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How A Texas Primary Exposed Divisions Within The Democratic Party

It’s a race that has some Democratic voters scratching their heads: a young, progressive primary challenger versus a pro-life, conservative Democrat who received an A-rating from the NRA. The primary race between one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, Representative Henry Cuellar, and Jessica Cisneros has become a lightning rod within the Democratic Party.

Cuellar declared victory, but as of Wednesday morning, major media outlets have said the race is too close to call. He is just a couple hundred votes ahead of his Cisneros in Texas' 28th Congressional District primary. When neither candidate won a majority in the March 1 primary, the two highest vote-getters faced each other in Tuesday's run-off election.

Top House Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) backed Cuellar despite his status as the only self-identified pro-life Democrat in the Senate.

Cisneros, 29, was supported by Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and the young progressive seized on the news of the Supreme Court leak to overturn Roe v. Wade. She closed the gap between her and Cuellar from two percentage points on March 1 to a photo finish on Tuesday.

Abortion, Gun Safety At Issue

Key issues for the Democrats this fall, abortion and gun violence, are central to Texas politics. Texas Republicans are leading the pack to peel back abortion rights, and on Tuesday a gunman killed 19 children and 2 teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Cisneros attempted to paint Cuellar as a conservative Democrat who would hurt the Democrats’ chance of passing key legislation.

“There's so many key issues where he's always siding with Republicans, and he could become the Joe Manchin of the House. We don't want Henry Cuellar to be the deciding vote on the future of our fundamental freedoms and rights in this country. We just can't risk that,” Cisneros told Meet the Press.

For his part, Cuellar tried to thread the needle, claiming he does not run on his pro-life views and focuses on other important issues.

Top Democrats like Pelosi have come under fire from the progressive wing of their party for directing significant resources to Cuellar’s campaign.

As reported by The American Prospect, a Super PAC with former consultants for President Obama, President Biden, and Senator Sanders donated $241,000 to Cuellar’s campaign. Cuellar also regularly highlighted his endorsements from Pelosi, Clyburn, and Hoyer,

Cuellar came under fire not just for his conservative political views, but also for an FBI raid on his home just a month before the March 1 primary. The FBI raided Cuellar’s home as part of an investigation related to Azerbaijan, but the FBI and Department of Justice have been tight-lipped about the status of the probe.

Democratic Discord

The race put divisions within the Democratic Party on display. And questions remain as to whether those disputes can be set aside before the general election in November -- and whether progresssives will line up with party leaders.

Ocasio-Cortez not only backed Cisneros, but she has spoken out harshly against Cuellar and Democratic leadership. She called the race “an utter failure of leadership," adding, “Congress should not be an incumbent protection racket.”

She continued on Twitter, “on the day of a mass shooting and weeks after news of Roe, Democratic Party leadership rallied for a pro-NRA, anti-choice incumbent under investigation in a close primary. Robocalls, fundraisers, all of it.”

Cisneros was seen as a potential new member of the Squad, a group of more progressive female representatives that has faced backlash from Democratic leadership. Nonetheless, the group has fallen in line with party politics more than conservative Democratic senators such as Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

But disagreement over primaries has been a regular source of discord between the progressive wing of the party and party leadership. At the end of the day, the story will likely be that Democratic leadership saved Cuellar’s political career. But, the battle between these two wings of the Democratic Party is far from resolved.

'You're A Creep Bro': AOC Smacks Carlson Over His Latest Misogynist Rant

Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) did not mince words when she slammed Fox News' Tucker Carlson for his recent misogynistic remarks.

On Friday night's edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the serial political instigator leveled yet another attack at the Democratic lawmaker, whom he mockingly refers to as "Sandy Cortez." Spending nearly a third of his hour-long segment ranting about Ocasio-Cortez, Carlson expressed disdain and frustration about a forthcoming book featuring the New York lawmaker.

Carlson argued that Ocasio-Cortez should not be considered a "woman of color." Pulling one of her previous Instagram videos, Carlson claimed she was nothing more than a “rich, entitled white lady.”

“There is no place on Earth outside of American colleges and newsrooms where Sandy Cortez would be recognized as a quote, woman of color, because she’s not! She’s a rich, entitled white lady,” he said. “She’s the pampered obnoxious ski bunny in the matching snowsuit, who tells you to pull up your mask, while you’re standing in the lift line at Jackson Hole. They’re all the same. It doesn’t matter what shade they are."

Carlson also went a step further grasping for straws when he took another Instagram video out of context. In the video, Ocasio-Cortez said, "Im alone today."

Picking apart the simple statement, Carlson said, "Its it just us, or does that sound like an invitation to a booty call? Maybe one step from ‘What are you wearing?’ Either way it’s a little strange, definitely over-sharing.”

