The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Tag: politics

WATCH: Marjorie Taylor Greene's Homophobic Rant About Our ’Sick Society’

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) delivered an unhinged, massively anti-LGBTQ attack on Friday, in an attempt to rev up her base with the latest far-right-wing outrage du jour. Like many Republicans, Greene has dug up old anti-gay tropes, fear-mongering lies about transgender people, and wrapped it all up in “concern” for the nation and its children.

One of the more stunning claims Greene made was that “Women are murdering and mutilating their own babies through the twin horrors of abortion and transgenderism.”

“Like you, I was shocked when I heard that Fox News had hired Bruce Jenner to be its newest female political contributor,” Greene begins. “We remember Jenner winning an Olympic gold in 1976, and from the front of the Wheaties box, but today, Jenner believes he is a woman. I’d love to know which female contributors were passed over, or perhaps even made redundant to clear space for Fox’s newest star transgender commentator.”

“For many of us it felt like the last day in women’s history,” she claimed.

Greene says she feels “disgust as men have taken over women’s sports, robbing women and girls of their rightful accomplishments,” as she derides swimmer “Lea Thomas’s muscular frame towering over his female competitors,” and she misgenders her.

Greene goes on to blast apparently CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, for allowing “drag queens and transsexuals” to “parade around the halls.”

She uses terms like “transsexuals,” and warns of “gay men with crossdressing fetishes” hosting “drag queen story hour for impressionable young children,” while warning that “cross dressing and gender disruption is one of the hallmarks of a civilization and rapid decline.”

“Our armed forces seem to care more about naming ships after gay pedophiles like Harvey Milk than ensuring our readiness for conflict with China and Russia,” she cried. There is no evidence Milk was a pedophile, and the Navy named a ship after him in 2016 – six years ago.

“Everywhere you look the signs of decadence and decay are consuming our once-great institutions,” she claimed. “Mom and Dad have been replaced by Chasten and Pete Buttigieg and their designer babies. Our society is sick and the symptoms are easy to see,” she lamented, never once looking inward.

Printed with permission from Alternet.

Supreme Thieves Disguised In Robes Of Justice

Barry Goldwater, considered a right-wing extremist and fringe candidate in 1964, won the 1964 Republican presidential nomination by declaring that "extremism in defense of liberty is no vice!" But the GOP is now way beyond the fringe, declaring that nuttiness in defense of extremism is no vice.

Consider Ginni Thomas. Her recent far-out political role in the effort to overthrow the people's 2020 presidential vote shows that her husband Clarence Thomas — the surly, reactionary dogmatist who has sat on the Supreme Court for 31 years — is not the nuttiest member of the Thomas household! He's the best known of the duo, but wife Ginni has quietly been moving into the top circle of unhinged political conspiracy activists.

Biden's defeat of Trump in 2020 set off this supremely connected partisan like an explosion in a fireworks factory. She spewed out a weeklong barrage of text messages to Trump's chief of staff demanding that Republicans use the Court to stop Congress from certifying Biden's victory. Ginni instructed her White House co-conspirators to "Release the Kraken." Huh? "Kraken," the name of a mythological sea monster, was used by manic right-wingers as a code name for a series of kooky lawsuits they hoped judges would use to put Trump back in power.

Ginni Thomas was not merely someone babbling free-speech opinions; she was an implementer, a powerful political plotter actively strategizing and organizing to have unelected judges — like Clarence — usurp the people's democratic authority. This was too crazy even for the right-wing Republicans now running the high court, but her effort did inadvertently expose an astonishing flaw in the Court's ethical structure. In a flagrant example of judicial conflict of interest, Justice Thomas used his position to try to advance election cases in which his spouse, partisan-activist Thomas, had a personal stake.

Was he punished for violating the ethics code? No, because — get this — the U.S. Supreme Court has no ethics code! None whatsoever. Trust us, say the mighty justices — each of us will be the judge of our own ethics.

As we've learned from painful experience, "governmental ethics" can be a slippery concept.

