Mike Lee Vowed To 'Get Rid Of' Social Security -- And Now Lies About It

Mike Lee Vowed To 'Get Rid Of' Social Security -- And Now Lies About It

Fox News host Sean Hannity has to know better than to ever start a sentence with what Republicans would never do. They’ve already proven, they’ll do anything, say anything, to get elected. Before Hannity could even form his mouth to allege on his show Tuesday that “not a single Republican” has ever said “they want to take away your Social Security and Medicare and cut it,” a video of Sen. Mike Lee of Utah saying exactly that in his 2010 campaign had already emerged on social media.

“It will be my objective to phase out Social Security, to pull it up by the roots and get rid of it,” Lee said in the video. "People who advise me politically always tell me that's dangerous, and I tell them, in that case, it's not worth my running. That's why I'm doing this, to get rid of that. Medicare and Medicaid are of the same sort and need to be pulled up.”

When The Daily Herald gave Lee the opportunity to clarify the statement, he relied on the ever-popular criminal defense of "I don't recall."

“So I don’t, I don’t recall ever having advocated for dismantling those—that’s sensitive stuff,” Lee told the Utah newspaper. “And I don’t I don’t recall advocating for dismantling them. I vaguely remember a time in 2010 when we were talking about a bunch of things.”

Lee rambled on in an attempt to defend himself, but the more he talked, the more assurance he seemed to give voters that he meant those words uttered more than a decade ago.

Lee claimed he was talking about a “need to end” what he dubbed a “pattern of the federal government occupying space that it wasn’t intended to occupy and spending too much money.”

“Perhaps that was close in time and in proximity to another conversation about Social Security, but I don’t remember ever in any time since I first became a candidate for the Senate ever saying, ‘No, we just have to end Social Security and uproot all the expectations of those who’ve paid into it,’” Lee said. “Quite to the contrary. As far as I can remember, every time I’ve spoken, I’ve said, ‘We do have problems with that,’ in part because, when it was created in the 1930s, it was sold to the American people as something that would be their property, it’s theirs. They have it, it’s just held, like in trust, in an account, by the government, in their name. It would always be their money.”

Lee said a “weird issue” arose when the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the 1937 Helvering v. Davis decision that Social Security “was a tax and therefore not private property.”

The decision Lee referenced maintains that Congress has the right to spend in the interest of “general welfare” without violating the 10th Amendment of the Constitution, which limits federal authority.

He claimed that his issues with the decision aside, "it’s a commitment that we’ve made to people who’ve paid into the system" and “in the case of those who were retirees” or “within a couple of decades even of retiring, you can’t pull that away.”

Lee conveniently left out of his statement any promise to uphold that commitment for those not quite as near retirement age.

He also advocated for increasing the retirement age. “You can’t create an abrupt adjustment to that without creating a lot of problems, but I’ve established a very slow transition toward increasing the retirement age and having it hover based on life expectancy at the time,” he told The Daily Herald.

Problem is, Lee has already proven to be a liar.

At long last, the 2022 midterms are almost here! With the battle for the House front and center, we give you a window into the key races on a final pre-election episode of The Downballot. We discuss a wide range of contests that will offer insight into how the night is going, including top GOP pickup opportunities, second-tier Republican targets, and the seats where Democrats are on offense. And with many vote tallies likely to stretch on for some time, we also identify several bellwether races in states that count quickly.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson Will Join Supreme Court Today (VIDEO)

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson Will Join Supreme Court Today (VIDEO)

Newly-minted Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson will join the court — the first Black woman to do so — today when the new court term begins. And to say it plainly: I’m ecstatic about it.

Not because I anticipate Jackson leading her Republican colleagues out of their anti-American haze. I wouldn’t dare rest the error of their ways on Jackson’s shoulders, but I am hopeful that her voice will provide much-needed support to that of associate justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Together with retired peer Stephen Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan were left to defend Americans’ right to abortion by themselves on the court, and their Republican peers outvoted them 6-3 on June 24. Following that decision, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas immediately claimed that other cherished federal protections should be on the chopping block next as “demonstrably erroneous decisions.”

Now, rights to protect same-sex couples, affirmative action, voting and free speech are all planned for this term. Holding on to hope is no small feat, though a necessary one, I am reminded by Jackson’s investiture ceremony on Friday.

During the ceremony in which new justices take constitutional and judicial oaths, Jackson promised to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich,” according to The New York Times.

Although the investiture proceedings were “purely ceremonial” and Jackson was sworn in on on June 30, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. said Jackson's arrival will cause the other justices to “kind of up our game a little bit.”

“It’s almost like the new in-law at Thanksgiving dinner,” he said.

Roberts added that because there will be a “new person” joining them “each of us will be a little more careful in explaining why we think what we think.”