'Dumbest Thing' Is Far Right's Latest Attack On AOC For Miami Vacation

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Almost three years after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City was first sworn into Congress, far-right Republicans continue to be obsessed with the progressive Democratic congresswoman — and many of their attacks on her fall painfully flat. A case in point: Republicans playing “gotcha!” in response to a new photo of a maskless AOC drinking outside during a visit to Miami.

People who aren’t regular consumers of right-wing media, upon seeing the photo that’s supposed to inspire outrage, are likely to respond, “So what?” A New York Post tweet reads, “AOC pictured dining maskless in Miami Beach as Omicron cases soar.”

The implication, evidently, is that Ocasio-Cortez isn’t practicing COVID-19 safety even though she has been an outspoken proponent of vaccines, masks and social distancing precautions. But AOC, in that photo, is outside in the open air and several feet apart from the person she was dining or drinking with. AOC never called for 24/7 isolation and ceasing all human contact in response to the pandemic.

The Washington Post’s David Weigel found the right-wing non-issue puzzling, and The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson found it to be just plain “dumb.”


Far-right Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' office posted:

AOC responded:

Here are some more responses to the far-right’s latest anti-AOC attack:




Starbucks Workers Score Major Union Breakthrough In Vote

Buffalo (AFP) - Workers at two Starbucks cafes in Buffalo, New York voted to establish a union, the first at the coffee chain's company-owned shops in the United States.

There were hugs and cries of joy at the union office as the campaign won a decisive majority Thursday at the company's Elmwood Avenue shop in northern New York state, before results were announced on votes at two other cafes.

"It has been an unbelievably long road to get to this count," said Michelle Eisen, who has worked at the shop for more than 11 years. "We've done it in spite of all the company has thrown at us."

The outcome was also cheered by two of America's most prominent progressive politicians.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) saluted the group on Twitter, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said she was "proud" of the workers for persevering through a difficult campaign.

The mood became more subdued after officials with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that a majority at a second Buffalo-area cafe voted against the union.

But union backers were smiling again after a third store in the region also voted in favor of representation.

Final results await certification by the NLRB following challenges to some votes, but union supporters say they are certain of wins in two of the shops.

"This is a monumental victory, this is a dream come true," said Lexi Rizzo, another union supporter.

Rising Activism

A Starbucks spokeswoman said the coffee giant continues to believe conditions do not justify an intermediary between the company and workers, but added, "we respect our partners' right to organize."

Starbucks will await the final certification of the results next week before announcing next steps, she said.

The vote is the culmination of an effort launched in August by about 50 employees under the banner of "Starbucks Workers United."

A "yes" vote might have a knock-on effect -- not just for Starbucks, but for other US firms like Amazon who are fighting similar efforts by workers to organize.

Earlier Thursday, Steve Boyd, a 60-year-old attorney, expressed support for the workers as he exited the Elmwood Avenue location in the city not far from the Canadian border with his daily fix.

"I see them every morning. They are sort of part of my day and they should have a living wage," Boyd said.

"All across the US, businesses are complaining that they can't find people to work, and the best way to find people to work is to give them fair wages, fair working conditions."

The campaign shows how workers are becoming more assertive at a time when tight job markets have given employees more clout, said Cedric de Leon, a labor expert at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

"The bargaining power of workers is very high at the moment," de Leon told AFP.

There have been high-profile actions at other companies, such as a five-week strike at tractor maker John Deere & Co. earlier this fall.

And some 4.2 million Americans left their jobs in October, part of a phenomenon dubbed "The Great Resignation" that has added to the tightness in labor markets.

Cycling Managers

Will Westlake, 24, joined Starbucks in May and said he was initially attracted to the company's progressive reputation and better working conditions compared with other cafes.

He said he later "found out that wasn't the case," and was surprised that colleagues with much more experience at the cafe were only making slightly more.

The coffee chain, which recently announced that it was lifting its minimum wage to $15 an hour, has stressed that it is not against organized labor, but argued that the issues raised by workers do not justify a union.

Union supporters say Starbucks has cycled about 200 managers and supervisors through the stores since August, in an apparent effort to win over undecided employees.

The company's longtime architect and former CEO Howard Schultz led a meeting with employees in November.

Labor backers describe Buffalo as just the start of an effort that has already spread to the southwestern state of Arizona, where workers recently demanded a vote.

House Censures Gosar And Strips Him Of Committee Posts

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

One week after Rep. Paul Gosar posted a video depicting the murder of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a violent attack on President Joe Biden, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 223-207, to censure the Arizona Republican and strip him of his assignments on two congressional committees.

Gosar posted the repugnant video to Twitter and Instagram. It depicted himself killing Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, and leaping at Biden with two swords drawn. The photoshopped rendering was derived from the anime program Attack on the Titan. When Gosar posted the now-deleted tweet, he asked: "Any anime fans out there?"

