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Tag: house republicans

Stefanik Invokes Racist ‘Great Replacement’ Theory In Campaign Ads

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-ranked Republican in the House, began running a series of campaign ads on Facebook on Wednesday invoking a racist conspiracy theory that falsely alleges that immigrants are being invited to the United States to replace white voters.

The campaign for Stefanik, who is up for reelection in November 2022 for New York's 22nd Congressional District, is promoting ads that read:" Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Nancy Pelosi are attempting to flood our voter roles with 11 MILLION NEW VOTERS by giving illegal immigrants amnesty."

The ads link to a fundraising page featuring similar copy, which alleges, "Democrats want citizenship for 11 MILLION illegal immigrants… so they can stuff the ballot box for socialism."

Stefanik's ads make reference to efforts made by Democrats, including President Joe Biden, to create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 10.3 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States.

The ads also invoke the conspiracy theory known as "the great replacement," which the Anti-Defamation League has defined as "the hateful notion that the white race is in danger of being 'replaced' by a rising tide of non-whites."

Messages that promote the theory have become increasingly common among Republican elected officials and in conservative media.

In 2016, as he was running for office, former President Donald Trump said, "I think this will be the last election that the Republicans have a chance of winning because you're going to have people flowing across the border, you're going to have illegal immigrants coming in and they're going to be legalized and they're going to be able to vote and once that all happens you can forget it."

Fox News has also latched on to the message and many of its on-air personalities have spent the ensuing years repeating and amplifying the racist smear.

The most prominent advocate on the network has been host Tucker Carlson, who has invoked the idea on numerous occasions.

"I have less political power because they are importing a brand new electorate. Why should I sit back and take that?" Carlson said on the April 8 edition of his program.

In an April 9 letter to Fox News executives, Anti-Defamation League CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt called on Fox News to fire Carlson for using the trope.

"It is dangerous race-baiting, extreme rhetoric. And yet, unfortunately, it is the culmination of a pattern of increasingly divisive rhetoric used by Carlson over the past few years," the letter read.

But Carlson was undeterred. On April 12, Carlson said on his program, "Demographic change is the key to the Democratic Party's political ambitions." And on April 21, Carlson told his audience, "You're being replaced, and there's nothing you can do about it."

Other Fox News hosts, including Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, and Jesse Watters, have also promoted the same racist "replacement" trope.

And Republicans in Congress have followed suit.

In a campaign video released on April 11, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) falsely claimed that Democrats "want borders wide open," alleging that this "helped Democrats take over the entire state of California" in the past.

During a congressional hearing on April 14, Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) claimed, "We're replacing national-born American — native-born Americans to permanently transform the political landscape of this very nation."

Two days later, on April 16, while appearing on Fox Business, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) attacked Democrats on immigration, asking, "Is it really they want to remake the demographics of America, to ensure their — that they stay in power forever? Is that what's happening here?"

The theory has had deadly real-world implications. It was cited in a manifesto left behind by the white supremacist who shot and killed 51 people and injured 40 in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019. The idea was also invoked by neo-Nazis who protested in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, using the slogan, "Jews will not replace us."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Gaetz Complaint: Feds Treat Jan. 6 Rioters As ‘Threat’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

In an interview on Tuesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) complained that the pro-Trump rioters who broke into the U.S. Capitol on January 6 were being treated like a "threat" by the federal government, continuing a months-long campaign to defend those arrested for crimes related to the event.

On Tuesday, in an appearance on Newsmax TV's The Chris Salcedo Show, Gaetz claimed, "The Department of Justice has to maintain this theory that the January 6 detainees maintain an ongoing threat to the government of the United States so that they are able to take the national security apparatus and turn it against our people."

Gaetz has repeatedly offered excuses for Capitol attackers, who made threats of violence against members of Congress and former Vice President Mike Pence during their attempt to prevent the certification of the presidential election. Hundreds of arrests have been made since the incident.