Kagan said in remarks captured on C-SPAN that the press often refers back to former Justice Byron White's quote that whenever there is a new justice “it's a different court.” She said once doubted that but now realizes it in a sense is “deeply true.”

“It wasn’t the addition of the new justice,” she said. “It was actually the fact that the old justice was no longer there.”

Jackson is filling a seat vacated when Breyer retired.

Kagan said Breyer, who served for more than 27 years, would be difficult to replace. “He believed in the power of relationships, and he believed in the power of reason,” Kagan said.

I believe in the power of a Black mother driven by a sense of duty and dedication. In the words of President Joe Biden, who attended Jackson's investiture ceremony: “Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has already brought uncompromising integrity, a strong moral compass, and courage to the Supreme Court.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Sparse Trump Rally Crowd In Ohio Throws Up QAnon Salute

Sparse Trump Rally Crowd In Ohio Throws Up A Chilling QAnon Salute

After former President Donald Trump regurgitated the racist "great replacement" theory, and otherwise trashed America in an odd endorsement of Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance, portions of a crowd of more than 6,000 attendees raised their single fingers in the air. It was an alarming move for social media users who described the gesture as remarkably similar to the Nazi salute. Investor and journalist Morten Overbye called the crowd a "fascist cult." CNN analyst Juliette Kayyem said the hand symbol was the sign of conspiracy theorists championing the QAnon theory.

"This is the week when Trump became Qanon,” Kayyem tweeted. “This isn’t a political statement; it just is, however, disturbing. The week began with images of Trump on Truth Social wearing a Q pin and promoting their slogans, it ends with Q music and the Q ‘one’ sign by crowd at his rally."

Exactly what members of the Youngstown crowd were trying to communicate by raising their fingers in the air may be up for debate, but the message from the former president at the rally was far less subjective. He supports Vance but not nearly as much as Trump supports himself.

Journalist Andrea Pitzer reported that although Trump bragged about a sold-out crowd during the rally, the arena, which has a capacity of less than 10,000 people, had a back section that was empty.

Trump described himself as a victim of an “unhinged persecution” in which witnesses of the January 6 insurrection he is accused of inciting were forced to turn against him. “They take good people and they say, ‘You’re going to jail for 10 years … unless you say something bad about Trump, in which case you won’t have to go to jail,'” Trump said.

He also alleged that the government "spied" on his campaign, "and nobody wants to do anything about it."

“Can you imagine if I spied on the campaign of—forget Biden—how about Obama’s campaign?” Trump asked. “Can you imagine what (the punishment) would be? Maybe it would be death. They’d bring back the death penalty.”

Trump, so absorbed in his own public defense, even seemed to forget the reason he was at the rally and started taking shots at Vance. “J.D. is kissing my ass,” Trump said. “He wants my support so bad!”

It wasn’t a completely off-base political analysis. The number of Republicans overly devoted to the insurrectionist former president seems to be ever-growing, with some of the more prominent ones also in attendance at the Ohio rally.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called Trump the “one true leader” of the Republican Party. “He’s the one we elected in 2016 and the one we re-elected in 2020, who won the election,” she said, promoting utter lies. While "fresh off appearing to kick a climate activist on video" as Rolling Stone put it, Greene also mocked Democrats concerned about climate change.

“We know that cheap gas won’t last,” Greene said at the rally. “You want to know why? Democrats worship the climate. We worship God.”

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, another Trump supporter, also referenced God in saying he “prayed” then-Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff would win in runoff elections last January because it helped cement the claim of widespread "election crime" happening in the United States.

There is no such evidence of widespread election fraud, by the way—a fun fact Republicans choose to ignore alongside their fear-inducing leader.

“We are a nation in decline,” Trump said at the close of his speech. He failed to mention he’s a large reason why.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Appeals Court Stays Graham Subpoena In Georgia Election Probe

Appeals Court Stays Graham Subpoena In Georgia Election Probe

Sen. Lindsey Graham has been trying his best to evade a subpoena requiring him to testify before a special purpose grand jury (SPGJ) assembled in Georgia’s Fulton County to investigate GOP efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election. A federal appeals court gave him reason for brief relief on Sunday in the form of a temporary stay, according to a court order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

The court decided in the order obtained by Georgia Public Broadcasting: "This case is REMANDED to the district court for the limited purpose of allowing the district court to determine whether (Graham) is entitled to a partial quashal or modification of the subpoena to appear before the special purpose grand jury based on any protections afforded by the Speech or Debate Clause of the United States Constitution."

Graham wrote in an appeal request that the Constitution’s “speech or debate clause” protects legislators from having to answer questions about their official duties as lawmakers.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis argued in her opposition to Graham's emergency motion for the stay that he has not made a strong showing that his motion is likely to succeed. She also said factors including "whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay," whether a stay will "substantially injure the other parties," and "where the public interest lies" regard "individualized judgment in each case" and the "formula cannot be reduced to a set of rigid rules."