Though Gosar removed the video after a firestorm of outrage and criticism, he did not issue a public apology and before the vote Wednesday, Gosar doubled down, insisting the video was mere jest.

"It was not [a threat of violence]. I reject the false narrative categorically. I do not espouse violence... it was not my purpose to make anyone upset," he said before likening himself to one of the nation's founders, Alexander Hamilton. "If I must join Alexander Hamilton, the first person to be censured by this House, so be it, it is done."

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez addressed the House before the vote, making a solemn plea for basic integrity and human decency while calling out the abdication of the leader of House Republicans, Kevin McCarthy.

"It is sad. It is a sad day in which a member who leads a political party in the United States cannot bring themselves to say that issuing a depiction of murdering a member of Congress is wrong and instead, decides to venture off into a tangent about gas prices and inflation," she said.

The incitement of violence by Gosar "trickles down," she said, urging that a line finally be drawn in the sand. Ocasio-Cortez has been the subject of much derision and has become a favorite target right wing extremists.

"This is where we must draw the line, independent of party, identity, or belief. It is about the core recognition of human dignity, of value and worth," she said.

In addition to censure, Gosar has also been removed from two committees: The House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which he sits on with Ocasio-Cortez, and the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Significantly, the censure resolution highlights the ubiquitous nature of harassment against women in office. It notes that "violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon meant to silence women and discourage them from seeking positions of authority and participating in public life, with women of color disproportionately impacted."

A 2016 survey by the Inter-Parliamentary Union found 82 percent of women legislators have experienced psychological violence and 44 percent of women have received threats of death, sexual violence, beatings, or abductions during their term.

According to the Congressional Research Service, just 23 members — before Wednesday — have been slapped with censure. Gosar's resolution highlighted how the congressman "used the resources of the House of Representatives to further violence against elected officials" and to "spread hateful and false rhetoric."

The censure resolution also laid bare a critique of McCarthy, noting the vote Wednesday followed because "the leadership of the Republican Party has failed to condemn Representative Gosar's threats of violence against the President of the United States and a fellow member of Congress."

Such videos, the resolution continues, can "foment actual violence and jeopardize the safety of elected officials, as witnessed in this chamber on January 6, 2021."

Ahead of the censure vote Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat and the House Majority Whip, reminded a Fox news reporter that even Rep. Gosar's own family has called for his expulsion from Congress for what his sister dubbed "sociopathic fantasies."

"His family says he should be [expelled]. And that's what I've said to the media. We're going to censure him. His family thinks he should be expelled. And I think that's up to leader McCarthy. He's the Republican leader. This man is a Republican," Clyburn said.


'Weakling' McCarthy Shamed For Failing To Punish​ Gosar's Murder Tweet

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy came under fire for having disappeared during the entirety of the scandal surrounding Rep. Paul Gosar's (R-AZ) horrific attack on Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and President Joe Biden.

Now, more than a week after Gosar's violent tweet, and the introduction of a resolution to censure Gosar that includes criticism of GOP leadership for not doing anything to manage the Congressman from Arizona, McCarthy is out with a short statement bragging about what little he did do.

"I called him when I heard about the video, and he made a statement that he doesn't support violence, and he took the video down," McCarthy said, according to CNN's Melanie Zanona.

"McCarthy — who had not publicly commented on the episode until Monday — did not directly condemn Gosar's behavior, only noting Gosar had deleted the tweet after their conversation," CNN reports.

"Gosar's statement said he doesn't 'espouse violence or harm towards any member of Congress or Mr. Biden' but defended the video as 'truly a symbolic portrayal of a fight over immigration policy,'" CNN adds.Gosar's claims are false.

And he tells a different story than the one McCarthy claimed.

Newsweek reports that in "a Sunday newsletter to constituents, Rep. Gosar called outrage over the anime video 'infantile' and said any accusations that it was dangerous were 'laughable.'"

"After Twitter defamed me and called the cartoon 'hateful' we took it down," Gosar said. "There is nothing 'hateful' in the video, but the Democrats and left-wing media were screaming at Twitter to take action against me."

Meanwhile, McCarthy is getting slammed for his remarks:


"McCarthy did as little as humanly possible in his situation," one Twitter commentator said.



Why Progressives Should Let The Rich Deduct State And Local Taxes

No serious economist believed that former President Donald Trump's 2017 tax law would pay for itself. On the contrary, that buffet of tax cuts will explode deficits by almost $2 trillion over 11 years, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.

