The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Tag: paul gosar

Greene Joins Extremists Pushing 'Transsexual' Lies About Uvalde Killer

Emboldened by her successive victories in court and the GOP primary in Georgia, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has joined the list of House Republicans deploying shockingly baseless conspiracy theory that the Uvalde gunman was transgender in a bid to deflect public attention elsewhere and stunt the growing calls for common-sense gun reforms.

On Sunday, Greene, a known far-right conspiracy theorist, started a Facebook Live — which she titled “Something doesn’t add up” — before 9:30 pm and quickly began pushing an utterly unfounded rumor, without evidence, that Texas school shooter Salvador Ramos “clearly had a lot of mental issues going on, as was shown with him wearing eyeliner, cross-dressing, a lot of his language, being a loner.”

Since the massacre, new details have continued to emerge about Ramos, but there’s been nothing to suggest that the gunman was transgender or had been crossdressing, as Greene had claimed, without evidence. According to the Independent, the rumor appeared to have originated on 4chan, a hotbed of right-wing conspiracies, where extremist netizens falsely blamed a transgender woman for the shooting. However, the woman whom the 4chan users accused did not live in Texas and did not bear any significant resemblance to Ramos.

Greene isn’t the only Republican spreading false rumors about the deceased 18-year-old suspect’s identity. MAGA fanatic and anti-vaxxer Candace Owens and Republican Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Pete Sessions (R-TX) have disseminated variants of the same rumor on social media and in interviews.

However, Greene went further down the conspiratorial rabbit hole than the others did, as is her style. She claimed — without evidence, of course — that Ramos had been in the same Discord server as Payton Gendron, the teen charged in connection with the recent massacre at a supermarket in Buffalo, a majo black neighborhood.

Eventually Greene issued a disclaimer on her live stream, stating that she had been unable to verify the information she was peddling on air.

The Georgian congresswoman didn’t stop there, though. She pushed the misinformation still further, claiming that an unidentified party was “grooming” young men into mass shooters, inching towards a conspiracy that QAnon is founded on — that former President Trump, a hero, is facing down a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles in government. The conspiracy theory is a staple used by conservatives to slander the LGBTQ community, as well.

Just hours after the shooting, in response to a tweet that claimed Ramos supported right-wing House members, Gosar wrote, and later deleted, a tweet claiming the shooter was a “transsexual” illegal immigrant.

"We know already fool. It's a transsexual leftist illegal alien named Salvatore Ramos. It's apparently your kind of trash," Gosar tweeted.

The Arizonian would later delete his tweet, but it’s not his first social media attack on Democrats or left-leaning Americans. "The Democratic party is the party of hatred. They hate America, they hate people who love America, and they hate the religion and the descendants of the people who built America," Gosar tweeted on Monday.

Another Arizona Republican, Josh Barnette, who is challenging incumbent Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) for his House seat, publicly questioned whether or not Ramos was in the United States legally, but Texas Governor Greg Abbott stated that the gunman was a citizen of the United States.

'Sedition Caucus' Decries Treatment Of Jailed Capitol Riot Suspects

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and three other “Sedition Caucus” Republicans held a press conference Tuesday allegedly to decry the conditions at the D.C. jail, which is housing accused suspects awaiting trial for actions during the January 6 Capitol riot. But Greene and her three co-members used the event primarily to further false far-right claims about the insurrection, while wrongly claiming they are being “persecuted” by the government – a talking point Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly used.

“We have a January 6 committee that Nancy Pelosi is leading,” Greene said, falsely. U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) is the chairman. “That is nothing but a political witch hunt on Republicans and Trump supporters all across America, and anyone that was at the Capitol on January 6.”

More than 600 people from more than 40 states have been charged. Only about 75 are currently in jail, and the charges are often far from casual misdemeanor ones. USA Today maintains a massive, daily-updated listing that currently contains information on 672 people.

Here are the charges for a recently-arrested suspect chosen at random:

“What’s happening to these people being held in custody is wrong,” Greene continued. “It’s unconstitutional. It’s a violation of their rights. And it is an abuse that I call on every single member of Congress to start paying attention to. We need investigations. It’s outrageous. The American people are purely upset, disgusted and cannot believe this is happening in our country.”

Greene claimed the defendants are “beaten” by guards and called “white supremacists,” although she did not say by whom. Some of the defendants infamously carried the flag of the treasonous Confederacy into the U.S. Capitol.

She also claimed those in the D.C. jail “are told they have to denounce President Trump” and “are told that their views are the views of cult members.” Many QAnon cult members were at the Capitol during the attack.

Greene said they are being treated “worse than we treat terrorists.”

But Greene also used the event to attack the Black Lives Matter movement and to suggest that those who engaged in the BLM protests over the summer of 2020 should have been jailed, ignoring that state and local police forces have prosecuted the few violent protestors – some of whom have been documented as far right wing instigators. Multiple reports found of the several hundred arrested, most were not “far left extremists,” despite what the right claimed at the time.

Greene concluded by blaming “Congress,” not the defendants, for their actions and current circumstances.

“Congress only cares about itself,” the GOP extremist told reporters. “It clearly demonstrates to the American people, it does not care about your business that got burned down. It doesn’t care about the job you lost. Congress doesn’t care about your city or community that was devastated by violence. They don’t care about you taxpayers that have to pay to fix and mend and and they don’t care about the person that assaulted you looted your store or hurt you in this violence. They don’t care about any of that,” she claimed.

Greene has voted against every measure that would assist the American people.

“They only care about themselves, and they’re willing to use the Department of Justice, the FBI, the prisons, the jails, the guards and any means possible to make sure that you never mess with them again,” she claimed, again falsely.

Watch this short excerpt:


'Bizarre' Competition Among Politicians Offering Internships To Rittenhouse

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Teenage vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse, recently acquitted on homicide and attempted homicide charges, is being exalted as a hero by far-right MAGA Republicans —some of whom are offering him internships. Steve Benen, a producer for The Rachel Maddow Show who frequently writes for Maddow's MaddowBlog on MSNBC's website, weighs in on these internship offers in an op-ed published on November 24 and describes some ways in which they are becoming "increasingly bizarre."

Rittenhouse, now 18, was only 17 when he went to a racial justice demonstration in August 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin carrying an AR-15-style weapon -- and shot three Black Lives Matters supporters, two of them fatally. Rittenhouse, during his trial, insisted that he acted in self-defense, and the jury voted "not guilty" on the charges he was facing.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida are among the far-right MAGA Republicans who have offered Rittenhouse internships.

"As Kyle Rittenhouse's trial unfolded," Benen observes, "a variety of Republican officials and candidates saw a political opportunity to exploit. The defendant, charged in the fatal shooting of two men during protests in Wisconsin last year, took on totemic value for the far-right. With this in mind, in the wake of Rittenhouse's acquittal late last week, many Republicans quickly embraced and celebrated the verdict as a victory in some kind of culture war. This, in and of itself, said a great deal about the state of the GOP and its unhealthy approach to our civic life."

Benen continues, "But then it got a little weird. Some congressional Republicans not only saw Rittenhouse's acquittal as validation of a conservative worldview — they wanted to be personally and directly associated with the defendant."

After Gaetz offered Rittenhouse an internship, far-right Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona — who recently drew widespread condemnation for posting an animated video that depicted him murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — tweeted, "I will arm wrestle @mattgaetz to get dibs for Kyle as an intern."

Benen says of Gosar, "It's possible the Arizonan was kidding. It's also possible he wasn't. The fact that it's become difficult to tell the difference is itself disconcerting."

Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado is also offering Rittenhouse an intership. Appearing on Newsmax TV, Boebert told Sebastian Gorka (a former Donald Trump aide turned cable news host), "Now, I do have some colleagues on the Hill who have, just like me, offered Kyle Rittenhouse an internship in their office. And Madison Cawthorn, he said that he would arm wrestle me for this Kyle Rittenhouse internship. But Madison Cawthorn has some pretty big guns, and so, I would like to challenge him to a sprint instead…. Let's make this fair."

Benen notes that because Cawthorn is in a wheelchair, "competing in a sprint isn't much of an option."

"Given his attorney's recent comments, it seems unlikely that Rittenhouse will intern for any of these GOP officials," Benen writes. "But that doesn't change the fact that it's unsettling to see them compete for his affection in increasingly bizarre ways."


Phony Populism Is Leading America Toward Real Violence (Again)

Every time I hear somebody say that America's contemporary political climate is uniquely violent, I wonder: "Where were you during the Nixon years?" Too young to remember the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy? The Chicago police riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention? The killings at Kent State? A "Weatherman" bomb factory detonating in Greenwich Village? Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army? The 1992 Los Angeles riots…

The list could go on indefinitely. Politics in America has been a blood sport basically all my life. I've gotten regular death threats for as long as I've written this column, starting during the Clinton administration. One guy used to phone late Friday nights from a pay phone outside a liquor store, threatening to murder me and rape my wife.

Detailed, graphic threats at that.

After the phone company traced the calls, the police assured me that anonymous callers are cowards who get a thrill out of talking dirty. He would never show up. As, indeed, he never did. I always wondered what he was doing with his other hand.

Cell phones have pretty much put an end to such calls. They can't find your number. It might surprise you, however, to learn how many guys are dumb enough to commit the crime of terroristic threatening in an email. These days, as soon as they start, I simply block them. But I also keep a file. The only interesting thing is the psychological projection: who they think they're talking to, and who they pretend to be.

Hairy-chested he-men, mostly. Guys who, in the immortal words of Fifties wrestling icon Dr. Jerry Graham, "men fear and women adore." (Donald Trump stole his whole act from the grappler billed as "The Arizona Assassin, but that's another story.) In my experience, real tough guys don't go around boasting about it. Only professional wrestlers and Republican politicians.

OK, that was a cheap shot. But consider Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) the congressman who tweeted a cartoon video of himself killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and attacking President Biden with a sword. Rather like my guy outside the liquor store, I'd say.

See, the thing that drives these boys crazy about AOC isn't simply her Bernie-crat politics, but her quick-witted New York bartender's demeanor: She's the kind of beautiful woman skilled at fending off jerks who make clumsy passes.

Politically speaking, I've got my own issues with AOC and "The Squad." Democrats who label themselves "Socialist" are doing the right-wingers' work for them. In much of the country, the label's simply toxic, and no amount of clever apologetics can make it less so.

But I digress. Sentenced to double-secret probation by House Democrats, Rep. Gosar was championed by virtually the entire GOP delegation in a scene right out of Animal House. Evidently it's perfectly alright to fantasize publicly about murdering a colleague and assaulting the president if you were just kidding.

And also, like, a total dork.

Then there's Sen Josh Hawley of Missouri, another virile Republican specimen last seen raising his fist in solidarity with Trump's January 6 insurrectionists. Hawley gave a recent speech at the National Conservatism Conference calling for "revival of strong and healthy manhood in America." Judging by media accounts, it sounded like a declaration of war against Ivy League gender studies departments, who Hawley thinks are responsible for young men wasting their precious bodily fluids playing video games and watching porn.

Literally, that's what he said.

"Hmmmm," observed the Washington Post's conservative columnist Kathleen Parker. "Why is it that the guys who look as though they've never so much as pushed a lawn mower are always the ones who want to saddle up and save the womenfolk?"

Cruel, unfair, and precisely on target.

My response to Hawley is as follows: Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to watch this week's Michigan-Ohio State football game. Do you still think effeminate girly-men are taking over the USA? Closer to home, the Missouri-Arkansas game would do.

Everywhere you look, privileged characters with fancy private school degrees are venting populist rage. Stirring up the mob. Not only Sen. Hawley (Stanford and Yale), but establishment figures like Sen. Ted Cruz (Princeton, Harvard), J. D. Vance (Yale Law) fill the air with violent invective.

To longtime conservative author David Brooks, they're "wrong to think there is a unified thing called 'the left' that hates America. This is just the apocalyptic menace many of them had to invent in order to justify their decision to vote for Donald Trump."

But the mob is definitely listening. At a right-wing rally in Idaho recently, a young man asked publicly when it would be OK to shoot Democrats. "How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?"

The crowd applauded. Lies and crackpot rhetoric have consequences.

So when will the shooting start?

This is America. Stick around.

Not 'Both Sides': GOP Violence Is America's Biggest Political Story

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

First, some good news.

The New York Times recently ran an important piece about the rising specter of violence within mainstream Republican Party circles. The article was noteworthy not only because it spotlighted the frightening instances of violent rhetoric and actions the conservative movement is eagerly unleashing in America, but because the Times used clear and concise language to tell the story.

Temporarily shedding the lazy Both Sides blanket that so many newsrooms use when forced to acknowledge how reckless today's GOP has become, the Times piece didn't waste time trying to camouflage the trend. "From congressional offices to community meeting rooms, threats of violence are becoming commonplace among a significant segment of the Republican Party," the daily reported unequivocally. "The most animated Republican voters increasingly see themselves as participants in a struggle, if not a kind of holy war, to preserve their idea of American culture and their place in society."

That's the good news — some mainstream media outlets are using succinct language while addressing the most important political story in America today. Honestly, it's one of the most crucial unfolding stories in the country's history as the Trump-led GOP fuels an unprecedented, multi-pronged assault on U.S. democracy and gleefully flashes the threat of overt violence in the process.

That's the bad news, and it's spreading. "I have a hard time seeing how we have a peaceful 2024 election after everything that's happened now," Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at New America told the Times.

Political hostility is not new to America. The country was rocked by violence clashes, for instance, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, as the anti-war movement fractured off into more militant factions. But never did leaders of the Democratic Party or members of Congress overtly endorse political violence the way today's Republican Party does, as it continues to actively whitewash the deadly January insurrection, which is now glorified by Fox News.Democrats never used their considerable political muscle to try to demolish free and fair elections in America. That's not true for today's Republican Party, as it actively mainstreams the looming menace of hostility by fanning the flames of civil unrest, including last week celebrating an underage vigilante killer, Kyle Rittenhouse.

After he was acquitted on murder charges, at least three House Republicans said they wanted the gunman to be their intern, including Rep. Madison Cawthorn who urged his followers to "be armed and dangerous," while posting a message celebrating Rittenhouse's acquittal.

"Hard to describe how chilling it is to see members of the GOP and open white supremacists come together to celebrate a vigilante killing two people and getting away with it," Cassie Miller, an extremism researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center, tweeted.

The flashpoints of Republicans and conservatives promoting political violence have become ceaseless, to the point of frightening normalization. After Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) tweeted an anime video altered to show him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and swinging two swords at President Joe Biden, virtually the entire Republican Party rallied to Gosar's side when he faced a formal House rebuke for his violent, dehumanizing outburst.

Despite the GOP's nearly universal support, Politico insisted the episode highlighted the "fringe" side of the party, while the Beltway media outlet Punch Bowl reduced the threatening, unnerving Gosar chapter to Democrats and Republicans just not trusting each other.

The violent virus is spreading to the grassroots level. Polls suggest that as many as 21 million Americans think that the use of force is justified to restore Donald Trump to the presidency. In Kansas, anti-vaxxers showed up to municipal meetings wearing yellow stars, suggesting they had equal footing with Jewish victims of the Holocaust. White nationalist members of The Proud Boys are showing up at local school board meetings, to lend a menacing air to the proceedings.

At a conservative rally in western Idaho last month, a young man asked local leaders when he could start killing Democrats. "When do we get to use the guns?" he said as the audience applauded. When Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) voted in favor of the recent infrastructure bill to help rebuild roads across the country she was inundated with death threats. One man told her, "I pray to God that if you've got any children, they die in your face."

The welcome Times piece last week on GOP violence stood in contrast to a wave of vague, worthless reporting we've seen this year about how "Americans" are angry, without pinpointing the obvious source of the unbridled, incoherent wrath.

"Americans are angry about ... everything. Is that bad?" read a recent Christian Science Monitor headline. The piece equated right-wing, anti-mask parents storming local school board meetings and issuing death threats with social justice activists taking to the streets to protest police brutality. Those two things aren't remotely similar.

CNN's Chris Cillizza recently bemoaned how "we're all just so damn angry," but could only find examples of far-right bullies lashing out in public.

Sanctioned, Republican political violence will be the most unnerving story the D.C. press faces in coming years.

The Republican Party's Murderous New Normal

The case of Kyle Rittenhouse, acquitted in the 2020 murders of two men amid chaos on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, is ominous for the peaceful resolution of political disagreements. The sense of menace arises less from the utterly misguided 17-year-old shooter, or his complete escape from justice, than from the celebration by Republicans and "conservatives" of Rittenhouse and even of the killings he perpetrated.

This telling moment heightens the feeling of apprehension provoked by recurring threats and incidents of actual violence emanating from the far right and then justified, usually with indignant enthusiasm, by Republican elected officials at the highest level. The anger and hatred that have long simmered within that party are rapidly devolving into homicidal rage.

Consider the matter of Rep. Paul Gosar R-AR), who posted a video that depicted him murdering his colleague Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and attempting to kill President Joe Biden with swords. Gosar's fantasy bloodbath resulted in his censure. (This offensive cartoon wasn't even original, ripping off an identical 2016 meme that showed "Donald Trump" attacking "Hillary Clinton.")

While Gosar's own siblings warn that he is mentally ill, their diagnosis doesn't excuse him, or Republicans who voted to shield him from censure. No public official in this country is entitled to promote deadly mayhem against his or her opponents, even as "symbolism" or "humor," without being held accountable.

All but two House Republicans voted to excuse Gosar's glorification of political violence. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy remained silent for several days, until he finally issued a weak statement claiming that he had spoken with Gosar, who "took the video down and made a statement that he doesn't support violence to anybody."

Not only did McCarthy fail to utter a word condemning Gosar's behavior, but he promised the day after the censure vote that if Republicans win the House majority next year, both Gosar and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, another apostle of barbarism, on the lookout for Jewish space lasers, will be restored to the committee seats forfeited by their gross misconduct. "They may have better committee assignments," said McCarthy.

With his courting of white nationalists and adoption of neo-Nazi symbols, Gosar is a figure whose extremism would have embarrassed Republican leaders not so long ago. Only two years ago, in fact, McCarthy was sufficiently shamed by the actions of Rep. Steve King, the Iowa Republican who openly sympathized with neo-Nazis, that he stripped King of committee rank almost as soon as he succeeded Paul Ryan as Republican leader in January 2019. He basked in the praise of those who had excoriated Ryan for ignoring King's appalling record, which McCarthy gladly then described as "reckless ... wrong ... and nothing associated with America."

What has changed in the past few years is the accelerating acceptance of violence among Republicans since the defeat of former President Donald Trump and his encouragement of sedition and insurrection by his followers, who now form the Republican Party's boiling base. For McCarthy, it is no longer possible to act with decency and principle against the neo-fascist element in his caucus if he ever wants to be speaker of the House.

That is why the minority leader, at first humiliated and infuriated by Trump's instigation of the Capitol riot, has refused to cooperate in the Congressional investigation of that grim and terrifying day. McCarthy is a leader only in one respect: he leads in Republican cowardice.

The signals of peril flash constantly: At a public event in Idaho, where a man asked when he could "kill these people," meaning Democrats, and was applauded loudly; at school board meetings across the country, where "concerned parents" threaten to murder public officials and their families; at the homes of election officials who answer the phone at night and hear obscenely menacing words.

Far worse than the hateful conduct of the Republican rabble, however, is the justification of it by Republican officialdom — and their attacks on officials who seek to investigate and discourage those threats. They have in the front of their minds the example of Mike Pence, the former vice president whose execution by a ravening mob chanting "Hang Mike Pence!" seemed entirely possible on January 6 — and the recent remarks by Pence's old boss, who justified the cries to hang him by his beloved mob as "common sense."

When political violence becomes the new normal, it will come for them too. But that's what accounts for Kevin McCarthy's cowardice. For all the bluster and the filibuster, he's sweating with fear. So, trying to protect himself, he joins the mob. It is a familiar story that never ends well.

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.

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.