He has previously promoted a conspiracy theory that the FBI "organized" the attack, and along with other far-right members of the House, has accused the Justice Department of 'harassment and persecution of Trump supporters' for investigating the events on Jan. 6. Gaetz also complained about efforts to secure the Capitol after the riot.

Over 500 people have been arrested and charged with federal crimes relating to the riot, which followed former President Donald Trump's speech at a rally promoting election conspiracy theories.

Evidence shows members of the rioting mob chanting for the death of Pence and attempting to break down the doors of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's offices.

Pence and other lawmakers were evacuated from the building by Capitol Police in response to the threats made against them, and one rioter was shot and killedby a police officer while trying to break down a door leading to an area where members of Congress were being evacuated.

At the July 19 sentencing hearing for Paul Hodgkins, a rioter convicted after he walked onto the Senate floor during the attack, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss made clear that the attack was a serious criminal offense.

"Because of the actions of Mr. Hodgkins and others that day, members of U.S. Congress were forced to flee their respective chambers," Moss said.

"I think it's worth pausing for a moment to think about that — that is an extraordinary event under any circumstances that the members of the United States Congress are forced to flee the building fearing for their physical safety."

Moss noted that the damage from the attack "will persist in this country for several decades."

Hodgkins pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding and received a sentence of eight months in federal prison and two years of supervised release.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Jim Jordan Gets A History Lesson On Vaccine Mandates

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Always determined to attack Democrats any way he can, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio has been loudly pushing anti-vaxxer ideas. On Monday, September 6, the far-right Republican congressman tweeted that "vaccine mandates are unamerican." And it didn't take Twitter users long to remind Jordan that in fact, vaccine mandates have a long history in the United States.

From businesses to the U.S. Armed Forces to schools, vaccine mandates existed in the United States long before the COVID-19 pandemic. And one of the medical experts who gave Jordan a badly needed history lesson was Houston-based Dr. Peter Hotez, who has made countless appearances on MSNBC and CNN in 2021. In response to Jordan, Hotez tweeted:

Twitter user Morten Øverbye, based in Oslo, Norway, reminded Jordan that a vaccine mandate came from George Washington, the United States' first president, back in 1777:

Here are some of the other tweets that fact-checked Jordan:

Looking Right Through Kevin McCarthy

Of all the Republican politicians who have ascended to leadership in Congress during the past few decades, none is a duller and more obvious hack than Rep. Kevin McCarthy. The House minority leader possesses none of the villainous charisma of Newt Gingrich or the ruthless greed of Tom DeLay, the ideological fervor of Paul Ryan or the puppyish desire to please of Eric Cantor, the louche cynicism of John Boehner or the predatory criminality of Dennis "Coach" Hastert.

Nobody expects the transparently empty McCarthy to stand up for principle of any kind. It is giving him a lot to call him a small-minded partisan, an assiduous corporate fundraiser, and a mediocre climber for whom ideas and ideals are so much grist for the Fox News mill. His far-right rivals in the GOP caucus, such as Rep. Jim Jordan, allow him to hold power because they can manipulate him so easily. His theme song should be "Mr. Cellophane" from the musical Chicago.

Weak in both intellect and character, McCarthy embodies the most banal defects of his predecessors — and so it is that he presides over the final stages of Republican decay, as the party formed to preserve the Union and democracy degenerates into an instrument of fascist insurrection.

As a perfectly hollow hack who first rose under Boehner's tutelage, McCarthy makes the hack Boehner now seem like a big man. McCarthy was against Trump's big lie before he was for it. After denouncing Trump, he ran with his tail between his legs to Mar-a-Lago, parroted the big lie and backed a lawsuit to overturn the election results in two states. Then he denied supporting Trump's claims of election fraud and grudgingly admitted that President Joe Biden had won. And then, within hours after the January 6 attack on the Capitol that clearly terrified him, he nevertheless voted against certifying the Democratic victory in two states — after he had told a reporter that he knew Biden was the legitimate victor.

