Matthew Chapman

Elise Stefanik shredded in local paper for her 'pro-COVID agenda'

On Tuesday, writing for the Glens Falls Post-Star, columnist Gretta Hochsprung tore into Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the upstate New York lawmaker recently elected House GOP Conference chair, for spreading what she termed a "pro-COVID agenda" by inciting anger and opposition to public health measures.

Hochsprung took particular aim at Stefanik's tweet earlier in the week, in which she proclaimed, "No vaccine mandates for teachers No vaccine mandates for students. No mandates for anyone. And unmask our kids!"

Stefanik gained national attention in 2019 for her intense defense of then-President Donald Trump during his first impeachment.

"Children entering school in New York are required to have had seven vaccines, and middle and high school students must have a couple more. You can get an exemption if you have a medical condition that qualifies. No other sort of exemption, not for religious, cultural or 'it's a free country' reasons is granted," wrote Hochsprung. "We assume Stefanik is referring to the COVID-19 vaccines, although she doesn't say that. But what makes the COVID-19 vaccine any different from the hepatitis B vaccine or the chickenpox vaccine? Hepatitis B and chickenpox did not kill more than half a million people over the course of the past year, and that is because most of us were vaccinated for those viruses when we were kids."

Allowing unvaccinated students and teachers to spread COVID-19 at schools unchecked, Hochsprung warned, would have dire consequences, as the highly infectious Delta variant continues to explode.

"We don't know why, as a federal representative, Stefanik is expending her energy on public school policy, which is the purview of the states," wrote Hochsprung. "Like everyone else, we are weary of dealing with COVID-19. Being weary or angry or rebellious doesn't make the virus go away, however, while vaccinations and mask-wearing do."

You can read more here.

Missouri councilwoman claims COVID can be cured with chemical to treat parasites on livestock

On Thursday, the Springfield News-Leader released a blistering fact-check of Springfield City Councilor Angela Romine, who caused a stir on Monday when she claimed that COVID-19 already has multiple cures so there's no need to get vaccinated.

"We're not prescribing a certain prescription because it's for off-label use, which could help people that are sick with COVID, and it's not being used because it was politicized... and demonized," said Romine in a speech to the council. "Right now we're trying even a vaccine that has severe side effects, but we're not willing to try a protocol that has helped people. One doctor even came out and said she's treated 900 patients and she's had zero deaths, yet we're not prescribing them here."

According to the report, she later clarified that the two drugs she meant are hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

Hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria and arthritis, has been a popular alternative treatment for COVID-19 ever since former President Donald Trump claimed it helped him prevent the disease, and some people have even drank fish tank cleaner because it contained similar compounds.

But previous studies suggesting it could be beneficial have been discredited, noted the report: "FDA removed emergency authorization for the drug to treat COVID-19 and the organization who published the study retracted it, saying it had many methodological flaws and relied on 'Chinese sources that lacked real evidence.' Several subsequent studies on the drug found it was not effective to treat COVID-19 and could even worsen symptoms of the virus."

"Meanwhile, ivermectin is a drug primarily used on livestock to remove parasites. It is not an antiviral drug," said the report. "One study concluded it was beneficial to treat COVID, but 'the study was retracted for plagiarism and for incorrect interpretation of data,' Dr. Nancy Yoon, chief medical officer with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, told the News-Leader last week. Calling the drug 'unsafe and dangerous,' Yoon said she believed no 'doctor is recommending it to patients.'"

Even with the vaccines now available and broadly effective, some Trump allies are still trying to tout these discredited alternative treatments. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) was briefly suspended from YouTube in June for sharing conspiracy theory videos promoting hydroxychloroquine.

Missouri paper slams 'false prophet' preachers who claimed Trump's re-election was preordained by God

Over the weekend, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board penned a scathing indictment of evangelical preachers who told their followers to view former President Donald Trump's potential victory in the 2020 election through the lens of Biblical prophecy — and thus making them blind to the reality of Trump's loss.

"Editorially, we try to avoid opining about religious faith," wrote the board. "But invoking divine guidance to advance partisan causes smacks of the worst kind of manipulation, opening the door to abuse and financial exploitation. Pentecostal and charismatic Christian leaders have laudably begun insisting that the false prophets among them cease and desist."

Previous reporting has detailed how Trumpism became a fertile ground to radicalize white evangelicals around the country, and how religious extremists encouraged the "Stop the Steal" lie and the subsequent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. There have also been links between the evangelical movement and the QAnon conspiracy theory, which recycles centuries-old anti-Semitic paranoia about shadow elites cannibalizing and brutalizing young children.

And faith leaders in positions of trust have furthered along this conspiratorial thinking, wrote the board.

"'Why were most of the prophets wrong when it came to predicting the outcome of the 2020 election?' host Jan Markell, founder of Olive Tree Ministries, asked on her 'Understanding the Times' Christian radio show on June 25. She followed that question with a lengthy series of pre-election recordings in which a variety of prominent evangelical preachers claimed that God had told them Trump would be reelected," wrote the board. "'Trump will win. … He will sit in that office for four more years, and God will have his way in this country,' author and self-proclaimed prophet Kat Kerr stated in one of the clips Markell played. Several others followed, including one by evangelist Pat Robertson and another by Jeremiah Johnson (who has since publicly repented)."

"Such quackery also can be deadly dangerous, such as when many protesters, claiming divine inspiration, joined in storming the Capitol on Jan. 6. 'Jericho March' cofounder Rob Weaver was among the preachers who claimed divine guidance in directing followers toward Capitol Hill," wrote the board, which concluded by promoting the petition website calling on preachers to reject "the spiritual manipulation of the prophetic gift for the personal benefit of the prophet or of his or her ministry."

You can read more here.

'Cannot get over how delusional this sounds': CNN's Acosta flabbergasted by latest Trump recording

On CNN Thursday, anchors Jim Acosta and Brian Stelter discussed former President Donald Trump's ongoing lies that the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was a peaceful and loving event.

Acosta said he was simply astonished that Trump could possibly describe the deadly riots that he incited in this way.

"I cannot get over how delusional this sounds," said Acosta. "I mean, the lies. It's just nuts. But does it sound like the former president is emboldened to spin even more outrageous lies about January 6th as time passes on the deadly attack? We see this video day after day. It sounds delusional to listen to what he is saying."

"Yeah, emboldened is the word," agreed Stelter. "That is why this is relevant. We've seeing him over time dig in further and further and lies on this level are like a power trip. They are a challenge to the audience. Lies on this level, delusions on this level, you know, you're daring people not to believe their eyes and own ears and daring people to deny what they know them to be true."

Stelter said that Trump's efforts to rewrite the history of the MAGA riots may even succeed because Americans' political memories are so short.

"The more time goes on, the less these videos are seen on Fox and the less are seen on Newsmax, and the memories do fade in right-wing media, and they fade in the rest of the country," continued Stelter. "But the memories are fading within the MAGA base, and so he's able, I think, to exert more power by becoming more emboldened with the lies, Jim."

"Yeah. He's inviting his supporters to go and live in this cult-like alternate reality that he inhabits," said Acosta.

Watch below:

Jim Acosta and Brian Stelter on Trump's insurrection lies

Embarrassing Trump video re-emerges after he insists the world 'didn’t laugh' at us when he was president

On Thursday, former President Donald Trump released an angry statement attacking Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker's upcoming book "I Alone Can Fix It." In particular, he took aim at the book's coverage of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) expressing fear he would use nuclear weapons after the election, calling her a "known nut job."

"I was the one that got us out of wars, not into wars," wrote Trump. "And I was the one who got respect for our Country again, not like now when the leaders of the entire World are laughing at us. They didn't laugh when I was there!"

Trump's comments prompted the recirculation of an old video of the former president giving a speech at the United Nations, where global dignitaries literally laughed at him after he said, "In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country."

Trump boast gets laugh at UN

Trump Social Security chief threatened to come in after being fired — but the White House isn't having it

Last week, Andrew Saul, a GOP donor former President Donald Trump appointed as a Social Security Commissioner, was fired by the Biden administration — but he vowed to ignore the firing and come right in to work on Monday anyway.

But that threat may be hollow. According to Slate judicial reporter Mark Joseph Stern, federal officials are already taking the same actions with Saul that they would with anyone leaving their employment. According to a statement issued by the White House, "As with any employment termination, the government has taken steps to offboard Andrew Saul as we would any further employee."

In another twist of irony, Stern noted, the White House is citing Supreme Court cases decided by conservatives stripping legal protections from White House employees. Right-wing activists had filed those cases hoping to invalidate the agencies altogether — but instead, they just made it legal for Biden officials to fire the workers that Trump appointed on his way out the door.

Trump appointed a number of his friends, cronies, and other right-wing figures to a number of government boards while leaving office. Many of them were enraged as they were forced out of those positions with the new administration, including right-wing talk radio host Michael Savage, who was swiftly fired from his position overseeing a national park.

Many Trump appointees, anticipating this, scrambled to look for new jobs after the election was called for Biden.

Unearthed video reveals Republican Sen. Ron Johnson's profane and conspiratorial rant at GOP lunch

On Tuesday, CNN's KFILE unearthed comments made by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) at a meeting with the Republican Women of Greater Wisconsin luncheon in Wauwatosa, in which he spun profanity-laced conspiracy theories denying climate science.

"I don't know about you guys, but I think climate change is — as Lord Monckton said — bullsh*t," the Wisconsin Republican said, referring to British conservative climate change denier Lord Christopher Monckton. "By the way, it is!"

Johnson went onto lament that "we're killing ourselves" with measures to address climate change, and went on to call them "a self-inflicted wound."

This starkly contradicts Johnson's recent denials that he is a climate science denier.

Asked for comment, Johnson said, "My statements are consistent. I am not a climate change denier, but I also am not a climate change alarmist." There is no basis whatsoever to the claim that scientists are discrediting climate change.

Johnson's remarks come after a catastrophic heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, so severe that it melted streetcar equipment in Portland, Oregon.

Johnson, who is currently mulling whether to run for another term for Senate in 2022, has a history of promoting conspiracy theories. He triggered outrage recently when he suggested that the January 6 Capitol rioters behaved themselves and that the violence at the riot may have been a false flag.

'The ocean is on fire': Harrowing images catch aftermath of pipeline explosion in Gulf of Mexico

On Friday, an offshore oil pipeline connected to Pemex's Ku-Maloob-Zaap offshore platform complex ruptured and caused a giant fire in the Gulf of Mexico, according to Bloomberg.

"Pemex said the gas leak occurred at 5:15am local time in the submarine pipeline near Ku-Maloob-Zaap's Ku-C satellite platform in the Campeche Sound causing a fire 150 meters from the platform, according to a statement from the company," said the report. "By 10:45am local time normal operating conditions were restored, and no injuries or evacuations were reported, it said."

Ultimately, Pemex was able to control the fire — but not before harrowing video and images of the oil burning on the surface of the ocean was captured by people on the scene and spread by commenters on social media.

Trump throws fit at 'rude, nasty, and totally biased' New York prosecutors as Trump Org indictment looms

On Monday, ahead of reports that the Trump Organization and possibly some of its high ranking executives could be indicted as part of an investigation by Manhattan prosecutors into the business' tax and financial practices, former President Donald Trump issued a furious statement laying into the prosecutors.

"Radical Left New York City and State Prosecutors, who have let murderers, rapists, drug dealers, and all other forms of crime skyrocket to record levels, and who have just announced that they will be releasing hundreds of people involved in violent crime back onto the streets without retribution of any kind, are rude, nasty, and totally biased in the way they are treating lawyers, representatives, and some of the wonderful long-term employees and people within the Trump Organization," wrote Trump.

He continued that the "Witch Hunters" are "relentlessly seeking to destroy a reputation of a President who has done a great job for this Country, including tax and regulation cuts, Border control, rebuilding the Military, and developing the vaccine in record time—thereby saving our Country, and far beyond," and that "They are a disgrace to our Nation!"

There is currently no indication that Trump himself, or members of his family, are among those who will be indicted initially.

How Bill Barr's 'clean-up exercise' to save his reputation reveals he's far more corrupt than anyone realized: columnist

Former Attorney General William Barr is attempting to resuscitate his image after two years of using the Justice Department as a partisan defense agency for former President Donald Trump. In a new interview with reporter Jonathan Karl, Barr claimed he always knew Trump's election conspiracy theories were "bullsh*t" and that then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) begged him to help push back on them.

But on Monday, writing for The Washington Post's "The Plum Line," columnist Greg Sargent argued that far from exonerating him, Barr's new revelations show the depths of his corruption.

"Having gone to extraordinary lengths to help Donald Trump corrupt the presidency, William P. Barr is working overtime to launder his post-Trump reputation," wrote Sargent. "But the former attorney general's latest clean-up exercise may end up showing that the stain of his corruption is even darker than we thought — in a way that soils other Republicans as well."

The problem is that at the same time Barr was allegedly standing up to Trump's attacks on the election, he also made a major policy change at the Justice Department, authorizing U.S. Attorneys to investigate election fraud — and throwing fuel on the fire even as he allegedly knew there was nothing to Trump's "big lie."

"Barr is unintentionally admitting that he ordered a highly controversial change in department policy — one designed to insulate the department from getting drawn into disputes over election outcomes — even though he had already concluded there was no basis to the election fraud claims," wrote Sargent. "The least charitable interpretation here is that Barr ordered the shift to sustain Trump's narrative of a fraudulent election ... The more charitable interpretation is that Barr greenlighted election fraud investigations merely to arm himself to contest Trump's pressure to demonstrate that his loss was illegitimate. But even if so, the shift was still made to placate Trump."

Barr's telling of these events is also damning for McConnell, wrote Sargent: "Barr told Karl that McConnell had privately urged him to go public all along with the truth about fake election fraud. McConnell didn't want to publicly take on Trump, fearing it would imperil GOP chances in the Georgia runoffs ... But here again, it's even worse than this. Recall that both GOP candidates in Georgia endorsed that Texas lawsuit to overturn the results based on fictions, and both supported GOP efforts to invalidate President Biden's electors in Congress. There is little chance this wasn't done in consultation with McConnell, to keep Trump voters engaged."

Ultimately, concluded Sargent, everything Barr said "strengthens the case for a fuller fumigation of Trump's effort to subvert the election — and his bone deep corruption of the government to help him do it."

You can read more here.


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