Fulton response to Graham&#... by Daily Kos

Willis added:

“Given the possibility that Senator Graham’s testimony could reveal additional routes of inquiry, staying remand and enjoining his appearance at this stage could ultimately delay the resolution of the SPGJ’s entire investigation."

Joyce Alene, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, highlighted just how much the stay could impact the probe in a tweet. "The 11th Circuit significantly delays Fani Willis' ability to take Lindsey Graham's testimony, remanding the case to the district court for it to decide if the subpoena can be quashed b/c of the speech & debate clause," Alene said in the tweet. "This could be months, not weeks."

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Armed Trump Supporters Demonstrate At Phoenix FBI Office (VIDEO)

Armed Trump Supporters Demonstrate At Phoenix FBI Office (VIDEO)

Video captured by the independent media site News2Share shows supporters of former President Donald Trump armed with guns, waving confederate and American flags outside of the FBI office in Phoenix, Arizona on Saturday.

"We're here in support of Trump, for what happened to him, the unlawful search with the FBI at his Mar-a-Lago home," someone at the demonstration told News2Share. "We are sick and tired of this tyrannical government called the Biden regime. We will not stand by and we will not stand down.

"We're gonna take the fight to the FBI if need be."

The latest in a string of Republican rantings, the demonstration is in response to the FBI executing a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday—an act that has led to the seizure of 11 sets of classified documents, including those related to nuclear weapons, according toThe Washington Post.

Somehow though, Trump apologists still maintain the former president’s rights were violated while they go about the business of threatening the federal judge who signed the warrant and any other official they see fit to accuse without a shred of evidence of widespread election fraud.

In Gillespie County, Texas, a county about 80 miles west of Austin, elections administrator Anissa Herrera said she resigned from her work due in large part to threats she faced, according to the Fredericksburg Standard.

“After the 2020 (election), I was threatened, I’ve been stalked, I’ve been called out on social media,” Herrera told the newspaper. “And it’s just dangerous misinformation.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray condemned such threats in a statement on Thursday. “Unfounded attacks on the integrity of the FBI erode respect for the rule of law and are a grave disservice to the men and women who sacrifice so much to protect others,” he said. “Violence and threats against law enforcement, including the FBI, are dangerous and should be deeply concerning to all Americans.

They are to Democrats. Many tweeted their outrage at the double standard propagated when a group of white men and women were allowed to threaten federal officials while armed.

A social media user who goes by Jason V. tweeted on Sunday, that the "armed domestic terrorists" probably haven't been taken down yet "because they're not black or brown."

Shannon Watts, founder of the grassroots movement for public safety Moms Demand Action, pointed to a trend of recent violence following GOP reaction to the search of Trump’s home.

The most recent of which is a Capitol Police report that a man started firing in the air then drove his car into a vehicle barricade in a fiery crash early Sunday at East Capitol Street and Second Street.

”When our officers heard the sound of gunfire, they immediately responded and were approaching the man when he shot himself,” Capitol Police said in a news release. “Nobody else was hurt.

“At this time, it does not appear the man was targeting any Members of Congress, who are on recess, and it does not appear officers fired their weapons.”

No other injuries were reported in the incident, and investigators are still looking into the man’s background. But for many, the incident is an example of violence spiraling out of control as Republicans instigate a greater divide between Trump supporters and the rest of the country.

Regarding the protest outside of the Phoenix FBI building, Democrat Eric Smith tweeted congressional candidates of North Carolina:

“This is a Declaration of War & as such the Federal Government will be well within its rights to use all the firepower at its disposal to put these traitors down & down for good”

Majid Padellan, a blogger and influencer who goes by "Brooklyn Dad" on social media, tweeted on Sunday:

"Not a single Republican leader has called upon the armed trumpers at the Phoenix FBI to stand down. Any blood will be on their hands."

In another tweet, Padellan laid out a series of actions and statements by Trump that created the kind of climate in which his supporters would feel emboldened to threaten federal officials. "First he told domestic terrorists to ‘Stand back and stand by,’” Padellan said. “Then he refused to call the National Guard on January 6th.

“Then he wouldn't call off his armed supporters outside the Phoenix FBI. Donald Trump is a pathetic, cowardly traitor."

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Ivana Trump's Golf Course Grave Delivers 'Trifecta Of Tax Avoidance'

Ivana Trump's Golf Course Grave Delivers 'Trifecta Of Tax Avoidance'

A researcher confirmed earlier media reports indicating former President Donald Trump may receive hefty tax breaks for having his ex-wife buried on the Trump-owned golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. Ivana Trump, 73, died in her Manhattan home on July 14 from "blunt impact injuries" to her torso, The Washington Post reported of an autopsy report from New York City's chief medical examiner. Ivana was initially found unconscious on a staircase in her home after police got an emergency call around 12:40 p.m., the Post reported. Her death was ruled an accident, and her remains were buried at the Trump National Golf Club.

"As a tax researcher, I was skeptical of rumors Trump buried his ex-wife in that sad little plot of dirt on his Bedminster, NJ golf course just for tax breaks,” Brooke Harrington, a sociology professor at Dartmouth College, tweeted on Saturday. “So I checked the NJ tax code & folks...it's a trifecta of tax avoidance. Property, income & sales tax, all eliminated."

Harrington cited New Jersey tax code and documents that the ProPublica news nonprofit published indicating tax exemptions in place since May 2016 for what’s deemed a nonprofit cemetery service. The Trump Family Trust is located in Hackettstown, New Jersey, some 20 miles northeast of Ivana’s gravesite.

Still, The New Jersey Cemetery Act relieves cemeteries of "Real Property Taxes on lands dedicated to cemetery purposes; Income Taxes; Sales and Use Taxes; Business Taxes; and Inheritance Taxes."

Cemetery property is also “exempt from sale for collection of judgments,” and cemetery trust funds and trust income are “exempt from tax and exempt from sale or seizure for collection of judgments against the cemetery company,” New Jersey law states.

It defines a cemetery company as: “any individual, corporation, partnership, association, or other public or private entity which owns, operates, controls, or manages land or places used or dedicated for use for burial of human remains or disposition of cremated human remains, including a crematory located on dedicated cemetery property.”

As such, cemetery companies are prohibited from manufacturing or selling “vaults, private mausoleums, monuments, markers, or bronze memorials” and conducting “any funeral home” or “mortuary science” services.

Trump's plans to use a portion of his 500-acre golf club for burial grounds were detailed in a 2012 NPR story. In that piece, journalist Nancy Solomon wrote that any member of the golf club "who pays about $150,000 to join and an additional $20,000 in annual dues" could be buried at the cemetery.

Former council member Sally Rubin worked out a deal with Trump to allow 500 graves on the golf club site as long as they weren't visible. “If he wants a mausoleum and he wants to do it for himself and he wants to put that on the golf club proper, I didn't have a problem with that,” Rubin told NPR. “It's a large piece of property, and he has a lot more flexibility there, but I did not want it on a scenic rural road in our community."

Ivana’s gravemarker is a flat, rectangular piece with her name and dates of birth and death.

“I am very saddened to inform all of those that loved her, of which there are many, that Ivana Trump has passed away at her home in New York City,” the former president earlier wrote in a statement announcing her death. “ She was a wonderful, beautiful, and amazing woman, who led a great and inspirational life.

“Her pride and joy were her three children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric. She was so proud of them, as we were all so proud of her," Trump added with a “Donate To Save America” link at the bottom.

In the wake of Ivana's death, depositions related to the civil fraud probe New York Attorney General Letitia James launched into the former president as well as his children Donald Jr. and Ivanka were postponed, the Post reported.

“In light of the passing of Ivana Trump yesterday, we received a request from counsel for Donald Trump and his children to adjourn all three depositions, which we have agreed to,” Delaney Kempner, a spokeswoman for the New York State Attorney General, told the newspaper on July 15. “This is a temporary delay and the depositions will be rescheduled as soon as possible. There is no other information about dates or otherwise to provide at this time.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Did J.D. Vance Say Women Should Stay In Violent Marriages? Really? (VIDEO)

Did J.D. Vance Say Women Should Stay In Violent Marriages? Really? (VIDEO)

J.D. Vance, the Republican Senate nominee in Ohio backed by former President Donald Trump, accidentally let his truth slip out during a moderated talk at Pacifica Christian High School in Santa Monica, California, last September. In a video reported by Vice News, the Hillbilly Elegy author seemed to make a case for staying married no matter what—even in cases of domestic violence. At one point in his 2021 conversation, the moderator compared the relationship of Vance’s grandparents detailed in his book to modern relationships, and asked Vance what's causing one generation "to give up on fatherhood when the other one was so doggedly determined to stick it out, even in tough times."

And Vance gave this response:

“This is one of the great tricks that I think the sexual revolution pulled on the American populace, which is the idea that like, ‘well, OK, these marriages were fundamentally, you know, they were maybe even violent, but certainly they were unhappy. And so getting rid of them and making it easier for people to shift spouses like they change their underwear, that’s going to make people happier in the long term.’”

He added:

“And maybe it worked out for the moms and dads, though I’m skeptical. But it really didn’t work out for the kids of those marriages. And that’s what I think all of us should be honest about, is we’ve run this experiment in real-time. And what we have is a lot of very, very real family dysfunction that’s making our kids unhappy.”

Sticking out domestic violence for the kids’ best interest, however, wasn’t a philosophy Vance was prepared to back outright during his campaign.

When Vice News asked why Vance suggested “it would be better for children if their parents stayed in violent marriages than if they divorced,” he told the media outlet it had posed a “bogus question.”

Vance responded by twisting statistics. Current domestic violence laws are extremely robust compared to the time in which Vance's grandparents were determined to stay together despite their “maybe even violent” marriage. In the 1970s, for example, “domestic violence remained largely unrecognized and virtually ignored in the legal, medical, and social spheres.”

Decades later, domestic violence is treated as a legitimate legal and public health concern, even when it occurs among unmarried couples. That change in standard practice has led to increases in reports of domestic violence in both married and unmarried couples. Avenues for assistance and relief—both in terms of safety and legal recourse—have become more widely available. But you can’t explain that to a man determined to maintain a patriarchy that supports his unexamined beliefs. Vance opted to lay blame at progressives’ feet:

”As anyone who studies these issues knows: domestic violence has skyrocketed in recent years, and is much higher among non-married couples. That’s the ‘trick’ I reference: that domestic violence would somehow go down if progressives got what they want, when in fact modern society’s war on families has made our domestic violence situation much worse. Any fair person would recognize I was criticizing the progressive frame on this issue, not embracing it.

But I can see that you are not a fair person, so rather than answer your loaded and baseless question, let me offer the following: I’m an actual victim of domestic violence. In my life, I have seen siblings, wives, daughters, and myself abused by men. It’s disgusting for you to argue that I was defending those men.”

And even in all of that rhetoric, Vance failed to say deny what he was asked to deny: that he believes staying married to violent partners somehow benefits the children who live with couples who should probably get divorced.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Texas Prosecutor Will Dismiss Charges In Self-Induced Abortion Case

Texas Prosecutor Will Dismiss Charges In Self-Induced Abortion Case

A Texas district attorney announced on Sunday that a 26-year-old woman charged with murder for a "self-induced abortion" should never have been indicted, and prosecutors will be filing a motion to dismiss the indictment on Monday.

Lizelle Herrera was arrested on Thursday by the Starr County Sheriff’s Office and held on a $500,000 bond after the sheriff's office reported that she “intentionally and knowingly cause the death of an individual by self-induced abortion.” She was held in the Starr County jail in Rio Grande City, which is on the U.S.-Mexico border, NPR reported. Now it seems District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez is attempting to correct the wrong by asserting in a Facebook post that “Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her.”

“Although with this dismissal Ms. Herrera will not face prosecution for this incident, it is clear to me that the events leading up to this indictment have taken a toll on Ms. Herrera and her family,” Ramirez wrote in the post. “To ignore this fact would be shortsighted. The issues surrounding this matter are clearly contentious, however based on Texas law and the facts presented, it is not a criminal matter.”

Read the district attorney’s complete Facebook post:

“Yesterday afternoon, I reached out to counsel for Ms. Lizelle Herrera to advise him that my office will be filing a motion dismissing the indictment against Ms. Herrera Monday, April 11, 2022. In reviewing applicable Texas law, it is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her.
In reviewing this case, it is clear that the Starr County Sheriff’s Department did their duty in investigating the incident brought to their attention by the reporting hospital. To ignore the incident would have been a dereliction of their duty. Prosecutorial discretion rests with the District Attorney’s office, and in the State of Texas a prosecutor’s oath is to do justice. Following that oath, the only correct outcome to this matter is to immediately dismiss the indictment against Ms. Herrera.Although with this dismissal Ms. Herrera will not face prosecution for this incident, it is clear to me that the events leading up to this indictment have taken a toll on Ms. Herrera and her family. To ignore this fact would be shortsighted. The issues surrounding this matter are clearly contentious, however based on Texas law and the facts presented, it is not a criminal matter.Going forward, my office will continue to communicate with counsel for Ms. Herrera in order to bring this matter to a close. It is my hope that with the dismissal of this case it is made clear that Ms. Herrera did not commit a criminal act under the laws of the State of Texas.”

Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor, told NBC-affiliated KXAN-TV before the motion to dismiss that homicide "doesn't apply to the murder of an unborn child if the conduct charged is 'conduct committed by the mother of the unborn child.'"

Vladeck later tweeted of the news Sunday that it is a “sobering reminder, among other things, to *always read the statute.*”

"It sure looks like the prosecutors just … forgot … that Texas’s murder statute expressly exempts from its scope a pregnant woman who terminates a pregnancy," Vladeck said in the tweet, linking to Texas penal code.

The penal code states that criminal homicide “does not apply to the death of an unborn child if the conduct charged is:

“(1) conduct committed by the mother of the unborn child; (2) a lawful medical procedure performed by a physician or other licensed health care provider with the requisite consent, if the death of the unborn child was the intended result of the procedure; (3) a lawful medical procedure performed by a physician or other licensed health care provider with the requisite consent as part of an assisted reproduction as defined by Section 160.102, Family Code; or (4) the dispensation of a drug in accordance with law or administration of a drug prescribed in accordance with law.”

Herrera’s arrest seems to exemplify exactly the kind of harm abortion rights activists have been warning of following a toxic Supreme Court decision last December. That’s when the court ruled to allow a Texas ban on abortions after six weeks with the provision that abortion providers have the right to challenge the Texas law in federal court. Many considered it early evidence of the high court's inclination to overturn the groundbreaking Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion rights.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a 48-page dissent at the time:

“My disagreement with the Court runs far deeper than a quibble over how many defendants these petitioners may sue. The dispute is over whether States may nullify federal constitutional rights by employing schemes like the one at hand. The Court indicates that they can, so long as they write their laws to more thoroughly disclaim all enforcement by state officials, including licensing officials. This choice to shrink from Texas’ challenge to federal supremacy will have far-reaching repercussions. I doubt the Court, let alone the country, is prepared for them.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Rep. Matt Gaetz

‘Florida Man’ Gaetz Announces Re-Election Bid With Illiterate Tweet

With a single tweet, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida proved once again why there are few men more qualified than he to embarrass the Sunshine State. He couldn’t just let a well-trained journalist announce that he would be seeking reelection this year. He had to try and add a little razzle dazzle. "It’s chose your fighter time,” Gaetz tweeted on Saturday with a link to a Northwest Florida Daily Newsarticle. “I’m you’re [sic] Florida Man!"

And with that, the mockery began.

“Stay in school kids,” one Twitter user, Amy Lou, cautioned. “You won't embarrass yourself with 3rd grade grammatical errors, and could earn your way to a Congressional seat instead of having your dad buy your way there 😃”

Steven Specht, a Democrat who attempted unsuccessfully to unseat Gaetz in 2016, told Mother Jones in a 2019 interview that Matt, a third-generation politician, “would be an assistant manager at Walmart if it weren’t for his father."

Don Gaetz, Matt's father, sold his hospice company for $400 million in 2004 and had a net worth of $25 million by the time he ran for Senate in 2006, Mother Jones reported. When it was Matt Gaetz's time to run for office, he raised almost $480,000, nearly five times more than his rivals raked in. "Many people who had backed Don Gaetz donated to his son that year, including the biggest monied interests in the district: local real estate developers, health care companies, and a Pensacola beer baron," writer Stephanie Mencimer said in the Mother Jones piece.

Mencimer laid out exactly what the younger Gaetz has to offer his constituents. The short answer is nothing.

The longer answer: After less than a year on the job at a law firm, he was pulled over for speeding in his dad's BMW on the way home from a nightclub on Okaloosa Island. Allegedly smelling of alcohol, he refused a breathalyzer and was arrested. All charges against him were later dropped.

"Gaetz’s driving record is the subject of many jokes in his district,” Mencimer wrote. “In 2014, he rear-ended one of his constituents while talking on his cellphone."

Ken Russell, a Democrat hoping to challenge Sen. Marco Rubio this year, reminded Twitter users that also on Matt Gaetz’s political resume is a history of denying best efforts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Russell tweeted: "BREAKING NEWS: Florida man goes on 3 year tirade denying science and pretending that we live in 1950’s America."

Majid Padellan, a blogger and influencer who goes by "Brooklyn Dad" on social media, added to the list spotlit allegations that Gaetz is guilty of statutory rape involving a 17-year-old girl—allegations that the congressman has, of course, denied.

“BREAKING: Matt Gaetz will be running for reelection on a ‘Florida Man who uses Venmo to pay for sex with underaged girls’ platform,” Padellan tweeted.

Matt Gaetz is also the subject of a Justice Department investigation in which he is accused of paying a teen to travel out of state with him, The Washington Post reported.

RELATED: Matt Gaetz took trip to Bahamas where flight, hotel, and women were provided by 'ganjapreneur'

Padellan said in another tweet: “Matt Gaetz shouldn't be in Congress voting against measures to hold (Vladimir) Putin accountable. He should be in prison.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

New Evidence Shows Proud Boys Planned To ’Storm The Capitol’

New Evidence Shows Proud Boys Planned To ’Storm The Capitol’

In the days after federal prosecutors named the Proud Boys leader and five other accused insurrectionists in a federal indictment related to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, a Pennsylvania media group tracked down the name of another man allegedly linked to the planning of the insurrection. Federal prosecutors identified the man, believed to be an “upper tier” member of the Proud Boys, only as Person 3, a resident of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, LNP reported on its news website Lancaster Online on Saturday.

Person 3 is accused of taking part in an “encrypted message group” that the now-indicted Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and others allegedly used to toss around ideas for blocking the certification of President Joe Biden's November 2020 election win. LNP tracked down the identity of Person 3 using his reported alias “Johnny Blackbeard.” The news site determined the pseudonym belongs to John Charles Stewart, a member of the Harrisburg chapter of the Proud Boys.

LNP identified Stewart through a post on a Telegram instant-messaging channel that claimed Blackbeard was hospitalized for complications related to a hernia. The post included a link to a fundraising page created by Daniele Stewart, which LNP confirmed through records is the wife of John Charles Stewart. The news site also cited an anonymous source that wouldn't identify Blackbeard by his real name but did confirm he is the Carlisle member targeted in a federal search warrant. It’s unclear if that warrant has been executed, but another man of Belmont, North Carolina, was also the subject of a federal search warrant that according to Raw Story had been executed on Jeremy Bertino at his home.

"The government may believe Person 3, aka Stewart, has records that could help prove the alleged conspiracy involving Tarrio and others," Lancaster Online writer Carter Walker wrote. "In the weeks leading up to January 6, the government alleges, Tarrio and other Proud Boy leaders used an encrypted messaging service to create a chat group titled ‘Ministry of Self Defense’ (MOSD) and used it to assemble their plans for blocking Congress’ certification of Biden’s win in the Electoral College."

The chat group was described in Tarrio’s indictment as an outgrowth of a new MOSD chapter of the Proud Boys—according to Tarrio, a "national rally planning" chapter that would only include "hand selected members."

Proud Boys members Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, Charles Donohoe, and Dominic Pezzola—all now indicted— were charged with running the new chapter, according to the indictment. Biggs reportedly messaged Tarrio that the Proud Boys "recruit losers who wanna drink." "Let's get radical and get real men," he added.

Federal prosecutors wrote in the indictment: “Immediately after forming the MOSD, Tarrio and the leadership of the MOSD began preparations for January 6, 2021." Person 3 was reportedly included in that group and messaged his cohorts on Dec. 20, 2020: "I am assuming most of the protest will be at the capital building given what's going on inside." The message was included in documents indicting Tarrio and the other men.

Person 3, though unnamed in the indictment, was said to have messaged his peers that if one million "patriots stormed and took the capital building" nothing could be done. He is accused of suggesting that the "main operating theater should be out in front" of the House of Representatives, "out in front" of the Capitol building. Tarrio reportedly responded a day after Person 3 sent the message: “I didn't hear this voice note until now, you want to storm the Capitol."

Tarrio was arrested on January 4 related to burning a Black Lives Matter flag stolen from a historic Black church in Washington, D.C. MOSD leaders were advised to "personally clear our history of that MOSD chat," according to indictment documents. Person 3 responded that he had "removed everyone from the other group" and that it had been "nuked," according to the indictment.

A new chat group, however, was formed and the attack on the Capitol was carried out, prosecutors said.

LNP cited Asher Meza, one of Tarrio's associates and a member of a Proud Boys chapter in Miami, for information that Blackbeard was an admin of the original MOSD chat but that he was removed from the chat. Meza also reportedly said Blackbeard was not in Washington D.C. on January 6 because he was dealing with a medical issue.

Former Lehigh Valley Proud Boys Vice President Richard Schwetz also told LNP that Blackbeard wasn't in D.C. on January 6. "I am 100% sure he was not there,” Schwetz reportedly said. “He was not anywhere on January 6."

Read the Justice Department’s complete news release on Tarrio’s indictment:

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the former national chairman of the Proud Boys, was arrested today following his indictment on conspiracy and other charges related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, which disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election.
Tarrio, 38, of Miami, Florida, was arrested in Miami and is to make his initial appearance today in the Southern District of Florida. He was named in a superseding indictment returned Monday in the District of Columbia that also includes five previously charged defendants.
Others named in the superseding indictment include Ethan Nordean, 31, of Auburn, Washington; Joseph Biggs, 38, of Ormond Beach, Florida; Zachary Rehl, 36, of Philadelphia; Charles Donohoe, 34, of Kernersville, North Carolina; and Dominic Pezzola, 44, of Rochester, New York. All previously were detained. They earlier pleaded not guilty to charges.
According to court documents, the Proud Boys describes itself as a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world, aka Western Chauvinists.” Through at least Jan. 6, 2021, Tarrio was the national chairman of the organization. In mid-December, Tarrio created a special chapter of the Proud Boys known as the “Ministry of Self Defense.”
As alleged in the indictment, from in or around December 2020, Tarrio and his co-defendants, all of whom were leaders or members of the Ministry of Self Defense, conspired to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding, the certification of the Electoral College vote. On Jan. 6, the defendants directed, mobilized, and led members of the crowd onto the Capitol grounds and into the Capitol, leading to dismantling of metal barricades, destruction of property, and assaults on law enforcement.
Although Tarrio is not accused of physically taking part in the breach of the Capitol, the indictment alleges that he led the advance planning and remained in contact with other members of the Proud Boys during their breach of the Capitol. Tarrio was arrested on Jan. 4, 2021, on a warrant charging him in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia with destruction of property in the Dec. 12, 2020, burning of a Black Lives Matter banner. He was released at approximately 5 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2021. As a condition of his release, he was ordered by the Court to stay out of Washington.
The indictment alleges that Tarrio nonetheless continued to direct and encourage the Proud Boys prior to and during the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and that he claimed credit for what had happened on social media and in an encrypted chat room during and after the attack.
Tarrio was indicted on one count of each conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and obstruction of an official proceeding, as well as two counts each of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers and destruction of government property.
This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. Valuable assistance was provided by U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington and Miami Field Offices. The charges in the investigation are the result of significant cooperation between agents and staff across numerous FBI Field Offices, and law enforcement agencies.
In the 14 months since Jan. 6, more than 775 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 245 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing.
Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Xenophobia And White Supremacy Mar Coverage Of Ukraine Conflict

