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Ethics

Reps. Adam Kinzinger, left, and Liz Cheney

The House on Wednesday voted to censure Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) — a rare punishment for a House lawmaker that's only taken place 23 times in all of American history — over a violent "anime"-style video his staff tweeted on November 8.

The animated video showed Gosar violently decapitating Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and attacking President Joe Biden with swords. After Democrats expressed outrage over the video, Gosar tweeted a meme that read, "It's a cartoon. Relax."

Only two Republicans -- Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) -- joined Democrats in punishing Gosar over the video. On Wednesday, Politico reported that "moderate" Republicans are reluctant to censure Gosar because doing so would force them to censure other colleagues who say and do "crazy" things.

A censure vote is a largely symbolic measure that "registers the House's deep disapproval of member misconduct that, nevertheless, does not meet the threshold for expulsion," according to the Office of the House Historian. Only 23 House members have been censured in the chamber's 232-year history.

House Democrats are moving not only to censure Gosar over his violent video but also strip him of his committee assignments. The chamber is set to vote on the measure on Wednesday.

"Depictions of violence can foment actual violence and jeopardize the safety of elected officials, as witnessed in this chamber on January 6, 2021," the House's censure resolution reads.

Cheney condemned House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy for not condemning Gosar's actions, telling a CNN reporter that McCarthy's actions are "indefensible — morally and ethically."

On Tuesday, Kinzinger defended his decision to vote to censure Gosar.

"We have to hold Members accountable who incite or glorify violence, who spread and perpetuate dangerous conspiracies," Kinzinger tweeted. "The failure to do so will take us one step closer to this fantasized violence becoming real."

Republicans are also backing off because they don't want to create a precedent for having to punish their own members for making violent or offensive comments, according to Politico's report. Such behavior has increased after the 2020 election.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) was kicked off her House committee assignments in February for endorsing calls to execute House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other offensive statements. Even that vote only drew 11 Republicans.

Since then, Greene has targeted her GOP colleagues for voting for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — Biden's infrastructure bill that funds highway and bridge repairs and expansions, provides funding for public transportation and will help replace lead water pipes that pose serious health risks to communities across the country.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) received death threats from angry conservatives after he voted for the infrastructure bill.

Other Republican lawmakers have also made violent comments. Before the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) called for violence after he lost a lawsuit that sought to give Vice President Mike Pence the power to block Biden's Electoral College victory.

"Bottom line is, the court is saying, 'We're not going to touch this. You have no remedy' — basically, in effect, the ruling would be that you gotta go to the streets and be as violent as Antifa and BLM," Gohmert told Newsmax on January 2.

Four days later, violent riots erupted at the U.S. Capitol building.

Over the summer, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) warned of "bloodshed" over "rigged elections." In December 2020, Cawthorn also told his constituents to "threaten" other members of Congress. Cawthorn has not faced any punishment for his comments.

In October, Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) fantasized about blowing up the metal detectors outside the House chamber. The metal detectors were put in place after Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) tried to bring a concealed gun into the chamber in January.

Threats against lawmakers have spiked since the January 6 insurrection — in which some lawmakers feared for their lives as the marauding group of Donald Trump supporters violently broke into the Capitol to try to demand that Trump be kept in power, despite losing re-election.

"This year alone, there has been a 107 percent increase in threats against Members compared to 2020," the United States Capitol Police wrote in a May 7 press release. "Provided the unique threat environment we currently live in, the Department is confident the number of cases will continue to increase."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation

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Chris Christie

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) may have an anti-Trump stance in the public eye now but Bulwark writer Tim Miller is explaining why his pushback is a decade too late.

Miller pointed to a tweet highlighting a quote from Christie that read, "I've never walked away from an argument, no matter who stood on the other side," Christie told me during a wide-ranging interview in New Jersey.

He went on to note the main problem with Christie's remarks: The former governor talks a good game but fails miserably at backing it up.

"Like every other pathetic, podgy, scared, insecure bully who has ever disgraced a schoolyard, Chris Christie talks a big game," Miller wrote. "But when he was called upon to meet the biggest threat of his life—a doughy, soft-handed trust-fund baby with authoritarian aspirations—Christie didn't just walk away from an argument. He waddled as fast as he could go in his urine-soaked pull-ups."

Referencing an incident that occurred back in February of 2016, Miller explained how Christie blunder on the campaign trail. At the time, the former governor had launched his presidential bid, running alongside the likes of former President Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). He needed a campaign boost in New Hampshire but instead of taking aim at the candidate he should have challenged, Christie went after Rubio.

"Christie surveyed the stage and decided to try and butch himself up by taking on the runt of the pack: He ignored Trump and whaled on Lil' Marco, to the delight of many," Miller wrote. "To the delight, in fact, of Trump."

In his book, Christie also recounted what transpired between him and Trump after the debate as he alluded to why he targeted Rubio instead.

"I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Donald Trump," Christie wrote in his book. "Donald put his arm around me and said, 'God, you destroyed him. . . . You're the only one who could have done that. Just remember: I haven't said anything bad about you. Don't go after me.'"

Miller went on to explain how Christie's wrong move not only impacted Rubio but also tanked his own campaign in New Hampshire.

"Christie succeeded in blunting Marco's momentum, but did nothing to boost himself. Three days later Trump went on to win New Hampshire in a rout, Marco fell to fifth, and Christie bottomed out in sixth," he wrote. "After which he walked away from the race without ever having even thrown an unkind glance in Trump's general direction."

However, Christie's behavior didn't stop there. It only grew worse in the months that followed as the 2016 presidential election approached.

"Right at the moment when the Republican party needed to unite against Trump, Christie gassed the fellow up," Miller noted.

Highlighting a number of Christie's other embarrassing blunders, Miller explained why he has made it to the point of no return.

He wrote:

  • Christie stood next to Trump pliantly as he ranted and raved.
  • It was leaked, maybe apocryphally, that he was assigned the job of fetching Trump's hamburgers.
  • He stood by as Trump told him to stop eating Oreos.
  • After an event in Arkansas, he obediently walked up to Trump looking for a pat on the head but instead he was shooed off and instructed to "go home."
  • He weirdly referred to him throughout the campaign as "Mr. Trump," despite the fact that he was a sitting governor and Trump was a former game-show host.
Despite Christie's latest attempt at redemption, Miller concluded, "Christie is six years late and one insurrection short and I will not be respecting his authorit-aye."