That's why We the People have insisted that every public official — from Congress critters to dogcatchers — swear to abide by some minimum standard of proper behavior. Not that all will honor it, but a code of ethics provides society with a measure of legal action against those who are grabbers and grifters.

How bizarre, then, that the nine members of our august Supreme Court, America's highest legal authority, have discretely refused to accept ethical rules. They claim they are the one group of public officials that don't need no stinkin' code because ... well, they are supreme! Chief Justice John Roberts assures us that he has "complete confidence" that each justice will always make the right ethical call on their own because "(t)hey are jurists of exceptional integrity and experience."

Does he think we have sucker wrappers around our heads? Some of these black-robed "honorables" regularly engage in the petty thievery of accepting all-expense-paid corporate trips to luxury resorts, membership in exclusive golf clubs and assorted "gifts" from special interests. Clarence Thomas is the current king of handouts, taking thousands of dollars in freebies, including such pedestrian gimmes as car tires and cigars. Thomas, a 31-year lifer on the court, draws $230,000 a year from taxpayers. Can't he buy his own cigars? No one would buy stuff for him — except to influence his decisions!

Most damning, though, is the grand larceny of the Court's six right-wing extremists, who've turned what's meant to be a citadel of democracy into a Republican rubber stamp for plutocracy. They've stolen the integrity of the Court itself, rigging their procedures and rulings to profit moneyed interests, suppress voting rights, hogtie workers and generally run roughshod over the needs and democratic ideals of America's majority.

To help stop this disgraceful corruption of justice by so-called justices, go to FixTheCourt.com.

Printed with permission from Creators.

Biden Delivers Stirring Message Of Solidarity With Ukraine To Congress

Washington (AFP) - It was an address by a man who appears absolutely clear that his greatest strength is in bringing people together.

As US President Joe Biden took his place at the front of the House of Representatives for his first State of the Union speech, his most pressing concern was to bring the chamber to its feet in a poignant gesture of solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

"The Ukrainian ambassador to the United States is here tonight," the president said as he launched into the 60-minute address, acknowledging the guest of honor, diplomat Oksana Markarova.

"Let each of us here tonight in this chamber send an unmistakable signal to Ukraine and to the world. Please rise if you are able and show that, yes, we the United States of America stand with the Ukrainian people."

Tears in her eyes, Markarova struggled to compose herself in her spot alongside First Lady Jill Biden as lawmakers packed into the chamber for the annual keynote clapped and cheered with one voice.

Sixty minutes later, the call for unity ended as it had begun, with the president seeking to galvanize "the only nation on Earth that has always turned every crisis we have faced into an opportunity."

As Ukraine entered its seventh day under attack from Vladimir Putin's Russia, many of the lawmakers present echoed Biden's gesture, sporting the yellow and blue colors of the flag of America's embattled ally.

Biden was the ringmaster for numerous hearings of great import in that very building, a 19th century neoclassical shrine to Western liberal democracy at the east end of Washington's National Mall.

As he ran for president in 2020, the Democrat would often wax lyrical about his days in the Senate, talking up his record as a breaker of barriers and a reacher across the aisle.

But the avuncular grin dropped away as Biden assumed the role he is less known for: policeman, enforcer, the autocrat's worst nightmare.

"We are joining with our European allies to find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets," he said of Russia's corrupt billionaires.

"We are coming for your ill-begotten gains," he warned them, earning a rare round of approving claps from the Republican benches.

Togetherness

The rare show of togetherness over the Ukraine crisis may have left less cynical Congress watchers hopeful for a more unified, productive relationship between Democrats and Republicans in the future.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Genuine bipartisanship is something of a holy grail in deeply divided Washington, of course, and the wing of the opposition party loyal to Donald Trump for the most part could only blink, unmoved.

There are still no shortage of conservatives in Washington -- followers of the last White House occupant and more traditional establishment foreign policy hawks -- who call Biden "weak" on foreign rivals like China and Russia.

The administration needs to do much more, they argue, to secure US energy independence so that oil and gas-rich autocracies are unable to hold Americans to ransom.