Though the benefits went overwhelmingly to the highest-income Americans, red-state Republicans cleverly added an item that purported to raise some taxes on rich people. But not so much their rich people. It primarily targets those in high-tax, high-income blue states. We speak of the $10,000 cap on the state and local tax deduction, or SALT, designed to drain revenues from the likes of California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

It's sad but expected that naive progressives — think Democratic Reps. Pete Aguilar of California and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — would fall for this attack on their own constituents' tax bases. That the supposedly sophisticated minds at The Washington Post and The New York Times would also portray efforts to restore the deduction simply as a tax cut for the rich is astounding.

There should be no cap on this deduction, which lets people subtract what they paid in state and local taxes from federal taxable income. However, a possible compromise among House Democrats to raise the SALT deduction to $72,500 would represent genuine progress.

Curbing the deduction forces Americans to pay taxes on income that's already gone to paying taxes. But it's more diabolical than that. It acts as an incentive for upper-income Americans to move to states with regressive tax laws and meager social safety nets — while at the same time degrading the tax bases of the very states that maintain progressive tax policies.

The reality, furthermore, is that the SALT deduction is used by decidedly middle-class people in high-cost-of-living areas such as Long Island. A cop married to a nurse in Levittown could easily report over $160,000 in combined income while also paying over $9,000 in property taxes.

"Folks have been moving away in droves since our state and local tax deduction was gutted," said Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat.

The top marginal individual income tax rate is 13.3 percent in California and 10.75 percent in New Jersey. There is no state income tax in Florida or Texas. For their revenues, those states rely far more on sales taxes targeting lower-income people. What sane progressive would want to degrade the tax base off which they pay for education and health care?

As for conservatives who lecture us on the need to pass power from the federal government to the states and localities, how can they justify stripping those jurisdictions of their ability to raise revenues? By the way, local taxes are the way communities actually fund their police.

For the simpletons who think that any tax hike that hits any rich person is fair, consider this ridiculous scenario: Imagine a new tax levied only on high-paid gastroenterologists. You may ask: What about neurosurgeons and hedge fund managers? Good question.

It may be reasonable to raise federal taxes on the richest Americans. But a tax increase on the $800,000-a-year executive in Florida or Texas should be the same as the tax increase on the $800,000-a-year executive in California or New Jersey.

The Democratic House had earlier passed a repeal of the SALT cap. Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wouldn't even consider it. After all, why would a Kentucky Republican want to challenge a tax law that milks money from blue states?

With Democrats now nominally in charge, restoring at least some of the deduction is imperative. Smart liberals understand this. May a lightbulb illuminate the stakes for the other liberals. The SALT deduction serves their progressive goals.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

House Democrats Seek Censure Of Gosar As GOP Leadership Remains Silent

A group of House Democrats is pushing to censure Republican Rep. Paul Gosar after he shared an animated video altered to show him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joe Biden. Aside from expulsion, censure is the harshest penalty the House can impose on a member … and it's likely to be a point of pride for Gosar, to say nothing of a fundraising angle.

"For a Member of Congress to post a manipulated video on his social media accounts depicting himself killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden is a clear cut case for censure," the ten Democrats said in a statement. "For that Member to post such a video on his official Instagram account and use his official congressional resources in the House of Representatives to further violence against elected officials goes beyond the pale."

But the Democrats' statement also hints at why Gosar won't face any penalty he finds meaningful: Because he's just the leading edge of a Republican Party increasingly committed to violence.

"As the events of January 6th have shown, such vicious and vulgar messaging can and does foment actual violence. Violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon meant to silence women and discourage them from seeking positions of authority and participating in public life, with women of color disproportionately impacted," the Democrats said. "Minority Leader McCarthy's silence is tacit approval and just as dangerous."

Gosar is defiantly unapologetic. While the video, which drew a warning from Twitter, is no longer on his Twitter or Instagram pages, he said in a statement Tuesday, "It is a symbolic cartoon. It is not real life. Congressman Gosar cannot fly. The hero of the cartoon goes after the monster, the policy monster of open borders. I will always fight to defend the rule of law, securing our borders, and the America First agenda."

The rule of law here includes representations of himself killing one of his colleagues in Congress and attacking the president of the United States, something you'd think might draw Secret Service attention.

So Democrats and a very few Republicans may or may not censure Gosar, and it will not make one bit of difference in his behavior, because the violence of today's Republican Party is not something that gives a damn about the traditional rules or the traditional punishments. Gosar may be, as his own sister said on CNN, a "sociopath," but the structures around him—the fact that, as she also said, "No one holds him accountable"—are what allow him to continue his dangerous behavior without consequences.

And the more Republicans like Gosar—or Reps. Andy Biggs and Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert and Mo Brooks—get away with constantly inciting their followers to see Democrats as the inhuman enemy and violence as a reasonable response, the more the entire Republican Party will continue to move in that direction. All the while the Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick Garland remains obsessed with not appearing to do anything that could ever be construed as partisan, like prosecuting the crimes of high-profile Republicans.