McCarthy has continued this ridiculous dance — both accepting and not accepting Biden's legitimacy — while he obviously covers up the seditious conduct of his extremist members, from Reps. Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene to. Matt Gaetz and Madison Cawthorn.

But since his attempts to block any investigation of the conspiracies that led to the Capitol takeover on January 6, have failed, McCarthy has become an even more desperate performer. This week he sought to obstruct the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack by absurdly pretending to be a mob boss, as he made an unconvincing threat against telecom companies if they comply with lawful requests from that panel. Though he didn't specify any consequences, he warned that Republicans "will not forget" when they regain the majority.

Rarely has a politician so obviously exposed such blatant consciousness of guilt. Opening himself to an ethics complaint, which has now been filed against him, McCarthy continues his bad acting, showing his fear that the suspicions and speculations about the gang of loony Republicans in the days before that insurrection are true.

McCarthy led the expulsion of Rep. Liz Cheney from her position as the chair of the House Republican Conference to satisfy his insurrectionist caucus. But there's another reason he purged her. She's got his number. And now she's the vice chair of the January 6 investigative committee. McCarthy has reason to engage in his silly threats, his obvious obstruction of Congress, his false bravado. He's scared. But the more he dances, the more everybody sees right through him.

I tell ya Cellophane, Mr. Cellophane shoulda been my name,

Mr. Cellophane 'cause you can look right through me ...

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com

Despite Denial, Undercover Video Shows Jordan Saying Trump Will Announce 2024 Run

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

On Thursday night, undercover reporter and activist Lauren Windsor of The UnderCurrent.tv released news that Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, famous for his alleged complicity in the sexual assaults of young men at Ohio State University where he was an assistant wrestling coach, had told folks that Donald Trump's 2024 campaign announcement is imminent. Windsor tweeted: "BREAKING: Jim Jordan told me tonight in Iowa that Trump will announce he's running 'any day now.' A big GOP operative in the state later announced to the crowd that Trump 'will travel here imminently.'"

This was followed by Politico reporter Olivia Beavers reporting that a spokesman for Jordan told her that the above statement was "Not true. Mr. Jordan did not say this." Well … Windsor has been releasing videos of GOP operatives saying all kinds of things the past few weeks, and on Friday she backed up her Jordan report with receipts. Spoiler alert: Jordan's "spokesman" lied.

In the video, which shows two different angles, Jordan is speaking with Windsor and another man, both of whom are pretending to be big Jordan supporters. Jordan says, "President Trump, he's gonna run again." When asked, "You think so?" Jordan goes all in:

REP. JIM JORDAN: I know so. Yeah, I talked to him yesterday. He's about ready to announce after all of this craziness in Afghanistan.
MAN: Thank God! And Biden should fucking resign! Pardon my French, congressman—
REP. JORDAN:—No, he should. He's really bad, really bad.

Windsor has been doing the kind of undercover recording work that right-wing operatives like Project Veritas have to manufacture. She has actually recorded elected Republican officials, like Sen. Ron Johnson, making a compelling case for how badly Donald Trump lost Wisconsin to Biden, and Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy telling an audience that the GOP agenda during Biden's administration is to create "chaos and the inability to get stuff done."

Jordan's name-dropping Donald Trump and then quickly pretending he didn't is news because it shows the cowardice and craven political groveling the Republican Party's leadership is doing these days. It also shows the cynical and existential nothingness of their political positions. Whether Jordan actually spoke with Trump recently and whether Trump said he was thinking of announcing because of all this "craziness" is unimportant. The fact of the matter is even if that exact conversation happened between these two self-absorbed dirtbags, it means nothing as both men are pathological in their lying. You can believe Trump said that just as much as you can believe Jordan made the whole conversation up just because he thought name-dropping Trump would make him seem more important to these two prospective fans.

