Marissa Higgins

Wisconsin school district forbids teachers from wearing rainbows or displaying Pride flags

There is nothing inherently political about identity, but conservatives absolutely love to make any identity that isn’t their own a political statement or choice. It’s a demeaning and dangerous perspective, as once something is framed as a choice, it’s a logical conclusion that people can simply choose to change, hide, or conceal themselves in order to avoid discrimination or find acceptance. One major example of this logic in action is the archaic and harmful practice of conversion “therapy,” where folks try to force queer people into being straight and cisgender. In a word, it’s evil.

With this in mind, let’s talk about the latest sad situation out in a public school district in Wisconsin. As reported by local outlet WISN, teachers in the Kettle Moraine School District are now banned from including pronouns in email signatures as well as from displaying LGBTQ+ Pride flags in their classrooms. They’re even banned from wearing rainbow apparel, which sounds like satire but isn’t, per The Advocate.

At a recent school board meeting, Superintendent Stephen Plum categorized Pride flags and Black Lives Matter flags as a means of expressing political identity that could lead to folks being uncomfortable.

“The expectation is that teachers and administration will not have political flags or religious messaging in their classroom or on their person,” Plum said at the meeting. He noted that Back the Badge and Make America Great Again displays are also banned. It makes sense to ban MAGA flags and related items because they’re linked directly to a political campaign. But BLM and Pride flags aren’t tied to a political party or candidate.

This is an important distinction in schools and even when it comes to voting—you might remember we covered an instance of a poll worker in Tennessee being fired after turning someone away for wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt to vote, incorrectly believing it counted as political attire.

“We’re in a world where politics are highlighted,” Plum stated at the July 26 meeting, adding that it puts people in “uncomfortable” positions. He also stated the district isn’t as concerned about students finding this political as it is about their parents.

Someone at the meeting asked if this policy would include religious jewelry, such as wearing a cross necklace, and he said it was fine provided it is discrete.

Board member Jim Romanowski argued against the policy barring political expression, saying students are “fully capable” of using their critical thinking skills to “sort through the noise of partisan politics” and make their own choices, per LGBTQ Nation.

Sadly, this district is far from alone in trying to stomp down on identities and expressions. For example, one teacher in Missouri resigned after he says his school district ordered him to take the Pride flag down from his classroom. An openly bisexual teacher in Michigan quit for the same reason. An openly queer art teacher was fired after allowing students to paint LGBTQ+ Pride flags. Other districts, like one in Utah, are pushing to ban Pride flags in public school classrooms, too.

As of now, the policy in this Wisconsin school district is set to go into effect at the start of the upcoming school year.

Utah billionaire pens brutally honest letter to president of Mormon church about why he's leaving

Though there are a handful of billionaires whose names we know from their frequent media coverage, there are plenty of ultra-wealthy folks who mostly live under the radar. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have an impact—for better or for worse. One example is Jeff T. Green, the CEO and chairman of The Trade Desk, who announced he wants to officially revoke his membership from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (otherwise known as the Mormon church) and speak out against the church.

As reported by the Associated Press, the Utah billionaire is now rebuking the church over LGBTQ+ issues, writing in a letter to the president of the church: "While most members are good people trying to do right, I believe the church is actively and currently doing harm in the world.” To counteract that harm, Green announced he is donating $600,000 to an LGBTQ+ organization in the state, Equality Utah. And in terms of money, that’s not all.

"I believe the Mormon church has hindered global progress in women’s rights, civil rights and racial equality, and LGBTQ+ rights," Green wrote to church president Russell Nelson. Green also criticized the way the church handles money given from constituents, noting that it’s often “poor” people who donate and believe the church is doing the will of Jesus. He added that church leadership is “not honest” about its history, financial dealings, or advocacy efforts.

Eleven family members plus a family friend resigned from the church alongside Green. Green previously promised to donate 90% of his wealth—which is estimated to be about $5 billion—at or before his death, starting with the funds going to the Equality Utah group.

Of the $600,000 donation, Green explained that almost half of the money will go toward a scholarship to support LGBTQ+ students, including anyone who might want or need to leave Brigham Young University, where the school has a ban on same-sex behavior. You might remember our coverage of a Pride march put on by students at Brigham Young this past summer. March organizers, you might recall, stayed anonymous so they wouldn’t become targets of punishment or discrimination.

“We made this investment sizable and publicly to send a message that Equality Utah isn’t going anywhere,” Green wrote in part.

In reference to Green’s donation, Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams wrote to NBC News in an email explaining in part: "The two most important elements of our success has been the support of allies and the willingness of state and religious leaders to engage with us.” He went on to say that organizations don’t always agree, but that common ground is where great things can happen. He added, “Jeff’s financial support will ensure that we will remain a prominent force in Utah politics for years to come."

If you’re curious, you can hear Green talk about his company and business perspectives below.

Jeff Green explains why the future of digital advertising is brighter before | Programmatic I/O 2017

Leaked audio reveals even more reasons we can't let Oz win in Pennsylvania

Leaked audio that was reportedly made on Dec. 16 during a private lunch in New York City reveals that Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania as a Republican, has some, uh, thoughts on trans rights he apparently didn’t feel he could share on his syndicated talk show, The Dr. Oz Show. Oz reportedly defended J.K. Rowling—the famed Harry Potter writer who has since become infamous for her consistent anti-trans remarks and positions—as being “very brave.”

He also reportedly suggested that it’s “not fair” to protect just “one group” of people ... which, sure, right, but no one is suggesting that trans folks are the only people who need and deserve protection. We’re just fighting to make sure an extremely vulnerable population gets protections to begin with. The leaked audio was first obtained by Radar Online, a celebrity gossip website.

According to the gossip outlet, Oz reportedly described the “transgender issue” as “diluted a little bit,” noting that it’s “critical” to understand the suicide rate among transgender adults. He stressed the importance of having “compassion” about this “problem.”

“Transgender folks who are adults, when they are processing this, have to figure out if they wanna keep living the lie,” Oz reportedly continued. “They don't think they're who they are—or be who they truly are and are [inaudible] because of it. So, that's like the baseline."

There’s obviously plenty to correct here: No one is living a lie if they’re not open about their gender identity, especially not in a society that systemically oppresses trans folks. People do not have to out themselves to anyone. But this does seem to be a position with more empathy and compassion than many other Republicans, which I can’t praise, but will recognize.

But Oz didn’t stop there.

“Feminists have very eloquently fought for the ability to have women’s sports be on equal [inaudible] as men’s sports,” Oz reportedly said, adding that this “takes away that ability.” He went on to say, “I would argue that what I just said can’t be said—I definitely couldn’t have said it on [The Dr. Oz Show]—and you need to be able to say those things.”

Oz allegedly described Rowling as “not some icon of the conservative party,” but as a “lifelong feminist” who said something “very brave” and was “canceled” over it. “And I’ve talked to people who are canceling her,” he reportedly continued, “who would’ve been making a lot of money off her, and they can’t defend what they’re doing, or they don’t wanna be in trouble.” Oz reportedly went on to say that brave Americans have to be “willing to get into trouble.”

If you’re curious about where Oz stands politically in general, well. It’s a doozy. He’s running as a Republican in Pennsylvania, though his campaign announcement materials stress his interest in a border wall and stopping “illegal” immigration (no one is illegal, ever, mind you). His website also stresses he wants to make sure “people know the truth about COVID.” Though Oz is technically a physician—he’s a heart surgeon—he’s become infamous for his stances on the COVID-19 pandemic, which he’s repeatedly shared on Fox News as a guest.

For example, back in April 2020, Oz suggested that reopening schools during the pandemic would perhaps “cost us” only 2%-3% in terms of “total mortality” of the population, which of course caused serious outcry—he later apologized and said he misspoke. In his campaign materials, though, Oz suggested Americans have been “patronized and misled” during the pandemic. He also described the “arrogant, closed-minded people in charge closed our schools, shut down our businesses and took away our freedom.”

He also recently jabbed at Dr. Anthony Fauci, suggesting that Fauci has “lost the faith and confidence” of the American public during an interview with the New York Post. Oz reportedly said Fauci should be “held accountable” for “misleading” the public and Congress, whether “willfully or unintentionally.”

In a campaign video shared to Twitter in November, he described “Washington” as being to blame for the loss of lives, jobs, and opportunities. Oz asserted that “they took away our freedom without making us safer” and “tried to kill our spirit and our dignity.” Big yikes.

Anti-mask parent attacked school board chair by outing her 8-year-old trans daughter

As Daily Kos continues to chronicle, school board meetings across the nation have been steadily picking up both local and national media attention, and for an important reason. Why? If it’s not people protesting mask mandates, it’s people speaking up for (or, sadly, against) trans rights. In both of these cases, the people affected are students and the people who work with them—teachers, janitorial staff, bus drivers, and so on. As reported by CNN, a school board election in the small town of Hastings, Minnesota, involves conservative hysteria on both masks and trans rights—and led to an 8-year-old trans girl being outed. After she was outed, she was allegedly bullied by her peers.

Who did the outing? According to CNN, anti-mask parents took it upon themselves to attack and out the little girl, who is the daughter of Kelsey Waits, the school board chair, because they disagreed with COVID-19 policies at the school. Waits, interestingly, is also a conservative but has enough decency to be pro-mask and supportive of her daughter. Now, she says she and her family are leaving the town altogether due to the harassment.

Waits, the mother of two children, was elected to the school board in 2016 even though she actually homeschooled her older child. Still, she won her election and served for two years before becoming chair. Waits ultimately lost her recent reelection bid. Waits told CNN she feels “betrayed” by her community—not because she lost her reelection by just over 400 votes, but because “not only did people attack a child, but so many of them sat by and allowed it to happen."

Waits became aware of a secret Facebook group where conservative folks in her town talked local politics, including their stance against mask mandates. Given the current political climate, that’s not surprising, but what did ultimately surprise—and horrify—Waits is that someone allegedly posted revealing her daughter is trans. While Waits told CNN she and her husband affirmed their daughter’s identity and supported her, their child’s gender identity had been kept private.

One parent reportedly posted to the group saying Waits should be “locked up” for “child abuse” because she and her husband were affirming their child’s identity. Someone else commented and suggested the Waits had pushed their “woke” views on their child. From there, Waits said people started using the wrong pronouns for her daughter.

"You out a kid before they're ready, you're subjecting them to that sort of behavior that's going to increase their risk of suicide," Waits told CNN, adding that being on the school board is not about her kid, but about “protecting all kids.”

And now? The Waits family is moving. Not all families have the means to relocate due to abuse or harassment, and while the Waits are clearly doing their very best to support and protect their children, it’s deeply, deeply disturbing that mean-spirited adults in a Facebook group opened up a very young child up to this sort of harassment.

People are really, really letting their cruelty show when it comes to trans folks, and especially trans youth. We’ve seen stories about libraries having to cancel events for kids because of violent threats just because a facilitator happens to be trans, or because the books include marginalized identities. We’ve seen trans kids testify on behalf of their own rights—something that’s both incredibly brave and incredibly sad. Parents have spoken up on behalf of trans youth, thankfully, but community members have also taken the chance to stomp down on them, too.

There is absolutely no harm done by treating people—including children—with dignity and respecting their name, pronouns, and giving them fair access to bathrooms, sports teams, and so on. It’s basic. It’s truly the bottom of the barrel when it comes to actually being inclusive. But of course, Republicans will do whatever it takes to distract from their own failures—even when it means attacking little kids.

Missouri cave with 1,000-year-old Native artwork sells for more than $2 million to a private bidder

In a long, long-term effort to come close to repairing the abuse and disenfranchisement of Indigenous folks by white colonizers, movements to honor (if not return) Native land have gained some national prominence in recent years. Daily Kos has covered uplifting stories of tribes being able to purchase their stolen ancestral land back, for example, on an island off the coast of Maine. In terms of land ownership, that's an expensive, complicated, and murky process in itself, but the victories are still considerable wins.

As reported by the Associated Press, the Osage Nation hoped to regain control over an intricate two-cave system in Missouri, known as the Picture Cave. Picture Cave, which is located about 60 miles outside of St. Louis, holds Indigenous artwork that's more than 1,000 years old. The Osage Nation wanted to regain a part of their history and the work of their ancestors—only to have a private bidder, who wants to remain anonymous, purchase it instead for a cool $2.2 million at the auction on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

Osage Nation reportedly tried to block the sale, but it ultimately went forward. The cave system, plus more than 40 acres of land surrounding it, was sold by a family that had owned the area since the 1950s. In a statement, Osage Nation said they wanted to "protect and preserve" the historic site, stressing that their ancestors made this land home for more than 1,300 years. This area in particular housed studies, rituals, burials, and community bonding, like sharing oral histories.

"This was our land," the tribe's statement reads in part. "We have hundreds of thousands of our ancestors buried throughout Missouri and Illinois, including Picture Cave." They describe the auction as "heartbreaking."

Carol Diaz-Granados, an anthropologist who has researched the cave for decades, told the Associated Press that auctioning off the cave was like "auctioning off the Sistine Chapel." The researcher, who has spent years exploring pictographs in the dark, difficult-to-access cave, said the sale "truly sends the wrong message."

In speaking to St. Louis Public Radio, Diaz-Granados and her husband, James Duncan, also a researcher of the cave whose specialty lies in oral history, argue that the area should have been entrusted to an organization that specializes in preservation. And, too, that the Osage Nation should have control over it.

"That's their sacred shrine," she said. "And it should go back to them."

In speaking about the artists who created the pictographs, Dunan said the process likely involved a "great deal of ritual," like prayers and singing. He stressed the "tremendous" amount of detail and the quality of the work, particularly the portraits. "Most of them are people—humans—but they're not of this world; they're supernaturals," he added.

You can get a sense of the space via a video the appraisers shared when advertising the sale.

Picture Cave -

Florida landlord requires new and current tenants to show proof of COVID-19 vaccine

When it comes to Florida making headlines in recent months, it's more often than not because Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and fellow GOP lackeys in the state are leading residents into disarray because of poor pandemic management. COVID-19 cases and deaths have surged in the state on more than one occasion, and we've covered instances of people absolutely losing it over mask requirements. We've also seen how huge theme parks like Disney and Universal have reacted to the pandemic, with varying risk levels and responsibility to patrons and workers.

With all of this said, Santiago Alvarez, a landlord who oversees more than 1,000 apartments in South Florida, has people talking about the state for a different reason, as reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. As of August, Alvarez requires his tenants over 18 to be vaccinated against the virus to live on his property. The policy applies to renters who are renewing their leases, as well as any new tenants. The vaccine requirement also extends to his employees. Important context? 80-year-old Alvarez told The Washington Post that twelve of his tenants have already died from the virus, and he has already caught and survived the virus.

One tenant, 28-year-old Jasmine Irby, complained to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to protest Alvarez's new policy, arguing she should be able to renew her lease "without having to disclose my personal health information," The Post reported. Irby, a security guard who does not plan on getting vaccinated, ultimately moved out of her two-bedroom apartment when her lease ended in late August. Irby, who moved in with her brother, told the outlet that "no one wants to live where they are not wanted."

Of Alvarez's 70 employees, he says only two refused to get vaccinated and decided instead to walk away from the job. Alvarez, who owns eight apartment buildings, has said he's willing to make exemptions for people who have medical and religious barriers to getting the vaccine.

Christina Pushaw, press secretary for DeSantis, argued that this policy violates the state's ban on requiring "vaccine passports." Pushaw said business owners—including landlords—can't require "vaccine passports" as a requirement of entry and that each violation of the law can result in a $5,000 fine. She argued that vaccine passports are "unscientific" and won't result in a drop in cases.

Juan C. Zorrilla, an attorney representing Alvarez, told The Post that his client is, technically, not violating the governor's order because tenants are not "customers or patrons," as Alvarez isn't providing a service. His attorney also argues that Alvarez isn't violating any other county or state laws or ordinances.

Teacher removed from classroom after video joking about pledging allegiance to Pride flag went viral

If one thing doesn't change, it's the ability of conservatives to become enraged at the slightest bit of LGBTQ+ pride or acceptance. Sure, it's a global pandemic and we're facing climate-related disasters on what feels like on a regular basis, but the really concerning issue is how many young people connect with the Pride flag and dare show the slightest bit of skepticism or questioning when it comes to the patriotism drilled into most of us from the time we enter the public school system.

A teacher in California has been removed from her classroom after she shared in a now-viral TikTok video that she jokingly suggested her students could pledge allegiance to the Pride flag instead of the American flag. The high school teacher, identified as Kristen Pitzen, has been placed on administrative leave while the Newport-Mesa Unified School District investigates. What's the big deal? According to the district's statement as shared on Facebook, "Showing respect for our nation's flag is an important value that we instill in our students and an expectation of our employees." The fact that the deleted video made major circles in the world of conservative hysteria probably helped that along, too.

"Okay, so during third period, we have announcements and they do the pledge of allegiance. I always tell my class, stand if you feel like it, don't stand if you feel like it, say the words if you want, you don't have to say the words….My class decided to stand but not say the words," Pitzen said in the original video, which spanned about one minute. "Totally fine, except for the fact that my room does not have a flag. It used to be there, but I took it down during COVID because it made me uncomfortable. I packed it away... and I don't know where, and I haven't found it yet."

The high school English teacher added that a student pointed out that it's a little weird for them to stand and pledge to… nothing. So she told viewers she promised to find the flag she'd packed away but jokingly told the student there was in fact a flag they could use. The student reportedly pointed to the Pride flag, and the video wraps up with the teacher laughing and revealing it hanging on the wall.

A spokesperson for the district talked to NBC News about the district's policy regarding flags. The district requires each school to hold daily "patriotic exercises," which may include reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as lessons about concepts related to the pledge—like the word republic or patriotism—and pride in the United States. The policy allows people not to participate in the flag salute for "personal reasons" and does not explicitly mention the flag needing to be displayed in each teacher's individual classroom.

As reported by Newsweek, Pitzen once shared a video of her classroom decorated for Pride Month with a number of flags, in which she said she pledges "allegiance to the queers." She added that she loves people who are out, who aren't out, and appreciates and supports them. "I got you," she said in the now-deleted video.

The pandemic has changed life for everyone, including young people. Whether families are sending students to the in-person classroom, remaining virtual, homeschooling, or attempting a hybrid model, teachers and staff are under an intense amount of pressure. That's even before we consider COVID-19 and the various debates—and actual violence—that's already broken out when it comes to mask-wearing. Students deserve and need a safe space, and we could all use a little more intellectual and emotional generosity with one another.

You can watch a clip of local coverage below, which includes several community members, including a self-described "military mom," angry at the teacher's video who came to the school's campus to put American flags by the entrance.

Orange County, California, teacher investigated for joking students should pledge to pride flag

Here's how much Lauren Boebert's husband made from energy consulting in just two years

Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert has appealed to the conservative masses on a number of bases: She loves her guns, Donald Trump, and QAnon conspiracy theories, and is no stranger to spewing her views. Boebert is also known for owning a gun-themed restaurant (yes, really) called Shooters Grill in (this is true:) Rifle, Colorado.

Boebert owns the establishment with her husband, Jayson Boebert. In previous income disclosure statements, she revealed the restaurant as a source of income, but as reported by the Associated Press, failed to disclose her husband's $478,000 income as a consultant for Terra Energy Production, an energy production firm, in 2020. And the year before? Her husband apparently brought in $460,000. That's nearly one million combined dollars that Boebert disclosed very, very late. Let's get into the nitty-gritty of why this failure to disclose matters so much, especially in Boebert's position on a very important House committee.

Boebert disclosed this income information in a filing with the House of Representatives on Tuesday—after serving on the House Natural Resources Committee and using her months in office to advocate on behalf of the energy industry. In February, for example, she introduced a bill misleadingly titled the "Protecting American Energy Jobs Act," which aims to stop the president from issuing moratoriums on gas and oil.

Congressional candidates and members of Congress are required by federal law to file disclosure statements that report the income, investments, and assets for themselves, their spouses, and any children who are dependents. The goal here is transparency. The public can decide for themselves if there's a potential conflict of interest—as long as they have accurate information. On her candidate form, Boebert included "Boebert Consulting — spouse," but then listed "N/A" as his income.

"Voters have a right to know what financial interest their elected officials might be beholden to," Kedric Payne, who serves as the senior director of ethics with the Campaign Legal Center, said to The Washington Post on the matter. Payne told the outlet they think the Office of Congressional Ethics should review the matter to figure out if the lack of inclusion was intentional or a genuine mistake. What's at stake? According to Payne, the intent here could prove criminal, coming with "large fines" and even "possible imprisonment."

This issue is apparently coming to light now because the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) made a little inquiry into Boebert's campaign. What about? The FEC wanted to know why Boebert sent four transactions over Venmo, totaling $6,650, from campaign funds to herself between May 3 and June 3. While the campaign ultimately clarified the transactions were mistakes and had been refunded, a bigger can of worms is apparently in the works.

In the big picture, Boebert is both a baffling and embarrassing figure in American politics. As Daily Kos has covered, she apparently created a sockpuppet account to boost her own Twitter posts, dismisses the severity of COVID-19 (for example, her recent online quip about the delta variant), and once went viral for appearing to strut around Washington, D.C., with a Glock. Similar to QAnon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, if these women weren't serving the public in elected office, their views and approaches would matter a whole lot less. They wouldn't be excusable, but they would likely have considerably less sway and access.

Laughing off a conspiracy theory feels just fine—until someone spewing it is representing a chunk of the American public.

Biden officials release ambitious plan to conserve 30% of lands and water in the United States

On Thursday, the Biden administration released an ambitious and sweeping report, "Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful," breaking down its hopes to conserve 30% of land and water in the United States by 2030, as reported by Reuters. The Department of the Interior, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and the Department of Agriculture and Commerce all contributed to the report.

"The President's challenge is a call to action to support locally led conservation and restoration efforts of all kinds and all over America, wherever communities wish to safeguard the lands and waters they know and love," officials wrote in the report. Basically, this approach prioritizes local efforts and voluntary participation over a national mandate. With literal decades of work outlined, this isn't a quick fix or an easy task, but given that the literal planet is at stake every day we don't act in the face of the climate crisis, conservation is hugely important.

The report identifies six areas the government should focus on in terms of what land should receive federal protection or similar investments. For example, preserving fish and wildlife habitats, supporting Tribal conservation efforts, creating more green spaces and outdoor recreation opportunities, especially in communities that have little nature as it is, creating incentives for fishers, farmers, ranchers, and forest owners to voluntarily conserve lands, and investing in restoration projects. The report also describes a new tool officials hope to develop in order to track conservation progress, called the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas.

"Where this path leads over the next decade will be determined not by our agencies, but by the ideas and leadership of local communities. It is our job to listen, learn, and provide support along the way to help strengthen economies and pass on healthy lands, waters, and wildlife for generations to come," officials including Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo wrote in the report.

As you likely recall, this initiative is a direct opposite of what the Trump administration tried to achieve during his years of office, as his administration sought to make more federal land available for drilling and mining.

Now, this isn't the first time this 30% promise has come up. In fact, President Joe Biden pledged to conserve 30% of land and water in the U.S. months ago, back into 2020. Biden stressed that he wanted to protect biodiversity, work toward climate change solutions on the national level, and slow extinction rates. Biden also directed Cabinet members to come up with recommendations for carrying out this goal after his first 100 days in office.

In terms of cost, White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy explained, "I don't think that we're prepared at this point to put a total figure on this," as reported by CNN. The report outlines actions that could span decades, and as we know, the climate change crisis is growing every day, so no matter the price tag, saving the planet—and protecting the people and animals on it—is far from something we should try to cut corners on.

Fauci braves Fox News to talk COVID-19 — and explain what Trump can do to help the nation now

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist, appeared on Fox News Sunday to speak with host Chris Wallace about COVID-19 vaccine rollout, supply versus demand concerns, where the nation might be in terms of the virus come to the Fourth of July, and of course, Donald Trump.

Based on recent polling from PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist that suggests nearly half of Republican men don't plan to receive the coronavirus vaccine, many are already worried that even when we have enough vaccine supply, we might run out of demand. Fauci broke down what he believes Trump, who unlike some of his recent predecessors has taken a notable backseat in promoting the vaccine, can do to help matters along. Because, after all, public health matters affect both the individual person and, in the big, big picture, the whole country.

First, Fauci and Wallace discuss whether Fauci thinks President Joe Biden's tentative time outline for vaccine availability and distribution might be reasonable. Biden has suggested that by May 1st, states open vaccine eligibility to all adults and that by July 4th, he believes it's possible people will be able to have small, outdoor gatherings, like a barbeque, with family.

Fauci said he does believe this timeline is entirely possible, but warned against states reopening too early, as that could cause another surge in cases. He noted that while a fresh surge would not necessarily affect vaccine availability, it would still negatively impact our overall public health situation. He also pointed out that our nation has previously experienced dips in cases only to have numbers surge back up. Basically: States need to slow way down. Now is not the time to get confident and toss out masks and regulations.

Wallace played a short clip wherein a number of past presidents, including Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, promoted getting the coronavirus vaccine. Trump, notably, was absent. Wallace pointed out that, according to polling from PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist, nearly 50% of Republican men do not plan to get the vaccine.

Wallace's question: How much of a difference does Fauci think it would make if Trump "leads a campaign" for the people who are "most devoted to him" to actually get the vaccine?

"I think it would make all the difference in the world," Fauci stated. He went on to say that he is "surprised" at the high percentage of Republicans who say they don't want to get vaccinated, stressing that it's not a political issue, but a public health issue. "I just don't get it, Chris, why they don't want to get vaccinated," he added.

Wallace, for the second time in the segment, credited Trump for vaccines being widely available (in reference to Operation Warpspeed) and asked Fauci why he thinks Trump didn't participate in the PSA promoting the vaccine. Fauci, delicately, said this was "puzzling" to him.

"I wish he would," Fauci stated. "He has such an incredible influence over the people of the Republican party, it would be a game-changer if he did."

You can check out the exchange below.

Fauci explains what he thinks Trump can do to encourage his supporters to get the COVID-19 vaccine

'Complete mental break': Ex-QAnon 'cult' member explains how she fell 'down the rabbit hole' — and how she finally got out

As mainstream media digs into the deeply concerning QAnon conspiracy theory—including coverage of the reality that we now have a QAnon congresswoman—we're also seeing more people who formerly identified with the movement come forward. In an interview with CNN, Melissa Rein Lively described how she fell into the conspiracy tunnel, and why she wants to help people experiencing the same thing now. "I really became all consumed in the QAnon conspiracy theories because of a mix of fear, anxiety, depression," she told host Alisyn Camerota on Monday. "You know, uncertainty. Inconsistency about information coming out about the pandemic." She talked about feeling terrified seeing people around her lose their businesses. So what did she do? She went online. And that's when, according to Lively, the algorithm took hold and brought her into an "echo chamber."

Lively says she began looking at a number of wellness, spirituality, and New Age pages, and within a "matter of weeks," the algorithm hooked her into a "terrifying echo chamber" that "completely changed the way that I think and that I process information." Lively notes that the Save the Children messaging, in particular, spoke to her. Lively went on to describe how her husband gave her an ultimatum between her family and the QAnon movement, including even calling the police out of concern for her well-being.

Lively says she ultimately broke the QAnon spell by seeking mental health treatment with a specific focus on PTSD and trauma. "I really believe that it's a cult," she said. "It operates like a cult in every single way. And people don't realize that they're being consumed by QAnon until it's too late."

If Lively sounds familiar to you, it might be because she went viral back in the fall yelling and throwing face masks on the ground in a Target. "I've been looking forward to this," her voice says in one video. "Target … I'm not playing any more of their games."

In a video later filmed at her garage, she is seen describing herself to police (summoned by her husband) as a "QAnon spokesperson" and claiming that she was on the phone with Donald Trump "all the time."

In an interview with The Washington Post, Lively described falling into QAnon as happening "gradually, and you don't realize you're getting more and more deep in it."

And if this language sounds familiar, it's likely because you heard about another former QAnon believer, Ashley Vanderbilt. As Daily Kos covered, Vanderbilt recently gave an interview to CNN talking about her fall into the QAnon rabbit hole. Vanderbilt, the mother to a four-year-old daughter, lifelong Republican, and employee of a construction company, told the network she fell deep down the conspiracy well when she became very "isolated." She also describes trusting Trump-supporting friends who sent her deeper down the conspiracy rabbit hole via conspiracy YouTube videos.

A big similarity to Lively's journey? Algorithms. Vanderbilt described using social media (TikTok, specifically) and "liking" pro-Trump and anti-Biden posts, and then, lo and behold, the algorithm did the rest.

You can watch the full CNN interview with Lively below, courtesy of YouTube.

'I lost all touch with reality': Recovering QAnon believer shares harrowing experiences

And you can watch Vanderbilt's video interview below, as well.

Ashley Vanderbilt talks about her descent into QAnon rabbit hole

Dr. Deborah Birx claims someone gave Trump 'parallel' data on coronavirus pandemic

If you followed along with Dr. Deborah Birx, former White House coronavirus task force coordinator, you might have experienced some frustration at what the White House was (or more accurately, wasn't) doing in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Some viewers began to wonder why Birx appeared to be tiptoeing around being direct, especially in terms of her sometimes too optimistic-seeming virus projections, and her considerably lenient sidestepping over Trump's continued failures. On the other hand, at least one clip of Birx seemingly reacting to former President Donald Trump's babbling went viral, suggesting that Birx was no happier with the Trump administration than the rest of us.

Now, in a new interview with Face the Nation on CBS News, Birx, a long-standing expert in public health, talks to host Margaret Brennan about what really happened behind the scenes at the White House. Surprising no one, it was pretty bad: few masks, no "full-time" team, and the feeling she was being censored from appearing on national TV networks. Let's dig into more specifics from the interview below, as well as if Birx has any regrets.

Let's start with an unsurprising, but still horrifying, point from the interview. Birx said there were people in the White House (as well as in the American public in general) who "believed this was a hoax," which is terrifying, but again, not a huge shock. Also horrifying: An anyonmous-to-Birx person allegedly made data and graphs for Trump to present that she had nothing to do with.

"I saw the president presenting graphs that I never made," Birx stated. "I know that someone— someone out there or someone inside—was creating a parallel set of data and graphics that were shown to the president." She added that she doesn't know who was behind the graphs to this day. Similarly terrifying, and similarly not surprising. Alternative facts! Parallel data! … Lies.

On a logistical level, Birx says she had "no team, full-time team in the White House working on coronavirus," and had just one "incredible" support person. Effectively, in Birx's words, she was the "only full-time person in the White House working on the coronavirus response." Lovely! Just what the nation needs during a literal global pandemic. Luckily, given that Birx has a long career in public health, she said she was able to reach out to people in other agencies to assist her.

You might remember that, as Daily Kos covered at the time, we've gotten reports of the HHS attempting to censor Dr. Fauci in terms of statements he made during public media appearances. At one point, ABC News host Jon Karl said that though Fauci was willing to appear on his Sunday show that particular day, the "The White House wouldn't allow you to hear from the nation's leading expert on coronavirus." (Instead, Eric Trump appeared on that show and ranted about antifa.)

What does that have to do with Birx? According to Birx, she felt she was intentionally blocked from making appearances on national media outlets for some period of time. Traveling across the country and meeting with leaders one-on-one allowed her to spread the science-based information she actually wanted to get out to the public. Because, you know, there's nothing like censoring your public health experts to the point that they need to drive themselves around the nation to try and help the country survive a pandemic.

"That was the place where people would let me say what needed to be said about the pandemic, both in private with the governors and then in following up, doing press to talk to the people of that state," Birx said in reference to her time spent speaking directly with local and state leaders. Birx also used her one-on-one opportunities with governors to encourage them not to stress about Trump's insistence on reopening the economy in the face of the pandemic.

Does Birx have regrets? "I always feel like I could have done more, been more outspoken, maybe been more outspoken publicly," Birx stated. "I didn't know all the consequences of all of these issues." She added that she had "always" thought about quitting her post.

"I had to ask myself every morning: 'Is there something that I think I can do that would be helpful in responding to this pandemic?' And it's something I asked myself every night," Birx stated.

It's definitely worth checking out the full interview over at CBS News. And, as always, it's definitely still worth wearing a face mask when possible, practicing social distancing, washing your hands, and trying your best to be as safe as possible.

You can also check out the interview below, courtesy of YouTube.

- YouTube

'Trump is a failed leader': Schwarzenegger slams fellow Republicans who 'enabled' president's 'lies and treachery'

In the days since a group of pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., sending elected officials into temporary hiding and the nation into a period of shock and horror, a number of Republicans have spoken out against Donald Trump. Whether they've criticized his endless insistence that he actually won the 2020 presidential election (he didn't), called for Trump to resign, both long-standing critics and newly vocalized GOP members are speaking out against Trump.

In a moving, personal video, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger succinctly described Trump as a "failed leader" and someone who "will soon be as irrelevant as an old tweet." Direct jabs aside, however, Schwarzenegger also dove deep into serious matters and discussed intergenerational trauma, personal examples from his youth in Austria, and directed a very important message to not only Trump but the Republicans who enabled him. He also wished "great success" to President-elect Joe Biden for when he takes office in less than a month. Let's check out the video below.

First, in reference to Trump, Schwarzenegger states, "President Trump sought to overturn the results of an election. He sought a coup by misleading people with lies. He will go down in history as the worst president ever. The good thing is he will soon be as irrelevant as an old tweet." Obviously, the extra layer of zing here is that Twitter (as well as a handful of other social media platforms) recently permanently suspended Trump from their platforms.

On a personal note, Schwarzenegger discussed growing up in the long-term wake of Kristallnacht (also known as the Night of Broken Glass). Schwarzenegger described Kristallnacht as "a night of rampage against the Jews carried out in 1938 by the Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys," and said the insurgent's attack on the Capitol last Wednesday was "the Day of Broken Glass right here in the United States. But the mob did not just shatter the windows of the Capitol. They shattered the ideas we took for granted [and] trampled the very principles on which our country was founded."

Schwarzenegger talked about how intergenerational trauma (though he didn't use that term) can affect an entire society. In his case, Schwarzenegger described being a child and watching his father come home drunk once or twice a week, hitting and scaring his mother. He said it felt normal because he knew it happened at neighbors' houses, too. Why? According to Schwarzenegger, this behavior tied to collective guilt and horror after World War II, saying these men were "in emotional pain for what they saw or did." In his words, he grew up "surrounded by broken men drinking away the guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history."

"It all started with lies, lies, lies, and intolerance," Schwarzenegger stated. "Being from Europe I've seen firsthand how bad things can spin out of control."

In terms of his fellow Republicans, Schwarzenegger called out those who "enabled" Trump's "lies and his treachery." He also quoted former President Teddy Roosevelt to them, saying, "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president."

"To those who think they can overturn the United States constitution, know this: You will never win," he stated, asking for the people responsible for the attack on the U.S. Capitol to be held accountable.

Here's the video on Twitter, which has garnered more than 6 million views at the time of writing. It's about seven minutes long, but honestly, is worth the full watch.

You can watch the full video on his YouTube channel below.

Governor Schwarzenegger's Message Following this Week's Attack on the Capitol

AOC cuts to the point: 'We came close to half of the House nearly dying on Wednesday'

After an incredibly chaotic, exhausting, and, frankly, terrifying week, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared on ABC's This Week and talked to host George Stephanopoulos about what we all know is true: "Every minute" that Donald Trump sits in office "represents a clear and present danger." As many on social media have pointed out, if Trump can't even be trusted with a Twitter account, how can he be trusted to run the country, hold nuclear codes, or guide us through a global pandemic?

Still, some people are frustrated at the notion of removing Trump so close to the end of his term, wondering, Well, what's the point? There's symbolism, of course, in impeaching Trump for a second time. But there are also real, tangible benefits to removing Trump from office that can affect the country in both the short and long-term. Let's check out how Ocasio-Cortez breaks them down in the clips below.

"Our main priority is to ensure the removal of Donald Trump as President of the United State," Ocasio-Cortez told Stephanopoulos. "Every minute and every that he is in office represents a clear and present danger not just to the United States Congress but to the country. But in addition to removal, we're also talking about completely barring the president—or rather, Donald Trump—from running for office ever again. And in addition to that, the potential ability to prevent pardoning himself from those charges that he was impeached for."

Here's that clip.

Stephanopolous asked Ocasio-Cortez about the concerns of some that having an impeachment trial could slow down getting Biden's agenda underway, including, for example, passing coronavirus relief and confirmations. Ocasio-Cortez argued that the "safety" of the president, Congress, and the "security of our country takes precedence over the timing of nominations" and potential "confirmations."

Stephanopoulos referenced a letter sent on behalf of a number of Republicans who implored President-elect Biden to forego impeachment for the sake of "unity," arguing that it is "unnecessary" and "inflammatory." The group of House Republicans, led by Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, wrote: "In the spirit of healing and fidelity to our Constitution, we ask that you formally request that Speaker Nancy Pelosi discontinue her efforts to impeach President Donald J. Trump a second time."

To that, Ocasio-Cortez hammered down on the point that what happened this past week was an "insurrection against the United States." The New York City progressive argued that "healing" requires "accountability." She pointed out that if we allow insurrection to happen with impunity, "we are inviting it to happen again."

"We came close to half of the House nearly dying on Wednesday," Ocasio-Cortez stated. "If a foreign head of state, if another head of state, came in and ordered an attack on the United States Congress, would we say that should not be prosecuted? Would we say that there should be absolutely no response to that? No. It is an act of insurrection. It is an act of hostility." She stressed that without accountability, "it will happen again."

Dr. Fauci warns of COVID 'surge upon a surge' after Thanksgiving

Appearing on ABC's This Week on the Sunday morning after Thanksgiving, the nation's top infectious disease expert and voice of reason amid the novel coronavirus pandemic dropped some harsh realities on viewers—but also reminded us that we can make better choices starting, well, today. In speaking to host Martha Raddatz about our rising case numbers, Dr. Anthony Fauci said "there almost certainly is going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel" over Thanksgiving. He also chatted with Raddatz about the COVID-19 vaccine, reopening schools, and the next stage of the holiday season: Christmas and New Year's.

Given that we already know people planned to travel and gather for Thanksgiving, many of us are wondering—and worried—that people are planning to repeat the pattern just one month from now. But as Fauci urged viewers, "We're going to have to make decisions as a nation, state, city and family, that we're in a very difficult time and we're going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things we would like to have done, particularly in this holiday season." Basically, now is not the time to shrug our shoulders and admit defeat in the face of worsening numbers.

"We may see a surge upon a surge," a few weeks down the line, Fauci said, stressing that "we don't want to frighten people, but that's just the reality." Fauci shared that as we enter a colder weather season, as well as a bigger holiday season with people traveling back and forth, he doesn't foresee relaxed guidelines or restrictions when it comes to facing the virus.

Fauci also brought up hope for a vaccine in the near future, citing the end of December as a starting point for top priority individuals, and then progressively more people receiving vaccinations through March.

When asked about legal barriers in terms of pandemic restrictions, Fauci put it simply when he said there's nothing he personally can do about it. He stressed that no matter who you are, or where you are, if you have a congregate setting of people—especially if they are inside, and especially if they are not wearing masks—that's a "considerable risk" for getting or spreading the infection.

When asked how he would advise the Biden administration on getting a "unified response" in terms of COVID-19 closings, Fauci suggested to "close the bars and keep the schools open." He noted that there's no one-size-fits-all solution, but getting students back in school should be a priority, and in order to do that safely, we need to get our community spread levels low.

Fauci still wants to see more testing available for asymptomatic people, saying he hopes it's "sooner rather than later," especially when it comes to contact tracing and community spread tracking. He mentioned hope for at-home rapid tests, perhaps even without a prescription, for at least some circumstances.

Fauci also stressed that the process for developing the vaccine has been "scientifically sound." According to Fauci, "safety has not been compromised, scientific integrity has not been compromised and the process of determining whether it works, whether it's safe and effective has been independent by independent bodies and transparent."

Delaware makes history in electing the first openly transgender state senator in the US

On an evening when just about everyone is (understandably) focused on the presidential race between Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, there are a number of local and state races bringing in truly exciting and results. One example? Let's look at Delaware. As reported by the LGBTQ Victory Fund and The New York Times, Democrat Sarah McBride won her bid for a seat in the Delaware state Senate in a landslide. This victory makes McBride the highest-ranking openly transgender legislator. No, not just in Delaware: in the entire United States.

When speaking to Marie Claire in an interview back in September, McBride said one of her hopes in this race is for "this election can help show a young kid struggling with their place in the world here in Delaware or North Carolina or Texas or anywhere that our democracy is big enough for them—that they can be themselves and the sky can still be the limit." Inspiring words from a truly inspiring person.

She tweeted a similar sentiment after her win tonight.

In speaking to Vox back in 2019 about her historic run, McBride spoke lovingly about her home state of Delaware and the importance of running for state office, saying, "the decisions that impact people the most, and the opportunity for change, it's at the state level. It's in the state legislatures." No matter who is running in the presidential race, those are words to live by. Local and state elections matter way more than a lot of people think.

You likely remember McBride from the awesome address she gave at the Democratic National Convention back in 2016.

Sarah McBride, first transgender speaker at major political convention, addresses DNC 2016

You can check out her excellent TEDxTalk below.

Gender assigned to us at birth should not dictate who we are | Sarah McBride | TEDxMidAtlanticSalon

Results are still coming in for a number of races, but with more than 500 openly LGBTQ people on the ballot, every run is a victory for visibility and inclusion.

White House lashes out after Fauci criticized Trump administration's COVID response

As the novel coronavirus has continued to slam the nation, Dr. Anthony Fauci, leading infectious disease expert and member of the Coronavirus Task Force, has been put into difficult position after a difficult position. As Daily Kos covered, Fauci recently had to clarify that a Trump reelection campaign ad not only used reportedly edited clips that were taken out of context, but according to Fauci, the campaign actually ran the ad without his authorization. We also heard from host Jon Karl on ABC's This Week in early October, who said he tried to get interviews for a Sunday show lineup with Fauci, or anyone from the task force, and wasn't able to, describing the situation on Twitter as a "muzzle."

More recently, on Saturday evening, The Washington Post published a major interview with Fauci. What about? The COVID-19 pandemic. And a spokesperson for the White House is already slamming the nation's leading infectious disease specialist. Let's break down some highlights below.

How is the U.S. looking when it comes to the next couple of months of the pandemic? Unfortunately—but unsurprisingly—not too good. "All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors," Fauci told the outlet. "You could not possibly be positioned more poorly."

Fauci was direct in saying that Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign "is taking it seriously from a public health perspective." According to Fauci, Trump's campaign, on the other hand, is using the perspective of "the economy and reopening the country." Which is a polite way of putting it.

Fauci also discussed White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' recent appearance on CNN's State of the Union with host Jake Tapper, also covered by Daily Kos, where Meadows admitted the administration is "not going to control the pandemic." About Meadows, Fauci told the Post, "He is straightforward in telling you what's on his mind. I commend him for that."

Meanwhile, of course, Trump has flouted state and local public health regulations, made head-scratching promises about vaccines, and held more rallies leading up to Election Day. In a move that truly feels like Opposite Day, at the end of October, the White House essentially declared victory over the pandemic in a statement celebrating Trump's accomplishments.

Speaking of things in the White House, if you think you've seen a whole lot less of Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, who is also on the task force, you're probably right. Both figures have seriously dimmed their public spotlights. Who hasn't? Dr. Scott Atlas—and Fauci expressed his thoughts on Atlas as well.

"All of a sudden, they didn't like what the message was because it wasn't what they wanted to do anymore," Fauci told the paper. "They needed to have a medical message that was essentially consistent with what they were saying."

In reference to Atlas, Fauci told the newspaper: "I have real problems with that guy." He continued that Atlas is "a smart guy who's talking about things that I believe he doesn't have any real insight or knowledge or experience in. He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn't make any sense." You might remember Atlas from late summer, when he made headlines for pushing what was essentially a herd immunity theory to handle the pandemic.

In a statement to the Post, White House spokesperson Judd Deere said it is "unacceptable and breaking with all norms for Dr. Fauci, a senior member of the President's Coronavirus Task Force and someone who has praised President Trump's actions throughout this pandemic, to choose three days before an election to play politics." Fauci has been decidedly apolitical and has served under both Democrat and Republican administrations. In fact, this apolitical norm for him is part of what made the unauthorized Trump reelection campaign ad featuring his words such a shock.

Deere continued in the statement: "As a member of the Task Force, Dr. Fauci has a duty to express concerns or push for a change in strategy, but he's not done that, instead choosing to criticize the president in the media and make his political leanings known by praising the president's opponent — exactly what the American people have come to expect from The Swamp."

If there's one constant from the Trump administration, it's The Swamp rhetoric. You can check out the full interview with the Post here.

Americans living in designated ‘anarchist’ jurisdictions offer hilarious reality check for AG Barr

As the nation continues to face the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic and we near the November 2020 election, the Department of Justice released a list of three cities (New York, New York; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon) it designated as “anarchist” jurisdictions. Are these Democrat-led cities in a state of anarchy? No. While at first this is so absurd it’s laughable, the underlying intent here is important. Why? Because this is pretty clearly a move motivated by politics that puts state and local governments at risk of losing federal funding because of reported violence and vandalism at the summer protests.

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Pelosi won't rule out new impeachment inquiries to block Trump's Supreme Court nominee

Appearing on ABC’s This Week on Sunday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi honored the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by aptly describing her as a “brilliant brain” on the Supreme Court, reminded people that it’s absolutely imperative to get out and vote this November, and the ongoing importance of battling the novel coronavirus pandemic. On the subject of the vacant Supreme Court seat, the Democrat from California didn’t rule out launching an impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump (for the second time) or Attorney General Bill Barr, which would delay the Senate’s ability to confirm a Supreme Court nominee of Trump’s, either.

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Fox News viewers in key battleground state less likely to wear masks: poll

Given that Fox News, as well as some conservative radio stations, have downplayed the severity of the novel coronavirus pandemic, it’s not too surprising that people who rely on such sources for their news may not take all advised precautions seriously at this point in the public health crisis. What sort of precautions? Oh, one of the most essential, basic ones: wearing a face mask in public. A new poll from the University of New Hampshire found that where we get our news can have a seriously big impact on our mask-wearing, and from what we know about this public health crisis, that’s far from good.

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Answering this question about the alleged Kenosha shooter should be easy — but not for Trump's White House

During a Monday afternoon briefing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany used fearmongering language typical of the Trump administration, including painting a picture of anarchy, chaos, and riots in Democrat-led cities, in her opening address. McEnany even brought up Donald Trump’s incessant tagline of “law and order,” which his Twitter feed has been full of lately. However, the question-and-answer portion of the briefing is what’s really going viral on social media.

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Jared Kushner defends pandemic response — says he's 'absolutely' sending his kids back to in-person school

Appearing on Face The Nation this Sunday, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner claimed that he is “absolutely” sending his children back to in-person, in-classroom school amid the ongoing global pandemic—and that Trump has taken a “very aggressive approach” to the novel coronavirus. In fact, Trump’s son in law really hyped up Trump’s pandemic response, arguing that the nation is “still below peak” in COVID-19 death rates.

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Mark Meadows claims lack of evidence of widespread voter fraud is somehow the 'definition of fraud'

On CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper talked to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about the Trump administration’s latest favorite talking point: voter fraud. Specifically, voter fraud via voting by mail. In this case, Meadows came out swinging against the notion that states should send ballots to all registered voters. In perhaps the most mind-blowing exchange, Tapper (accurately) pointed out that there is no proof of “widespread voter fraud,” and Meadows said, “there’s no evidence that there’s not, either.” Then, Meadows added: “That’s the definition of fraud, Jake.”

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'I don’t think he plans to leave the White House': Rep. Clyburn warns Americans to 'wake up'

Appearing on State of the Union on CNN this Sunday morning, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn talked about former Vice President Joe Biden’s VP pick options, misinformation about voting by mail, and whether or not he thinks Donald Trump actually intends to leave office if he loses in November. “I don’t think he plans to leave the White House. He doesn’t plan to have fair and unfettered elections,” Clyburn said in a now-viral clip. He continued that he thinks Trump “plans to install himself in some kind of emergency way to continue to hold onto office.”

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Hundreds of doctors urge Iowa governor to mandate masks statewide as coronavirus cases rise

Hundreds of physicians in Iowa signed on to an open letter to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, urging her to mandate a public mask requirement as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise, as reported by The Gazette. The letter encourages the governor to mandate mask or other face coverings statewide and suggests that, as a bare minimum, masks should be required for adults and older children who can “medically tolerate” them when in “enclosed public spaces.” Reynolds has not yet issued a mask mandate for the entire state and instead directed Iowans to take personal responsibility on the subject.

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Church that defied COVID-19 shutdown order by holding indoor services received federal PPP loan

As Daily Kos previously covered, a small number of churches in California are fighting back against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent shutdown order as the state experiences a fresh surge in coronavirus cases. The latest order directs some counties to shutter malls, nail salons, gyms, and houses of worship. As covered Monday, some California churches are continuing to hold indoor services in spite of the new guideline. A federal lawsuit has even been filed.

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Pelosi says Trump's public face mask appearance shows an 'admission' it can stop spread of virus

Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union this Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talked about Donald Trump’s recent public appearance in a face mask. Trump’s non-mask moments have made headlines, and for good reason. As the nation battles against the novel coronavirus pandemic, experts point to a few ways we can work to slow the spread of the virus; wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing, avoid large crowds, oh, and wear a mask or face covering. Trump, famously, has not worn a mask when visiting a PPE factory in Pennsylvania, or recently, when arriving in Miami, in spite of the county’s mask mandate. Vice President Mike Pence has also famously foregone a mask at events; for example, while visiting the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms sums up Trump's Tulsa rally in one perfect word

On CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday morning, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms chatted with host Jake Tapper about Donald Trump’s indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Bottoms summed up the event, and Trump’s remarks, nicely, saying he “continues to try and divide us and really inflames the worst in people.” In the clips below, Bottoms talks about Juneteenth, Trump’s “joke” about COVID-19 testing, and the November election.

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Georgia mayor's Facebook rant about 'privilege' knocks protesters and people who receive government assistance

On Tuesday, Mayor Benjamin Rozier shared a statement to the Gossip Bloomingdale, Georgia Facebook group about what it means to be “privileged,” as reported by NBC News. The post from the mayor of Bloomingdale, which is a small city just outside of Savannah, described “privilege” as having the ability to “protest against anything that triggers you, without worrying about calling out of work and the consequences that accompany such behavior.” In the now-deleted post, a screenshot of which is viewable at local outlet KCRA 3, the rant also jabs at people who are unemployed, have multiple children, and receive government assistance.

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How a DC resident became a hero by sheltering dozens of protesters from the cops

As a weekend of protests for justice for George Floyd continued into Monday evening in Washington, D.C., we know that peaceful protesters were dispersed with tear gas so that Donald Trump could pose with a Bible outside of St. John’s church, which he apparently didn’t even have permission to do. That incident rightfully got a lot of mainstream media attention, but protests continued into the evening, and as local outlet DCist reports, D.C. police trapped protesters in a residential street some time after curfew began at 7 PM ET. Protesters were invited into Rahul Dubey’s Northwest D.C. home. Videos and photos that have since gone viral on Twitter are absolutely harrowing, but as of Tuesday morning, it appears that no one was arrested upon leaving the local hero’s home.

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Police deploy tear gas and riot gear at demonstration demanding justice for George Floyd — in stark contrast to treatment received by white anti-lockdown protestors

On Tuesday night in Minneapolis, Minnesota, protesters gathered at the intersection where George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was handcuffed and pinned to the ground for an estimated eight minutes by a white police officer. In a video that has since gone viral, Floyd can be heard saying: “I can’t breathe! Please, the knee on my neck.” Bystanders for the incident also called on the officer to let up; however, the officer doesn’t appear to stop until paramedics arrive with a stretcher, at which point Floyd is seemingly unresponsive. Floyd died hours later. Since then, the four officers involved have been fired, but protesters want further action: namely, charges and a conviction.

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