joins the list of hot-button issues that Democrats have been largely unable to address with razor-thin congressional majorities and the obstacle of the Senate filibuster. (Abortion is another recent addition after a bill codifying Roe v. Wade was blocked by Senate Republicans.)

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) noted in her statement, House Democrats have passed several gun control bills; none of them have the 10 Republican votes needed to overcome a filibuster. “We must never stop fighting to end the bloodshed — because enough is enough,” Pelosi added.

Last year, Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) briefly engaged in bipartisan negotiations over a gun control bill, but the talks eventually broke down.

One more political angle to note: In his alleged manifesto, the Buffalo gunman repeatedly referenced the “great replacement” theory — a racist conspiracy theory that claims Western elites (often Jews specifically) are seeking to bring immigrants into the U.S. to “replace” white people and advance a political agenda.

  • Why is this a political angle? Because several Republican politicians and right-wing media figures, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), are facing renewed scrutiny after espousing rhetoric that echoes the theory in recent years.

More news to know

Sweden and Finland, which shares a border with Russia, are inching closer to NATO membership, a sign that the alliance is growing as the war in Ukraine rages on.

  • Related: “Finland and Sweden Move Toward NATO Membership. But What About Ukraine?” New York Times

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) visited Ukraine on Saturday to express his support and take on members of his party who have urged a non-interventionist stance.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) announced on Sunday that he was recovering after suffering a minor stroke. He is the second Senate Democrat to suffer a stroke this year, after Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM); in a 50-50 Senate, any member’s absence can set back the party’s agenda.

  • Also: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-PA) also revealed on Sunday that he had suffered a stroke. Fetterman, who says he will make a full recovery, is the leading contender in the crowded Democratic primary field for Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat. The primary is Tuesday; check back in WUTP for more coverage tomorrow.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (shown here with his hand outstretched) announced on Sunday that he had suffered a stroke. (IAEA)

What’s going on in Washington today

All times Eastern.

President Biden: Receives his daily intelligence briefing (9:30 am). Awards Public Safety Officer Medals of Valor to public safety officers who have displayed “extraordinary valor above and beyond the call of duty” (11:45 am).

  • Then: Meets with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to discuss Ukraine and other issues (3:30 pm). Hosts a reception in honor of Mitsotakis and his wife (5 pm).

Vice President Harris: Arrives in the United Arab Emirates (7:10 am). Meets with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s new ruler, to express condolences over the death of his predecessor, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed (8:25 am).

  • Then: Departs the UAE after a brief, three-hour visit (10:15 am).

First Lady Biden: Delivers remarks at an an hosted by The Washington Ballet to launch a new scholarship initiative for young people (3 pm). Hosts a reception with her husband for the Greek prime minister (5 pm).

Senate: Holds a cloture vote to advance H.R. 7691, the House-passed $40 billion Ukraine aid package (5:30 pm).

House: Votes on 17 bills, including several related to homeland security, cybersecurity, and veterans.

Supreme Court: Releases orders (9:30 am) and opinions (10 am).

What else: White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold her first press briefing since taking over for Jen Psaki (2:30 pm).

Links to watch for yourself: Biden awards Medals of ValorBiden meets with Greek PMBiden reception for Greek PMSenate sessionHouse sessionWH briefing

That’s it for today. If you enjoy Wake Up To Politics, it’s always appreciated if you donate to support the newsletter or buy some merch. Or if you tell your friends and family to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.

Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe