Stembridge News Digest

  • Arizona GOP is turning the state blue Sun, 24 Jan 2021 20:54:48 GMT
    For the first time in decades, Arizona elected a Democratic president in November and sent two Democrats to the U.S. Senate. One would think this loss would cause some sort of introspection among members of the Arizona Republican Party. But instead, the state GOP seems bent on wallowing in its own lack of self-awareness.
  • Trumpian House Republicans are proving Liz Cheney right Sun, 24 Jan 2021 20:09:20 GMT
    A group of House Republicans are working overtime to oust GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney from her leadership position as punishment for voting to impeach former President Donald Trump earlier this month. The effort is plainly tribalist, and it says far more about the members pushing it than it does about Cheney.
  • Media sink to new low with attack on male mask-wearing Sun, 24 Jan 2021 12:00:00 GMT
    There are just no words for the amount of hostility spewing forth upon men. It's even more egregious when it comes from other men.
  • NFL Conference Championships: Everything you need to know Sun, 24 Jan 2021 11:00:45 GMT
    As great as the Super Bowl is, sometimes the real drama is on the NFL's Conference Championship Sunday. The legacies of legends are on the line, as Tom Brady faces off against Aaron Rodgers and the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs face off against the team that has been tormented so much, the Buffalo Bills.
  • The Left's mainstreaming of anti-Semitism continues apace Sun, 24 Jan 2021 05:00:11 GMT
    If there is one thing that unites the political extremes — from the halls of Congress and the steps of the Capitol, from Main Street to academia — it’s disdain for Jews. Embraced and excused by both the far-Right and far-Left in America, anti-Semitism has gone mainstream.
  • Tracking one illegal immigrant’s path from Mexico to drunk-driving manslaughter Sat, 23 Jan 2021 12:00:23 GMT
    Even before he took office, President Biden made a big splash with his sweeping immigration reform proposal. While headlines focus on a path to citizenship for otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants, it’s important to note the plan’s lackluster efforts on curbing illegal immigration. And while the proposal doesn’t expand the wall on the southern border, Biden hopes to curb illegal immigration by utilizing better technology and infrastructure on the border. Seemingly lost in the proposal is any change in punishments for illegal immigrants who commit other crimes or any way to crack down on the sanctuary jurisdictions that enable them.
  • Will Biden take his own advice on unity and religious freedom? Sat, 23 Jan 2021 05:37:40 GMT
    President Biden’s inaugural speech called upon America’s political leaders to rise above our divisions and move beyond our differences. Now comes the hard part: doing it. If Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives continue to cleave to ideological and political comfort zones, fulfilling the president’s charge will be impossible.
  • Better and worse ways to support families Fri, 22 Jan 2021 22:13:46 GMT
    There’s a big and welcome effort on the Right to promote pro-family policy. While worries about family cohesion and dropping birthrates are not new, a lot of the effort to make policy around this is new.
  • Conservatives should support Biden's $1,400 COVID-19 relief checks Fri, 22 Jan 2021 20:27:07 GMT
    Just before his inauguration, President Biden proposed a coronavirus relief package outline for the first 100 days of his administration. Part of that framework is to essentially redo what former President Donald Trump demanded in his waning days in office, an increase in the second round of coronavirus relief payments from $600 to $2,000 (that is, a $1,400 boost).
  • David Brooks, in love with Biden, recommends Democrats end Senate filibuster Fri, 22 Jan 2021 20:22:05 GMT
    Liberals on Twitter are acting like they've been hit hard by the Holy Ghost because David Brooks, the David Brooks, wrote in the New York Times this week that Democrats should "kill" the Senate filibuster rule for legislation if Republicans refuse to negotiate President Biden's agenda items.

  • Rash of student suicides push Las Vegas schools to partially reopen Mon, 25 Jan 2021 00:45:00 +0000

    Clark County School District in Nevada, the nation's fifth-largest school district, wants to reopen as "quickly as possible" following a rash of student suicides, according to a new report.

    There were 18 suicides in the nine months that the schools were closed due to the coronavirus lockdown, which is double the amount of suicides in all of the previous year, according to the New York Times.

    "By July, after the sixth suicide since March, the district invested in a program, the GoGuardian Beacon alert system, to send reports of mild to severe suicide risk," the report said. "The system, which scans student writings on district-issued iPads, generated more than 3,100 alerts from June to October, indicating behavior such as suicide research, self-harm, written comments, or just the need for help or support."

    "When we started to see the uptick in children taking their lives, we knew it wasn't just the Covid numbers we need to look at anymore," Jesus Jara, Clark County superintendent, said. "We have to find a way to put our hands on our kids, to see them, to look at them. They've got to start seeing some movement, some hope."

    "We are not only in the midst of a health crisis, but we are being challenged with a mental health crisis and an academic crisis," Jara said.

    "Superintendents across the nation are weighing the benefit of in-person education against the cost of public health, watching teachers and staff become sick and, in some cases, die, but also seeing the psychological and academic toll that school closings are having on children nearly a year in," the New York Times said. "The risk of student suicides has quietly stirred many district leaders, leading some, like the state superintendent in Arizona, to cite that fear in public pleas to help mitigate the virus's spread."

    The Clark County school district plans to bring in-person learning back for elementary-age students, as well as "groups of struggling students even as greater Las Vegas continues to post huge numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths."

    The students will participate in social-emotional wellness programs, interventions, academic screenings, and small-group instruction, according to the school board's press release.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in August that one-quarter of American young adults have thought about committing suicide since the coronavirus pandemic started. The CDC found that 25.5% of Americans ages 18-24 had seriously contemplated suicide in the past 30 days. Among those aged 25-44, 16% thought about killing themselves.

    The CDC found that the average proportion of emergency department visits by children for mental health-related reasons was 44% higher from mid-March into October compared with that time period in 2019.

    "Many mental disorders commence in childhood, and mental health concerns in these age groups might be exacerbated by stress related to the pandemic and abrupt disruptions to daily life associated with mitigation efforts, including anxiety about illness, social isolation, and interrupted connectedness to school," the CDC stated in November.

    Distance learning because of the COVID-19 lockdowns has also caused students' grades to plummet. "School districts from coast to coast have reported the number of students failing classes has risen by as many as two or three times — with English language learners and disabled and disadvantaged students suffering the most," the Associated Press reported in December.

    It isn't only students who are suffering under the COVID-19 lockdowns. Social isolation, employment concerns, financial uncertainties, and anxiety about the future have caused emotional damage to adults.

    Pre-lockdown there were 8% of American adults showing depression symptoms, according to one study published in September. Post-lockdown, that figure skyrocketed to nearly 28%.

    In Japan, suicides were up nearly 40% in October compared to the same time in 2019. Suicides by Japanese women spiked a whopping 82% in that period.

  • Native America tribe torches Biden admin over oil, drilling order: 'A direct attack on our economy, sovereignty' Sun, 24 Jan 2021 23:45:35 +0000

  • New Mexico leaders bash Biden admin's order targeting oil, drilling on federal land: 'How does that bring us together?' Sun, 24 Jan 2021 22:45:00 +0000

    The Biden administration's 60-day pause on new oil and natural gas leases and drilling permits on federal land, signed by Acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega late Wednesday, could result in devastating consequences to state economies that rely on proceeds from oil sales.

    The order, which appeased progressive environmentalist groups, has significant immediate effects.

    From the Associated Press:

    Industry groups said the order effectively brings all regulatory activity to a halt, from routine requests that arise during the normal course of business to requests for rights of way for new pipelines designed to gather more natural gas as part of efforts to reduce venting and flaring — practices that Democrats have targeted in their fight against climate change.

    What about the economic impact?

    Leaders in New Mexico say the impact of making permanent the temporary moratorium would be "economically devastating."

    New Mexico is one of the top oil-producers in the nation — third behind Texas and North Dakota, thanks, in part, to the Permian Basin — yet it is also one the most-impoverished states in the U.S., leaving the Land of Enchantment more economically vulnerable to what one local leader called "knee-jerk" decisions by President Joe Biden's Cabinet.

    "During his inauguration, President Biden spoke about bringing our nation together. Eliminating drilling on public lands will cost thousands of New Mexicans their jobs and destroy what's left of our state's economy," Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway told the Associated Press.

    "How does that bring us together?" Janway added. "Environmental efforts should be fair and well-researched, not knee-jerk mandates that just hurt an already impoverished state."

    The Biden administration's order has New Mexican leaders concerned, in particular, because about half of their oil production occurs on federal lands, producing hundreds of millions of dollars in royalty revenue each year, the AP noted.

    New Mexico Republican Party chairman Steve Pearce voiced another significant concern. He fears that the Biden administration's order could be a job killer.

    "I think we're going to see companies choosing not to invest in New Mexico and take their jobs and drilling to Texas just 3 miles away," Pearce said, the AP reported. "They can just scoot across the border where they don't have federal lands."

    Anything else?

    New Mexicans, ironically, supported Biden over now-former President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential contest by a significant margin — 54.3% to 43.5%, or 100,000 votes.

  • Four banks have reportedly severed ties with Donald Trump since the Capitol riots Sun, 24 Jan 2021 21:45:00 +0000

    At least four financial institutions have severed ties with former President Donald Trump since the Capitol riots, according to reports.

    On Friday, Florida-based BankUnited announced it was ending its relationship with Trump, as reported by the Miami Herald. The Miami-area bank noted that Trump didn't receive any loans from them.

    "We never had a lending relationship with Donald Trump and we no longer have any depository relationship with him," a bank representative said in an emailed statement.

    Financial records reveal that Trump held two money-market accounts worth more than $5.1 million at BankUnited.

    Two weeks ago, Coral Gables-located Professional Holding Corp. announced that it would no longer furnish banking services to the former president or the Trump Organization.

