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New Arizona Poll Is A Sharp Warning To Sinema

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Frustrated by some of her more conservative positions, progressive activists have been threatening to primary Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona in 2024 — when the centrist Democrat will be up for reelection. And according to a new poll from Data for Progress, Democrats in Arizona would favor some of Sinema's possible primary opponents.

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Judge Orders Videotape Deposition Of Trump In Protest Lawsuit

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

One of the many lawsuits that President Donald Trump has faced involves a September 2015 rally outside of Trump Tower in New York City, where a group of Mexican protesters say they were assaulted. And a judge in the Bronx, Doris Gonzalez, has ordered Trump to sit for a videotaped deposition in connection with the lawsuit, according to ABC News.

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January 6 Committee Will Use ‘Criminal Contempt’ To Enforce Subpoenas On Bannon And Meadows

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump has urged his Republican allies to defy subpoenas they receive in connection with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's select committee on the January 6 insurrection. But the committee, according to Washington Post reporters Jacqueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger, plans to aggressively "ramp up its efforts" to enforce those subpoenas.

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Rep. Tenney Smacked For Smearing Pelosi And Pope Francis As 'Communists'

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

On Saturday, October 9, Pope Francis met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — and then far-right Rep. Claudia Tenney of New York, in response, called both of them "communists."

The MAGA Republican and Donald Trump apologist, tweeting a photo of Pelosi and Pope Francis together, wrote, "Just two communists."

Tenney got slammed for her comment on Twitter.



Whistleblower Slams Capitol Police Leaders for Jan. 6 'Failures' — And Alleged Lies

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Nine months have passed since the January 6 insurrection, and new reporting continues to emerge about that event. According to NBC News reporters Julie Tsirkin and Teaganne Finn, a Capitol Police whistleblower recently sent a letter to members of Congress "accusing the agency's two senior leaders of mishandling intelligence surrounding the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol."

Tsirkin and Finn report, "In the letter, obtained by NBC News, the whistleblower accused Sean Gallagher, the USCP's acting chief of uniformed operations, and Yogananda Pittman, its assistant chief of police for protective and intelligence operations, of significant 'failures' in the lead-up to and aftermath of the attack. The whistleblower accused Gallagher and Pittman of failing to take appropriate action 'which directly contributed to the deaths and wounding of officers and civilians.'"

The letter was addressed to a combination of Democrats and Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Tsirkin and Finn report that in response to the letter, USCP wrote, "Although there is more work to do, many of the problems described in the letter have been addressed. USCP leaders, under new Chief Tom Manger, are committed to learning from prior mistakes and protecting our brave officers, who fought valiantly on January 6, so we can continue to carry out the Department's critical mission."

The whistleblower's criticism of Capitol Police leadership had previously been reported in Politico.

On October 8, Daniel Lippman and Betsy Woodruff Swan of Politico reported, "The whistleblower accused Gallagher and Pittman of failing to take appropriate action 'which directly contributed to the deaths and wounding of officers and civilians.' They also accused Pittman, who was the agency's acting chief from January 6 to July 23, of lying to Congress about having sent 'the single most critical' intelligence report to other USCP staff the day before the attack. The whistleblower said the report was never shared."

According to Lippman and Swan, "The whistleblower accuses Gallagher and Pittman of deliberately choosing not to help officers under attack on January 6 and alleges that Pittman lied to Congress about an intelligence report Capitol Police received before that day's riot. After a lengthy career in the department, the whistleblower was a senior official on duty on January 6.

Arizona Democrats Warn Sinema: 'We've Unseated More Powerful People'

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

In 2019 and 2020 — when Republicans still had a majority in the U.S. Senate — it was obvious that Sen. Krysten Sinema of Arizona had a lot more in common with Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia than she did with the liberal/progressive wing of the Democratic Party. But it wasn't until the Joe Biden era, after Democrats regained the Senate, that she came to be seen as someone who could make or break the Democratic agenda. Journalist Lauren Gambino, in an article published by The Guardian on October 10, examines Sinema's political motivations — and whether Sinema is an "obstructionist" or a "pragmatist" depends on which interviewee The Guardian is talking to.

"For years," Gambino explains, "Sinema has honed a brand of centrism that observers say better aligns with the politics of Arizona, a once-Republican stronghold shaped by the conservatism of Barry Goldwater, a senator and nominee for president in 1964. Invoking the late senator John McCain as a hero, Sinema promised to be an 'independent voice' and appealed to suburban women, independents and disaffected Republicans. In 2018, Arizona duly sent a Democrat to the Senate for the first time in 30 years."

Sinema, an adamant supporter of the Senate filibuster, has been a frequent source of frustration to liberals and progressives in her party. But independents and Never Trump conservatives tend to hold her in higher regard.

One of those conservative Trump critics is Chuck Coughlin, a Phoenix-based political consultant and former Republican. Coughlin, interviewed by The Guardian, said of Sinema, "Her ideological core is pragmatism. She understands that if she is to succeed in Arizona, she must succeed in this lane."

But Garrick McFadden, on the other hand, is among the Arizona Democrats who is openly expressing his frustration with Sinema. McFadden, who formerly served as vice chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, recently tweeted, "She has betrayed her friends and the promise she made to the Arizona people. She wants to play games, well in 2023 we start playing games with her."

Another Democratic Sinema critic is Phoenix-based activist Gilbert Romero, who told The Guardian, "She thinks she's like Teflon and nothing is going to stick to her; that's misguided. We've (unseated) much more powerful people than Kyrsten Sinema."

Among progressive Democrats, there has been talk of giving Sinema a primary challenge in 2024, when she will be up for reelection. But doing so would be risky, as Sinema is in a state with a long history of conservatism. Although Arizona has evolved into a swing state, it still isn't a deep blue state like Massachusetts, California or Vermont. President Joe Biden won Arizona in 2020 — contrary to the false claims of former President Donald Trump — but not by double digits.

One of Sinema's defenders is Danny Seiden, president and chief executive of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. Seiden praised Sinema's "willingness to listen and not just toe the party line on all issues," telling The Guardian, "I think that's a rarity amongst both Democrats and Republicans these days."


Bannon Deploys ‘Homeschooling Moms’ To Promote Far-Right Agenda

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Steve Bannon has a long history of promoting the homeschooling movement. Back in 2010 — seven years before he became White House chief strategist in the Trump Administration — Bannon and his ally David N. Bossie pushed homeschooling in their documentary Fire from the Heartland. And journalist/author Heath Brown, in an article published by the Daily Beast, outlines some ways in which Bannon is using homeschooling moms to promote his MAGA agenda during the Biden era.

Bannon, on his "War Room" podcast, recently urged parents to sign a pledge to homeschool their children as a way of protesting against mask mandates in public schools. The COVID-19 pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has killed more than 4.6 million people worldwide — including over 662,000 people in the United States. But the far-right Bannon, like many other allies of former President Donald Trump, has been pushing the idea that Americans need to worry about masks, vaccines and expert immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci more than COVID-19.On "War Room," Bannon recently declared, "The firestorm that you're about to see is the American mothers. When you've got to go back to school and Fauci's been talking about vaccinating the kids and using the school, going back to school as a forcing function between the mask and the CRT (critical race theory)."

Critical Race Theory is a type of academic study that can be found in some colleges and universities. CRT, which argues that racism of the past continues to affect institutions in the present, isn't even being taught in grammar schools, middle schools or high schools. But that has stopped MAGA Republicans from relentless fear-mongering over CRT, as they are always in search of new ways to terrify White voters.Brown, author of the 2021 book Homeschooling the Right: How Conservative Education Activism Erodes the State, explains, "It's not the first time that Donald Trump's former chief strategist has put together women, race, and education. It was an undercurrent of his 2010 Citizens United movie, Fire from the Heartland, which featured conservative leaders like Phyllis Schlafly, Michele Bachmann and Dana Loesch, who'd each been vocal advocates for homeschooling as a socially conservative respite from all that was supposedly wrong with public education. And now, it's key to Bannon's 2022 congressional electoral strategy."

In his article, Brown digs into the history of the homeschooling movement, noting that far-right Republicans were railing against what they saw as a liberal agenda in public schools back in the 1970s. One of those Republicans was Bob Dornan, who spent many years in the House of Representatives back when Orange County, California was a hotbed of conservatism. Heath's article includes video of Dornan speaking at a 1970s event in Sacramento before he became a congressman:Dornan is now 88, and Heath cites him as an example of someone who has viewed schools as a culture war battleground. Now, according to Brown, Bannon is pushing that type of message.

"For Bannon, it would seem, schools are battlegrounds of belonging and ownership," Brown observes. "Forbidding schools from teaching about racism is a way to defend the neighborhood, whether it is in Charleston or Richmond."

Manchin Bullies Reporter For Asking About His Coal Millions

This month, Sen. Joe Manchin's interests in the fossil fuel industry have been the subject of in-depth reporting by Coral Davenport in the New York Times and Kate Aronoff in The New Republic. And when Bloomberg News reporter Ari Natter asked the centrist West Virginia Democrat about his fossil fuel interests this week, Manchin became quite defensive.

Davenport, on September 19, reported, "Joe Manchin, the powerful West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate energy panel and earned half a million dollars last year from coal production, is preparing to remake President Biden's climate legislation in a way that tosses a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry — despite urgent calls from scientists that countries need to quickly pivot away from coal, gas and oil to avoid a climate catastrophe."

Aronoff noted that Manchin has received considerable donations from fossil fuel companies and made millions of dollars from Enersystems Inc. and Farmington Resources, two coal companies he founded during the 1980s."NBC News' Frank Thorp, on Twitter, described the testy exchange between Manchin and Natter — who asked if it is a conflict of interest that someone with his fossil fuel connections is playing a major role in shaping energy policy. Manchin said of Enersystems, "I've been in a blind trust for 20 years. I have no idea what they're doing."

But Natter persisted, noting that Manchin is still receiving dividends from Enersystems stock — to which Manchin angrily responded, "You got a problem?"

Natter also pointed out that Manchin handed over control of Enersystems to his son, Joseph. And the senator snapped, "You'd do best to change the subject."


Numbers Show Republican Pandemic Policies Killing Off Their Own Base

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

When COVID-19 was overwhelming New York City hospitals during the 2020 spring, a silly talking point in right-wing media was that residents of red states didn't need to worry about the pandemic because it only posed a threat to Democratic areas. But COVID-19, just as health experts predicted, found its way to red states in a brutal way. And the current COVID-19 surge is especially severe in red states that have lower vaccination rates. Journalist David Leonhardt, in an article published by the New York Times this week, examines a disturbing pattern: red states where residents are more likely to be anti-vaxxers and more likely to be infected with COVID-19 and die from it.

Leonhardt explains, "A Pew Research Center poll last month found that 86 percent of Democratic voters had received at least one shot, compared with 60 percent of Republican voters. The political divide over vaccinations is so large that almost every reliably blue state now has a higher vaccination rate than almost every reliably red state."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 75 percent of U.S.-based adults have been at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19. But vaccination rates can vary considerably from one state to another. The Mayo Clinic reports that rates for at least partial vaccination range from 77 percent in Vermont to 49 percent in Mississippi, 46 percent in Idaho and 52 percent in Alabama. Vermont is a deep blue state with a moderate Republican governor, while Mississippi, Idaho, and Alabama are deep red states that former President Donald Trump won by a landslide in 2020.

"It's worth remembering that COVID followed a different pattern for more than a year after its arrival in the U.S.," Leonhardt explains. "Despite widespread differences in mask wearing — and scientific research suggesting that masks reduce the virus' spread — the pandemic was, if anything, worse in blue regions. Masks evidently were not powerful enough to overcome other regional differences, like the amount of international travel that flows through major metro areas, which tend to be politically liberal. Vaccination has changed the situation."

Leonhardt continues, "The vaccines are powerful enough to overwhelm other differences between blue and red areas. Some left-leaning communities — like many suburbs of New York, San Francisco and Washington, as well as much of New England — have such high vaccination rates that even the unvaccinated are partly protected by the low number of cases. Conservative communities, on the other hand, have been walloped by the highly contagious Delta variant."

The Times reporter notes that in many other developed countries, the pandemic hasn't been politicized to the degree that it has in the United States.

"What distinguishes the U.S. is a conservative party — the Republican Party — that has grown hostile to science and empirical evidence in recent decades," Leonhardt observes. "A conservative media complex, including Fox News, Sinclair Broadcast Group and various online outlets, echoes and amplifies this hostility. Trump took the conspiratorial thinking to a new level, but he did not create it."

Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding, in a Twitter thread posted over the weekend, argues that Republicans are "killing off" their own voters by promoting anti-vaxxer and anti-masker views:


Feigl-Ding points out that under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil — not unlike red states in the U.S.— has suffered high COVID-19 infection rates:

Leonhardt notes that the Delta variant has been especially deadly in Republican areas.

