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White Supremacist Arrested With Bayonet And Machete Outside DNC Building

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Capitol Police on Monday announced they arrested a 44-year-old Californian man outside the Democratic National Committee's headquarters in Washington, D.C., after he was found to be in possession of a machete and bayonet — both of which are illegal to possess in the District of Columbia.

Capitol Police pulled over Donald Craighead after noticing his vehicle did not have a license plate, but instead had a picture of an American flag where the license plate should be. It was then that they observed the bayonet and machete and subsequently arrested him for possession of prohibited weapons.

Craighead's car was decorated with white supremacist imagery — including a swastika — and he espoused white supremacist views as he responded to police officers.

This is the latest incident to occur near the Capitol following the January 6 insurrection, during which a mob of Donald Trump supporters violently broke into the building to stop the certification of President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

In August, a man was arrested across the street from the Capitol after he threatened to blow up the building unless Biden resigned, parroting lies from Trump and other Republicans that the 2020 election was stolen.

The latest arrest comes as the Capitol and surrounding area are on high alert, with supporters of the insurrectionists arrested on January 6 planning a rally on September 18.

CNN reported that law enforcement officials are bracing for violence at the so-called "Justice for J6" rally, which is organized by former Trump campaign aide Matt Braynard.

The DNC headquarters is steps away from House office buildings on the Capitol complex.

The building was targeted on the day of the January 6 insurrection, as was the Republican National Committee's headquarters, which is even closer to the House-side office buildings. Police found pipe bombs near both buildings.

Police have still not found the suspect behind the placement of those explosive devices. The FBI released footage last week of someone they think is the person who planted the explosive devices.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Poll: Most Americans Support Vaccine Mandates

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Despite loud GOP opposition to vaccine requirements issued by both private companies and the federal government, mandating the COVID-19 vaccine remains popular, with a CNN poll released Monday.

That survey found that 51 percent of Americans support requiring the COVID-19 jab for activities like going to work, shopping, or dining it a restaurant, saying it's "an acceptable way to increase the vaccination rate."

Higher numbers support vaccine requirements to participate in specific activities that are major fixtures of American life. For example, 55 percent of Americans support mandating that students get the COVID-19 jab to attend in-person classes — a six-point jump from April, when CNN last surveyed the issue. Another 55 percent back requiring the vaccine to go to a sporting event or concert — up eight points from April. And 54 percent support mandating workers get vaccinated before returning to the workplace, up nine points from April.

Companies that have imposed COVID-19 vaccine requirements say they have seen major jumps in the number of vaccinated workers. Delta Air Lines' chief health officer said on Thursday that the company's decision to impose $200 penalties for unvaccinated workers led to a "huge" surge in the 20,000 unvaccinated employees getting the vaccine.

"Just within the two weeks of the announcement, we've seen nearly 20 percent, or one-fifth, of that 20,000 decide to get the vaccine," Dr. Henry Ting said at a news conference held by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, accordingto a local media report. That surge means 78 percent of Delta employees are now vaccinated.

Tyson Foods saw an even bigger jump in vaccinated employees after announcing a mandate in August. Tyson employees who have at least one dose skyrocketed from 45 percent to 72 percent after the mandate was announced, according to a White House news release laying out President Joe Biden's vaccination mandate plan. In the early days of the pandemic, Tyson Foods saw massive COVID-19 outbreaks in their meatpacking plants that impacted the food supply chain.

Republicans, however, have railed against mandating the COVID-19 vaccine.

Even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has gotten in on the politicization of the mandates, tweeting in all capital letters Sunday night, "NO VACCINE MANDATES."

A number of GOP lawmakers and candidates have even used violent rhetoric in their opposition to the new requirements.

Of course, vaccine mandates have been part of American life for more than 170 years.

Both public and private schools require students to be vaccinated against several communicable viruses in order to attend schools. The U.S. military also requires service members to get vaccinated against a host of different viruses.

The GOP opposition to mandates has led to a sharp divide in support for the requirements among the political parties, according to CNN's survey.

CNN found that 80 percent of Democrats say mandates are "an acceptable way to increase the vaccination rate," while just 23 percent of Republicans say the same.

Public health experts say that the pandemic is now one of the "unvaccinated," with nearly all recent deaths from COVID-19 coming from people who did not get the jab.

A new study released Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the unvaccinated are 11 times more likely to die from the disease than those who are fully vaccinated.

"Looking at cases over the past two months when the Delta variant was the predominant variant circulating in this country, those who were unvaccinated were about four and a half times more likely to get COVID-19, over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die from the disease," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday at a news conference announcing the study's results, CBS News reported.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Biden’s Vaccine Orders Greeted By Violent Rhetoric From Republicans

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Republicans are up in arms about President Joe Biden's new plan, announcedon Thursday, for what the White House calls a "Path out of the Pandemic."

The plan includes requirements that all federal employees, workers at hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding, and workers at companies with 100 or more employees be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo weekly testing.

Some GOP elected officials and candidates have called for citizens to "revolt" against the requirements, which are intended to get the still-raging COVID-19 pandemic under control, while others have called Biden's move "authoritarian," even though the U.S. government has been implementing vaccination mandates for more than 170 years, notably for children entering school.

Currently, more than 1,500 people in the United States are reported to be dying of COVID-19 per day, on average, with data showing nearly all of those deaths are among the unvaccinated.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), who himself was subject to multiple vaccination requirements during his years of service in the Navy, railed against Biden's new policy.

"Are you people trying to start a full on revolt?" Crenshaw tweeted. "Honestly what the hell is wrong with Democrats? Leave people the hell alone. This is insanity."

Ohio GOP Senate candidate Josh Mandel used violent rhetoric in a Thursday night tweet: "Do NOT comply with the tyranny. When the gestapo show up at your front door, you know what to do."

A number of Republicans are calling Biden's mandate authoritarian and "unconstitutional." Supporters of Biden's orders call that a false accusation, noting that the Supreme Court has ruled that vaccine requirements are constitutional. In its decision in Jacobson v. Massachusetts in 1905, the court determined that "it is within the police power of a State to enact a compulsory vaccination law."

Attorney Marc Elias tweeted on Thursday from the ruling in Jacobson, "Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others."

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), who served as the White House physician to Barack Obama and Donald Trump before running for Congress, tweeted, "Biden's authoritarian announcement to impose illegal vaccine mandates on businesses is chilling. The decision to get vaccinated should be between you and your doctor, not illegally mandated by President Biden. This is OUTRAGEOUS!"

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) made similar comments, tweeting, "This un-American & tyrannical decision isn't about science; it's about political science in the form of tanking poll numbers. Biden went from saying no mandates by the federal government to this unconstitutional order that would coerce inoculation. [Stop] the authoritarian mandates."

Among those expressing support for Biden's executive orders was the American Medical Association.

"With the rapid spread of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, alarming increases in COVID-19 related deaths and hospitalizations, and our health system and physicians stretched thin, the AMA is pleased by the Administration's significant efforts to help get this pandemic under control," the AMA said in a statement after Biden's announcement. "Aggressive measures will be needed to prevent further widespread transmission of COVID-19."

And vaccination mandates are popular — despite the vocal opposition from Republican lawmakers and candidates.

A Gallup survey from August found that "majorities of Americans" support vaccine requirements.

The poll found that 61 percent of Americans support proof of vaccination for air travel, 58 percent support it for attendance at events with large crowds, 56 percent support it for dining in restaurants, and 56 percent support it for entering offices and other work sites.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Trailing In Recall Polls, Elder Spews Election Fraud Lies

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

As polling grows grimmer for him, California gubernatorial recall candidate Larry Elder is baselessly warning of"election fraud" — parroting the same lies former President Donald Trump and his GOP defenders told in the wake of the 2020 contest.

"I believe that there might very well be shenanigans, as it were in the 2020 election," Elder, currently the GOP's top candidate in the race, told reporters on Wednesday, after he cast his recall ballot for himself.

Elder's comments came amid a spate of polling showing that Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has opened up a wide lead and is heavily favored to hold on to his position — despite the Republican effort to remove him.

A Suffolk University poll released Wednesday found 58 percent of California voters want to keep Newsom, while 41 percent want to remove him, giving Newsom a 17-point advantage. According to the FiveThirtyEight polling average, voters want to keep Newsom as governor by a 12-point spread.

Election handicapping outlets also say Newsom is the favorite, with Inside Elections rating it a "likely Democratic" contest and the Cook Political Report rating it a "lean Democratic" race.

If voters choose to keep Newsom as governor in the recall election, the race for who will replace him won't matter; however, if Republicans manage to oust Newsom, Elder is the leading GOP candidate in the race.

The Suffolk University poll showed Elder having the support of 39 percent of voters, with "undecided" taking the second-place spot at 28 percent. No other major candidate received more than five percent support.

Elder has echoed many of former President Donald Trump's voter fraud lies, questioning the results of the 2020 election with the same kind of rhetoric repeated by Trump and his defenders both before and after the election and the riot by his supporters, stoked by such lies, at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

"The 2020 election, in my opinion, was full of shenanigans," Elder said in a Fox News interview on Sunday. "And my fear is they're going to try that in this election right here and recall."

Elder also said Wednesday that he's gearing up to file lawsuits if he loses.

"We have a voter integrity project, we have lawyers all set up all ready to go to file lawsuits in a timely fashion," Elder said.

He added falsely that the reason for the failure of the many lawsuits filed by Trump supporters and lawyers in an effort to overturn the 2020 election was that they were "filed too late."

In fact, the lawsuits failed because Trump's legal team and others who filed them provided no evidence that there was fraud, with judges dressing down the lawyers who filed the suits for their efforts to undo the democratic process.

In Pennsylvania, Trump-appointed Judge Stephanos Bibas of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit wrote in a decision in one of the cases, "Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here."

And a number of lawyers who filed lawsuits to overturn the 2020 election, including conspiracy theorist lawyer Sidney Powell, have been sanctioned by a federal judge and face further disciplinary actions.

As of Tuesday, a week before the recall election in California, nearly 6.2 million ballots had already been returned, according to political handicapper Ryan Matsumoto, with Democratic voters far outpacing Republicans in the number of returned ballots.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

On 9/11 Anniversary, Trump Will Do Ringside Chatter For A Boxing Match

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., and permanently altered life in the United States and the world.

And former President Donald Trump plans to spend that evening providing four hours of ringside commentary for a pay-per-view boxing event in Hollywood, Florida.

"I love great fighters and great fights," Trump said in a news release from FITE TV, the streaming network on which he'll provide commentary for a match between Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort. "I look forward to seeing both this Saturday night and sharing my thoughts ringside. You won't want to miss this special event."

There has been no word on what else Trump might be doing on Saturday.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will spend the day at memorials in remembrance of those killed during the attacks, in which hijacked passenger planes were crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A fourth plane, intended by its hijackers to hit a target in Washington as well, crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers learned about the other hijackings and fought back.

In 2020, the final year of his only term in office, Trump spent the anniversary of the attack at a memorial at Shanksville, where he gave a speech. Biden visited Shanksville later in the day, as well as the annual ceremony at the 9/11 memorial in New York City.

Biden is scheduled to visit all three sites on Saturday, as did former President Barack Obama on the 10th anniversary of the attacks in 2011.

Harris will attend the ceremony in Pennsylvania, as well as the one at the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, two other former presidents will also be part of the commemorations.

Obama will attend the ceremony in New York along with former first lady Michelle Obama, CNN reported.

George W. Bush, who was president at the time of the attacks, is scheduled to make a speech at the ceremony in Shanksville.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Fearful GOP Extremists Threaten Telecom Companies, Cheney And Kinzinger Over Jan. 6 Probe

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Republicans who are being reviewed as part of a probe into the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol are up in arms, and now some are targeting their fellow GOP lawmakers.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) — who is among the nearly one dozen GOP lawmakers whose phone records the House select committee is seeking — called for two Republicans on the committee to be banished from the House Republican conference.

In a letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Biggs called the two GOP lawmakers — Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) — "spies for the Democrats" and said they should be expelled from the conference.

Biggs downplayed the severity of the January 6 attack and claims it is a "false narrative" to call the riot led by a Donald Trump-supporting mob hoping to stop the transition of power an "insurrection."

In the letter, first reported by CNN, Biggs wrote:

Republican Conference meetings are an opportunity for elected House Republicans to strategize the most effective path to push back on the radical policies of Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats. many of the coming discussions will likely revolve around our defense against the Democrats' perpetuation of the false narrative that January 6th was an insurrection and how to protect our own from their legally questionable investigative methods. ... We cannot trust these members to sit in our Republican Conference meetings while we plan our defense against the Democrats.

Biggs' letter follows a threat against telecommunication companies from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), whose phone records are also being sought as part of the probe.

Greene said on Tucker Carlson's Fox News program Tuesday night that, "These telecommunications companies, if they go along with this, they will be shut down. And that's a promise."

This all follows a similar threat from McCarthy himself, who falsely claimed that the House select committee was violating federal law by seeking the GOP lawmakers' phone records and warned that a future Republican majority "will not forget" if the companies turn those records over.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) — who helped organize the effort to stop certification of Biden's Electoral College victory that helped spur the attack — said in an interview on Wednesday that there is no "probable cause" for the committee to get his records.

The House select committee said it's not deterred by the threats.

"The committee's efforts won't be deterred by those who want to whitewash or cover up the events of January 6th, or obstruct our investigation," the committee tweeted on Tuesday.

On Thursday, it announced that Cheney will be its vice chair.

Cheney said in a news release announcing her new role:

Every member of this committee is dedicated to conducting a non-partisan, professional, and thorough investigation of all the relevant facts regarding January 6th and the threat to our Constitution we faced that day. I have accepted the position of Vice Chair of the committee to assure that we achieve that goal. We owe it to the American people to investigate everything that led up to, and transpired on, January 6th. We will not be deterred by threats or attempted obstruction and we will not rest until our task is complete.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Democrats Blast McCarthy’s Obstruction Of Jan. 6 Investigation

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Legal experts and Democratic lawmakers are criticizing a statement issued on Twitter Tuesday night by the official account of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy threatened retribution against telecommunication companies that comply with requests for phone records from the House select committee probing the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The bipartisan committee on Monday asked telecommunication companies to preserve phone records from a number of Donald Trump-supporting GOP House members who spoke at the "Stop the Steal" rally that whipped up Trump supporters with lies about voter fraud before they marched to the Capitol on January 6 and rioted. It asked them to preserve records for Trump and his family members as well.

In the statement, McCarthy claimed, "If these companies comply with the Democrat order to turn over private information, they are in violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States. If companies still choose to violate federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law."

Elie Honig, a CNN legal analyst, tweeted in response to McCarthy's statement, "This is nonsense. A subpoena is not 'strong-arming' and there's no violation of federal law when companies comply."

"McCarthy's threat against telecom companies who lawfully produce documents is shocking," Norm Eisen, an ethics lawyer and fellow at the Brookings Institution, said. "It's like a gangster saying, 'Gee, nice telecom company you've got here. It would be a shame if anything happened to it.'"

MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner echoed those sentiments.

Kirschner tweeted, "And this is precisely what happens when our law enforcement authorities refuse to TIMELY hold criminal politicians accountable. It encourages further crime — like McCarthy criminally obstructing a congressional proceeding. Hey DOJ - start enforcing the d@mn law!"

Democratic lawmakers criticized McCarthy's threats as well.

"The House republican leader is openly calling on companies to obstruct justice to stop a probe of the January 6 attack on the Capitol," Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey tweeted. "Obstruction of justice is a felony."

Rep. Ted Lieu of California tweeted, "18 U.S. Code § 1505: 'Whoever…by any threatening letter or communication…endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede…the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any…investigation is being had by either House…Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned… .'"

McCarthy wasn't the only GOP lawmaker to threaten telecommunication companies.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, one of the lawmakers whose phone records the committee is seeking, said during a Tuesday night appearance on Fox News host Tucker Carlson's show, "These telecommunications companies, if they go along with this, they will be shut down. And that's a promise."

The bipartisan committee to probe the Jan. 6 attack said in response to McCarthy's threat, "The committee's efforts won't be deterred by those who want to whitewash or cover up the events of January 6th, or obstruct our investigation."

McCarthy has been against the House committee since Democrats in the House announced they were forming it. They resorted to the select committee structure to probe the attack after House Republicans blocked the formation of a bipartisan independent outside body to investigate the insurrection.

This is not the first threat McCarthy has made regarding the committee.

In July, McCarthy threatened to punish any GOP lawmaker who accepted a spot on the committee from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) ignored McCarthy's threat and accepted Pelosi's invitation to serve.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Casualties Surged In Afghanistan Under Trump, But Nobody Urged Him To Resign

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Multiple Republican members of Congress have called on President Joe Biden to resign or be impeached after ISIS carried out a terror attack in Afghanistan on Thursday that killed 13 American troops and more than 150 Afghan citizens.

But Republican lawmakers never called on former President Donald Trump to resign or face impeachment for his record in Afghanistan, even with a dramatic increase in Afghan civilian deaths during his term and the deaths of 63 troops from 2017 to 2020, according to a count from the Defense Department.

The GOP lawmakers calling for Biden to face consequences for the attack are some of Trump's biggest supporters on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is circulating an article of impeachment against Biden, tweeting Friday morning: "Biden and all key decision makers are responsible for the deaths of 13 soldiers. The Taliban allowed the ISIS attacks. US officials gave them a kill list. And we have not retaliated? There should be harsh punishment against the Taliban and ISIS-K. And we must #ImpeachBiden!"

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) said he co-sponsored the article of impeachment against Biden that Greene is circulating, adding in a statement, "The President promised to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, but it is evident the President has failed to fulfill this charge."

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) also called for Biden's resignation, tweetingThursday afternoon, "To say that today's loss of American lives in Kabul is sickening does not begin to do justice to what has happened. It is enraging. And Joe Biden is responsible. It is now clear beyond all doubt that he has neither the capacity nor the will to lead. He must resign."

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) — who is running in a crowded GOP primary for Missouri's open Senate seat —called on Biden to resign over the attack as well.

"President Biden must resign," she tweeted Friday morning. "His standing in America, and the world, is forever diminished. It is time he realize this and acknowledge our recovery begins with his resignation as president. It is the right thing to do."

Hawley and Duncan had supported Trump's Afghanistan withdrawal plan and pushed Biden to follow through with it — only to now call on Biden to resign.

While Thursday was the deadliest single day of the war in Afghanistan since 2011, according to the New York Times, American troops have died in the conflict every year since it began nearly 20 years ago.

In 2020, for example, 11 American troops were killed in the war, while 23 died in 2019, according to Defense Department data.

Republicans never called on Trump to resign for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic either. By the time he left office, 400,000 people had died in the United States from COVID-19.

Biden expressed deep remorse for the deaths of the American troops who died trying to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies who helped the United States during the 20-year conflict.

"These American service members who gave their lives — it's an overused word, but it's totally appropriate — they were heroes," Biden said in remarks from the White House Thursday evening. "Heroes who have been engaged in a dangerous, selfless mission to save the lives of others."

He vowed retribution against the terrorists whose attack killed the troops and Afghans who were trying to leave the country.

"To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay," Biden said. "I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command."

More than 110,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan since late July, according to a White House official. The vast majority — or 105,000 — have been evacuated since August 14.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Graham Wants To Impeach Biden Over Afghan Withdrawal

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) argued on Friday morning that if President Joe Biden "should be impeached" if he isn't able to evacuate every American and Afghan who helped the United States during the 20-year conflict.

Graham said Friday morning in an interview on Fox & Friends:

If we leave any Americans behind, if we leave thousands of those Afghans who fought along our side behind bravely, Joe Biden deserves to be impeached for a higher crime and misdemeanor of dereliction of duty. If we leave one American behind, if we don't get all those Afghans who stepped up to the plate to help us out, then Joe Biden, in my view, has committed a high crime and misdemeanor under the Constitution and should be impeached.

Graham makes his impeachment threats against Biden even as he was one of the loudest opponents of the two impeachments Former President Donald Trump faced during his time in office.

In October 2019, when Democrats first began the process of impeaching Trump for abuse of power for pushing Ukraine to investigate Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election, Graham said, "Impeachment over this? What a nothing (non-quid pro quo) burger. Democrats have lost their minds when it comes to President Trump." Graham said he wouldn't be an impartial juror in that impeachment trial.

In January, when Democrats started a second impeachment process, this time for Trump inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, Graham argued that impeachment is too divisive and shouldn't happen.

"Any attempt to impeach President Trump would not only be unsuccessful in the Senate but would be a dangerous precedent for the future of the presidency," Graham tweeted on January 8. "It will take both parties to heal the nation."

During the impeachment trial in February, Graham said he found the evidence Democratic impeachment managers presented — including that insurrectionists were reading Trump's tweets during their attack — to be "offensive and absurd."

While Graham is arguing that the United States should take in Afghan refugees, he has a different take on Central Americans seeking asylum at the border. He introduced a bill in August 2019 that would make it harder for those migrants to both apply for and get asylum.

Graham's comments come as the United States is attempting to speed up evacuations of Americans and Afghans who aided the U.S. military from the country after the Taliban resumed control this weekend.

Remaining American forces are working through chaos following Biden's decision to carry out a deal the Trump administration struck with the Taliban to pull U.S. troops from the country after the decades-long conflict.

In recent days, Trump and his former officials have been trying to distance themselves from the deal the administration negotiated with the violent fundamentalist group. Biden said in a speech Monday that the deal left him with the choice of either withdrawing troops as planned or facing another escalation of the conflict that's cost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Under Trump, Republicans Favored Swift Afghan Withdrawal — And So Did He

Several Republican lawmakers who praised former President Donald Trump's February 2020 announcement that he had struck a deal with the Taliban to end the 20-year-long United States presence in Afghanistan are now placing blame for the country's collapse on President Joe Biden.

That month, Trump signed an agreement with the Taliban which stated that the United States would withdraw around 5,000 troops from Afghanistan.

The Trump administration planned for the withdrawal to be completed by May 1, 2021.

As recently as this past April, Trump suggested the United States should withdraw from the country even earlier than President Joe Biden's timeline, which aimed for a Sept. 11 completion date.

"Getting out of Afghanistan is a wonderful and positive thing to do," Trump said in a statement. "I planned to withdraw on May 1st, and we should keep as close to that schedule as possible."

He added, "I made early withdraw possible by already pulling much of our billions of dollars and equipment out and, more importantly, reducing our military presence to less than 2,000 troops from the 16,000 level that was there."

At the time of his February 2020 announcement, some Republicans lauded the former president for his decision and suggested he had made the right call after decades of U.S. intervention.

In a press release posted to the Republican National Committee's website, the group praised Trump for signing "a historic peace agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan, which would end America's longest war."

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said in February 2020 that Trump's agreement with the Taliban to remove American troops was "a sign of progress, & a step toward being able to bring our troops home."

Not every Republican was on board: Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw criticized the swift withdrawal, claiming in November that the plan "might make some people feel better, but it won't be good for American security."

Still, other high profile Republicans issued praise for the president's deal, including some in his Cabinet.

Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was involved in negotiating the agreement, tweeted in September 2020, "Met with Taliban Political Deputy Mullah Beradar to welcome the launch of Afghan peace negotiations. The Taliban must seize this opportunity to forge a political settlement & reach a comprehensive & permanent ceasefire to end 40 years of war."

He added, "This effort must be Afghan led."

And in February this year, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) tweeted criticism of Biden's plan to extend the Trump administration's withdrawal timeline to September, amid a spike in violence in the region. "We've been in Afghanistan for more than half my life. We need to end the endless wars," she wrote.

Since then, many of those same Republicans have changed their tune.

Over the weekend, Taliban forces retook several key cities, including the capital city of Kabul, ousting the U.S. and western-backed government there. As the Washington Post noted, the militants faced little resistance from Afghan forces, prompting civilians to flee en masse to the nearby airport, hoping to be evacuated on U.S. military planes.

On Monday, the RNC, which had once boasted of Trump's deal to withdraw swiftly from the country, tweeted, "With the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, America is now less safe. This is the latest real world, horrific consequence of Biden's weak foreign policy."

On Sunday, Boebert tweeted, "Joe Biden was in the Senate when America pulled out of Saigon in 1975. He didn't learn."

And in an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Ernst claimed that the country's collapse "is all on President Biden's shoulders."

For his part, Pompeo, who negotiated withdrawal with the Taliban himself, called the group "butchers" after its militants successfully took over the Afghan government, suggesting Biden was to blame for the chaos.

"We demanded a set of conditions and made clear the costs we would impose if they failed to deliver. They haven't," he tweeted. "The deterrence we achieved held during our time. This administration has failed."

Trump himself weighed in on Sunday saying in a statement that Biden should "resign in disgrace for what he has allowed to happen in Afghanistan."

In the wake of the Taliban's takeover, humanitarian groups have been forced to hurriedly organize evacuation plans for Afghan civilians, urging governments to facilitate swift passage for them.

"The Taliban have a long record of abusing or killing civilians they deem 'enemies,'" Patricia Grossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "Whether from inside or outside of Afghanistan, governments and UN offices should provide protection and assistance to at-risk Afghans and make processing travel documents and transportation a priority."

The group recommended that deportations be suspended in light of the current situation.

This story was updated to correct the date on Rep. Lauren Boebert's February tweet.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Hawley Seeks To Strip Federal Funding From Schools With Mask Mandates

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) wants to strip school districts of federal funding if they require students to wear masks or get the COVID-19 vaccine — even as the delta variant continues to tear through the country.

Hawley announced on Monday that he will introduce measures to restrict funding to schools over COVID safety precautions as part of 15 amendments he wants to tack to the budget resolution Democrats released earlier that day. Democrats are hoping to use the budget resolution to pass a major infrastructure bill that includes many of President Joe Biden's priorities.

Hawley's proposals come as states across the country are seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases, thanks to the highly contagious delta variant.

Cases among children have skyrocketed, with the American Academy of Pediatrics announcing on August 5 they've seen a "substantial increase" in the number of children contracting the virus.

Doctors in hotspots including Florida and Louisiana — which are currently experiencing the worst outbreaks in the country — say they are seeing more and more children admitted to hospitals and intensive care units.

But Republican lawmakers like Hawley have been fighting efforts that public health experts say can end the pandemic.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy let slip that nearly one-third of Republicans in his caucus have refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine at all. And many House Republicans are also against wearing masks.

Doctors say masks are especially important now for kids ages 11 and under, as they are currently ineligible to receive the vaccine and thus do not have immunity.

It looks unlikely that Hawley's amendments will pass, as Democrats have a majority in the Senate.

However, Florida's GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has already threatened schools that require masks, saying they could risk state education funding for implementing the policy. Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has made similar threats, saying that schools or businesses that require masks could risk fines.

Major school districts are already defying both DeSantis and Abbott, announcing mask requirements amid the surge of COVID-19 cases.

The Dallas Independent School District on Monday announced that it will require all students, staff, and visitors to wear masks in order "to protect staff and students from the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus."

And a handful of school districts in Florida are also defying DeSantis' ban on mask requirements, including Leon County schools, which includes Florida's capital of Tallahassee. Cases there are skyrocketing, and intensive care unit beds are nearly all full, according to data from the New York Times.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

VIDEO: Texas Republicans Admit Voting Curbs Are All About Winning

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A handful of Republican state lawmakers in Texas were caught on camera saying the voter suppression bill the GOP is trying to pass in the Lone Star State is intended to keep Republicans in power.

The footage was captured by Lauren Windsor, a progressive activist who posed as a supporter of Donald Trump as she spoke about the legislation to the lawmakers.

"We just want to make sure that Texas stays red and it doesn't become like Georgia," state Rep. Matt Krause told Windsor. President Joe Biden carried Georgia in 2020, becoming the first Democratic presidential nominee since 1992 to carry the state. Trump then tried to coerce Republican election officials in the state to "find" the exact number of votes he'd need to be declared the winner.

State Rep. Justin Holland made similar comments, responding to Windsor's prompt, "We had to get engaged in the fight to make sure that Democrats don't take over the state, and so we just want to make sure that y'all get the election bill passed." Holland responded, "That's what we're here for. Yep... they're gonna lose seats, they're not gonna gain seats next time. They're not gonna take over. They're gonna actually erode. And so we're going to make sure we come back with more Republicans next time."

Texas has seen Democratic candidates picking up seats in both Congress and the state Legislature over the last decade.

Publicly, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott has claimed that the bill, which limits early voting, makes it harder to vote by mail, and gives more authority to poll watchers, is about "election integrity."

"There's really one thing all of us can and should agree upon, and that is we must have trust and confidence in our elections," Abbott said in March. "One way to do that is to make sure that we reduce the potential for voter fraud in our elections."

However, Democratic state legislators, a number of whom have left the state to deny Republicans a quorum in the Legislature to vote on the bill, say the newly released video is more proof that the bill is about keeping Republicans in power.

"It was never about 'election integrity,'" Democratic state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, one of the Democratic lawmakers who left the state to keep the bill from coming to a vote, tweeted in response to the video. "It was about an unpopular party, in an increasingly diverse Texas, doing whatever it takes to hold onto power - even if it means sacrificing our democracy. Texans deserve better."

Democratic state Rep. Julie Johnson tweeted, "This bill we are fighting in #Texas is not about 'election integrity. It never really was. Texas Republicans have openly admitted they only want to retain power."

Abbott had called a special session of the Legislature to pass the bill, along with a list of other right-wing bills that would do everything from prohibiting transgender youth from playing on school sports teams of their gender to limiting access to abortion. That session ended on Friday without any bills being passed, and Abbott called a second special session that began on Saturday.

But the Democratic state lawmakers haven't returned to allow a quorum for voting and have filed a lawsuit against Republican leaders in Texas who are trying to compel them to come back, while also telling Congress to pass federal voting rights bills to combat efforts to restrict voting access such as the ones Texas Republicans are attempting to pass.

"This is not about election integrity, it's to keep anyone from voting that isn't a Republican," Democratic state Rep. Jarvis Johnson tweeted. "They just want to keep the state red. There is no shame."

US Lost 3 Million Jobs Under Trump, But Already Gained 4 Million With Biden

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The economy added 943,000 jobs in July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday morning, indicating robust growth that helped lower the unemployment rate in yet another sign that the economic damage from the COVID-19 pandemic is abating.

The July jobs report brings the total number of jobs created during the first six months of President Joe Biden's tenure to nearly 4.1 million, according to data from the BLS.

That's more than the 3 million jobs that were lost under former President Donald Trump's watch.

Trump's jobs record made him the only president since 1939 to leave office with fewer people employed than when they started, according to a report from the Washington Post.

This month was the best for job creation since July 2020, when 1.7 million of the more than 22 million jobs lost in the early months of the pandemic came back.

And economists were jubilant about the data and what it means for the recovery.

"I have yet to find a blemish in this jobs report. I've never before seen such a wonderful set of economic data," Jason Furman, an economics professor at Harvard, tweeted. He based his excitement over the report on the fact that there were, "job gains in most sectors," a "big decline in unemployment rate" including for Black and Hispanic populations, a reduction in long-term unemployment, and "solid (nominal) wage gains."

Justin Wolfers, an economics professor at the University of Michigan, also said that the July report is "what a robust jobs report looks like."

But economists also had a word of caution, saying that the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the progress that's been made.

"The single most important factor holding back work is the virus. Not unemployment insurance, not childcare, not government policies. It's the actual virus changing people's behavior," Betsey Stevenson, the former chief economist at the Department of Labor, tweeted. "So if we want the recovery to continue, get yourself vaccinated."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Maricopa Republicans Defy State Senate’s Latest Audit Demands

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has had enough with the Republican-led audit of Arizona's 2020 election results.

On Monday, he slammed the effort as an "adventure in never-never land" as he refused to comply with a subpoena for more records.

"It is now August of 2021. The election of November 2020 is over. If you haven't figured out that the election in Maricopa County was free, fair, and accurate yet, I'm not sure you ever will," Jack Sellers, a Republican and the chair of the Maricopa County Supervisors, wrote to Republican state senators.

The audit, which kicked off in April, has been panned as disorganized and chaotic, and election experts and public officials alike have expressed concern that it has not adhered to election law or procedures.

Still, last week, Republicans on the Arizona state Senate subpoenaed even more records as part of the audit.

But Sellers has defied the request, writing in a letter that, "The Board has real work to do and little time to entertain this adventure in never-never land."

"Please finish whatever it is that you are doing and release whatever it is you are going to release," he added. "I am confident that our staff and volunteers ran the election as prescribed by federal and state law. There was no fraud, there wasn't an injection of ballots from Asia nor was there a satellite that beamed votes into our election equipment."

Among the subpoenas was a call for testimony from a Dominion Voting Systems representative. The election technology company was also asked by GOP state senators to provide "all user names, passwords, pins and/or security keys or tokens required to access, or otherwise relating to any and all ballot tabulation devices."

Dominion's attorney argued that the request was a violation of the company's constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

The audit has been dragging on for months, far longer than the 60 days it was initially slated to take. And it's been plagued by reports of incompetence and mismanagement — so much so that the U.S. Department of Justice has warned that the entire endeavor may have run afoul of federal election law.

Congress' House Oversight Committee is now investigating whether the audit is legitimate or merely "an effort to promote baseless conspiracy theories."

The audit was launched in the wake of false ex-President Donald Trump's lie that the election was stolen. It's being run by Cyber Ninjas, a firm owned by a Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist, who was part of the effort to try to overturn Trump's loss with lies of voter fraud.

Doug Logan, the president of Cyber Ninjas, has even appeared in a movie promoting the audit, which was filled with baseless lies and conspiracy theories.

Even some GOP lawmakers in the state have condemned the effort — despite some initially supporting it. As far back as May, one Republican state senator who at first backed the audit said the effort made them "look like idiots."

Republican state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who has pushed for voter suppression legislation, denounced the audit last week.

"I wanted to review our election processes and see what, if anything, could be improved," she tweeted on July 24. "Sadly, it's now become clear that the audit has been botched."

It's unclear when Cyber Ninjas will release a report from the review. To date, the counting process has been completed and the ballots and equipment — including millions of dollars worth of voting equipment that will now be scrapped due to the audit's lack of security — have been returned to Maricopa County.

Sellers urged the GOP state Senate to hurry up and release the report.

"It's time for all elected officials to tell the truth and stop encouraging conspiracies," Sellers wrote in his letter. "Please release your report and be prepared to defend any accusations of misdeeds in court. It's time to move on."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

McCarthy Excoriated Over ‘Joking’ Threat To Hit Pelosi With Gavel

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Democratic lawmakers are up in arms after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said it would "be hard not to hit" Nancy Pelosi if he were to win the Speaker's gavel in the 2022 midterms, with a growing number calling for him to either resign or apologize for his remark.

"I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. It'll be hard not to hit her with it," McCarthy said at a July 31 event with Tennessee Republican state lawmakers, according to audio published by local Tennessee reporter Vivian Jones.

As the audio spread, Democratic lawmakers condemned McCarthy's remark, saying his violent joke is not funny at a time when lawmakers are already receiving death threats associated with the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

"It's been 24 hours since @gopleader McCarthy threatened violence against @SpeakerPelosi. RT if he should apologize or resign," Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) tweeted Sunday night.

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) also called for McCarthy's resignation tweetingSunday night that McCarthy "is now threatening to assault the Speaker of the House."

"His lies about the violence on January 6th are disgusting," McGovern added. "I've said it before & I'll say it again — he should RESIGN!!"

Multiple other lawmakers said McCarthy must apologize.

"@GOPLeader, not only are jokes about violence not funny, they can incite violent & tragic outcomes like January 6th," Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) tweeted. "This type of behavior is unbecoming of an elected official & diminishes Congress as an institution. You need to apologize & stop the reckless, partisan rhetoric."

A number of other comments made the connection to the insurrection at the Capitol, which McCarthy at one point blamed Trump for but later walked back as he tried to stonewall any investigations into the violent attack.

"Not shocking to see @GOPLeader invoke violence against @SpeakerPelosi while he continues to deny the danger she and so many others, on both sides of the aisle, were in on January 6th," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) tweeted. "He owes the Speaker an apology."

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) also said McCarthy's comment "encourages more violence like we saw on January 6th."

Pelosi herself has yet to comment. However, Drew Hammill, her deputy chief of staff, tweeted, "A threat of violence to someone who was a target of a #January6th assassination attempt from your fellow Trump supporters is irresponsible and disgusting."

The relationship between Pelosi and McCarthy has been fraught in recent weeks.

Since Pelosi rejected two of McCarthy's picks for a House committee to probe the insurrection, McCarthy has been wrongly blaming Pelosi for the insurrection. He did despite once blaming Trump and even as Pelosi was a target of the Trump-supporting mob on Jan. 6.

And he's also wrongly blamed her for new mask-wearing requirements on the House side of Capitol Hill, which were not put in place by Pelosi but rather by Congress' attending physician as cases of COVID-19 skyrocket.

McCarthy recently revealed that close to one-third of the House Republican conference has refused to get vaccinated as he argued against the new mask mandate. Every Democratic lawmaker on Capitol Hill is vaccinated.

Pelosi called McCarthy a "moron" for his anti-mask comments.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Sen. Johnson Promotes ‘Worst' Anti-Vax Charlatan On Twitter

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) on Monday praised infamous anti-vaxxer Alex Berenson following Berenson's brief suspension from Twitter over the weekend.

Berenson claimed he was suspended from Twitter for tweeting about a clinical trial of the Pfizer vaccine, which he said does not prevent COVID-19 deaths. However, the CDC reports that the vaccine has proven to be a safe and effective way to prevent COVID-19 infections and serious illness and death from the virus.

"Alex Berenson has been a courageous voice of reason throughout the pandemic," Johnson tweeted of the former-journalist-turned-spy-novelist who's become a Fox News regular during the pandemic for his attacks on coronavirus mitigation efforts.

"As a result he has been censored. During his suspension on Twitter, you can find him on Substack, http://alexberenson.substack.com. He provides a valuable counter perspective to the group-think mainstream media," Johson continued.

Berenson also happens to be promoting a book.

According to many, Berenson has been one of the worst offenders of spreading COVID-19 disinformation during the pandemic — and has been criticized for his false comments.

In April, the Atlantic profiled him in an article titled, "The Pandemic's Wrongest Man." Gizmodo labeled Berenson one of "the worst charlatans of the COVID-19 pandemic." And even the right-wing outlet the National Review has slammed Berenson's disinformation.

On Friday, the Auschwitz Memorial became the latest to condemn Berenson. Berenson had tweeted, "Impfung macht frei," German for "Vaccination makes you free."

It's a play on "Arbeit macht frei," the German phrase that translates to "Work makes you free," which appears over a gated entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where some of the worst atrocities of the Holocaust were carried out.

"It's painful to the memory of Auschwitz and its victims to see this symbol abused and violated," the Auschwitz Memorial tweeted in response to Berenson's comment. " 'Arbeit macht frei' became one of the icons of human hatred. Using it in a debate about vaccines that save human lives is a sad symptom of moral and intelectual [sic] decline."

Many of Berenson's COVID-19 observations have been proven false, including a claim from early on in the pandemic that there was no way more than 500,000 people would die from the virus. As of Sunday, 612,982 people have died in the United States from COVID-19, according to the New York Times.

Despite all of that, Johnson directed the nearly 257,000 people who follow him to follow Berenson for COVID-19 information.

Johnson himself has been one of the worst offenders on Capitol Hill of spreading COVID-19 lies and anti-vaccine rhetoric.

Johnson, who is one of just two members of the Senate who had refused to be vaccinated as of May.

He held a news conference in June featuring people who claimed to have had "adverse reactions" to the COVID-19 vaccine, leading to criticism from health experts, as well as Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Gwen Moore, who said Johnson was displaying a "RECKLESS disregard for Milwaukeeans!"

"COVID-19 vaccines are saving lives & keeping our communities safe," Moore tweeted. "It's infuriating to see Ron Johnson amplifying conspiracy theories after communities in Milwaukee were disproportionately devastated by COVID. He has no shame."

In one head-scratching comment made on Fox News on Friday, Johnson said he is against requiring Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine. "unless there's some incredibly deadly disease."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Republicans Encouraged Racist Assault On St. Louis Health Official

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

St. Louis County Health Director Faisal Khan wrote an op-ed Wednesday laying out the physical threats and racist slurs he was subjected to by a crowd of Donald Trump supporters enraged over new mask guidance in the county amid a surging outbreak of COVID-19.

Khan wrote for the Riverfront Times, in which he said Trump supporters at a Tuesday night meeting on the new mask rules mocked his accent, physically assaulted him, and hurled racist and vulgar insults such as "fat brown cunt" and "brown bastard."

And Khan accused Missouri GOP Senate hopeful Mark McCloskey — infamous for waving a gun at Black Lives Matter protesters in the summer of 2020 — of encouraging that behavior from the crowd.

Khan said he had never in his life "been subjected to the racist, xenophobic, and threatening behavior that greeted me in the County Council meeting," adding that McCloskey and GOP St. Louis City Councilman Tim Fitch encouraged the behavior.

"My time before the Council began with a dog-whistle question from Councilman Tim Fitch, who said he wanted to emphasize for the assembled crowd that I was not from this country," Khan wrote.

He later added, "I later saw that around the time that Mr. Fitch asked his question, his friend Mark McCloskey — who was seated right behind me and situated near Mr. Fitch's position on the dais — posted on social media that mask mandates are 'un-American.'"

"One cannot help but see the connection between the efforts of Mr. McCloskey and Mr. Fitch to stoke xenophobia against me," Khan wrote.

McCloskey is one of a number of GOP candidates running for Senate in Missouri to replace retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt.

Along with his wife, he shot to the public's attention after a photo was circulated in 2020 that showed him and his wife waving guns at BLM demonstrators in his upscale St. Louis gated community. McCloskey has since pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault for his actions.

As Republicans like McCloskey rage against new public health guidelines, Missouri is currently having one of the worst COVID outbreaks in the country.

Hospitalizations and deaths are surging in the state thanks to poor vaccination rates. Just 41% of the state is fully vaccinated, one of the worst vaccination rates in the country.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.