Did Jordan tell his spokesperson he didn't say this? Did the spokesperson just tell a reporter he knew that Jordan didn't say anything about Trump? Who knows? Who cares? The amount of lying Jordan has been doing every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year of every decade probably makes it virtually impossible to remember a) which lie he told to whom and when, and b) what the truth of anything is anymore.

There are two angles of the exact same interaction with Jordan.

Federal Indictment Tells True Story Behind Gaetz 'Extortion' Tale

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

A new grand jury indictment released on Tuesday revealed new details surrounding the complex and sordid case of Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz.

The grand jury charged Florida man Stephen Alford, 62, of attempting to commit wire fraud and conceal evidence. Previous reporting had found that there was a federal investigation into a scheme by Alford and others to ask Gaetz's father, Don Gaetz, for $25 million to fund a rescue mission in Iran.

Rep. Gaetz had claimed that this request was part of an "extortion" attempt related to the investigation into allegations that he has been involved in child sex trafficking, corruption and other crimes. An associate of his has already agreed to plead guilty to these charges, though Gaetz denies them. When the investigation into his conduct first emerged, Gaetz tried to distract from the scandal by pointing to the "extortion" tied to Alford.

He tried to argue that the investigation of him was driven by duplicitous agents out to get him. But it turns out that the supposed "extortion" attempt wasn't quite that — at least insofar as the Justice Department sees it.

Rep. Gaetz's argument was that the plot sought to use the investigation to extort his father out of money. What the indictment indicates, however, is that the plot wasn't about extortion, just fraud. It says Alford falsely promised he could get a presidential pardon for Gaetz in exchange for money, and he used interstate wires to do it.

When I previously wrote about Gaetz's extortion allegations in April, I argued that they were not supported by the public evidence. For example, one document obtained by the Washington Examiner said that the plan was that after the Iran rescue attempt, the team will "strongly advocate that President Biden issue a Presidential Pardon, or instruct the Department of Justice to terminate any and all investigations involving Congressman Gaetz." As I argued at the time, that doesn't look like extortion. That just looks like a silly and obviously hollow promise — there's no chance President Biden would pardon Gaetz for the allegations against him or intervene in a DOJ probe to help him.

The new indictment alleges that Alford made more than hollow promises, but demonstrably false claims in an effort to obtain Gaetz family money. It claims that Alford falsely communicated to Gaetz's father (described as "D.G." in the indictment) that Biden has said he will "strongly consider" pardoning Rep. Gaetz (called "Family Member A") or ending the investigations into him. Alford also reportedly said he "will get that pardon" and that he could "guarantee" no prison time.

It also says Alford attempted to destroy or conceal evidence on an iPhone in the course of the investigation.

It's not clear how strong a case this really is against Alford. It certainly seems like a hare-brained scheme, but it's not against the law to propose a terrible idea to someone. It is a crime to lie to them in order to get their money, but Alford may argue that he was just speaking hyperbolically about his hopes for the plan rather than defrauding anyone. It may be hard to judge the allegations without additional context.

Though it probably doesn't help Alford's case that, according to the Washington Post, he has already been convicted of local and federal fraud crimes.

But what does seem clear is that — unless the DOJ comes out with another indictment — investigators didn't find substantial evidence of extortion. That's important because it undercuts the reason Gaetz was so interested in drawing attention to the Alford scheme to begin with. If the charges were being used to extort the Gaetz family, it may be reason to believe that the investigation isn't on the level and the congressman is being unfairly targeted. But that's not what the indictment suggests. Instead, it suggests that a serious investigation of Gaetz was somehow discovered by a man with a ludicrous idea, creating a spectacular but ultimately inconsequential sideshow.

For Republicans, Afghanistan Is Merely Another Way To Damage Biden

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

On Thursday, President Joe Biden addressed the nation after an explosion outside of Hamid Karzai International Airport took the lives of 13 American service members. In that speech, Biden sent condolences to the families of those lost, promised to track down the terrorists behind the attack, reaffirmed his commitment to carry on with the evacuation in Afghanistan, praised the sacrifice and dedication of the all-volunteer military, took full responsibility for his decisions, and doubled-down on bringing the 20-year conflict to a close.

In response, Republicans made it clear that they have a strategy of their own. That strategy won't get one more person out of Afghanistan. It won't save the lives of a single service member. It's not concerned with finding the ISIS-K terrorists behind the explosion. It isn't concerned with taking any responsibility. It most certainly doesn't want the war to end. Nope. The Republican plan for Afghanistan is blindingly simple: With the help of the media, use it to damage Joe Biden.

As CNN reports, the only thing bothering Republicans about Afghanistan is a divide over just how they can leverage the death of American service members as political fodder.

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan sent 800 U.S. Marines into Lebanon to help push leftist Palestinians out of the country and protect gains made by the Christian Phalange militia in a long-running civil war. Afterward, a Marine was killed by a bomb, snipers killed several more Marines, 63 people were killed when a suicide driver cruised an explosive-laden van into the U.S. embassy, and 241 service members were killed when another terrorist drove a sophisticated truck bomb into the central Marine barracks. It was the most significant single-day number of American Marines lost since the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Post-bombing reports showed that the Marines had not been allowed to maintain a secure perimeter for pollical reasons. Still, Reagan went in front of the nation and vowed that the Marines would stay until the mission was complete. Except they didn't. After four months of no progress, Reagan pulled the Marines out. The identities of the terrorists who drove a van into the U.S. embassy and the terrorists who drove a truck into the Marine barracks were never established. It was never clear where they came from or what group they supported.

Following this, Reagan was reelected by a record margin in November 1984. But that, of course, was a different time. Also, Reagan managed to squeeze a whole second war into the time between pulling out the Marines and Election Day. And in that second little war—which even Margaret Thatcher thought was ridiculous—only 20 Marines got killed. Reagan ran on these examples of his willingness to expend American lives.

Currently, there's a civil war in the Republican Party between those who want to impeach Joe Biden (or call on him to resign right now ) and those who are willing to wait until Republicans gain an expected House majority in the 2022 election.

Few things could illustrate the total lack of concern that Republicans hold for the actual situation in Afghanistan better than a press briefing McCarthy held on Friday morning. As NBC News reporter Jake Sherman reported, McCarthy didn't bother with checking to see if he had a coherent statement concerning what was actually happening. Instead, the Republican leader called for every troop to come out of Afghanistan while simultaneously insisting that Bagram Airbase be reoccupied. Then he said that America should keep some troops in Afghanistan, but we shouldn't be negotiating with the Taliban. And when it was pointed out that Trump negotiated with the Taliban, McCarthy just moved on to debate the best time to impeach Biden. McCarthy doesn't have a position on that, either, because McCarthy's position is never more than what the crowd is calling for at that exact second.

When it comes to developing an actual proposal on what to do in Afghanistan, Republicans have one clear position: Why?

Why should they? Why bother when, as Huff Post pointed out on Thursday, Republicans can simultaneously make calls for actions that would require Biden to reinvade the entire country, and at the same time, criticize him for not getting every single person out of the nation without a scratch. The media won't challenge the lack of reason or consistency. Why do anything more? As long as Republicans can see that networks will gladly put them on the air and echo their statements about "chaos" and "failure," having an actual strategy on Afghanistan would only be a liability.

That frees Republicans to concentrate on the one thing that genuinely concerns them: 2022. Untethered from either the necessity of governing or the need to have a coherent platform, Republicans can be all-attack all the time. That allows statements like this from Republican Rep. Mark Green, "I'd put more military in there, I'd get every single American out, and I'd start killing bad guys." Or Sen. Ben Sasse writing a note in which he declares that America needs to "reverse course" and occupy most of Afghanistan because ending the war shows "weakness."

None of it makes sense. It doesn't have to make sense. Because Republicans don't consider their enemy to be either the Taliban or ISIS-K, they don't consider their goal to be getting Americans out safely. They certainly aren't interested in ending the war.

They're only interested in evacuating Democrats from the House, Senate, and White House. And in that scheme, they seem to have plenty of allies.

Finally Vaccinated, Scalise Falsely Blames Democrats For Red-State Hesitancy

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

In case you missed it, the political race is suddenly on to point fingers over the latest coronavirus surge ripping through red states and highlighting the severely lagging vaccination rates among Republican voters in particular.

According to the White House, seven states have accounted for half of all new U.S. COVID-19 cases over the past week: Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. Among that group, Florida and Texas have led the charge, contributing one-third of all new cases. The obvious trend is that nearly every one of those states is run entirely by Republicans. Louisiana is the only outlier, seating a Democratic governor while both state legislative chambers are controlled by Republicans.

Senate Republicans and some governors are now making a sudden push to rewrite history about their own party's malignant disinformation campaign on the vaccines. But some House Republicans are attempting something even more preposterous—blaming Democrats for the vaccine hesitancy and rejection that has flourished in red America.

Chief among them is GOP House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who spent months putting off getting vaccinated before having an abrupt change of heart in late July. As the delta variant started ravaging his state, Scalise was photographed getting the jab. At a press conference several days later, he told reporters, "I would encourage people to get the vaccine. I have high confidence in it. I got it myself."

But quickly adopting a pro-vaccine posture wasn't enough for Scalise. On July 26, he posted a disinformation video claiming, "Democrats have a history of vaccine misinformation and not trusting the science."

Using sound bites from last fall—before the vaccines had even been developed—the video features then-candidate Joe Biden, his running mate, then-Sen. Kamala Harris, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressing doubts about the Trump administration's push to develop the vaccine before the November election.

At the time, Trump had become obsessed with the idea of announcing a vaccine prior to Election Day, viewing it as a cure-all for his reckless mismanagement of the pandemic.

In September, with roughly 200,000 Americans already succumbing to COVID-19, Trump started publicly pressuring the Food and Drug Administration to approve a vaccine forthwith. As the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler recounts, on Sept. 23, Trump said the White House might even overrule the FDA if it moved too slowly on approval. Simultaneously, FDA leadership was pushing back in an effort to maintain public confidence in any vaccines that did eventually emerge. "FDA will not authorize or approve a vaccine that we would not feel comfortable giving to our families," said FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn.

Crucially, for the sake of his reelection, Trump was actively warring with the scientists charged with keeping the American public safe. It's in that context that some Democrats began to express concerns about the integrity of the approval process under Trump. But Scalise's video plucks comments made in that early fall timeframe devoid of all context.

"The first question is: Is the vaccine safe? Frankly, I'm not going to trust the federal government's opinion," Gov. Cuomo said at a Sept. 24 press conference.

When a vaccine finally is approved, Biden worried on Sept. 2, "Who's going to take the shot? Who's going to take the shot? Are you going to be the first one to say sign me up? They now say it's okay."

Harris, asked on Sept. 6 if she would take the shot, responded, "Well, I think that's going to be an issue for all of us. I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump."

In her vice presidential debate on Oct. 8, Harris offered, "But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I'm not taking it." What wasn't included in Scalise's disinformation montage was her preceding sentence, "If the public health professionals, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I'll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely."

Republicans have clearly looked at their polling and realized their staunch anti-vaccine, anti-mask, anti-mitigation posture is a political liability. They have good reason to worry—Trump's epic mishandling of the pandemic sealed his fate in 2020. Consequently, many Republicans are pulling a complete 180 on messaging and hoping the American public will forget which party stoked doubt, fear, and even animosity toward the Biden administration's all-hands-on-deck effort to get shots in arms and restore some sense of normalcy to both the U.S. economy and American life.

Whether the GOP gaslighting works remains to be seen. But for now, most Americans know exactly which party stymied the vaccination effort, and it sure as heck wasn't Democrats.