"Since Delta began circulating widely in the U.S.," according to Leonhardt, "COVID has exacted a horrific death toll on red America: In counties where Donald Trump received at least 70 percent of the vote, the virus has killed about 47 out of every 100,000 people since the end of June, according to Charles Gaba, a health care analyst. In counties where Trump won less than 32 percent of the vote, the number is about 10 out of 100,000."

Oath Keepers Showed 'Preparation And Structure' Before January 6 Assault

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Members of the Oath Keepers — along with QAnon and the Proud Boys — were among the far-right extremists who, according to the FBI, were involved in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building. The role that the Oath Keepers played in the Capitol insurrection is the focus of a report by PolitiFact's Samantha Putterman, who examines their activities before and during the attack.

"Of approximately 40 people facing conspiracy charges as of early September, 19 were associated with the far-right Oath Keepers militia, according to PolitiFact's review of court files," Putterman explains. "Another 17 were affiliated with the Proud Boys extremist group. As part of PolitiFact's ongoing look at how misinformation fueled the events of January 6, we examined the case files of defendants associated with Oath Keepers and found they tell a story of preparation, communication and structure."

Putterman reports that on November 9, following the 2020 election, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes "called on members to go to Washington, D.C."

Rhodes told them, "We're going to defend the president, the duly elected president, and we call on him to do what needs to be done to save our country. Because if you don't, guys, you're going to be in a bloody, bloody civil war, and a bloody — you can call it an insurrection or you can call it a war or fight."

According to Putterman, "Rhodes warned his followers during that November 9 meeting to come prepared to fight Antifa, a left-wing, anti-fascist movement, according to court documents that show he asked some to come fully armed."Court filings show that Kelly Meggs, leader of the Florida Oath Keepers, was also preparing for violent confrontations with Antifa. On December 19, Meggs visited Facebook and wrote, "We will come in behind Antifa and beat the hell out of them."

By December 31, Putterman reports, "Meggs and others had joined an invitation-only encrypted group on the messaging app Signal, court documents show. They titled their group 'DC OP: Jan 6 21.' They participated in online meetings and used that channel as well as other encrypted communications to coordinate their plans. One man pledged in the encrypted chat that he would bring an assault rifle and a backpack full of ammunition if 's--t truly' hit the fan."

Trump Abruptly Deletes Message Praising Arizona ‘Audit’ — Which Shows Biden Won

Reprinted with permission from Aternet

After spending months auditing the 2020 presidential election results in Maricopa County, Arizona, the far-right Florida-based firm Cyber Ninjas is poised to report — as many predicted — that their recount of the ballots did not significantly change the result of President Joe Biden's win over former President Donald Trump. In fact, according to early reports, the recount actually increased Biden's margin by several hundred points.

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17 Nobel Economists, Including Stiglitz and Shiller, Sign Letter Endorsing Biden’s $3.5 Trillion Plan

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

It remains to be seen whether or not President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion "human infrastructure" plan — which includes federal funding for health care, education, child care and combating climate change — will ultimately make it to his desk to be signed into law. The $3.5 trillion price tag is drawing resistance from Republicans as well as centrist Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. But 17 economists, all Nobel Prize recipients, have signed a letter endorsing the plan, which members of the Biden Administration see as crucial to his Build Back Better agenda.

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McConnell Threatens To Blow Up World Economy, As Trump Cheers

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Republicans and Democrats in the federal government still haven't reached an agreement on the United States' debt ceiling. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to Washington Post sources, recently met with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and two former Treasury secretaries — Steve Mnuchin and Henry Paulson — to discuss the matter.

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Gaetz Funneled $100K To Christie's Dubious Pro-Trump ’Nonprofit’

In December 2019, when then-President Donald Trump was facing his first of two impeachments, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie launched the nonprofit Right Direction America to defend him. The 2022 campaign of far-right Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a hardcore Trumpista, donated $100,000 to the nonprofit earlier this year during Trump's second impeachment — and journalist Roger Sollenberger, in an article published by the Daily Beast, stresses that the donation raises some questions.

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Trump Scheming To Oust McConnell From Senate Leadership

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Although Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn't go out of his way to openly criticize former President Donald Trump — unlike outspoken Never Trump conservatives such as The Lincoln Project, attorney George Conway, former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, The Bulwark's Bill Kristol and Washington Post columnists George Will and Max Boot — it is obvious that there is incredibly bad blood between McConnell and Trump. That bad blood is the focus of an article written by Wall Street Journal reporters Michael C. Bender and Lindsay Wise.

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