Colorado congresswoman Lauren Boebert, an unserious carnival barker to her critics but a darling of the far-right, eschewed the Ukrainian colors to turn up in midnight black shawl emblazoned with the pro-fossil fuel message "drill baby drill."

One of Biden's harshest critics on Tuesday though was not from the so-called MAGA caucus at all.

Ukrainian-born US representative Victoria Spartz, who was embraced by many of her colleagues as she entered the chamber Tuesday night, had made a speech a few hours earlier that would have made for difficult listening in the Oval Office.

Describing the plight of her 95-year-old grandmother, pinned down under the Russian aerial bombardment in northern Ukraine, Spartz accused Biden of doing nothing to help.

"It is not a war, it's a genocide because we have a crazy man that believes that he has the whole world hostage," she said of Putin.

"And now that we have a president that talks about, talks about -- and doesn't do things... Is he going to wait when millions die and then he's going to do more?"

New York Attorney General Finds Evidence Of Fraud At Trump Family Business

New York (AFP) - New York Attorney General Letitia James said her investigation into the Trump family's business dealings had uncovered evidence suggesting the fraudulent valuing of multiple assets and misrepresentation of those values for economic benefit.

In a court filing late Tuesday, James said as the beneficial owner of the Trump Organization, former president Donald Trump "had ultimate authority over a wide swath of conduct by the Trump Organization involving misstatements to counterparties, including financial institutions, and the Internal Revenue Service."

James is seeking to question Trump and his two eldest children, Donald Trump, Jr, and Ivanka Trump, as part of her years-long civil probe.

In her filing Tuesday, the attorney general said the trio should be compelled to testify.

"Until January 2017, Ms. Trump was a primary contact for the Trump Organization's largest lender, Deutsche Bank. In connection with this work, Ms. Trump caused misleading financial statements to be submitted to Deutsche Bank and the federal government," the court document says.

It added that "Since 2017, Donald Trump, Jr. has had authority over numerous financial statements containing misleading asset valuations."

The court filing gave a detailed accounting of the alleged fraudulent valuations and misrepresentations of those values to financial institutions.

They included claiming Trump's penthouse in Manhattan's Trump Tower was three times bigger than it actually was, overestimating its value by $200 million.

The Trumps have claimed it is a politically motivated investigation and urged the court to quash subpoenas against the three.

"Thus far in our investigation, we have uncovered significant evidence that suggests Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic benefit," James said in a statement late Tuesday after her court filing to oppose that motion.

"The Trumps must comply with our lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony because no one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them. We will not be deterred in our efforts to continue this investigation and ensure that no one is above the law."

She launched her investigation in March 2019 and suspects that the Trump Organization fraudulently overstated the value of certain properties when seeking bank loans, and later reported much smaller values when declaring assets so it could pay less tax.

Trump's son Eric, who is executive vice president of the Trump Organization, was interviewed by James's office on the issue in October 2020.

The former president is facing pressure from several legal probes.

In Washington he is trying to prevent a congressional probe into the January 6 attack by his supporters on the US Capitol from accessing White House records related to that day.

The Trump Organization is also under investigation by the Manhattan district attorney for possible financial crimes and insurance fraud.

In July last year, the Trump Organization and its long-serving finance chief, Allen Weisselberg pleaded not guilty in a New York court to 15 felony fraud and tax evasion charges.

His trial is due to begin in the middle of this year.

Trump was also questioned for more than four hours in October as part of a lawsuit by a group of protestors who allege that his security guards assaulted them six years ago.

He is also battling to prevent years of his tax returns from being released to prosecutors.

Trump Alt Universe Social Network Expects February 21 Launch

San Francisco (AFP) - Former US president Donald Trump's media group is aiming to launch its long-promised social network in February, according to a listing at Apple's App Store.

A "Truth Social" app is "expected" to be available on February 21, the listing showed, and will have features similar to online connection tools found at Facebook.

The 75-year-old was thrown off Twitter -- his preferred communication conduit while president -- as well as Facebook and YouTube after last year's January 6 insurrection, in which a mob of Trump supporters, riled up by his repeated false claims that the November 2020 election was stolen from him, assaulted the US Capitol.

Trump says the new platform will be an alternative to Silicon Valley internet companies that he says are biased against him and other conservative voices.

The social network is currently being used by invited guests as it readies for public launch, according to Trump Media and Technology Group.

President Joe Biden on Thursday savaged Trump's "lies" and attempt to overturn the 2020 election, vowing on the first anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riot that he would let no one put a "dagger at the throat of democracy."

After largely ignoring Trump for a year, Biden took off the gloves, describing the Republican as a cheat whose ego wouldn't let him accept defeat and whose supporters almost shattered US democracy when they stormed Congress to prevent certification of the election.

Trump, who has spent the last year spreading conspiracy theories about his election loss to millions of followers, quickly fired back with a series of statements doubling down on his lie about the "rigged" election and dismissing Biden's speech as "political theater."

Truth Social will join an already crowded market of social networks popular among conservatives and members of the far-right.

Gettr was launched in early July by a former Trump adviser, while Parler and Gab are already favored by the real estate mogul's supporters.

Biden, Trump to Offer Two Very Different Addresses on Jan 6 anniversary

Washington (AFP) - A divided nation will experience an ominous split-screen moment Thursday when President Joe Biden uses the anniversary of the January 6 attack on Congress to warn of threats to US democracy and Donald Trump goes live with his conspiracy theories.

One year after a mob of Trump supporters marched on Congress to try and prevent lawmakers from certifying Biden's victory in the presidential election, political wounds remain far from healed.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will reportedly speak from inside the Capitol, the setting during the unrest of almost unbelievable scenes as Trump supporters fought past police to invade the heart of US democracy.

As a veteran politician who came out of retirement to take on what he saw as Trump's authoritarian presidency, Biden has often warned during his first year in the White House of an "existential" threat to political freedoms that until now most Americans took for granted.

His speech -- part of a series of events on what Biden's key ally, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, says will be a "difficult day" -- is set to take that warning to a new level.

But while Congress is holding a prayer vigil for what Biden has called "a dark moment," Trump will be giving a press conference from his luxury property in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

His message is likewise easy to predict. Despite losing by more than seven million votes to Biden, and despite losing multiple court challenges around the country, Trump continues to tout wild claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

And the accusations are only the most incendiary element of a broader attack against Biden on everything from immigration to Covid-19, all adding up to what looks very much like an as-yet undeclared bid to take back power in 2024.

It's a campaign that Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, calls "unprecedented in US history."

"No former president has attempted to do so much to discredit his successor and the democratic process," Tobias said.

What can Biden do?

However ludicrous the election conspiracy theory may be -- one federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Trump's case "strained" and "speculative" -- it is seen as truth by millions of Americans.

Polls consistently show that around 70 percent of Republicans think Biden was elected illegitimately.

A new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll puts this number at 58 percent. However, that same poll found that 40 percent of Republicans, compared to 23 percent of Democrats, believe violence against the government is justified sometimes.

Fighting what Trump, the master brander, popularizes as "the Steal," has become a political ideology in its own right, with nearly all Republican lawmakers either squirming to avoid criticizing what happened on January 6 -- or actively defending the attack.

Lara Brown, director of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University, said the combination of political grifters looking to get into Trump's good books and the masses of voters deluded into believing what they're told amounts to a considerable force.

"What is so frightful about where we are right now isn't just that these are elite attacks, but they are being fueled by a grass roots movement," she said.

"It wasn't just far-right win groups who had organized" on January 6, she said. "It was average, everyday Americans who had bought into this whole notion."

It's unclear what, if anything, Biden can do to change these dynamics.

Political scientist and Democratic pollster Rachel Bitecofer urged Biden to take on Trump more aggressively, rather than stick to pretending that the man Press Secretary Jen Psaki has referred to as "the former guy" no longer matters.

Biden "is not commemorating an event that ended. He is commemorating the event that is in process and threatens to get worse," she said.

"There's a real hesitancy to accept how virulent the right is in coming after democracy here."

Brown said, however, that Biden has little room for maneuver, because a direct attack on Trump risks looking like a "political witch hunt" -- exactly what the former president claims in his conspiracy theories.

Missouri lawmaker's plan would usher in partisan elections at the local level

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Is the mayor a Democrat? How many Republicans are on the local school board? And is that one guy on city council actually a Libertarian? In Missouri, where elections at the municipal and school district level are nonpartisan, candidates for office currently do not declare a political party. But that would change if legislation introduced in the state Legislature is signed into law. A proposal by Rep. Bruce Sassmann, R-Bland, would require candidates in political subdivisions and special districts to declare a party affiliation, or nonaffiliation. A candidate's party, or l...

McCarthy Delays Vote On Build Back Better With Weird, Hours-Long Rant

Washington (AFP) - The leader of the minority Republicans in the US House frustrated Democratic efforts to pass President Joe Biden's historic package of social welfare reforms Friday with an hours-long, disjointed tirade that drew mockery and angry boos from the opposite benches.

Kevin McCarthy was supposed to talk for one minute ahead of a Thursday evening vote in the lower chamber of Congress to advance the $1.8 trillion Build Back Better Act as he took the floor just after 8.30 pm (0130 GMT).

But he was still going strong at 1.30 am after a rant tackling everything from Biden's spending to the Afghanistan withdrawal, travel to Europe, Elon Musk, Abraham Lincoln, the Hallmark Channel, the Nobel Peace Prize, and the artwork hanging in his office.

Unlike the Senate, the House doesn't have a "filibuster" that allows the minority to scupper legislation by talking for hours, and the vote was merely postponed until 8:00 am.

"I don't know if they think because they left I'm going to stop. I'm not," McCarthy said as Democrats received word that his tactics had worked and began filing out of the chamber.

"I'm really not talking to them. I'm talking to the American people."

The Republican was first laughed at and then angrily jeered as the minutes turned into hours, with his theatrics widely seen as his audition to be the next speaker in 2022 if the House flips to the Republicans.

'Losing The Plot'

Current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office released a statement as McCarthy went into his fourth hour, accusing him of "losing the plot."

"Tonight, Kevin McCarthy previewed Republicans' very best attacks against the deficit reducing, inflation crushing Build Back Better Act," the statement said.

"As he hopefully approaches the end, we're all left wondering: does Kevin McCarthy know where he is right now?"

Democrats had started the evening in a serious mood, determined to approve Biden's giant social welfare and climate bill, the centerpiece of his $3 trillion domestic agenda.

The debate came three days after the president signed off on the first part of his economic blueprint, a sweeping upgrade of the country's crumbling infrastructure.

The legislation is still likely to advance from the House, where Democrats have a majority of three, with only one of their lawmakers indicating he would be defecting to vote no.

It would then go to the Senate -- where it is likely to get an even bumpier ride, with the Democrats' deficit hawks jittery about historic spending as gas and food prices spiral -- before it gets a final rubber stamp back in the House, likely in January.

"Unemployment claims are down nearly 70 percent since I took office. Retail sales are up," Biden said in a statement ahead of the debate.

"I've signed a historic infrastructure law and we have the Build Back Better Act on its way. Things are looking up."

Senate Changes Likely

Build Back Better would provide millions of jobs, according to the White House, although Republicans have characterized it as an example of wildly out-of-control Democratic spending.

But it will likely be watered down in the upper chamber, where Democrats have the narrowest of majorities and moderates are voicing concerns over Biden's spending plans.

Annual inflation jumped to 6.2 percent last month, giving Republicans another cudgel to bash Biden with as they bid to retake both chambers of Congress in next year's midterm elections.

The Senate has been locked in a 50-50 split for one of the longest periods in its history and, with no votes to spare, every Democrat effectively has a veto on any bill as long as Republicans stick together.

Senate progressives are pushing for a national paid family leave program and a bigger expansion of health care benefits, but the latest inflation data could harm those efforts.

West Virginia's Senator Joe Manchin, the biggest Democratic obstacle to getting the legislation to Biden's desk, has indicated he is opposed to family leave, one of the most popular planks of the package.

The fiscal conservative has argued in any case that the Democrats should pump the brakes on spending until inflation is brought under control.