Walter Einenkel

Former Trump party planner testified on Ivanka's 'improper' involvement in inauguration planning

Shortly before and after Donald Trump's failed attempt to overthrow the 2020 election results, both Ivanka and Donald Jr. were called to give depositions by the D.C. Attorney General's office and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine. Since January 2020, AG Racine has been investigating the use of Trump's Inauguration monies toward Trump Organization interests.

In February of 2021, Don Jr.'s deposition reportedly "raised further questions" in prosecutors' minds as to the legality of the monetary dealings going on in Trumpland.

According to Racine, the dirty dealings are simple: the Trump family used nonprofit, charitable funds from the Inaugural Committee to pay the for-profit Trump Organization in an illegal fashion. That includes jacking up Trump hotel room costs to reportedly using "several hundred thousand dollars" in Inaugural Committee funds to throw private parties for themselves and those around the MAGA orbit. Now, the D.C. Attorneys General office is focusing in on Junior and his dad's circle of Trump Organization operatives.

Ample evidence has filtered out over the past year in the form of emails and receipts. Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, former Trump family friend who helped with organizing inaugural events has since provided much of the evidence seen by reporters. Winston Wolkoff told The Daily Beast, "The world's about to learn how Trump's inner circle—with Trump's full knowledge—took advantage of the presidential inauguration." Winston Wolkoff's emails show that she raised concerns about possible price-gouging on the part of the Trump Organization in regards to services being paid for by the Inaugural Committee. She tweeted out Monday morning:

I testified that I found Ivanka's involvement in the PIC "improper" and "out of the ordinary." These are the facts and people must know the truth. She is Dishonest, Deceitful, and Duplicitous. That is a fact.

Ivanka Trump, best known for pretending to create policy for her dad as a top adviser, gave a deposition that reportedly made it sound like she has never met anyone in the Trump Organization and doesn't even understand how companies and stuff work. This bit of ignorance was also mirrored by her older brother Don Jr. who reportedly couldn't remember whether or not he did anything regarding anything in the history of anything, during his deposition.

Here's Junior praising Winston Wolkoff at an inauguration party he told prosecutors he couldn't recall attending.

Pay no attention to the swamp! Instead, remember that Jewish liberals are trying to turn Dr. Seuss into a Muslim by canceling Christmas. David Corn of Mother Jones reports Ivanka Trump may have "testified inaccurately during her deposition."

During a December 1 deposition—in which she swore to tell the truth—Ivanka Trump, the eldest daughter of Donald Trump who was an executive at the Trump Organization before becoming a White House adviser to her father, was asked if she had any "involvement in the process of planning the inauguration." She replied, "I really didn't have an involvement." Ivanka testified that if her "opinion was solicited" regarding an inauguration event, she "would give feedback to my father or to anyone who asked my perspective or opinion." And that was as far as her participation went.

Emails and other documents show that Ivanka was involved with all kinds of Inaugural Committee decisions, including the menus for inaugural events. Peculiar that it slipped her mind, right? In fact, even Ivanka's downplaying of her personal relationship with Winston Wolkoff during her deposition—in which Ivanka described her relationship with Winston Wolkoff as that of a service industry acquaintance—is belied by emails and text messages obtained by Mother Jones between the two women. They include plans for dinners and "catching up," as well as talk about their children and families. None of that is criminal, but lying during your deposition can be a little bit illegal, and definitely peculiar.

Speaking of peculiar: Back in New York, one of the big players in the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, played what the Daily Beast has called a "peculiar role in reviewing financial transactions of what's supposed to be the independent inaugural committee—something far outside his duties at the family company." Weisselberg has been the Trump family CFO and bookkeeper since the 1970s. He has been deposed by prosecutors in New York, as they look into his taxes as well as other very Trumpian things, and has been implicated in crimes that sent other Trump confidants to prison.

According to the Daily Beast, Weisselberg isn't the only person D.C. investigators are trying to question; Texas financier and Don Jr.'s college chum Gentry Beach (real name) served on the finance committee for the inauguration. Beach is reportedly the fellow that coordinated the almost $50,000 in hotel room business expenses, charged to the for-profit Trump Organization that was somehow paid for by the nonprofit Inaugural Committee. Investigators are also trying to interview Kara Hanley as "a former executive assistant" to the Trump family business who made it onto the "friend and families" lists for these sketchy inaugural events.

Unfortunately, Weisselberg, Beach, and Hanley all live more than 25 miles away from D.C., and technically cannot be compelled to appear at a future trial. As a result, D.C. Attorney General Racine is hoping to compel their testimony to be preserved in the form of a deposition. His case, unlike the one in New York, is not a criminal case, but a civil case. Racine said he hopes to, if proven, get charitable money returned from the people in the Trump Organization who stole it, to charitable organizations.

A hearing on getting these three depositions was set for Monday, but was canceled Sunday, by Judge José M. López. A new date for the D.C. Attorney General Office to argue its case for these deposition.

Newly released records show the staggering number of Secret Service agents who contracted COVID-19 under Trump

In 2020, during the Trump administration, 881 active Secret Service employees were diagnosed with COVID-19. This, according to records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), included a majority, 477, of secret service "special agents," and 249 from the "uniformed division." This follows suit with the scant information that leaked out early on during the pandemic, when it was known that the Secret Service was facing at least 11 active COVID-19 cases and dozens more in quarantine because of exposure.

The FOIA documents do not give granular details about which agents may or may not have been in daily contact with Trump or his administration's personnel. Analysis by CREW of the documents obtained does give this peek into how dangerous a job being a Secret Service employee was under a science-denying administration: "The list consists of 477 Special Agents, 249 members of the Uniformed Division, 131 working in Administrative, Professional, Technical Positions, 12 Investigative Protection Officers and 12 Technical Security Investigators." Those 477 "special agents" are employees in the division that "is responsible for protecting the president and vice president, as well as the families of these leaders and other government officials."

Back in October of 2020, Donald Trump was being treated for COVID-19, getting jacked up on steroids, at Walter Reed Medical Center, Maryland. After releasing a short video where he told Americans that "It's been a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about Covid. I learned it by really going to school. This is the REAL school. This isn't the 'let's read the book' school. And I get it. And I understand it. And it's a very interesting thing." Trump appeared for a photo op, driving around and waving at supporters who had gathered at the hospital.

Whether or not the Secret Service agents forced to protect this sick and self-absorbed man ended up sick themselves is unknown. What is known is that the Trump administration frequently flaunted their disregard for CDC public health warnings, and recommendations to wear masks and socially distance one another. The Secret Service was also forced to protect every anti-science member of the Trump family during the pandemic. The list of administration officials and people within the range of the corrupt Republican administration who tested positive was long and never-ending. It was known that more than 130 Secret Service officers were in quarantine after President Joe Biden won the election in Nov. 2020.

If those records and the Secret Service's own numbers are to be believed, almost 14% of the entire "workforce contracted COVID-19—including more than 19 percent of the uniformed service," between March of 2020 and March of 2021. ABC News spoke with Secret Service spokesperson Justine Whelan who said that "Now and throughout the pandemic, the Secret Service was fully prepared and staffed to successfully meet these challenges." I do not doubt that the Secret Service in our country worked double time to do the very difficult job they had. It's just disappointing that America forced them to have to do that job for such an awful set of people.

'It's a climate catastrophe': Most of the salmon in California's 2nd largest river dead or dying

The Klamath flows from Oregon into Northern California. The second largest river in California is home to marine life like salmon and trout and has served as the life force for many communities around its more than 250-mile stretch for thousands of years. The Yurok Tribe has shared the Klamath basin with Redwood National Park for many years now. In May, the tribe released an emergency statement about the dire state of salmon in the river, the result of a historic two-year drought.

According to the Yurok Tribe, their Yurok Fisheries Department monitors the salmon life in the river at the start of the season every year. The life cycle of the Klamath salmon begin up north by the Yurok tribe, then those baby salmon make their way down river to mature, returning further north at the end of the season to lay eggs for the circle to begin again. However, due to historically low water levels in the river, the deadly pathogen Ceratonova shasta has been able to proliferate unabated. According to the Yurok, this has meant they are finding dead and diseased baby salmon in their monitoring traps at alarming rates.

According to SFGate, hundreds of thousands of baby salmon are dying off as a result of the C. shasta parasite. The Yurok estimate that around 70% of the baby salmon have been infected with the pathogen. This is a devastating kill-off that has far-reaching ramifications for the species as a whole, as the fewer fish that make it to maturity, fewer fish can return to complete and rebirth the life cycle.

The Yurok Tribe's reservation makes up a 40-mile-long stretch of the Klamath river. The tribe monitors the fish by trapping both living and dead salmon, testing what they trap, releasing the living salmon back into the river, and reporting on what they find. According to the statement, most of the fish are either dead or dying from the parasite, "The juvenile fish kill will limit salmon production for many years to come. It will also negatively impact many other native species, ranging from orcas to osprey, because salmon play such an essential role in the overall ecosystem."

Barry McCovey Jr., Yurok fisheries director, told SFGate that while C. shasta has flourished before, for example during the 2014-2015 drought, its impact this year is far worse than anything they have ever seen. "It's a climate catastrophe. The impacts are very real to the people here on the Klamath River. We understand these fish aren't going to return in the numbers we need them to be when they come back as adults to feed the tribe and to support the local businesses and the local fisherman. There's an entire industry up here that's dependent on these fish."

The statement was in no small part a response to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's announcement that it would be reducing California's water allocations due to worsening drought conditions. The reductions hurt farmers, and in the case of the Klamath River, the ability to create "flow increase," which can help lessen the proliferation of deadly pathogens like C. shasta. Vice Chairman Frankie Myers took his and other Klamath groups' plea to the government: "What Klamath Basin communities are facing right now is the definition of a disaster. It is also the new normal. Substantial water shortages are along-predicted symptom of climate change. There is an urgent need for an equitable federal disaster relief bill that addresses the immediate needs of our communities and establishes a foundation from which to build a more resilient ecology and economy in the Klamath Basin. We owe it to future generations to never let another juvenile fish kill like this happen again. We need to act now before it is too late for the Klamath salmon."

This is the new normal, sadly. Climate change is real and these kinds of events—ones we term "historic"—will continue to take place. The federal and state governments are between a rock and a hard place. Without better infrastructure systems set up and worsening drought conditions, there is only so much water to go around.

"The drought is turning out to be even more severe than people were anticipating a month or two ago because this spring was really dry," said Ellen Hanak, vice president and director of the Public Policy Institute of California's Water Policy Center.

"Usually, you get a bit of help with some late spring storms, and we didn't," Hanak said. "Plus, it's been dry and warm, so the snowpack just kind of disappeared."

California's Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed a $5.1 billion investment in drought preparedness and declared drought emergencies in 41 California counties. Many people suspect Newsom will announce urban water consumption reductions in the coming months, though he has yet to do so. Newsom's position at this point seems to be that local agencies should have the right to make decisions on conservation in their areas. A part of this is the varying local investments done after the last drought, increasing the economic imbalances we seen over the years. It is also not hard to imagine that after a historic health and economic crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the incoherently toxic anti-mask and public health mandate conservative movement combined with the political theater of an upcoming recall election, might be creating political ambivalence on the part of Newsom.

It's hard to say and there are no easy answers, but one thing is clear: Climate change and environmental catastrophes affect us all.

Please enjoy this entertaining Marco Rubio meltdown

One of the reasons why Donald Trump was so successful in wiping the floor with the Republican field in the 2015 GOP primaries was the fact that every single other Republican running was demonstrably cowardly and duplicitous. This isn't to say that Donald Trump wasn't equally cowardly and duplicitous, but because he was less of a known political figure, his lambasting of people like Jeb! and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and John Kasich delighted both conservatives and liberals alike. While Trump was also projecting his own vile intentions and heart upon others, he wasn't lying about the grotesqueness of these politicians' lack of integrity.

The entire political sphere proved him right in fact. The same conservative operators that pointed out how racist and incompetent and awful a potential leader Trump would be all ended up working for him and continue to remain complicit in the misinformations he helped focus against our democracy.This is why calling Florida man Marco Rubio "lil' Marco" remains a term used by the entire gamut of the political spectrum. The withering misery that is lil' Marco Rubio continues to this day. With the announcement by Democratic Rep. Val Demings of Florida that she plans to run for the lil' Senator's seat, the bad bible Rubio went to his social media accounts to insult and lie and generally freak out loud about Val Demings. Rubio's attempts at snark and political point-building failed miserably, as every single social media screech he made was covered in an avalanche of responses.

Rubio began by pinning a video tweet of him insulting Demings and characterizing her as a "far-left, liberal Democrat." Demings poses a real threat to Rubio not because of the blue D next to her name, but because she's a former police chief in Florida. The lazy conservative narrative that the Democratic Party is going to give poor people of color your middle class home by ending law enforcement is going to be a harder sell for the waterlogged mind of Marco.

Rubio subsequently tweeted out a video of conservative boogeyman Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota with the header "Val Demings votes with [emoji pointing to clip] over 90% of the time." If lil' Marco wants to talk about voting records…

And as the day progressed, the Twitterverse let Marco know what they thought about this upcoming election.

And let's be clear. Marco Rubio isn't innocuous because of his diminutive levels of integrity.

And Marco retreated to throwing a dart at his copy of The Weymouth New Testament.

We can only hope Floridians are allowed to get out and vote the way our democracy is supposed to work. If that happens, Rubio will likely just start tweeting out entire epistles written by Paul.

Dubious educational agency backed by Trump and DeVos is stripped of its powers

Reagan National University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is no longer an accredited university. To anyone with half an education, this is no surprise. The only reason the school had received accreditation in the first place was because under previous Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the dubious Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools (ACICS) was resurrected to give it the distinction. This is a school that USA Today investigated and found had "no students, no faculty and no classrooms."

On June 2, the Biden administration's Education Department announced that Reagan National University lost its accreditation and would no longer receive federal funds for the no students, no classrooms, and no faculty that it never had. In fact, Deputy Undersecretary for Education Jordan Matsudaira wrote that ACICS would no longer be recognized as a worthwhile arbiter of which schools should and should not receive federal funds. "ACICS's significant and systemic non-compliance with multiple regulatory recognition criteria leaves me no reasonable option but to terminate its recognition, effective immediately."

After the ACICS had accredited ITT Tech, Corinthian Colleges, and Brightwood College—all for-profit schools that closed after stealing billions from students and cheating them out of an education—President Barack Obama stripped the agency of its powers. DeVos and Donald Trump then reinstated the disgraced agency's powers, and one of the first places ACICS accredited was the student and faculty-free Reagan National University. As USA Today found when they investigated the school last year:

The university's president – Harold Harris, per the school's website – was similarly invisible. University presidents often serve as an institution's public face. The only face on Reagan National's site was the institution's namesake U.S. president. The president of the university on the South Dakota business license was listed as "Xuanhua Fan."

Only the best people. The Biden administration's move means that about 60 colleges that received their accreditation from ACICS will now have "18 months to find a new accreditor if they want to keep accessing federal money." For its part, ACICS told the press that it will be appealing this decision and, according to a statement put on ACICS' website:

ACICS will appeal the SDO decision to the Secretary. We have worked too hard over the past five years to strengthen our organization, our accountability, our procedures, and accreditation criteria not to fight this decision. All that we ask is that a decision regarding our continued recognition be driven by the improvements we have made and our effectiveness as an accreditor today, not by policy priorities and outside pressure from political activists. Every accreditor should be given that opportunity. And every accreditor should be deeply concerned if our appeal to the Secretary is denied.

I mean, accrediting a school with no faculty and no student body is "no bueno." (That's first-year, high school language Spanish for "no good.") Maybe ACICS will give me accreditation as a Spanish language teacher? They shouldn't, but they just might!

Career staffers at the Education Department concluded in January that the ACICS had done a poor job of training employees to conduct site visits, failed to address conflicts of interest and lacked the finances to sustain itself in the long term. Months later, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity in an 11-to-1 vote recommended the council be stripped of its authority.

The DeVos Education Department, like the rest of the Trump administration, seemed driven entirely by billionaire profiteering, using fearmongering and white supremacist dive and conquer tactics. Students, as a rule, disliked DeVos' ideas because it's hard to respect an adult who doesn't respect you. Like many in the last swamp-filled administration, DeVos seemed to either be so ignorant that she treated students like they did not know any better, or treated them that way because she thought they were unintelligent. Maybe it isn't a binary. Maybe she's just so ignorant that she believes everyone else is more ignorant than she?

Trump-loving West Virginia governor admits he's on the hook for $700 million loan

Republican Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia is your run-of-the-mill Trumpian billionaire. He is considered the wealthiest person in West Virginia even though he's something of a deadbeat, living off of subsidies, and failing ever upward. He mindlessly parrots whatever the conservative culture war persecution complex-of-the-day may be. Like Trump, Justice owns a golf course. And like Trump, Justice has reportedly made his life's work dodging taxes and not paying his bills.

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Gov. Jim Justice was personally on the hook for $700 million in loans taken out for his coal interests from investment fund Greensill Capital, based in the U.K. Greensill Capital has gone bankrupt, with a Swiss bank freezing the fund in March. According to the WSJ, Justice's Bluestone Resources Inc., which had expected an abeyance on paying off the loans until 2023, was in talks with the bank. On Tuesday, justice confirmed that the Journal story was, in fact, true. Please grab your tissues and your tiniest violin.

Justice told reporters that this large loan is now "a burden on our family beyond belief, and we'll have to deal with it. It's tough, it is really tough." The WSJ reports that Greensill "packaged the loans and sold them to investment funds managed by Credit Suisse Group AG," and with the freezing of the company's assets, Credit Suisse was "under pressure" to get back some of the money lost—and fast. Justice's Bluestone was named by Credit Suisse as one of Greensill's three top borrowers, and so the clock has begun ticking.

According to justice, his son (who serves as the CEO of the company while Justice is governor) told him he had spoken to Greensill just two days before the company filed for bankruptcy. According to Justice, Greensill told them everything was going swell. It must be a weird feeling to be told one thing and then realize you are being lied to and a lot of your money is about to disappear down a hole, right?

Sadly, the richest man in West Virginia, estimated up until this past year of being worth $1.2 billion, is now pegged at $450 million, according to Forbes. Of course, based on reporting done on Justice's penchant for being tardy with bills, the chances that Credit Suisse is going to be seeing a check soon are slim to none.

Since 2016 courts have ordered Justice and his companies to pay more than $10 million to more than a dozen suppliers, workers and government entities. Over the same time, his companies also piled up $13 million-plus in tax liens. He claims to have paid off many of these. Still looming: another $60 million in potential damages in a civil case awaiting final judgment, plus up to $3 million in fines in Kentucky. And then there's mine reclamation. By federal law, when a surface mine closes, the operator has to restore the landscape. Virginia's Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy estimates that Justice's coal companies face $200 million in reclamation liabilities. (Justice claims it will cost closer to $10 million.)

Justice owns over 100 companies, according to Forbes, that historically brought in about $450 million annually. However, that profit only provides somewhere in the vicinity of $20 million annually for the Justice family.

Justice, like his buddy Trump, is litigious. He sues people and is sued routinely. Bluestone sued Greensill for fraud in March, after the bankruptcy filing. Justice told reporters that his family plans to "continue to pay our obligations and move forward."

Son of Jeb! launches campaign by boasting that he’s the only Bush who Donald Trump likes

Did you know there's another Bush politician? No, not warmongering party guy. Not warmongering scary CIA guy. Not the boring guy that Donald Trump used as a punching bag. It's the son of Jeb and the grandson of George H.—it's George P. Bush! The "P" stands for psycho-phant Prescott. George P. has announced he will run for Texas attorney general. He's got a chance as the current attorney general in Texas is Ken Paxton, and unlike Ken Paxton, P. Bush has not yet been indicted for securities fraud.

But what else does a Bush need to run successfully in the Lone Star State? It used to be enough for granddaddy Bush to throw some money around, get some press, and tell Texans that having a Bush as an elected official meant good things for Texas. But times have changed, and MAGA Republicans have moved on to a new dynastic despot: Donald Trump. Donald Trump has said very nasty things about the Bush clan, hasn't he? Oh yes, he has. In fact, George P. Bush's own mother was the focus of one of Trump's more racist attacks on Jeb, saying that the fact that she was of Mexican decent made Jeb soft on immigration. But it seems like George P. Bush has sufficiently kissed the orange-tanned sprayed ring of the Donald enough to feel confident in promoting some truly self-humiliating swag for his campaign.

George P. Bush surprised many by endorsing Trump's 2016 election bid when many other establishment Republican refused to. While it shows the kind of honest sociopathy of the cravenly ambitious, P. Bush's decision to support the man who said very unpolitical and shitty things about his father was only one step worse than the rest of the Republican Party, who correctly called Trump a terrible person only to turn around and follow him into a global health and economic crisis. Politico reported last week that Trump, while not endorsing anyone, has publicly referred to Prescott as "the only Bush who got it right."

Guess what? On Wednesday, P. Bush reportedly took advantage of that perverse cuckoldry-adjacent endorsement.

Watching Trump beat up on the Bush family, from matriarch Barbara Bush on down to Jeb and the Georges, was a guilty pleasure for many Americans during the 2015 Republican primaries. It was a pleasure because the Bush family is terrible. The decisions they've made in power have in no small part led to a world where three-quarters of Republicans believe in some truly depressing conspiracy theory concerning wealthy land-owning billionaires and their sex trafficking, while voting for a wealthy land-owning billionaire with nothing but sexual assault allegations against him.

"The thousand points of light, what the hell was that, by the way?" Trump said. "Thousand points of light, what did that mean? Does anyone know? I know one thing: Make America Great Again, we understand. Putting America First, we understand. Thousand points of light, I never quite got that one. What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out? And it was put out by a Republican, wasn't it?"

Now, George W. should have been impeached for the Iraq war, something a 2013 Trump agreed with. But Trump's more level political attacks are always mixed with his strangely personal attacks, and after her death the idea that Trump—a Republican—felt the need to tell the press that Barbara Bush was "nasty to him," seemed … a little much. Then again, Trump's buddy Roger Stone, in defending Donald Trump, wrote that Barbara Bush was "Nasty, rude, vindictive, entitled, self-important - that's the woman I had several unpleasant encounters with." If you aren't following, Barbara is P. Bush's grandmother.

Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for the 2004 Bush-Cheney presidential campaign, told CNN: "The Republican Party has become the party of Donald Trump ... It just tells you a complete story of the Republican Party today that he would abandon his family in this regard and basically suck up to Donald Trump." Saying Prescott had lost his "family values," Dowd went on to say that P.'s abandonment of his family for political gain "really does tell a tale of the Republican Party — instead of candidates with principle leaving the party and saying I'm not part of that anymore, they stick it out and in order to stick it out they cozy up to Donald Trump no matter what they have to sacrifice, including family bonds and values."

In reality's defense, Dowd's magical Republican Party never existed and the people he worked for are war criminals. George P. Bush, like incumbent attorney general Paxton, are both terrible people with no moral boundaries that power and money cannot move. Besides the indictments against him, people working alongside Paxton have asked for him to be investigated for corruption. Donald Trump's camp has reportedly not yet said whether he will be able to get away from the ongoing federal investigations into his Trump Organization's malfeasance to support Paxton or Bush.

'Behind us': Mitch McConnell giggles as he shares his extremely whitewashed version of US history

The New York Times' 1619 Project was created in order to refocus American history on its story of race and economics. The 1619 date is a reminder of the first enslaved Africans brought by ship to the early European settlements in North and South America. This is history that has long been available to people to discover, but has also been ignored and frequently hidden or suppressed in our country's official retellings of our collective story. Conservatives across the country, bereft of any ideas since feudalism, are recasting the 1619 Project and other critical race theory educational initiatives as an attack on our country. In their estimation, only white males like themselves are allowed to feel persecuted, and any discussion of race and the moral anchor that systemic racism has moored our country's progress forward is an assault on their monopoly on power. They are right about the latter.

On Wednesday, Sen. McConnell took time away from never passing any legislation that wasn't voter suppression-related or a tax break for the richest amongst us, to speak at a press conference in the Citizens Union Bank in Shelbyville, Kentucky. McConnell's fellow Kentuckian Republican Rep. Joseph Fischer recently filed Bill Request 60, for the upcoming 2022 state legislature session that would limit how race and the history of racism in our country is taught. Here's an elementary school level bit of math for you: Kentucky + Republican Rep. + bill about the teaching of race and racism = X* Here's another equation for you math nerds: Mitch McConnell + statement about race and education + microphone = X**

*Answer: Imaginably racist.

**Answer: Very imaginably racist.

On Wednesday, McConnell told the press that the fact the world participated in slavery and the slave trade during the 17th century means that in America historians marking the first enslaved Africans brought to the Americas isn't important history. That's what he argued.

"Behind us?"

Man, turtles live a long time.

McConnell's answer came out of a question from The Courier Journal concerning his support or opposition to the kinds of constraints his fellow Republicans are trying to put on public school teachers and educators. He went on to say that the federal government shouldn't tell schools what to teach, and he also didn't seem to knock the fact that Republicans across the country are the only political group telling schools what they should teach.

Mitch McConnell has previously described the focus on the 1619 date in American history as an "exotic notion." He has also categorized any push for education curriculums to include more comprehensive teaching on systemic racism, "activist indoctrination." McConnell's intellectually dishonest angle on the 1619 date is that by calling attention to our country's founding dependence on cheap labor and the evolution of our nation's racism, we "denigrate and downgrade" other, more positive and less uncomfortable, achievements that our country has made.

It's a garbage argument as pointing out our country's systemic racism, and very specifically highlighting 1619 as a date, is clearly an important part of our nation's story. Millions of Americans of all races, cultures, and creeds have been directly affected, and continue to be affected, by those decisions. The Civil War that McConnell says put this sin "behind us," is only fought because of that date, and to deny it and the existence of its reach is incongruous with even the words coming out of the Kentucky senator's disingenuous yap.

McConnell's attempt at speaking out of both sides of his mouth included this statement: "I think trying to completely denigrate and downgrade American historical moments like 1776, 1787, 1965—critical moments—is a mistake." If you want to know what truly denigrates and downgrades our country's history, and specifically what those dates mark, all you need to see are McConnell's own actions in orchestrating a filibuster of a commission into the events of Jan. 6—something that had the bipartisan support of his own constituents. As for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Republican Party is in the middle of generating hundreds of voter suppression laws throughout the country.

Here's McConnell telling people that systemic racism and our country's use of slavery and racism as a controlling economic foundation is "exotic."

UofL VP of diversity and equity calls McConnell 1619 comments 'troubling'

The Senate Minority Leader said he disagreed with The New York Times' '1619 project.'

Ted Cruz actually promotes a Russian army recruitment video to mock the US military

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas mostly spends his days saying foolish and easily debunked things out loud and then tweeting out similar witless things. It's not a unique stance for a Republican to take these days. In fact, it seems to be the GOP's concept of a job description now that the party has zero policy ideas. On Thursday, Cruz decided to retweet an edited comparison of a purported 2021 Russian military recruitment commercial and the much-fretted about in the right-wingosphere U.S. military advertisement considered too "woke." He wrote "Holy crap. Perhaps a woke, emasculated military is not the best idea...."

What passes as clever in right-wing circles is historically lame, and the intention of Cruz and the person that juxtaposed the videos is to show how soft and weak our country's recruitment advertisements are in comparison to the very manly Russian recruitment video. One video is shot using single-light sources, with darkness and shadows adding dramatic grittiness, while the other video employs animation and bright colors to promise a more inclusive and positive experience. It's a recruitment video, to be clear. The tweet was so homophobic, so sexist, and so archaic you wouldn't believe someone could be so backward as to believe it funny. But of course, we are talking about Ted Cruz, the epitome of Republican "manhood."

Let me preface this by saying I'm not a fan of military recruitment ad campaigns in general. They give me the jingoistic willies and the use of the military as a funnel for military contractors and siphoning money away from more productive avenues of investment is a never-ending source of consternation for me and other commies. But the idea of a military recruitment video that attempts to attract people who look, and hopefully act, more like people such as Sen. Tammy Duckworth than, say, Sen. Ted Cruz, makes sense. In fact, even if you are going by Cruz's own old-timey concepts of strength, masculinity, and integrity, Tammy Duckworth is your still your soldier.

Cruz is a man who let another man accuse Ted's own father of murder and called Ted's wife ugly and grotesque. Cruz then made arguably the lamest pantomime of what he clearly considers to be masculinity, which he promptly reversed course on when Donald Trump became president. What makes this cisgender bullshit bit of archaic heteronormativity quadruply pathetic is that the cis male douchebag pushing it so clearly fails in every category that he proclaims to believe proves one's manhood. This is true of all the right-wing operatives. I'm looking at people like Tucker Carlson, whose shrill cries for things to revert 100 years backward don't cover up the fact they they are bagmen for wealthier interests.

Forget the fact that the Russian military ad looks like a video game commercial for a World War II-themed game, and forget the fact that the Russian recruitment video is arguably the single most homoerotic thing you'll see this year. Is Cruz under the impression that modern warfare consists of pushup contests and poorly lit cage matches? The last Republican president's idea for a military advertisement used Russian military planes instead of American ones, by the by. The Twitterverse made sure Cruz got to hear the sound of a thunderous ratio.

For the old-timey among us.

Remember this?

How about this?

Food for thought.

And simply:

Ted Cruz ignores Amy Klobuchar to tweet about Dr. Pepper during voting rights committee

On Tuesday, a Senate Rules Committee convened to discuss S. 1, the For the People Act. The Republican Party is unified under one thing: not passing any legislation that would strengthen our economy, our working citizens, and our democracy. This means that the session was filled with "a series of party-line votes on amendments made clear there is little ground for compromise," and will only be brought to the Senate floor and voted for by Democratic representatives of our country. The good news for the country in this regard is that the Democratic representatives of our government actually represent the vast majority of American citizens. The bad news is that people like Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas are still in our government. This means that very few amendments to the bill have been agreed upon. Sen. Mitch McConnell's only job in his many decades as a legislator has been to not pass legislation.

During the session, Cruz gave his usual factually incorrect, high school debate team-level rhetoric about how the Democratic Party is trying to create federal voting rights legislation that would foster a mythological mass voter fraud wave. This—coming from a person who pushed for the Jan. 6 insurrection against our democracy—is not simply rich, it's the Ted Cruz brand and the reason that no one who has ever worked with him likes him. Cruz's insistence on saying that the Democratic bill would allow "millions of people to vote illegally" was repeatedly challenged not only by reality and Cruz's inability to provide a shred of evidence to support such a hyperbolic statement, but by Democratic senators like Amy Klobuchar. Of course, after speaking obnoxiously for the cameras during the committee, Cruz was somehow able to be even more obnoxious, playing with his phone while not bloviating.

It wasn't the first time that Cruz's inability to put his phone down and pay attention to his job has been noted. And like the last time, Cruz chose to retreat into his phone in order to block out the repugnant retelling of his actions and the actions of people who actually listen and think that Cruz believes even one iota of the garbage that spews out of his face. Klobuchar has a history of calling out Cruz's tendency to lie and obfuscate the truth of things, and Tuesday was no exception.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR: When in fact you, Senator Cruz—not all of your colleagues here today—you were contesting the electoral college. You were leading—one of the leaders on the effort to say that the election results were not correct. And so, you wonder why we want to make sure people have the right to vote?

In the video that you can watch below, Cruz can be seen being in his resting place: a state of complete obnoxiousness. He's playing on his phone, sitting with the posture of a man who has thrown every person in his life under the bus numerous times in pursuit of personal glory. Was Cruz answering serious emails or texts about policy? Was Teddy sending his Venmo account email to a big money donor? No. Somehow Cruz was doing even less. Mediaite points out that right at that exact moment, it seems that what Cruz was actually doing was perusing Twitter and retweeting an image of himself in action.

Dr. Pepper is a Texas-based brand started in Waco a little less than 150 years ago. Cruz is known to drink a lot of Dr. Pepper, and in fact reportedly has a Dr. Pepper-branded, supermarket-sized refrigerator in his Senate office. The Recount account made sure to recognize the fact that Cruz couldn't be bothered to listen to a response to the super duper long-winded drivel he vomited into the public sphere just moments before.

And because Cruz—who likes to lie about not wasting taxpayer money on fake chaperone trips to Cancun with his wife and kids while Texas is under ice and emergency—figured his next best move was to lie some more.

Klobuchar is clearly not reading a statement. She's pointing out that Cruz's make-em-up talking point is in fact a lie made by a liar whose only interest in the concept of democracy revolves around using the word "democracy" to sell himself.

In Ted's defense, this is what he's been teaching his daughters their whole lives. His miraculous bootlicking of Donald Trump after Trump's attacks on their mother and their grandfather should serve as a reminder of the kind of character and integrity Cruz fails to have.

Sen. Ted Cruz tweets about Dr. Pepper while being addressed concerning the serious events of Jan. 6


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