Xenophobia And White Supremacy Mar Coverage Of Ukraine Conflict

If you’ve been gathering proof that white supremacy drives western media coverage of international affairs, look no further than coverage of the Russian invasion into Ukraine. Charlie D’Agata, a CBS News senior correspondent in Kyiv, described Ukrainian citizens hiding in bomb shelters and tens of thousands of people trying to flee the city of Kyiv on Friday. Those people have been getting nonstop media coverage since Russian military forces launched a major attack on Ukraine on Thursday, but by activists’ estimates, they likely would’ve been ignored completely if they were Black, brown, or Muslim.

D’Agata’s synopsis of the attack seemed to lend evidence to that estimation. “But this isn’t a place—with all due respect—like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict raging for decades,” D’Agata said of Ukraine. “You know, this is a relatively civilized, relatively European—I have to choose those words carefully, too—city where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen.”

Saad Mohseni, director of the media company Moby Media Group in Afghanistan, called the statement "utterly stupid and ill informed" in a tweet on Saturday. “Afghanistan was also a peaceful and ‘civilised’ place in 1979 before the Soviets invaded (and became the battle zone between the West and Soviet block),” Mohseni tweeted. “Ditto for Iraq (before the American attack in 2003).”

Human rights lawyer Qasim Rashid called the CBS correspondent's response "overt white supremacy," an "absolutely disgusting dehumanization of people of color."

“White supremacy,” Rashid wrote, “is when Europe has launched two World Wars in the last century but it's Iraq & Afghanistan—two nations relentlessly bombed by western & European nations for 40 years—that are ‘uncivilized.’ This is how media dehumanizes BIPOC & normalizes white supremacy.”

Of course, D’Agata responded to criticism about the racist rhetoric with an apology.

“I spoke in a way that I regret, and for that I’m sorry,” he said. “What I’d hope to convey is that what’s unique about the fighting underway here is that this country has not really seen this scale of war in recent years unlike some conflicts in countries I’ve covered that have tragically suffered through many years of fighting.

“You should never compare conflicts anyway. Each one is unique. I’ve dedicated much of my career to telling the story of suffering through any of these wars, wherever they may be. I used a poor choice of words, and I apologize for any offense I may have caused.”

Oh, how I wish this were simply about one journalist’s poor choice of words. It just is not.

Author Alan Macleod posted tweet after tweet of journalists and politicians alike reinforcing the same double standard, with empathy seemingly bestowed according to skin color.

David Sakvarelidze, Ukraine’s deputy chief prosecutor, said on BBC: “It’s really emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed.”

Journalist Peter Dobbie used these words to describe Ukrainian refugees on Al Jazeera: "What's compelling is looking at them, the way they are dressed. These are prosperous, middle-class people. These are not obviously refugees trying to get away from the Middle East … or North Africa. They look like any European family that you'd live next door to."

In a column for The Telegraph, dubbed "Vladimir Putin’s monstrous invasion is an attack on civilisation itself," Daniel Hannan wrote of Ukrainian victims: “They seem so like us. That is what makes it so shocking. Ukraine is a European country. Its people watch Netflix and have Instagram accounts, vote in free elections and read uncensored newspapers. War is no longer something visited upon impoverished and remote populations. It can happen to anyone.”

Social media users didn’t hesitate to bring to international attention just how many of those “impoverished” populations became “impoverished.” In a phrase: Western interference.

When Paul Massaro, countercorruption adviser to Congress, tweeted that he was "racking" his brain "for a historical parallel to the courage and fighting spirit of the Ukrainians and coming up empty," activist Stanley Cohen responded: "Ever heard of Palestine? Its only been 74 years."

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos