GOP senators demand impeachment trial as government shutdown looms

With a government shutdown looming, 13 Republican senators, led by Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Texas’ pretend cowboy Sen. Ted Cruz, released a letter they said they sent to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell demanding he make a big stink about holding an impeachment trial for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Lee even posted a copy of the letter with some vaguely legible signatures to his X (formerly Twitter) account. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to dismiss the bogus bit of political theater.

The Republican-led House was able to impeach Mayorkas after one embarrassing failure of an attempt, making it the first time a Cabinet official has been impeached in 150 years. The Senate GOP members making hay out of the impeachment process continue to remind the public how Democratic officials proved (and Republican officials admitted) the entire exercise was disingenuous.

The letter, which was signed by Sens. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Eric Schmitt, Rick Scott, Ron Johnson, J.D. Vance, Roger Marshall, Josh Hawley, Mike Braun, Tommy Tuberville, Ted Budd, Cynthia Lummis, and Marsha Blackburn, contains a lot of what we have come to expect from the do-nothing Republican Party. The general pantomime of the GOP around the impeachment of Mayorkas involves an imaginary belief that the GOP is strong on border security. It is fitting that conservative senators like Lee, who voted against the bipartisan border security deal, would also spend their time trying to create a political theater production of impeachment instead of making the hard compromises and decisions needed to get things done.

Senators like Cruz have used their party’s disarray to take shots at current leaders like McConnell. On Sunday, Cruz told Fox News that “if Republican leadership in the Senate doesn’t like the criticism, here’s an opportunity to demonstrate some backbone.” Cruz and Lee are joined by self-promoters like Sen. Josh Hawley, who has had his own public spats with Republican leadership in recent months.

The government is set to shut down on March 1. House Republicans seem unable to chew gum and … chew gum. Senate Republicans who spent many decades in lockstep with McConnell’s leadership seem to have lost the ability to tie their shoes. The Senate is coming off of an 11-day recess. McConnell has not responded to inquiries from media outlets for his response to the letter as of the writing of this story.

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Ohhhhh yeah! Democrats kicked ass and then some in Tuesday's special election in New York, so of course we're talking all about it on this week's episode of "The Downballot." Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard explain how Tom Suozzi's win affects the math for Democrats' plan to take back the House, then dive into the seemingly bottomless list of excuses Republicans have been making to handwave their defeat away. The bottom line: Suozzi effectively neutralized attacks on immigration—and abortion is still a huge loser for the GOP.

GOP congresswoman defends Trump’s Nazi talking points

Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of New York went on CNN Monday evening to defend Donald Trump’s recent fascist rhetoric. Specifically, Trump’s transparent use of Nazi references to racial impurity, saying things like immigration is “poisoning the blood of our country.” 

Host Abby Phillip attempted to get Malliotakis to admit that, at the very least, Trump’s repeated use of authoritarian rhetoric was worrying, reminding her that Malliotakis’ own origin story includes being the daughter of a Cuban refugee. Malliotakis didn’t see it that way:

Abby Phillip: Let's talk for a second here about the fact that Trump continuously, repeatedly uses this rhetoric that now maybe you could say the first time he didn't know the references, the parallels to authoritarians—he knows now. Why does he keep saying it over and over again?

Nicole Malliotakis: Well, look, I just think he's trying to bring attention to the issue.

Is there anyone more narrow-minded and group-thinky than a Republican lawmaker? In Malliotakis’ defense, she has maintained a rather stolid hypocrisy when it comes to immigration policy. Her 2022 campaign for the 11th District of New York consisted of attacking asylum-seekers.

What makes this an extra-special kind of hypocrisy is that Malliotakis is willing to defend the heinous rhetoric of Trump, a man she herself claimed in 2017 to have regretted voting for. Of course, that was when she was running for mayor of New York City, a place where Trump isn’t well liked.

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Sec. of Homeland Security Mayorkas takes Josh Hawley down hard during contentious hearing

On Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. With recent events in Israel hanging over the proceedings, the annual “Threats to the Homeland” hearing focused on rising antisemitism, along with fears of domestic terrorism.

Because Sen. Josh Hawley and his GOP colleagues use all homeland security hearings to promote Republican xenophobia, he brought up a story that has preoccupied right-wing media, concerning a DHS employee who shared pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel posts on Facebook and Instagram. Hawley demanded to know if the employee in question had been fired, painting it as a pervasive issue within the department. Mayorkas explained there is a proper investigative process and that the employee in question is on administrative leave until the investigation concludes.

Ever the prick, Hawley continued hectoring Mayorkas while not allowing him to respond. Mayorkas appealed to the chair to give his uninterrupted answer, then laid Hawley out for the entire world to see.

Number one, what I found despicable is the implication that this language, tremendously odious, actually could be emblematic of the sentiments of the 260,000 men and women of the Department of Homeland Security. Number one.

Number two, Senator Hawley takes an adversarial approach to me in this question, and perhaps he doesn't know my own background. Perhaps he does not know that I am the child of a Holocaust survivor. Perhaps he does not know that my mother lost almost all her family at the hands of the Nazis. And so I find his adversarial tone to be entirely misplaced. I find it to be disrespectful of me and my heritage, and I do not expect an apology. But I did want to say what I just articulated. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mayorkas has been a target of extremist conservatives for some time, who have tried to scapegoat him as part of their war on immigrants. Mayorkas, the first Latino and immigrant to helm the Department of Homeland Security, has had the gall to be ever-so-slightly more humane in his treatment of asylum-seekers than the previous administration, and as a result has received a lot of right-wing hatred and racism.

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‘The next entitlement program’? Public pools are disappearing, actually

Some recent media coverage has drawn attention to the disappearance of public pools across the United States, and the deadly consequences of that disappearance. Right-wing media dude Erick Erickson sees an opening for outrage, because if you’re in the right-wing media, manufacturing outrage is your bread and butter.

“Starting to see more and more progressives demand public swimming pools,” Erickson tweeted. “Get ready for the next entitlement program.”

Erickson is clearly responding at least in part to a boomlet of media coverage of the decline of investment in public pools in the United States. CNN recently weighed in with some key facts: In 2015, there was one public pool per 34,000 people. That’s down to one per 38,000 people now. But that’s a very short time frame. Consider this: Around 20 years ago, Louisville, Kentucky, had 10 public pools for 550,000 people. Now it’s five for 640,000 people.

Much of the recent shift has been about disinvestment in public goods, things that benefit everyone, as Republicans push privatization of just about every possible government service. But if you go back a little further to the middle of the 20th century and desegregation, you get to some really ugly stuff. In some cities, there were full-on race riots as public pools were desegregated and Black people showed up to swim. In 1949 in St. Louis, for instance, a mob of thousands of white people showed up at the Fairground Park Pool as the first Black swimmers were allowed in. The pool was resegregated in response to the violence—Black people banned from swimming because of white people’s violence—and when it was integrated again the next year, white attendance plummeted. The pool closed six years later. Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., also had race riots over pool integration in the 1940s.

In some places, white people threw acid, bleach, or nails into pools to keep Black people out of them. Cities closed pools, filling them with concrete rather than countenancing integration. Swimming became a privatized activity, with the number of private swimming pools—at country clubs or at homes—soaring. Racism then fed into and combined with a pattern we see again and again: When rich people have access to something privately, public investment in it plummets.

When Erickson sneers about ”the next entitlement program,” he’s talking about something that has been in decline for decades as a direct result of two factors: racism and Republican economic policy.

The loss of public pools has deadly effects. In another of the pieces that likely spurred Erickson to try to manufacture outrage over the possibility of public pools, The New York Times’ Mara Gay recently wrote:

Drowning is the leading cause of death among 1- to 4-year-olds, the second-leading cause of accidental deaths by injury among children 5 to 14, and the third-leading cause of accidental death by injury for Americans 24 years and younger. Younger Black adolescents are more than three times as likely to drown as their white peers; Native American and Alaskan Native young adults are twice as likely to drown as white Americans. Eight in 10 drowning victims in the United States are male. Children with autism are 160 times as likely to drown or experience near-fatal drowning, a serious medical event that can cause severe and often permanent physical harm. The C.D.C. estimates that drowning costs the U.S. economy $53 billion each year.

That’s a lot of dead kids, and many of them are dead because there was nowhere safe for them to learn to swim. When it’s hot out—and thanks to climate change, it’s hotter and hotter—people tend to go in the water even if they don't know how to swim, and even if there are no safe options with qualified lifeguards. According to a 2017 study by the USA Swimming Foundation, 87% of people with no or low swimming ability nonetheless planned to go swimming that summer.

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The same study found that 40% of white kids had little or no swimming ability, but that was true of 64% of Black kids. Low-income kids were also dramatically more likely to have little or no swimming ability—something you can directly tie to the privatization of swimming. If it costs money to learn to swim, and requires traveling outside your neighborhood to get to the pool, swimming becomes a luxury and a class-based skill.

People calling out these ugly facts is what spurred Erickson to be all incensed about “progressives” agitating for “the next entitlement program.” According to him, something that the United States invested in during the 1930s, building hundreds of public pools during the New Deal, and which gave shape to a defining feature of life for decades is now some kind of loony new idea.

Do you live near a public pool? If you look at where the public pools in your area are located, do you see racial inequalities? In your experience, are public pools more or less available now or when you were a kid?

Trump makes unconstitutional promise to racist base

Seditionist Donald Trump is again a Republican candidate for president. Unfortunately for Trump's new campaign staff, "President" Donald now has an actual White House record behind him, and that's been causing complications. Much of what Trump is now vowing he'll do if put back in the Oval Office is the same stuff he promised to do before—but couldn't or didn't actually deliver.

Most of Trump's new campaign promises, in fact, have been falling into two broad categories. Half of the promises are overtly authoritarian vows, like Trump's threat to pardon the Jan. 6 insurrectionists who attacked Congress on his behalf; the other half are whining assertions that all that stuff he promised he'd do back during the first campaign are things he'll super-duper for sure do next time, just you wait.

The Trump campaign's latest ode de bullshitte combines fascist rhetoric, brazen lying, and a grubby chunk of base racism all into one alleged new promise: Trump says on his first day of office, he will sign an executive order nullifying the Constitution's grant of birthright citizenship to children born inside the United States.

If this sounds familiar, that's because it is. Trump very famously promised this during his last administration, making a big stink of it halfway through his term as a midterm campaign issue.

It didn't happen because the very idea is a goofy crank theory perpetuated by anti-immigrant and racist groups and one that's been widely scorned, if not laughed at, by every legal scholar who is not an outright far-right crank. What we call "birthright citizenship" is enshrined into the Constitution via the 14th Amendment; its validity has been settled law for over 120 years, and even the most fringe of conservative groups pin their hopes on Congress passing new legislation to theoretically strip those 14th Amendment protections.

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That, then, is why "President" Trump's previous vow to issue such an order resulted in absolutely nothing happening; not even his own fringe-right advisers thought he could get away with it. Much like Trump's propositions to nuke hurricanes or purchase the whole of Greenland, Trump's advisers jingled some keys in his face or showed him an especially flattering magazine article and, eventually, were able to redirect his attention. It's showing up again now only because Trump has even worse advisers than he did the first time around, and because it's campaign season. Donald Trump will lie to his base about everything, all the time, even if it means retelling 8-year-old lies in the hopes that his scatterbrained supporters have the memory retention of goldfish.

There is, however, one odd bit of phrasing that caught our eye, if only for its vague twinges of Lovecraftian horror.

In announcing the new campaign pledge, the Trump campaign asserts that Trump's newly promised Day-One executive order "will explain the clear meaning of the 14th Amendment."

Now there's a thought. Forget 120 years of settled law, forget the courts, forget the rest of government: On Day One, Donald Trump will Trumpsplain what the 14th Amendment to the Constitution actually means.

Forget your Draculas, your mummies, your Mothras, and your Cthulhus. You want to know true fear? Imagine a future in which Donald Trump is again "president" and his White House announces that the Constitution of the United States now means whatever the hell the person, woman, man, camera, TV dementia-test-acing Trump thinks it means.

If you want to truly stare into the abyss, pull up a chair and watch the man Trumpsplain that the Third Amendment's prohibition against "quartering troops" in your house doesn't apply if they're all carrying nickels instead.

The Republican presidential primary race looks like it will be shaping up exactly as expected. If you're a Republican presidential primary voter who's really into fascism and being lied to, you don’t need to look any further than Trump. He’s got you covered. And it's not like Republican voters who still support Trump even after four years, two impeachments, one insurrection, and a criminal indictment might draw the line at Trump repeating previous campaign lies.

We could still be in for a surprise or two, though. The man could always jet off to Moscow, set up his own television studio, and spend his waking days Trumpsplaining our Constitution to us from half a world away. It'd be a lot easier on him than dragging himself up and down the White House stairs again, and have very nearly the same results. You might consider it, Donald!

We have Rural Organizing’s Aftyn Behn. Markos and Aftyn talk about what has been happening in rural communities across the country and progressives’ efforts to engage those voters. Behn also gives the podcast a breakdown of which issues will make the difference in the coming elections.


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‘He’s trying to get a rise out of us’: Watch Elaine Chao respond to Trump’s racist taunts

It’s no surprise that when Donald Trump has no argument to make, he resorts to racism and xenophobia. Trump's most recent target has been former U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. He has been relentlessly attacking Chao and her husband, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. While Chao initially stayed quiet in regards to the attacks, she responded back to Trump last week after Trump repeated a racist nickname he has used for her before, the Courier-Journal reported.

In an interview with CNN, Chao called the nickname a "racist taunt" and said he's "trying to get a rise out of us.”

"He says all sorts of outrageous things, and I don't make a point of answering any one of them," Chao said.

After Trump revived his racist nickname of her overnight, Former Trump Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says, “He’s trying to get a rise out of us. He says all sorts of outrageous things, and I don't make a point of answering any of one of them.”

— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) December 29, 2022

The response follows several incidents when Trump was racist towards Chao, including a Sept. 30 post on Truth Social in which he referred to Chao as "Coco Chow."

"Is McConnell approving all of these Trillions of Dollars worth of Democrat sponsored Bills, without even the slightest bit of negotiation, because he hates Donald J. Trump, and he knows I am strongly opposed to them, or is he doing it because he believes in the Fake and Highly Destructive Green New Deal, and is willing to take the Country down with him?" Trump said.

He continued: "In any event, either reason is unacceptable. He has a DEATH WISH. Must immediately seek help and advise from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!"

While it's not new that Trump is making racist attacks on individuals—he’s done that throughout his role in the public eye—the attacks follow Trump’s broken relationship with Chao’s husband.

According to the Courier-Journal, McConnell’s relationship with Trump broke at the end of Trump’s presidency when the Kentucky Republican said Trump is "practically and morally responsible for provoking" the Jan. 6 riots. While McConnell voted to acquit Trump of inciting the insurrection in a 2021 impeachment trial, his previous comments clearly rubbed Trump the wrong way.

But instead of just targeting him, Trump took to targeting his wife, who moved to the U.S. from Taiwan as a child.

Commenting on the language Trump used towards her, Chao said Thursday it's "helpful if the media does not repeat" the racist comment he has been making.

"I mean if it were the N-word or any other word, the media would not repeat it," she said. "But the media continuously repeats his racist taunt."

Trump continues to rant about McConnell and Chao. His latest attack includes claims that they both have a conflict of interest with China.

Trump's racist obsession with Elaine Chao is really something. Almost every day now he mentions her.

— George Conway🌻 (@gtconway3d) January 11, 2023

Comments questioning their interest in China follow a pattern. In another social media post in August, Trump not only called Chao "crazy" but accused McConnell of trying to get “rich on China.” 

Seems like Trump will never learn the value words have. Despite studies showing that several of his comments, including referring to the novel coronavirus as the “China virus,” have encouraged attacks on Asian Americans, Trump continues to perpetuate his hateful rhetoric.

RELATED STORY: 'Hate has no place': This AAPI Heritage Month, let's work on ending anti-Asian hate and bias

When Republicans start saying rational things about violence, they are surely worried

The No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, was quick to extend best wishes to the husband of Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Paul Pelosi, who was violently attacked early Friday morning by an intruder in the couple’s San Francisco home.

"Wishing a full recovery for Paul from this absolutely horrific violent attack," tweeted Stefanik.

It's a departure from her norm. On any given week, Stefanik's twitter account is a fount of racist conspiracy theories demonizing immigrants, people of color, and Democrats.

Last year, Stefanik's social media ads accused "radical Democrats" of plotting "their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION.”

“Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington," claimed the ad, funded by Stefanik's campaign committee.

In a tweet earlier this year, Stefanik referred to the White House and House Democrats as "pedo grifters," invoking an apparent abbreviation for pedophile—an obsession among QAnon conspiracy theorists who believe Democrats run a Satanic child sex-trafficking ring.

So Stefanik's awkward dance with graciousness in the wake of the savage attack on Paul Pelosi looks to be more of a political tell than heartfelt sentiment. It was accompanied by similar out-of-character pronouncements from other GOP leaders on the Hill.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's spokesperson, Mark Bednar, said McCarthy had "reached out to the Speaker to check in on Paul and said he's praying for a full recovery and is thankful they caught the assailant."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted: "Horrified and disgusted by the reports that Paul Pelosi was assaulted in his and Speaker Pelosi's home last night. Grateful to hear that Paul is on track to make a full recovery."

With some notable exceptions, Republican leaders have generally responded appropriately to the tragedy the Pelosi family is enduring, which in these fractious times begs the question: Why?

Because a racist, misogynist, antisemitic conspiracy theorist just broke into the home of one of the most well-known Democrats in the nation yelling, "Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?"

It's unclear if the assailant, David DePape, who years ago listed himself in voting records as a member of the Green Party, officially identifies as a Republican or with the Republican Party. But he appears to be a case study in online radicalization. His Facebook page reportedly included links to multiple videos produced by My Pillow guy Mike Lindell falsely claiming the 2020 election was stolen. The attack was also eerily reminiscent of the seditionists on Jan. 6 roaming the Capitol hallways, calling out, "Nancy, oh, Nancy," and, "Where are you, Nancy? We're looking for you."

It's too early to know exactly what will come to light regarding Depape, but an incident like this is Republicans' worst nightmare in terms of the female suburban voters they are trying to woo back into their corner this cycle.

The last thing Republicans want is some QAnon loon reminding suburban moms what a danger the GOP is to civility across the country, particularly when Republicans premised much of their closing argument on being the party that can tackle crime and keep people safe.

Another book again confirms that Trump wanted the military to ‘just shoot’ BLM protesters

In news we already knew but now know more, er, knowingly, a new book by ex-Trump secretary of defense Mark Esper confirms that yes, Donald Trump really did want to "just shoot" Black Lives Matter protesters rallying near the White House during the 2020 protests. Specifically, Trump said he wanted the U.S. military to "beat the fuck" out of the protesters, and told Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Gen. Mark Milley and other top administration officials to "just shoot them" on several occasions. When Milley and then-attorney general Bill Barr resisted due to the blazing illegality of such an order and, let's assume, not wanting to spend the rest of their lives in prison on this bozo's behalf, Trump modified his proposal to "just shoot them in the legs or something?"

We knew these incidents had taken place because a previous book profiting off the slow death of democracy described them last year; Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender's 2021 book revealed them in similar detail, including Trump's demands to use military force, "beat the fuck" out of protesters, and "shoot them in the leg" or "maybe the foot."

That earlier book also gave us the heartwarming scene in which a fed-up Gen. Milley, tired of White House white nationalist Stephen Miller egging Trump on with claims that parts of the United States were now a "war zone" due to the protests, "spun around in his seat" and told Miller to "shut the fuck up, Stephen." There is no military medal awarded to generals who personally tell Stephen Miller to "shut the fuck up," but there ought to be. We're all perhaps a bit disappointed Milley didn't shoot Miller in the leg or "maybe the foot," but there you go. That's military discipline for you.

What Mark Esper's new book brings to the scene is confirmation by another participant that yes, all of this really did take place and they took place just as previous accounts said. Donald Trump wanted to use the military, and he specifically wanted to use the military to kill protesters or, after meeting resistance from the rest of his staff, shoot them "in the legs" so that they could no longer march against his self-imagined greatness. That Black Lives Matter protesters might have had a legitimate point to make never crossed his mind; that he, as president, was not allowed to simply murder protesters outright was something he struggled to understand even as the top officials who would have to order such murders tried to explain it to him.

Listen to Markos and Kerry Eleveld talk Ukraine and speak with Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler on how hitting back at Republicans helps win elections on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

Truly, the worst president ever. Possibly the worst human being ever, though that's a value judgment—and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is making his own bid for both positions, so Trump may last as America's Worst President for no longer than George W. Bush did before him.

The purpose of Esper's book is self-redemption. Esper was Trump's secretary of defense during a time, post-impeachment, when Trump was widely purging the U.S. government of anyone thought to be disloyal, felt newly emboldened after Senate Republicans immunized him from the consequences of a Watergate-plus sized campaign of political corruption, and was increasingly deemed by many to be dangerously unstable—as he would go on to prove at numerous points during the 2020 campaign and post-election, culminating in an attempted coup. Esper was one of Trump's enforcers, as Trump attempted to do to the military what he was doing everywhere else, only to be replaced after Trump's November election loss with the more-toadying Christopher Miller.

Whatever career Mark Esper once had before Trump appeared on scene is now well and truly gone; he will remembered now alongside William Barr and other Republicans who protected Trump through years of corrupt, self-serving, often-delusional, nation-harming behaviors only to write up books afterwards mumbling that they were Actually against all of the outright evil things all along, or were against at least some vanishingly small number of them, and ought to still be served in public restaurants and invited to Washington parties.

If a sitting president of the United States repeatedly—no, incessantly—asks his staff to do criminal things, anything from the political extortion of an at-war government to further a propaganda effort to requesting that Americans protesting against him simply be murdered, refusing to do the murder part is not bold. Trump's vast and wide-ranging ignorance made him an incompetent leader during every national crisis he was faced with. He could not grasp security briefings, forcing staff to include frequent mentions of him to at least keep him reading; he was so obsessed with self-promotion that he altered government hurricane maps and promoted the altered forecasts rather than admitting to a piffling Twitter mistake; his prescriptions for dealing with pandemic continuously did active harm to the nation, even as his lack of focus made more organized and sensible responses impossible.

All of this was a pattern and was being warned of, incessantly, both long before and during every winter day leading up to a Trump-led attempted coup. His own staff knew of his history of demanding illegal or corrupt actions—and, after his election loss, much of his stalwart-Republican staff helped him take those actions. Some, like chief of staff Mark Meadows, may have played a more pivotal role in attempting to nullify the election than the buffoonish Trump could himself even manage.

You do not get to say, "I worked for the man who soon afterward attempted to end United States democracy," and append "but was of course against the coup part," unless you can provide even a teaspoon of evidence of being "against" the government purges, political purges, manufacturing of hoaxes, flagrant daily lying, contempt for the American public, white nationalism, autocratic demands, and ingrained fascist beliefs that had been laying the groundwork for that outcome through Trump's whole long, crooked descent. There's now an entire cottage industry of hard-right Republican officials who helped Trump do extraordinarily bad and damaging things, but who are propping themselves up now on the pretense that, well, at least they did not support murdering protesters outright, or at least they did not support attempts to capture or murder Trump-opposed House and Senate leaders, or at least they did not help the rest of Trump's staff in schemes to declare that the vice president could scrub out the votes of whatever Americans he wanted to, in order to arrive at whatever election outcome the current leaders of government wished to announce.

You especially cannot respond to an attempt to overthrow democracy itself by demanding that Americans move on while your party allies write new election laws to get around the flaws of the first coup attempt and make a second one easier to muster. You don't get to say, "I am still a Republican," without adding, "even though the party both plotted an election-nullifying coup and is continuing to protect its plotters."

Take your books and shove them. Do something worthy of redemption before demanding it. William Barr, Mark Esper, the blizzard of propagandist-to-news-"analyst" career slides—Americans have every right to treat all of these people with contempt for their parts in normalizing horrific acts, bragging that they prevented even more horrific acts, and demanding the nation move on without any doled-out consequence or comeuppance. We've got library book bans now. We've got a party that has convinced the majority of American voters that our elections are illegitimate—based on a barrage of internet hoaxes and nothing more. White nationalism is now a party plank, such that even mentions of racism in American history are now fodder for public retaliation.

Stuff your books. Abandon your party or do your part to redeem it—or shut the fuck up, Stephen. Nobody has time to give you the attention you seek.

‘Bound to respect’: A reflection on hate and reconciliation after passage of anti-lynching bill

The sacrifice Mamie Till Mobley made when she decided to show the world exactly what hate and racism did to her son Emmett Till was motivated by such profound love for her child that its power altered the course of history.

Most recently, the flame of that legacy has been kept burning by the passage of a federal law named after her son, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, that, once and for all—and after 200 attempts—makes lynching a hate crime in the United States. 

In an interview with Daily Kos, Congressman Al Green of Texas, a Democrat now 74 years old, choked back tears as he weighed the impact of Emmett’s life and what has happened in the decades since his death.

Much has changed, and much, as the nation witnessed with the murder of Ahamud Arbery, has not. 

Green is an American. He is also Black. He was a child like Till when Till was killed in 1955. Green has sat on segregated busses and in segregated movie theaters. He drank from “coloreds only” water fountains. He has known what it is to hurriedly step off a sidewalk to clear the way for white people traveling the same concrete as himself lest he invite trouble, or something much worse, into his life.

So, when the Senate unanimously codified lynching as a crime motivated by hatred, this was no small or rhetorical distinction. Its meaning is not abstract.

As his tears fell, Green cast his eyes all the way back to 1857, a little under 100 years before Till would be mutilated and thrown into Mississippi’s Tallahatchie River by two white men, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam.

That year the Supreme Court decided Dred Scott v. Sandford and Chief Justice Roger Taney ruled that Africans or Black people “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” 

“The whole notion of due process did not apply to Black people, according to Taney,” Green said.

The Dred Scott  case, he remarked, ultimately set the foundation for a deeply flawed belief to take root from the very top of the nation’s power structure on down among those who were racist or ignorant or both. 

The door that Taney opened with his ruling has a through line that can be traced all the way to the Mississippi courtroom where defense attorney Sidney Carlton told an all-white, all male jury that if they did not free Milam and Bryant, their “Anglo-Saxon ancestors” would “turn over in their grave” in shame at the lack of their courage to acquit. 

The jury did acquit and the men lit up cigars in the courtroom and kissed their wives to celebrate after the verdict came down.

Bryant admitted to the murder in 1956, recalling with bravado what he told Till after he abducted him. 

“I just made up my mind. 'Chicago boy,' I said, 'I'm tired of 'em sending your kind down here to stir up trouble. Goddam you, I'm going to make an example of you -- just so everybody can know how me and my folks stand,” Bryant said. 

He called Till ‘Chicago boy’ because the teenager had come to Mississippi from Illinois to visit his cousins. Emmett’s mother had reservations about her son traveling to the South. 

Last December, the Justice Department announced it was renewing an investigation into Till’s murder. Witnesses said Till, just 14, whistled at a white woman, Carolyn Donham Bryant, at a store where she worked in Money, Mississippi. 

A historian, Timothy Tyson, claimed in 2017 that Donham Bryant told him she lied about Till whistling at her. Relatives denied she recanted her remarks, according to the Associated Press, and Donham Bryant told the FBI she never went back on her original story. The DOJ asked Tyson for recordings or transcripts of the admission but he was never able to produce them.

“These two white men went into [Till’s great uncle’s] home and abducted him [at gunpoint]. Somehow, they thought that society expected this of them after this lady had been somehow abused without having been touched, without having any assault perpetrated upon her. So they took him out and brutalized him in ways we can’t imagine,” Green said.

When authorities pulled Till’s naked body from the river, his eye was dislodged from its socket. He was beaten about his hips and back. He had been shot above the right ear. Around his neck with barbed wire, his body had been weighted with a large fan blade. 

Witnesses passing by where Bryant and Milam spent hours torturing Till before his death later said they heard Till crying: “Mama, save me. Please don't do it again.” 

Mamie Till Mobley only recognized the body belonged to her young son because of a ring he wore that somehow, Milam and Bryant had left on Till before throwing him into the river. 

As Green relived these abuses and specifically, how Till’s mother made the choice to expose the horrors of her son’s mutilated body at his funeral without censorship, Green’s voice cracked as he uttered each word thoughtfully.

“Even in the segregated South, there are some things that seem to have an impact beyond what’s anticipated. People saw his body. They saw the mutilation and when they saw it, they knew that there was something inherently wrong with what happened,” Green said. “It was a part of the spark that ignited the civil rights movement.”

Indeed, in the late 1980s the Rev. Jesse Jackson told Vanity Fair that Rosa Parks told him she was motivated by Emmett Till when she refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus. Till had been murdered just 100 days before. 

Bryant and Milam acted with the permission Taney gave them a century ago, Green argued.

“Their actions were indicative of people who felt they were not bound to respect [Emmett Till’s] life,” he said before reflecting back on Emmett’s mother. 

“She changed the course of history because she insisted that her son be shown to the world as he was,” Green said. 

The legislation written in Till’s name and first introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois evokes Mamie in a similar way. It calls out the criminality of hate for what it is and does not seek to dull or hide this abject failure in the nation’s history.

Fast-forwarding to 2019, the Department of Justice reported over 3,900 hate crimes or crimes motivated by race or ethnicity. In 2020 that number shot up to over 5,200 hate crimes. 

Green believes the U.S. is now experiencing the outflows of what he calls the “Trump Effect.” 

“One of the great mistakes of contemporary times was our failure to indict, or more appropriately, impeach President Trump for the hate that he engendered and caused to rear its ugly head in ways that it hasn’t for some time,” Green said as he let out a heavy sigh. 

Green, who has been in office for eight terms, was the first lawmaker in Congress to call for accountability of Trump’s conduct. Long before Trump was impeached for abuse of power, obstruction of Congress, and later, incitement of insurrection, Green was the canary in the coal mine and called for Trump to be impeached no less than three times. 

He demanded Trump be impeached for obstruction of justice when Trump fired FBI director James Comey. Then, Green demanded Trump be impeached after the 45th president lashed out at Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley on Twitter with a series of racist messages. 

Trump had already exhibited a  "long history of abusing his office for the unconstitutional purpose of promoting racism and bigotry,” Green said at the time. 

“He gave people reason to believe that Black people, people of color, women, they had no rights bound to respect,” Green told Daily Kos before reflecting on the white nationalist rally that turned deadly in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Trump gave racists “reason to believe they could march through the streets with tiki torches and say ‘Jews will not replace us’ as their mantra,” Green lamented. 

Trump’s conduct accelerated bad behavior and hateful acts came out more into the open because there was a nod of approval from on high. 

Green reflected on men like George Floyd, a Black man who was killed in Minnesota by a police officer when that officer, Derek Chauvin, kept his knee on Floyd’s neck despite Floyd’s protests and pleas of being unable to breathe. 

“That police officers could put a knee on the neck of a person and watch the life evaporate … I sincerely believe in my soul that they did it because they wanted to teach those who were watching a lesson and let them know that they had no rights that they were bound to respect,” Green said. 

Till, Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery—who Green called a “modern day Emmett Till”—were all accosted by white men who believed they were above the law and above the Black human beings before them.

If they didn’t say it with their words, they did not need to. Their actions spoke for them and juries, this time, have agreed. 

“We do have rights,” Green said, crying. “We do have rights that they are bound to respect. Dr. Martin Luther King was right. The moral arc of the universe is long and it bends towards justice.” 

The passage of the Emmett Till Antilynching Act does not solve racism. It does not solve violent, racially motivated crimes. But it is a change for the better, for the good. And it is a change made for a world that Green acknowledged he may not be around to see. 

He reflected on the words of Victorian writer Thomas Carlyle, who Martin Luther King once employed in a speech of his own.

“’No lie can live forever,’” Green said before then reciting poet William Cullen Bryant. “Truth crashed to earth shall rise again.” 

The anti-lynching bill will officially be enshrined into law with President Joe Biden’s signature.

Green hopes one day the U.S. will find a way to reconcile its past more completely. 

He has called for the formation of a cabinet-level Department of Reconciliation that would ensure efforts to “achieve racial harmony are never abandoned.” He has also called for a Slavery Remembrance Day, akin to Holocaust Remembrance day, and he has called for the Russell Senate office building to be renamed given Richard B. Russell’s self-proclaimed position as a white supremacist. 

Green delivered his letter to President Biden in late February and has not yet heard back.

“I won’t give up,” he told Daily Kos. “As long as I’ve got pen and paper, I won’t give up.” 

“My hope is that one day, maybe not in my lifetime, we’ll have a Department of Reconciliation because we have not reconciled, we have not dealt with the hate, in a very transparent and candid way and it is needed,” he said. “Things don't always happen as quickly, in my opinion, as they should. But I hope that at some point, in somebody’s lifetime, we will reconcile. We won't have perfect harmony but we will know that women, people of color and persons who know their gender better than persons who encounter them, will have rights that all people are bound to respect.” 

And there are signs of hope.

On Monday, officials in Indiana announced that they were formally updating the death record for George Tompkins, a young Black man found hanging from a tree in Indiana a century ago with his hands bound behind his back. 

Police ruled it a suicide. No one was arrested. 

After much pushing from activists, authorities changed the death record from suicide to lynching and homicide. 

Republicans Had Info On Racism Charges Against Biden’s ATF Nominee Two Months Ago – And Sat On It

Senate Judiciary Republicans allegedly had information regarding racism charges against David Chipman, President Biden’s anti-gun nominee for Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and kept it under wraps for over two months.

A recent report corroborated that Chipman made racially charged statements about black ATF agents who were up for promotion.

“He made some comments that he was surprised by the number of African Americans who have made it onto a specific promotional list,” a current ATF official told The Reload.

“So, his insinuation was that they had to have cheated,” the official added. “Which is kind of despicable.”

Multiple complaints were lodged against Chipman and the official alleges it ended his time working in the ATF’s Detroit Field Office.

“He left Detroit because of that,” they said. “He did not leave Detroit on the best of terms. His reputation was that he was not nice to people.”

RELATED: Could Senate Democrats Sink Biden’s Anti-Gun Nominee For ATF Director?

ATF Nominee Accused Of Racism

Last week, every GOP senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee demanded a second hearing for ATF nominee David Chipman in part because of the racism charges.

In a press release, the lawmakers wrote that the committee must address “allegations that Mr. Chipman made racist statements about the abilities of African American ATF agents, the existence of which allegations have been confirmed by current and former ATF officials.”

They believe the comments speak to Chipman’s character.

A report by the Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF) indicates staffers for the Senate Judiciary Republicans were informed of the racism charges nearly two months ago.

The staffers were reportedly notified that the ATF official was willing to speak with them about the claims.

The DCNF writes that “one of the staffers said their hands were tied and that the committee couldn’t reach out to the former agent to corroborate the allegation on their own due to ‘optics.'”

The information was received on June 10th, while the DCNF reported on the racism charges against Chipman on June 22nd.

Senate Judiciary Republicans did not call for a second hearing until late July.

RELATED: Marjorie Taylor Greene Introduces Bill To Abolish The ATF

David Chipman Appeared On Chinese State-Run TV

In addition to the racism charges, Senate Judiciary Republicans would also like to address news of an appearance Chipman made on Chinese State TV in 2012.

Chipman failed to disclose the appearance which, according to Fox News, “may have been used as propaganda by the communist state to cover up a mass stabbing of children.”

CNN has described Chipman as a “fierce advocate for gun control” who spent over two decades as a special agent with the ATF and has worked as a senior policy adviser for ‘Giffords,’ a gun control group formed by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ).

Chipman’s first appearance before the Senate in May was a disaster by any measure as he struggled to define an ‘assault weapon’ and said he supports a ban on AR-15s.

“With respect to the AR-15, I support a ban as has been presented in a senate bill and supported by the president,” Chipman told Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) at the time.

Chipman has also argued in favor of a “well-regulated” Second Amendment and compared some gun owners to the ‘Tiger King.’

Last month, House Republicans pushed a resolution to impeach Biden’s ATF nominee before he has even been confirmed.


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