The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag:

Rep. Gosar Reiterates Support For Neo-Nazi ‘America First’ Group

During this year's Conservative Political Action Conference held in Orlando, Florida, Rep. Paul Gosar,( R-AZ), and former Rep Steve King of Iowa spoke at the nearby America First Political Action Conference, where AFPAC founder Nick Fuentes delivered white nationalist and Christian nationalist messages.

Having a sitting member of Congress address AFPAC gave a credibility boost to Fuentes's efforts to recruit young conservatives to his far-right ideology. And Gosar's appearance on AFPAC's stage wasn't the last of it.

Gosar, who sat through Fuentes' speech emphasizing the importance of preserving a white "demographic core," praising the Jan. 6 insurrection as "awesome," and mocking Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn's disability, met with Fuentes the next day.

Gosar responded to criticism by saying that he denounced "white racism," but a week after the conference, he posted a tweet containing a slogan frequently repeated at AFPAC: "America First is inevitable."

An op-ed in the Arizona Republic condemned Republican officials' silence on Gosar's appearance at AFPAC. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), already on the outs with Trump supporters, was one of the few Republicans to criticize Gosar for appearing at the "clearly racist" AFPAC event.

Gosar skipped a House vote on the COVID-19 relief package to make it to Florida in time for his AFPAC appearance. Although Fuentes' record of bigotry and extremism has led to him being banned from CPAC and some social media platforms, Gosar's appearance at AFPAC did not disqualify him from speaking at CPAC the following day.

Prior to the conference, the hard-right Gosar was a promoter of Trump's false stolen-election claims and a supporter of the "Stop the Steal" movement. MSNBC's Steve Benen noted Tuesday that "House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) issued a 2,000-page report late last week 'exposing thousands of social media posts by GOP lawmakers attacking the presidential election and spreading lies before and after the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol by Donald Trump supporters seeking to overturn the results.'" Gosar's messages took up 177 pages.

As Benen reported, Gosar has a history of extremist rhetoric. A few years ago, Gosar visited an Arizona chapter of the Oath Keepers. When asked if the U.S. was headed for civil war, Gosar reportedly replied, "We're in it. We just haven't started shooting at each other yet." Oath Keepers' founder Stewart Rhodes, who repeatedly warned that militias would wage bloody civil war if Trump did not remain in power, was identified by federal prosecutors this week as playing a role in the January 6 insurrection.

A month before Gosar's appearance at AFPAC, a New York Times article on Republican representatives' associations with extremists noted:

In July, Mr. Gosar, a dentist, posed for a picture with a member of the Proud Boys. Two years earlier, he spoke at a rally for a jailed leader of Britain's anti-immigrant fringe in London, where he vilified Muslim immigrants as a "scourge." And in 2014, he traveled to Nevada to support the armed standoff between law enforcement and supporters of the cattle rancher Cliven Bundy, who had refused to stop trespassing on federal lands.

On Thursday, the Southern Poverty Law Center published its report on the AFPAC gathering, detailing speakers' white nationalist rhetoric.


Reprinted with permission from Right Wing Watch

Rep. Greene Thinks U.S. Territory Guam Gets Too Much ‘Foreign Aid’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) included the U.S. territory of Guam when listing foreign nations that she says are receiving American tax dollars.

Greene made the comments on February 27, the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, in Orlando, Florida, in one of the event's side sessions.

"We believe our hard-earned tax dollars should just go for America. Not for, what? China, Russia, the Middle East, Guam, whatever, wherever," said Greene.

Guam has been a part of the United States since 1899, ceded to the United States by Spain in accordance with the Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish-American War in 1898.

People born in Guam are U.S. citizens. More than 160,000 Americans live in Guam, and 7,000 members of the American military are stationed at U.S. Naval Base Guam and Andersen Air Force Base on the island.

While citizens of Guam cannot vote in presidential elections, in 2020 Republicans in the territory caucused during the primaries and awarded 9 delegates to Donald Trump, helping him to secure the Republican presidential nomination.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

In Trump’s GOP, They Can’t Handle The Truth

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call

Even if you don't like or have never seen the 1992 film, or if you judge Jack Nicholson's acting technique as, shall we say, a bit much, you can probably recite his signature outburst from "A Few Good Men," with appropriate volume: "You can't handle the truth!"

Why are so many in the GOP still insisting that the presidential election was rigged and that Donald Trump, the main attraction at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, is the "real" president? Why would a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — to avoid a repeat by the same forces who believed an election fraud lie — be a bad idea? Why all the squawking and attempts in some states to censor a social studies curriculum that presents a nuanced and complete history of a United States that has not always acknowledged the accomplishments and sacrifice of all its citizens?

Say it louder, Jack. I don't think the Republicans present and represented at CPAC can hear you.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to reassure a justifiably fearful country, in the midst of a crushing Depression, by being honest and positive about "our common problems."

"Let me assert my firm belief," he said, "that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

Actions motivated by that emotion, by fear, can easily take a toxic turn, away from the truth toward full retreat from anything that acknowledges "common problems" or a willingness to solve them.

At CPAC, speaker after speaker repeated a lie that widespread voter fraud, not the votes of more than 81 million Americans, put Joe Biden in the White House. Though that lie fueled the pro-Trump riot of Jan. 6 that left five people dead, too many GOP lawmakers refuse to face that truth, fearful that Trump will name them, as he did every one of the House and Senate Republicans who supported his impeachment in his CPAC speech. This acquiescence is coming from some who were witness to the chaos.

It's a soulless transaction that views democracy as expendable.

And it's leading to an avalanche of additional attacks on democracy, in the form of voting restrictions in states across the country by legislatures dominated by Republicans.

A Return To Form

Newly minted swing states Biden won are clearly in the crosshairs. Arizona Republicans are floating a law that would allow the state Legislature to overturn the results of a presidential election. And sweeping election changes under consideration in Georgia would, among other things, limit Sunday voting — a move certainly aimed at the "Souls to the Polls" events popular with predominantly Black churches.

Additionally, in Georgia, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, praised for defying Trump's effort to hold up the state's valid 2020 vote count, has made it known that his office will enforce the rule preventing folks from providing food or water to anyone standing in line to vote.

Enough GOP senators, looking more and more like those who once set up literacy tests and poll taxes, seem all too ready to stop House legislation proposed to make voting easier because of fear that a multiracial and multicultural America will reject what the party Trump still leads is offering.

With the Supreme Court looking primed to further shrink the effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act, if the justices' questions this week in important voting rights cases are any indication, maybe the GOP shouldn't worry too much about its battle on that front, though voters of color might truly have something to fear.

Fear Laid Bare

"Election integrity" was the focus of Trump's weekend speech, as well as many of the sessions at CPAC. The fear behind that slogan has been laid bare by the continued attacks on voters in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, and other majority-minority centers, presenting a scary "other" instead of an America that's bending toward justice. Listening to the concerns of all Americans, to the truths about needed police reform, health care inequities in the communities most devastated by COVID-19, and environmental injustices on view just weeks ago in Texas, must be a step too far for lawmakers who won't believe the Trump-appointed director of the FBI when he warns of domestic terrorism by far-right groups.

At a Senate Judiciary hearing this week to address concerns about the intelligence leading up to January 6, as well as the threat of domestic terrorism, Christopher Wray's repeated declarations about the outsize role of militia and white supremacist groups and the danger that has his agency chasing more than 2,000 cases met GOP ears that would rather deflect.

While Sen. Chuck Grassley did not go full Ron Johnson, which would mean echoing the Wisconsin senator's wild and false claims of "fake Trump protesters" who ruined a "jovial" pro-police gathering on January 6, the Iowa Republican tried and failed in his effort to make Wray view domestic terrorism through a lens of antifa and leftist protests of last summer.

"We're not serious about attacking domestic extremism if we only focus on white supremacy movements, which isn't the only ideology that's responsible for murders and violence," Grassley said, though, according to Wray and anyone with eyes, those movements were most responsible for January 6.

The Republican Party of now was on view at CPAC, with Trump the star and a soundtrack of "Y.M.C.A" and "Macho Man," amusingly ironic for anyone familiar with the Village People's ethos and the anti-LGBTQ turn of today's GOP. Stereotypically tough "macho" talk marked speech after speech, though deception was rampant and the fear so thick you could cut it with a knife.

The scene was ridiculous, really, especially that golden Trump idol that had some worshippers bowing down. Don't Trump's white evangelical followers recall Moses, a golden calf, and false gods?

But it's not funny, as endless examples prove.

FDR seemed to forget his own wise words during World War II, when he signed an executive order that sent people of Japanese descent — men, women and children, most of them American citizens — to isolated internment camps. The racism-fueled decision, not extended to Americans of German and Italian descent, was eventually reversed by the Supreme Court, which once had given it a pass.

That whole chapter, which no telling of American history should cancel, remains a stain on professed American ideals.

It's not just the truth, it's a warning of what fear can lead to.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

CQ Roll Call's newest podcast, "Equal Time with Mary C. Curtis," examines policy and politics through the lens of social justice. Please subscribe on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Rep. Cheney Blasts GOP Members For ‘False Statements’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney is publicly criticizing more than a dozen members of her own caucus who skipped work last week and lied about it. The GOP Congress members claimed in official filings that they were absent due to the coronavirus pandemic, but they actually were attending a right-wing political convention.

"No member should be filing false statements," the Wyoming representative told CNN on Friday. "When you get into a situation where members are signing letters, no matter if they're Republicans or Democrats, saying that they can't be here in person because of the public health emergency and then going someplace else, I think that raises very serious questions and I think it's an issue that has got to be addressed."

Thirteen House Republicans took advantage last Friday of proxy voting rules — designed to let members work from home to curb the spread of the pandemic — to attend the CPAC conferencein Orlando, Florida.

Reps. Jim Banks (IN), Lauren Boebert (CO), Ted Budd (NC), Madison Cawthorn (NC), Matt Gaetz (FL), Paul Gosar (AZ), Mark Green (TN), Darrell Issa (CA), Ronny Jackson (TX), Mike Kelly (PA), Ralph Norman (SC), Devin Nunes (CA), and Greg Steube (FL) each filed a letter last week with the House clerk certifying that they were "unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency."

Each designated a colleague to serve as their proxy, skipping Friday's lengthy debate on whether to pass the American Rescue Plan, President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package.

According to CNN, each also attended the Orlando conference.

Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) told the network on Friday that he had hoped to take a vacation in Tucson, Arizona, and considered using the proxy voting system, but felt that it would be dishonest to do so. "Trust me I was tempted, but I didn't think it would be right because I knew in the end I would have to answer was it COVID related? No, it's not."

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) also questioned whether it was a legitimate use of the rule. After learning that Gosar would be skipping votes for CPAC, she told CNN she urged him to "find someone else to carry your proxy," explaining, "I was not going to vote anyone's proxy who was traveling for other reasons and not to come vote."

Last year, House Democrats adopted the temporary proxy voting system — over the fervent opposition of the Republican minority — after several members tested positive for the coronavirus.

At the time, the House Republican caucus filed a lawsuit to stop the proxy voting system, arguing that it was unconstitutional. The majority of GOP members signed on as named plaintiffs.

Since the start of this year, all but 21 of the plaintiffs have withdrawn their names from the suit. Several of the lawmakers who previously signed on as plaintiffs have since taken advantage of the proxy rules themselves — either when they themselves were absent or to cast votes on behalf of absent colleagues.

Cheney's position as the No. 3 House Republican has been on tenuous ground since she voted to impeach Donald Trump in January. She survived an attempt to remove her from the leadership post on Feb. 3, but has since faced more criticism inside the GOP for her comment that Trump has no "role in the future of the party or the country."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.