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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: adam kinzinger

On July Fourth, Appreciation For The Truly Patriotic Conservatives

When the flags fly proudly on the Fourth of July, I remember what my late father taught me about love of country. Much as he despised the scoundrels and pretenders he liked to call "jelly-bellied flag flappers," after a line in a favorite Rudyard Kipling story, he was deeply patriotic. It is a phrase that aptly describes the belligerent chicken hawk who never stops squawking — someone like Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.

Like many who volunteered for the U.S. Army in World War II, my dad never spoke much about his four tough years of military service, which brought him under Japanese bombardment in the Pacific theater. But eventually there came a time when he attached to his lapel a small eagle-shaped pin known as a "ruptured duck" — a memento given to every veteran. With this proof of service, he demonstrated that as a lifelong liberal, he loved his country as much as any conservative.

That gesture occurred during one of those periods when the political polarization now plaguing our country began to metastasize. It seemed important to my father -- and to me over these many years since -- to lay down a marker for liberals and progressives who love America, with her manifest flaws and conflicted past. Over these past two years, however, living through the pandemic and the insurrection, it has become equally important to recognize that patriotism can still bring us together across sectarian and ideological divides. And on this holiday, to celebrate the determined defense of democracy and law that brings together patriots of all partisan stripes.

On this Independence Day, it doesn't seem so important to argue, as I have in years past, that the liberal left is equally as devoted to American institutions and values as our compatriots on the right -- because so many of the latter have demonstrated, in their fealty to Trump, that they love their would-be dictator more than they love their country. Democrats have proved to be staunch and unified in their defense of the Constitution, with the party's elected officials leading the fight to uphold democracy both at home and around the world.

What feels vital today is to appreciate the allies from the other side of the political aisle who have rallied to the cause, at no small cost to themselves and their families. It is a list that grows longer by the day, starting with Rep. Liz Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the Republicans who broke with their party to demand truth and justice in the wake of Trump's attempted January 6 coup. Both have proved willing to sacrifice their promising political futures and to subject themselves to vile abuse as they stood up against their degenerating quasi-fascist party and its criminal leader. They have forged real friendships as well as strong working relationships with the Democrats on the House Select Committee, because that is what Americans do in a time of crisis.

Both Kinzinger and Cheney still profess what I would consider misguided views or worse on many issues, and have adopted some positions -- on voting rights, for instance -- that contradict their professed love of democracy. So have other Republican and former Republican officials and leaders who have nevertheless proven their independence from Trump's authoritarian mob. Rusty Bowers, the Arizona Republican legislator who refused to bow to that mob, has even said he would vote for Trump again -- a truly bizarre statement.

And yet we must be grateful to Bowers, and to Brad Raffensperger and Gabriel Sperling of Georgia, as well as the eight other Congressional Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January 2020, the seven Republican senators who voted to convict him, and the many conservatives who have chosen law and liberty over chaos, lies, and tyranny. Yes, that even includes Mike Pence, the former vice president who merely did his duty but performed that constitutional task under threat of death from the leader to whom he had shown such obsequious loyalty.

I cannot help but hope that all of these good people, forced to turn away from their party and many of their friends, will reconsider their reactionary views on all kinds of matters. Some conservatives, including a few whom I've gotten to know better in these moments, are indeed looking back and questioning rigid perspectives from the past. In many cases that is what their intelligence and ethics will eventually require of them.

Yet on this July Fourth, any such considerations matter much less to me than their willingness to set aside our differences in a common cause. Disagreements about the best way to fulfill our nation's promise will endure -- and I look forward to the day when we can again debate those matters in a democratic society secure from authoritarian threats.

Meanwhile, we ought to appreciate all the leaders, thinkers, and activists who have joined America's united front against fascism. We will be struggling together to preserve our common birthright for years to come.


Key US Lawmakers Offer Guarded Hope For Gun Safety Reforms

Washington (AFP) - Key US lawmakers expressed guarded optimism Sunday that the shocking school shooting in Texas might lead to at least small steps against gun violence.

"There are more Republicans interested in talking about finding a path forward this time than I have seen since Sandy Hook," Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said on ABC, referring to the 2012 school shooting in his home state of Connecticut that claimed 26 lives.

Since the shooting Tuesday in the town of Uvalde, Texas left 19 children and two teachers dead, Murphy has been a leader in talks with Republicans -- who have long resisted gun-control measures -- about potential steps.

Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, said Sunday that compromise would not come easily, but that after Uvalde, he sensed "a different feeling among my colleagues."

"The real challenge is whether the Republicans will step forward and show courage, political courage, in a very tough situation," he told CNN.

But, he added, "There will be some."

One moderate House Republican, Adam Kinzinger, told CNN that Uvalde might have opened him up to greater gun control measures.

Kinzinger, a military veteran, said he had opposed the idea of a ban on assault-style weapons until "fairly recently."

But, he added, "I think I'm open to a ban now," or at least to imposing training or certification requirements on potential buyers.

"We have to be coming to the table with ways to mitigate 18-year-olds buying these guns and walking into schools," he said. "My side's not doing that."

Opposition to gun control runs deep among Republicans and some Democrats representing rural states.

In the wake of the Uvalde shooting, several Republican lawmakers have advocated improved school security or additional mental health support.

Durbin acknowledged the difficulty of achieving real reform in a country where guns outnumber people.

"The AR-15 that was used by this individual in Uvalde, there are now 20 million of those owned by Americans across the nation, just to put it in perspective," he said.

"So we have got to be realistic about what we can achieve."

Trump Promotes 'Civil War' Tweet -- And Gets Showered With Insults

Former President Trump, a self-proclaimed “wartime” president who got impeached a second time — a feat no other U.S. president in history has achieved — for asking a crowd of his supporters to “fight like hell” before siccing them on the Capitol, is facing backlash again for seemingly advocating for civil war.

No stranger to incurring public outrage, Trump took to his embattled far-right social media platform, Truth Social, to “ReTruth” a civil war-advocating post on Sunday.

The “truth” shared by “MAGA King Thanos,” an anonymous MAGA-supporting Truth Social user, and later re-shared by Trump, was a screenshot of a March 19 tweet by El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, who claimed an “enemy within’ was pushing the United States to the brink of civil war.

Bukele’s tweet was his response to a Bloomberg op-ed titled “Inflation Stings Most If You Earn Less Than $300K. Here's How to Deal.”

“The most powerful country in the world is falling so fast, that it makes you rethink what are the real reasons. Something so big and powerful can't be destroyed so quickly, unless the enemy comes from within,” tweeted Bukele.

Bukele, who once declared himself the “coolest dictator in the world,” has maintained a hardline stance on immigration that’s put him at odds with the Biden administration and aligned him with Trump.

When the U.S. State Department released a statement in April expressing concern about violence and threats to free speech in El-Salvador, Bukele assailed the Biden White House in a tweet, accusing the administration of “supporting the gangs [in El-Salvador] and their 'civil liberties' now.”

The civil war tweet was first shared as a screenshot on Truth Social by Lara Logan, a once-celebrated CBS reporter who is now a Trumpist who compared Dr. Anthony Fauci to an infamous Nazi doctor who experimented on Jews.

George Conway III, prominent conservative Trump critic and husband of a former senior Trump White House adviser, Kellyanne Conway, highlighted the former president’s re-share on his Twitter account.

In a Sunday night interview with CNN, Conway shaded Democrats for ignoring the former president’s threat to American democracy, which he’s done for the umpteenth time, because “they’re terrified of him,” according to the Independent.

“But they’re also terrified of a Republican base that’s become increasingly radicalized. That actually does believe that people who politically disagree with them are a threat to the nation, and, therefore, violence could be necessary to fight them off, and that’s what we saw in this social media post,” Conway said.

However, the post at issue had been denounced by Democrats and even members of Trump’s own party.

“Any of my fellow Republicans wanna speak out now? Or are we just wanting to get through ‘just one more election’ first…?” tweeted Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), a staunch Republican Trump critic in Congress.

Another lawmaker, Rep. Eric Swalwell, weighed in with what seemingly implied that Trump was a “wartime president” in name only. “Donald Trump is calling for Civil War. Of course, like Vietnam and the walk to the Insurrection, he won’t be man enough to fight it.

J’Accuse! Cheney Charges GOP Leadership ‘Enabled White Supremacy’

In the wake of the Buffalo, NY mass shooting that killed ten Black people, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) Monday morning leveled strong charges against the leadership of the House GOP, accusing them of enabling “white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism.”

House GOP leadership includes Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and the chair of the House Republican Conference, Elise Stefanik (R-NY).

Over the weekend, after the Buffalo mass shooting, Stefanik became the face of the Republican Party’s embrace of a white supremacist, white nationalist, far-right conspiracy theory known as the “Great Replacement Theory.” It promotes the false, baseless, and racist belief that people of color are “replacing” white Americans – often by being systematically brought into the country – to disenfranchise white voters, to take their jobs, in college admissions, and in other areas of society.

NPR reports that “Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old white male accused of killing 10 people and wounding another three in Buffalo, allegedly said in his screed that the decrease in white birth rates equates to a genocide.”

It is being investigated as “a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism.” Gendron’s 180-page “manifesto” references what he claims is the dwindling size of the white population, according to CNN.

The Washington Post reports that “Stefanik has not pushed the theory by name,” but “she and other conservatives have echoed the tenets of the far-right ideology as part of anti-immigrant rhetoric that has fired up the Republican base ahead of the midterm elections.”

A “series of Facebook ads published in September 2021 by Stefanik’s campaign committee … charged that Democrats were allowing undocumented immigrants into the United States as a ploy to outnumber, and eventually silence, Republican voters,” the Post adds, noting that Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) Sunday tweeted that Minority Leader McCarthy should be asked about it.

“Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION,” reads one of the ads, which shows a reflection of migrants in sunglasses Biden is wearing. “Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Kinzinger Blasts Trump As ‘Worst President Ever’ In Wide-Ranging Interview

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois has already said he will not seek another term in the House—though he has left open the possibility of returning to political office at some point in the future. A big part of this play is that Kinzinger, along with neo-conservatives like Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), are battling to regain control over a political party now inundated with more flagrantly corrupt, more flagrantly authoritarian, and more flagrantly incompetent officials like Sen. Josh Hawley and Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) ascending to prominence. There was a time when people who acted and spoke like Louie Gohmert weren’t the majority.

As a result, Kinzinger and Cheney have been censured by the Republican Party for their participation in the single most important investigation of an attempted coup d’etat in recent memory. Kinzinger has hit the media circuit to make the case for democracy. Speaking on CNN and MSNBC in interviews on Monday, Kinzinger slammed everyone from Donald Trump to Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Unlike other anti-MAGA, anti-Big Lie conservatives, Kinzinger isn’t running for office and has decided he is going to hit his fellow Republicans where it hurts: with the truth.

On CNN, Kinzinger spoke about having a newborn son at home and the world he hopes his son grows up in, and whether or not his son would be proud of his decisions in the past year. Asked what he will tell his son about Donald Trump when he’s older, Kinzinger was simple but to the point: ”I will tell him he is the worst president the United States ever had. He was a liar and a charlatan, and he was the most fragile ego I ever met.“ The truth meter is pretty high on that statement. Whether or not Trump is the worst president in U.S. history is definitely debatable, but he is easily one of the worst presidents in our country’s history.

But Kinzinger’s continued appeal to the decency of his fellow Republicans has fallen on deaf ears, it seems. Kinzinger lamented this while also trying to remind everyone of how important a moment in our history as a country this all is. As such, Kinzinger hopes and believes there will be a reckoning. “I want them to know how they voted on January 6. In five or 10 years, it will be hard to explain if you're not on the side of the truth.”

On Sunday Morning Joe over at MSNBC, Kinzinger was asked about his off-the-record conversations with Republicans who claim to agree with him that Trump and others pushing the Big Lie are wrong. Kinzinger’s response was telling. He first said that the GOP officials he imagined he was being asked about weren’t the people he’s spoken to in his party that are “crazy.”

From there he said he hears a lot of rationalizing over campaign fears. “I just have to win my primary because trust me, the guy I'm running against is really bad.” Kinzinger points out that this isn’t much of an excuse, saying: “At some point you have to stand up.” Kinzinger says he sometimes receives pushback from officials telling him that they know how to do their job and that they’re more of “the local person,” whatever that bit of BS is supposed to mean to them. Kinzinger says when he hears this kind of thing, he realizes that his “friends” don’t have a “red line they won’t cross,” and that this isn’t sufficient in a fight for our democracy. “Silence is complicity.”

When McCarthy and his censure of Cheney and Kinzinger is brought up, the Illinois representative is withering in his description of the minority leader: “He is the weakest leader, frankly, that has ever existed in that position.”

After taking a shot at the Donald’s fragility, Kinzinger goes on: "I don't get the hurt feelings that Donald Trump gets on a daily basis.” He then made one of his most important points: The January 6 committee is nonpartisan by nature of what it is investigating, and any attack on the committee as simply partisan is disrespectful to what a working democracy should look like.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER: This is not the left wing against the right wing. This is authoritarianism—you can call it even moments of fascism—against democracy. And even as bad as the violence was over the summer during the riots, that at no point threatened the self-governance of the United States like the self-governance of the United States was threatened on January 6. There is no false equivalence, no matter how much the victim and hurt feelings king Donald Trump likes to say.

On the one hand, Cheney and Kinzinger are 100 percent right in the pursuit of the truth of what happened, who knew what, and who was planning what on that day. Rightly, Cheney and Kinzinger have pointed to the need for the Republican Party writ large to take a stance against the tyranny people like Donald Trump represent. On the other hand, considering their moves against things like voting rights, it is hard not to look at some of their animosity towards their fellow Republicans with a healthy amount of cynicism. But the stakes are so high at this point it is a good thing that they are on the side of punishing January 6 conspirators.

Kinzinger's statement to Republican voters and Republican officials is something I think everyone can support: “This is a defining moment in American politics and the RNC’s future. Are you for authoritarianism, are you against democracy, or are you going to wake up to that slide and come back to actual democracy again?”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

GOP Censures Cheney, Kinzinger; Says January 6 Probe Is 'Attack On Legitimate Political Discourse'

By Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Republican Party on Friday censured Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for joining Congress' investigation of the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack and Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his 2020 presidential election defeat, calling the probe an attack on "legitimate political discourse."

Cheney and Kinzinger are the only Republicans on the House of Representatives January 6 select committee. The panel is investigating who -- including people in Trump's circle -- had any role in planning or enabling the worst assault on the U.S. Capitol since the War of 1812.

The resolution censuring Cheney and Kinzinger, approved at a Republican National Committee meeting in Salt Lake City, accused them of "participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse."

Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol that day, smashing windows, assaulting police officers and sending lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence running for their lives after Trump made a fiery speech repeating his false claims that his election defeat was the result of widespread fraud.

Friday's vote was dramatically different in tone from a statement the Republican National Committee released the day of the attack, when it said "these violent scenes we have witnessed do not represent acts of patriotism, but an attack on our country and its founding principles."

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Friday's resolution targeted the January 6 committee probe, which has subpoenaed a range of politicians and Trump White House aides as it tries to piece together their role in events leading to the assault.

"Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger crossed a line. They chose to join Nancy Pelosi in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol," she said. She said she "condemned violence on both sides of the aisle."

The resolution passed on a voice vote as 168 members of the RNC gathered for their winter meeting. The yes votes were overwhelming, with a handful of nays, according to reporters at the meeting.

Cheney and Kinzinger voted to impeach Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection, and they joined the seven Democrats on the panel investigating the attack.

The resolution said Cheney and Kinzinger have damaged Republican efforts to win back majorities in Congress.

The measure said the RNC will "immediately cease any and all support of them" as party members, but stops short of calling for their ouster from the party, as initially proposed. The committee uses some of its funds to help support Republican candidates in their campaigns.

Trump, who retains a strong grip over his party as the Nov. 8 midterm congressional elections draw closer, has been on the warpath against Republicans who have taken a stand against him. Republicans are trying to take control of both the House and the Senate from President Joe Biden's Democrats.

Persons Of Conscience

Both lawmakers issued statements in anticipation of Friday's vote.

"The leaders of the Republican Party have made themselves willing hostages to a man who admits he tried to overturn a presidential election and suggests he would pardon January 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy," Cheney said, referring to the hundreds of Trump supporters accused of various crimes in the violent attack.

Four people died on January 6, and a Capitol Police officer died the next day. About 140 police officers were injured, and four later died by suicide.

Cheney said she does not recognize those in her party who "abandoned the Constitution to embrace Donald Trump," who has endorsed her challenger in the Wyoming Republican primary.

Kinzinger, who is not seeking re-election, said he has been a conservative Republican since before Trump entered politics. He vowed to continue "working to fight the political matrix that's led us to this point."

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, in an interview with Fox News, did not comment on the censure but criticized the House committee as purely political.

Not all Republicans are lining up against the two.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney praised Cheney and Kinzinger as honorable in a Twitter post on Friday. "Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol," he wrote.

At least 71 Republican members of Congress transferred money last year to the campaigns of congressional Republicans, including Cheney's, that supported booting Trump from office, a Reuters analysis found.

Republican Senator Bill Cassidy came to their defense late Thursday, writing on Twitter, "The RNC is censuring Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger because they are trying to find out what happened on January 6th - HUH?"

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Steve Holland; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Aurora Ellis, and Cynthia Osterman)

McCarthy's Spineless 'Leadership' Is Destroying GOP Caucus -- And Him

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's dreams of one day becoming speaker of the House are going up in flames as the Republican caucus devolves into a raging inferno of internecine guerrilla warfare.

Specifically, House GOP radicals have turned caucus politics into an unsightly brawl more resembling the kicking, screaming, hair pulling, and spitting of a middle-school rivalry than the growing pains of major political party plotting its path to renewed relevance.

No one is more central to this uniquely embarrassing GOP drama than McCarthy, who has turned spinelessness into an ethic in his quest for power. McCarthy's moral deficit has left any members of the GOP conference who still possess a shred of integrity to condemn the actions of the extremists putting the lives of both their GOP colleagues and Democratic counterparts at risk.

It started last month with McCarthy allowing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia to target as "traitors" the 13 House Republicans who voted for a bipartisan infrastructure bill supported by nearly two-thirds of the country. Egged on by Greene & Co., death threats ensued, but McCarthy turned the other cheek, because speakership.

But death threats left unchecked breed more death threats and, once McCarthy proved his obsequiousness, the GOP extremists were bound to expand outward. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado got right to work, deploying Islamophobic slurs against Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

After Boebert tagged Omar the "jihad squad” and McCarthy crawled under a rock, GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois called Boebert "TRASH" for hurling the anti-Muslim trope.

But it was Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina who would draw the next trashy moniker after she "100%" condemned Boebert's dangerous antics on CNN Tuesday. In response, Greene labeled Mace "the trash of the GOP Conference" in a Tuesday morning tweet.

Despite Mace telling CNN Tuesday that she hadn't come to Congress to name-call, the exchange devolved quickly.

“Marjorie Taylor Greene is a liar. And I’m not going to tolerate lies, racism or bigotry, whether you are Republican or Democrat,” Mace said during a Tuesday interview on Neil Cavuto’s Fox Business show. “She’s crazy. She’s insane. She’s bad for the party. And I’m not going to put up with it.”

This is exactly what happens in a caucus completely devoid of moral leadership. Indeed, McCarthy has become so useless, some of the GOP's saner caucus members are actually publicly begging him to at least act like a leader.

“I think when you’re in a position of leadership, you have to stand up. You have to deal with it,” said Rep. Tom Reed of New York, one of the 13 GOP House members who voted for the infrastructure bill. “I appreciate the fact that Kevin called our colleague directly to discuss the matter with her. But at some point in time, you also have to stand up and just call it out for what it is. This type of rhetoric cannot be condoned. It cannot be upheld.”

If McCarthy had more than two brain cells to rub together, he would realize this truth: His bid for the speakership is over, particularly if he continues to let the GOP radicals roll him like a limbless log day in and day out. Last week, Greene used Rep. Matt Gaetz’s podcast to note that McCarthy doesn't have “the full support" of the caucus to be speaker.

"There’s many of us that are very unhappy about the failure to hold Republicans accountable, while conservatives like me, Paul Gosar and many others just constantly take the abuse by the Democrats," Greene said.

It’s over, McCarthy. You appeased the radicals right into burning you at the stake.