    "Professional Bank has decided not to engage in any further business with the Trump Organization and its affiliates, and will be winding down the relationship effective immediately," Professional Holding Corp. spokesperson Eric Kalis told Fortune.

    Professional Holding Corp. reportedly loaned $11.2 million to Trump's family in 2018 to purchase a property next to Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. The banking institution also held a money-market account valued between $5 million and $25 million in Trump's name.

    Less than a week after the chaos at the Capitol, two of Trump's biggest lenders ditched him following the controversy. Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank, which has reportedly $340 million in loans outstanding to the Trump Organization, said they would no longer do business with the former president or his companies.

    Christiana Riley, who is head of Deutsche Bank's U.S. operations, issued a statement following the riots at the U.S. Capitol building.

    "We are proud of our Constitution and stand by those who seek to uphold it to ensure that the will of the people is upheld and a peaceful transition of power takes place," Riley wrote.

    New York-based Signature Bank also ended its relationship with Trump. The banking institution closed two of Trump's personal accounts worth approximately $5.3 million, according to Bloomberg, citing two people with knowledge on the matter.

    Signature Bank also called for then-President Trump to resign before his term officially ended on Jan. 20.

    "We believe the appropriate action would be the resignation of the president of the United States, which is in the best interests of our nation and the American people," the bank said in a statement on Jan. 11. "We have never before commented on any political matter and hope to never do so again."

    The report also stated that Signature Bank would not do any business in the future with members of Congress who voted to not certify the Electoral College results.

    Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-N.Y.) said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will deliver an article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate on Monday.

  • Congresswoman Lauren Boebert introduces bills to resist Biden's executive orders on Paris agreement, WHO, and mask mandate Sun, 24 Jan 2021 20:15:00 +0000

    Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert is taking on three of President Joe Biden's flurry of executive orders that he signed within days of being sworn in.

    The freshman lawmaker introduced her first bill in Congress. In fact, she introduced her first three bills in Congress, and they all target Biden's executive orders.

    In one of Biden's first actions in office, he rejoined the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Boebert's bill would prevent the United States from spending any money on the Paris Agreement until the treaty is ratified by the Senate.

    "Joe Biden took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. If he wants to keep it, he must transmit the job-killing Paris Agreement to the U.S. Senate for ratification," Boebert said in a statement. "Unilaterally entering the Paris Agreement was wrong in 2016 and it's wrong now. Responsible energy production supports more than 230,000 Colorado jobs. The Paris Agreement puts these jobs at risk and will increase energy costs."

    Biden signed an executive order reversing former President Donald Trump's decision to leave the World Health Organization. Rep. Boebert's bill would "prohibit the availability of United States contributions to the World Health Organization until Congress receives a full report on China and the COVID–19 pandemic."

    "The WHO is China-centric and panders to Beijing at every turn," the representative from Colorado claimed. "There is no reason U.S. taxpayers should contribute more than $400 million annually to an organization that covered for China and failed to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic."

    "We must not let the Chinese Communist Party off the hook," Boebert said. "We must hold the WHO accountable. Joe Biden failed to do either of those things and his edict yesterday only emboldens Beijing. Rejoining the WHO without ensuring accountability for the American people is the wrong move."

    Earlier this month, the State Department revealed that it had new evidence that may point to coronavirus emerged from a virology laboratory in Wuhan. China has denied the allegations that COVID-19 originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

    Trump halted all funding to the WHO in April. In 2019, the United States was the top funder of the WHO, providing over $400 million, which is about 15% of its budget.

    The third bill would overturn the Biden administration's mask mandate on all federal property and federal buildings. Biden's executive order also applies to interstate commerce, which means requiring face masks to be worn at airports, on planes, buses, and trains.

    "You can't make this stuff up. Joe Biden was on federal land without a mask the same day he signed a federal property mask mandate," Boebert chided. "Sadly, this is what we've come to expect from hypocritical Democrats. 'Mandates for thee, but not for me.'"

    On Inauguration Day, Biden was maskless on a federal property only hours after signing an executive order that requires Americans to wear face masks on federal property.

    Cosponsors of Boebert's bills include Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Tedd Budd (R-N.C.), Ben Cline (R-Va.), Bob Good (R-Va.), Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Mary Miller (R-Ill.), Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), August Pfluger (R-Texas), Randy Weber (R-Texas), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), and David Rouzer (R-N.C.).

    None of these bills are expected to gain much traction in the Democratic-controlled House.

    Previously, Boebert caused a foofaraw after she said that she was going to bring her firearm to work with her at the Capitol. Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez later grumbled that she didn't "feel safe around other members of Congress."

  • Mitt Romney claims 'truth and justice' require Senate to hold impeachment trial against Trump Sun, 24 Jan 2021 19:15:17 +0000

    Republican Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) claimed Sunday that the Senate will conduct a second impeachment trial against now-former President Donald Trump in order to uphold "truth and justice."

    What did Romney say?

    Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Romney told show host Chris Wallace that an impeachment trial is necessary to hold Trump accountable for the deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, as well as his controversial call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

    In fact, Romney said "truth and justice" demand another trial.

    "Well, we're certainly going to have a trial. I wish that weren't necessary, but the president's conduct with regards to the call to Secretary of State Raffensperger in Georgia as well as the incitation towards the insurrection that led to the attack on the Capitol call for a trial," Romney said.

    "And, you know, if we're going to have unity in our country, I think it's important to recognize the need for accountability, for truth and justice," the Utah senator added.

    Romney, of course, did not reveal how he would vote during the trial. But Romney did say that the article of impeachment passed by the House two weeks ago "suggests impeachable conduct."

    "I will do my best as a Senate juror to apply justice as well as I can understand it," Romney promised.

    Romney went on to say:

    I think it's pretty clear that over the last year or so there has been an effort to corrupt the election in the United States. It was not by President Biden, it was by President Trump.That corruption we saw with regards to the conduct in Ukraine, as well as the call to Secretary of State Raffensperger, as well as the incitation to insurrection. This is obviously very serious and an attack on the very foundation of our democracy and is something which has to be considered and resolved.

    What's the background?

    Despite the fact that Trump is no longer president, the Senate will begin the impeachment trial on Feb. 8, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

    However, the effort will unlikely end in Trump's conviction because the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote for conviction, meaning 67 senators would have to vote in favor of convicting Trump. The Senate is currently split 50-50, which means 17 Republicans would have to support conviction.

    In Trump's first Senate trial, Romney was the only Republican senator who voted for conviction.

    Meanwhile, other Democratic lawmakers have suggested leveraging the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment to bar Trump from ever holding office again.

  • 33 missing children rescued in anti-human trafficking operation in California Sun, 24 Jan 2021 17:30:00 +0000

    A multi-agency anti-human trafficking operation led by the FBI rescued 33 missing children in southern California. The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the news about the investigation on Friday in a press release.

    Operation Lost Angels launched on Jan. 11 and found 33 "vulnerable missing children," eight of which were said to be being sexually exploited or trafficked when law enforcement saved them, according to the feds.

    "Two were recovered multiple times during the operation while on the 'track,' a common term used to describe a known location for commercial sex trafficking," the FBI said. "It is not uncommon for victims who are rescued to return to commercial sex trafficking either voluntarily or by force, fraud, or coercion."

    "This harmful cycle highlights the challenges victims face and those faced by law enforcement when attempting to keep victims from returning to an abusive situation," the news release stated. "Victims may not self-identify as being trafficked or may not even realize they're being trafficked."

    The operation resulted in the arrest of a suspected human trafficker on state charges. One of the minors had been unlawfully kidnapped by a parent.

    "The FBI considers human trafficking modern day slavery and the minors engaged in commercial sex trafficking are considered victims," FBI assistant director Kristi K. Johnson said. "While this operation surged resources over a limited period of time with great success, the FBI and our partners investigate child sex trafficking every day of the year and around the clock."

    In 2020, the FBI conducted 664 human trafficking investigations across the country, which resulted in the arrests of 473 human traffickers.

    Operation Lost Angels, which was executed during Human Trafficking Awareness Month, involved more than two dozen law enforcement departments, including the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, San Diego Police Department, California Highway Patrol, and the United States Marshal's Service.

    The U.S. Marshals have been involved in numerous successful operations to find missing children in the past year.

    In November, the U.S. Marshals rescued 27 missing children in Virginia during "Operation Find Our Children."

    In October, the Marshals announced the recovery of 45 missing and endangered children in Ohio and West Virginia during "Operation Autumn Hope." The operation led to 179 arrests that were made by the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force.

    On Oct. 1, the Marshals Service announced they rescued 11 children in New Orleans, two of which were said to be in "extreme danger."

    On Sept. 21, U.S. Marshals rescued 35 missing children during "Operation Safety Net" in Ohio.

    On Sept. 17, U.S. Marshals Service executed "Operation Triple Beam," a 60-day mission to decrease violent gang crime in Oklahoma City. U.S. Marshals made 262 arrests, seized illegal firearms and narcotics, as well as located five missing children.

    On Sept. 4, Marshals declared that they had rescued eight "highly endangered" missing children in Indiana during "Operation Homecoming."

    On Aug. 27, "Operation Not Forgotten" resulted in the discovery of 39 missing children in Georgia and Florida. Authorities said the children were between the ages of 3 to 17. Of the 39 endangered children, 15 were victims of sex trafficking.

  • VIDEO: Tacoma police vehicle plows through crowd, officer placed on leave Sun, 24 Jan 2021 16:30:00 +0000

    A Tacoma Police officer has been temporarily placed on leave after plowing through a crowd in Washington state. The dramatic and graphic scene was captured on video.

    Tacoma Police were responding to a "car meet" that allegedly got "out of control." Video shows cars doing "burnouts" and "donuts" in the middle of an intersection. The car meet had "approximately 100 people present blocking the intersection when officers arrived on scene," the Tacoma Police said in a press release.

    At one point, one of the vehicles doing donuts appears to hit an onlooker.

    (Content Warning: Graphic content):

    "Tacoma Police officers responding to the location began clearing the intersection of vehicles and people for the safety of those gathered and people trying to use the street," the police department stated.

    The Tacoma Police Department statement said the crowd surrounded the vehicle, and people "hit the body of the police vehicle and its windows as the officer was stopped in the street."

    "The officer, fearing for his safety, tried to back up, but was unable to do so because of the crowd," the press release said. "The officer had his lights and sirens activated. While trying to extricate himself from an unsafe position, the officer drove forward striking one individual and may have impacted others."

    Videos from the scene of the incident show the stopped police SUV and the crowd gathered around it. Then the police vehicle accelerates forward, plowing into the crowd. The vehicle knocks several people to the ground, and one man is seen in the video being run over by the front and rear tires.

    (Content Warning: Graphic content):

    One person sustained a laceration from the incident and was transported to a local hospital. The police were unaware of the person's condition.

    City Manager Elizabeth Pauli told the News Tribune that the officer driving the vehicle would be placed on leave. The investigation has been turned over to the Pierce County Force Investigation Team.

    "I am concerned that our department is experiencing another use of deadly force incident," interim Tacoma Police Chief Mike Ake said. "I send my thoughts to anyone who was injured in tonight's event, and am committed to our Department's full cooperation in the independent investigation and to assess the actions of the department's response during the incident."

    Video shows Tacoma police vehicle driving over at least one person on a crowded street

  • Tucker Carlson reveals email sent to ICE officers after Biden's deportation order: 'Release them all, immediately' Sun, 24 Jan 2021 15:30:00 +0000

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson revealed Friday that his team exclusively obtained an email showing how Immigration and Customs Enforcement was directed to carry out one of President Joe Biden's executive orders on immigration.

    What's the background?

    After entering office on Wednesday, Biden signed numerous executive orders, many of which reversed the policies of his predecessor, now-former President Donald Trump.

    One of the executive orders enacted "a 100-day pause on deportations for some undocumented immigrants," according to the Texas Tribune.

    More from the Texas Tribune:

    The pause in deportations, which begins Friday, is part of a review and reset of enforcement policies within Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agencies as the Biden administration "develops its final priorities," according to a DHS statement.

    The moratorium applies to "certain noncitizens ordered deported to ensure we have a fair and effective immigration enforcement system focused on protecting national security, border security, and public safety" according to the DHS. That category excludes any immigrant who is "suspected of terrorism or espionage, or otherwise poses a danger to the national security of the United States," those who entered after Nov. 1 and those who have voluntarily waived any rights to remain in the country, according to a DHS memo.

    What did the email say?

    Carlson said that his team obtained an internal email sent to ICE officers in Texas.

    The email read, "As of midnight tonight, stop all removals. This includes Mexican bus runs, charter flights and commercial removals (until further notice) ... all cases are to be considered [no significant likelihood of removal in foreseeable future]."

    "Release them all, immediately. No sponsor available is not acceptable any longer," the message added.

    According to Carlson, the directive is the "result of the complete chaos" that resulted from Biden's sweeping executive order.

    The official who sent the email noted that he was just "the messenger" explaining the directive. In other words, It wasn't his idea. It was Joe Biden's. Now, this email was news to us. The memorandum from the Biden administration to halt deportations did not call for people here illegally to be released from detention. So we made some calls, and we learned that the Department of Homeland Security is currently hammering out how to enact the memorandum. It does not specifically call for the instant release of all migrants in detention.

    So what was this memo about? Just the result of the complete chaos that resulted when the incoming administration changed a policy this big on its first day without explaining what it means.

    EXCLUSIVE: Tucker obtains 'shocking' internal email sent to ICE officers

    As TheBlaze reported, Biden is expected to introduce comprehensive immigration reform within the beginning months of his administration in a massive package that will include a "pathway to citizenship" for illegal immigrants.

    Biden is also expected to reverse or roll back most of Trump's immigration policies.

  • Democrats explore using Constitution against Trump to bar him from ever holding office again Sun, 24 Jan 2021 14:20:00 +0000

    Influential Democratic lawmakers have suggested in recent days that Congress should leverage the U.S. Constitution to prevent now-former President Donald Trump from ever holding office again.

    What are the details?

    Democrats eager to hold Trump "accountable" for the deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 are exploring avenues of punishment outside of impeachment.

    One such measure is a provision in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which reads:

    No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

    The 14th Amendment, one of the so-called "Reconstruction Amendments," was ratified in 1868, and is most well-known for its first section, which guarantees "due process of law" and "equal protection of the laws."

    But, according to the Washington Post, the third section was intended "to exclude former Confederates from holding federal and state office."

    What are Democrats saying?

    Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said he is "quite confident" that Congress could use the 14th Amendment against Trump.

    "It's an idea that's out there that I think people are contemplating in the accountability space," Kaine said, according to The Hill. "I just want us to choose a path that maximizes focus on the Biden-Harris agenda."

    Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) agreed that enacting the constitutional provision against Trump was "certainly a possibility."

    "All of these are questions of first impression, in terms of constitutionality," Murphy told The Hill. "I certainly think there is a 14th Amendment avenue separate and aside from impeachment."

    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) further added, "The remedies of the 14th Amendment certainly may be appropriate for someone who incites an insurrection as Donald Trump did."

    Could Democrats actually do it?

    Whether or not the 14th Amendment could be used as a mechanism to prohibit Trump from ever holding office again is a complicated matter of constitutional law that would likely require years to answer.

    Still, Democrats are intent on holding Trump accountable in some manner.

    Despite Trump no longer being president, the Senate is preparing to conduct his second impeachment trial after the House voted earlier this month to impeach him for "incitement of insurrection."

    The Senate trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 8.

  • Biden reeled in more 'dark money' than any other candidate in history, majorly outpaced Trump donations: report Sun, 24 Jan 2021 00:45:00 +0000

    President Joe Biden received a record-breaking amount of "dark money" from anonymous contributors that helped propel him into the White House. A Bloomberg report found that the Biden campaign accepted more dark money than any other presidential candidate in American history.

    During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden reportedly reeled in a record-breaking $145 million, topping the previous record of $113 million that Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) received in his failed 2012 presidential bid against Barack Obama.

    Former President Donald Trump's dark money donations majorly dwarfed Biden's, and he purportedly only received $28.4 million from anonymous donors.

    A report from CNN in late November stated, "More than $320 million of so-called 'dark money' helped boost Democrats in the White House and congressional races -- more than double the anonymous dollars that aided Republicans in this year's federal elections, a new analysis shows."

    "It's not surprising that Biden set the mark given that the $1.5 billion he hauled in overall was the most ever for a challenger to an incumbent president," Yahoo News reported.

    Meredith McGehee, the executive director of campaign finance reform advocacy group Issue One, told Bloomberg, "The whole point of dark money is to avoid public disclosure while getting private credit."

    Open Secrets, the self-proclaimed "most comprehensive resource for federal campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis available anywhere," defines dark money as "spending meant to influence political outcomes where the source of the money is not disclosed."

    The South China Morning Post said Biden's campaign had previously "called for banning some types of non-profits from spending money to influence elections and requiring that any organization spending more than $10,000 to influence elections to register with the FEC and disclose its donors."

    Amy Kurtz, executive director of the left-leaning nonprofit Sixteen Thirty Fund, said, "We have lobbied in favor of reform to the current campaign finance system, but we remain equally committed to following the current laws to level the playing field for progressives."

    Despite running a super-PAC supporting Biden, Even Cecil said her group supports campaign finance reform, "We still look forward to the day when unlimited money and super- PACs are a thing of the past."

    Democrats enjoyed a record-breaking third quarter of 2020 where the political party raised $1.5 billion through left-leaning crowd-funding website ActBlue over three months, according to Politico.

    A Biden spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment by Bloomberg.

  • Amazon claims in-person vote only way to ensure 'valid, fair' union election Sat, 23 Jan 2021 23:33:26 +0000

    Amazon is reportedly attempting to prohibit employees at an Alabama warehouse from participating in an upcoming unionization vote with mail-in ballots.

    What's the background?

    Because of the coronavirus pandemic, a significant portion of American voters participated in the 2020 election by casting mail-in ballots. In fact, data from the Pew Research Center found that nearly half of American voters — 46% — cast an absentee or mail-in ballot.

    Democrats heavily pushed mail-in voting, likely because mail-in ballots would allow more voters to participate in the election process. Republicans, however, generally opposed mail-in voting, arguing that conducting a large portion of the election by mail potentially increased the potential that voter fraud could mar election integrity.

    What's happening with Amazon?

    Amazon filed an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board on Thursday over the agency's decision permitting the nearly 6,000 employees who work inside Amazon's Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse to participate in the unionization election through mail-in ballots.

    Instead, Amazon wants the election to be conducted in-person.

    From the Washington Post:

    Amazon argued in one of two filings that the agency's pandemic-voting policy is flawed, in part because it fails to define what a covid-19 "outbreak" actually is. That guidance "reflected assumptions developed comparatively earlier in the pandemic — before scientific understanding of the virus and possible precautions had developed to where it is today," Amazon says in the filing.

    In fact, Lisa Henderson, the acting regional director of the NLRB's Atlanta office, told Amazon that requiring the unionization vote to be conducted in-person "could disenfranchise voters who have covid-19 or are concerned about contracting the disease," the Post reported.

    "A mail ballot election will enfranchise employees who cannot enter the voting location for health reasons or due to positive COVID tests," the NLRB decision stated, CNN reported. "In addition, a mail ballot election will protect the health and safety of voters, Agency personnel, the parties' representatives, and the public during the current health crisis."

    What did Amazon say?

    Amazon spokesperson Heather Knox told CNN in a statement that Amazon is fighting for an in-person election because it is "the best approach to a valid, fair and successful election is one that is conducted manually, in-person, making it easy for associates to verify and cast their vote in close proximity to their workplace."

    The effort by the Bessemer employees to unionize is the first by Amazon employees in seven years.

  • Unions that endorsed Biden are now criticizing him for canceling Keystone pipeline that will 'kill thousands of good-paying union jobs!' Sat, 23 Jan 2021 22:45:00 +0000

    Unions that endorsed Joe Biden for president are experiencing some buyer's remorse only days after his inauguration. In one of his first actions in the White House, President Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline. Now, the unions that supported Biden are criticizing the newly-elected president for the political move that they say will "kill thousands of good-paying union jobs!"

    The Keystone XL pipeline was first proposed in 2008, but the Obama administration vetoed the 1,200-mile pipeline in November 2015. On his fourth day in office, former President Donald Trump signed an executive order to advance the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline project, which would pump 35 million gallons of crude oil a day from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska.

    Citing climate change concerns, the Biden administration announced on Wednesday it would revoke the federal permits for the Keystone XL pipeline.

    The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest. The United States and the world face a climate crisis. That crisis must be met with action on a scale and at a speed commensurate with the need to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory. At home, we will combat the crisis with an ambitious plan to build back better, designed to both reduce harmful emissions and create good clean-energy jobs. Our domestic efforts must go hand in hand with U.S. diplomatic engagement. Because most greenhouse gas emissions originate beyond our borders, such engagement is more necessary and urgent than ever. The United States must be in a position to exercise vigorous climate leadership in order to achieve a significant increase in global climate action and put the world on a sustainable climate pathway. Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration's economic and climate imperatives.

    TC Energy Corporation, the Canadian company behind the Keystone XL pipeline project, said they would cut more than 11,000 jobs.

    Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta, appeared on Fox News' "The Story," where he said that Biden's move "kills thousands of union labor jobs on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border and counterintuitively makes the United States more dependent on 'dictatorships' for its energy needs."

    Andy Black, president and CEO of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, said, "Killing 10,000 jobs and taking $2.2 billion in payroll out of workers' pockets is not what Americans need or want right now."

    \Biden was also slammed for canceling the Keystone XL pipeline by the same unions who endorsed him in the 2020 election.

    "Pipeline construction has been a lifeline for many #LIUNA members across the country," the Laborers' International Union of North America said. "The anticipated decision to cancel the Keystone Pipeline will kill thousands of good-paying UNION jobs!"

    In September, LIUNA "proudly" endorsed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, claiming the Democrats "stand out as the blue-collar candidates."

    On Nov. 7, 2020, Terry O'Sullivan, General President of LIUNA, stated, "Together, we helped push Joe Biden and Kamala Harris over the top, and we helped elect many pro-union, pro-labor, and pro-family candidates to office."

    "Deeply disappointed," the head of the North American Building Trades Unions, which endorsed then-candidate Biden in October, said.

    The United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters endorsed Biden for president in August.

    "We're not going to sit on the sidelines at the UA. This endorsement is about putting UA members to work and fighting for fair wages and good benefits. Under a Biden Administration, that's exactly what we'll get," said Mark McManus, General President of the United Association. "Let's be real: nobody in the Oval Office will be with us on every single issue. But with his long history of standing shoulder to shoulder with working families and his commitment to an all-of-the-above energy approach that will mean more UA jobs, protecting the hard-earned retirements of our members, and appointing union-friendly judges, Joe Biden will be a fierce ally to our UA Brothers and Sisters in the White House."

    Then this week, the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters condemned the Biden administration.

    "In revoking this permit, the Biden Administration has chosen to listen to the voices of fringe activists instead of union members and the American consumer on Day 1. Let me be very clear: When built with union labor by the men and women of the United Association, pipelines like Keystone XL remain the safest and most efficient modes of energy transportation in the world. Sadly, the Biden Administration has now put thousands of union workers out of work. For the average American family, it means energy costs will go up and communities will no longer see the local investments that come with pipeline construction," said Mark McManus, General President of the United Association.
  • Biden attacked Trump's handling of COVID. But data show Trump nearly accomplished Biden's vaccine goal. Sat, 23 Jan 2021 21:45:00 +0000

    President Joe Biden touted his coronavirus vaccination plan, which aims to inoculate 100 million Americans within the first 100 days of his administration, as a "wartime undertaking."

    But, in fact, Biden's plan "underwhelms," according to Bloomberg News. That's because America was averaging nearly 1 million vaccinations per day under now-former President Donald Trump.

    What are the details?

    One of Biden's central campaign messages was to attack Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden promised his administration would enact more effective policies to combat the virus, and its devastating impact on the economy and American life.

    Part of Biden's plan, then, is mobilization of vaccine distribution to achieve an innoculation rate of 1 million Americans per day, thereby reaching 100 million vaccinations within the first 100 days of his presidency.

    But Trump already accomplished that. In fact, not only did vaccinations average nearly 1 million per day under Trump, but many days significantly topped that average.

    From the New York Post:

    Biden's first full day in office on Thursday saw 1.3 million Americans inoculated against the deadly coronavirus, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. But the same figures show that 1.3 million shots were administered on Jan. 11 and that 1.1 million were given both Jan. 14 and 16. Vaccinations also hit a record-high, 1.6 million on Wednesday, when Biden was sworn into office, according to the data.

    Biden was actually confronted about this fact on Thursday. In response, the new president lashed out at the reporter who pointed out that Trump had already essentially accomplished his vaccination goal.

    "Mr. president, you set the goal at 100 million vaccines at a hundred days, is that high enough?" Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller asked. "Shouldn't you set the bar higher, that's basically where we are now."

    Biden responded, "When I announced it, you all said it was not possible. C'mon, give me a break man!"

    Anything else?

    The Biden administration already has been spinning its COVID-19 response with help from the mainstream media.

    On Thursday, CNN reported, citing Biden administration officials, that Trump's administration did not have a usable COVID vaccination plan in place, forcing the Biden administration to build one from scratch.

    "There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch," CNN reported the anonymous official as saying.

    The claim was quickly shot down by others in the media and eventually Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to Biden.

    Sam Stein of Politico and MSNBC said, "Biden folks are spinning here or trying to lower the bar strategically. There was, indeed, a plan from Trump. I listened in on govs calls on vaccine distribution. The plan had obvious shortcomings. but to say there's nothing to rework is not true."

    Meanwhile, Fauci explained, "We're certainly not starting from scratch, because there is activity going on in the distribution. ... I mean we're coming in with fresh ideas, but also some ideas with ... the previous administration. You can't say it was absolutely not usable at all."

    House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) pointed out, "Biden wants you to believe '100 million vaccines in 100 days' is his plan. But it's not. It was Trump's. America is already on track for 100 million in 100 days. Biden could do 200 million in 100 days. Republicans would support it. Thanks to Trump, he's already halfway there."

  • Hollywood actor slammed for xenophobic tweet mocking Melania Trump's accent Sat, 23 Jan 2021 20:00:00 +0000

    Actor Tim Matheson faced swift backlash after insulting Melania Trump over her foreign accent that some deemed to be "xenophobic." The 73-year-old Hollywood actor, who is best known for his role as Eric "Otter" Stratton in the movie "National Lampoon's Animal House," tried to tweet his way out of trouble for ridiculing the former first lady.

    While delivering a compliment to first lady Jill Biden, Matheson took a shot at Melania, who grew up in Slovenia before leaving for Italy after she signed a contract with a modeling agency in Milan at age 18.

    In the since-deleted tweet, Matheson wrote, "So wonderful to have a First Lady with class and heart. And, can speak English!"

    Matheson attempted to smooth over the degrading affront against Melania by saying, "This morning I made a hasty and stupid joke about the former First Lady. It wasn't funny, and it was in poor taste. It was regretful and humorless and I apologize."

    However, Twitter users pointed out that Matheson also deleted a previous tweet where he doubled-down on maligning Melania.

    "Comedy is sometimes cruelly honest," the thespian maintained. "The ex-First Lady doesn't have any of my respect for anything. Sorry."

    Matheson, who played Vice President John Hoynes on the TV drama "The West Wing," was shellacked with retribution from online commenters over his denigratory jab.

    One Twitter user replied, "It's because you're an out of touch actor no surprise. Stay ignorant ya racist."

    Another person burst out, "You're a xenophobe and bigot. Your comments open yourself and any company you work for to discrimination lawsuits. I hope your victims of workplace harassment and discrimination come forward."

    A son of immigrants schooled the actor, "Tim, my parents were doctors in Cuba who came to the US escaping Castro. After years of hard work they got their MD's again and practiced for 30 years. Still, throughout their professional lives here there were always fools like you who mocked their accents."

    One critic added, "Yeah, showing your true colors. Love immigrants until they get here and become Americans and don't think the way you think they should and then you loathe them."

    This isn't the first time a liberal Hollywood actor attacked Melania over her accent. Bette Midler bashed the former first lady in August for Melania's speech during the Republican National Convention.

    "#beBest is back! A UGE bore! She can speak several words in a few languages. Get that illegal alien off the stage!" Middler mocked Melania. "Oh, God. She still can't speak English."

    Middler was also smashed with backlash for her xenophobia.

    Middler then attempted to justify the hateful remarks by saying, "Just giving them a taste of their own immigrant bashing medicine."

    Following even more outrage, Middler finally bent the knee and mustered up an apology.

    "Well, all hell has broken loose because I said Melania 'still can't speak English' last night," she tweeted. "I was wrong to make fun of her accent. America is made up people who speak with all kinds of accents, and they are all welcomed always."

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