If Congress doesn’t work out for Representative Andy Biggs, he may have a future writing campaign ads … for Democrats. The Arizona Republican admitted his party has accomplished “nothing” while in control of the House.
During a Thursday appearance on Newsmax, Biggs acknowledged the “embarrassing” truth: The GOP hasn’t managed to get anything done since taking control of the House of Representatives in 2022.
“We have nothing, in my opinion, we have nothing to go out there and campaign on, Chris!” Biggs told host Chris Salcedo. “It’s embarrassing!”
Salcedo echoed the sentiment: “The Republican Party in the congressional majority has zero accomplishments.”
Biggs: We have nothing to campaign on. It’s embarrassing
Salcedo: The Republican Majority has zero accomplishments pic.twitter.com/5ay2zKEzZP
— Acyn (@Acyn) January 4, 2024 The 118th Congress has passed just two dozen bills in its two-year session. Previous congresses have typically passed between 300 and 450 laws. Even when Republicans controlled both chambers under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, those sessions still managed to pass more than 70 laws.
Most of the current congressional session has been taken up instead by Republican in-fighting that resulted in two separate tortuous rounds of voting for a speaker. First in January 2022 for Kevin McCarthy and then again in October 2023 after McCarthy was ousted for making too many deals with Democrats.
Biggs is partially to blame for the lack of accomplishments, though. A member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, Biggs ran against McCarthy for speaker, contributing to the dragged-out chamber vote.
Biggs has repeatedly blocked budget bills, claiming he wants to decrease government spending but really helping push the U.S. dangerously close to a shutdown multiple times over the course of 2023. He also voted to oust McCarthy as speaker, plunging the House into chaos as the chamber scrambled to elect a new leader.
This is now at least the second time a Republican has publicly called out the GOP for getting nothing done. Texas Representative Chip Roy excoriated his colleagues in November during a House session.
“One thing. I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing. One. That I can go campaign on and say we did,” Roy said. “One!”
“Anybody sitting in the complex, if you want to come down to the floor and come explain to me one material, meaningful, significant thing the Republican majority has done besides well, ‘I guess it’s not as bad as the Democrats.’”
Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” brand apparently worked so well for the former president’s prospects that his campaign has decided to use it again, this time copying and pasting the phrase into a GOP primary flier.
But now, Trump has a new target: Ron DeSantis.
The flier, which flooded mailboxes in Iowa, accuses DeSantis of attempting to “rig” the Iowa GOP primary.
“Stop the fraud. Reject DeSantis on January 15,” the flier reads, including a quote from Trump that claims, “When you swamp them with enough votes, there’s a point at which they can only cheat so much.”
The charge stems from an interview in which DeSantis’s wife, Casey DeSantis, urged voters from around the nation to help their cause, claiming that “you do not have to be a resident of Iowa to be able to participate in the caucus,” though “participate” does not necessarily translate to “vote.”
Trump campaign out with a mailer in Iowa accusing DeSantis of trying to rig the caucuses https://t.co/EIJDVziWQ4 by @DashaBurns @jonallendc pic.twitter.com/4EtkazxENw
— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) January 5, 2024 The baseless accusation of more voter fraud comes as a sign of weakness, not strength, as Trump prepares to square up against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in the fast-approaching Republican primary. While Trump has led his competitors by a startling margin since the campaign began—and by nearly 50 percentage points at the time of publication—the pair do pose a serious if unconventional threat, particularly as the former president contends with several states removing him from the GOP ballot entirely on the basis of violating the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.
GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley tried to explain away her recent failure to mention slavery when describing the cause of the Civil War and instead used one of the oldest “I’m not racist” lines in the book.
Last month, Haley forgot to mention slavery when asked about the cause of the Civil War, but during Thursday night’s town hall, she said it’s only because she grew up in the South, where slavery doesn’t need to be mentioned. Also, she used to have a lot of Black friends growing up.
“Chris Christie, though, said you came out and gave that answer not because you’re in his words ‘dumb or racist,’ but because you’re unwilling to offend anyone by telling the truth. What do you say to that?” CNN anchor Erin Burnett asked Haley, referring to her recent Civil War gaffe.
“What I will tell you is that Chris Christie is from New Jersey,” Haley said after commenting that she’s never afraid to offend. “I should have said slavery right off the bat, but if you grow up in South Carolina, literally in second and third grade you learn about slavery. You grow up and you have—you know, I had Black friends growing up. It’s a very talked about thing. We have a big history in South Carolina when it comes to, you know, slavery, when it comes to all the things that happen with the Civil War, all that.”
“I was over—I was thinking past slavery and talking about the lesson that we would learn going forward,” the former U.N. ambassador added. “I shouldn’t have done that.”
Asked about her Civil War/slavery comments debacle, Haley says “I had Black friends going up.” pic.twitter.com/pFGbtoGFEm
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 5, 2024 “I knew half of South Carolinians saw the Confederate flag as heritage and tradition. The other half of South Carolinians saw it as slavery and hate. My job wasn’t to judge either side,” Haley continued, noting that “a leader doesn’t decide who’s right.”
The defense mode train of thought comes after a controversial campaign town hall held in North Conway, New Hampshire, last month, where the typically expedient politico stumbled and fumbled her way through answering what would better be likened to a middle school quiz question than a real stumper.
“What was the cause of the United States Civil War?” asked one audience member.
“Well, don’t come with an easy question,” the former South Carolina governor threw back before embarking on a response that made even Florida Governor Ron DeSantis comment “yikes.”
“I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run, the freedoms, and what people could and couldn’t do,” Haley said at the time.
“I think it always comes down to the role of government and what the rights of the people are,” Haley added. “And I will always stand by the fact that I think government was intended to secure the rights and freedoms of the people. It was never meant to be all things to all people. Government doesn’t need to tell you how to live your life. They don’t need to tell you what you can and can’t do. They don’t need to be a part of your life.”
Recent polling numbers have suggested that Haley could prove quite a challenge to the former president’s bid for the White House. A recent survey out of New Hampshire by the American Research Group predicted a Trump GOP primary win by a margin of just four percent—currying 37 percent of the Republican vote against potential runner-up Nikki Haley with 33 percent.
Donald Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba appeared to suggest that certain Supreme Court justices owe her former boss for their jobs and should therefore rule in his favor.
Habba, who seems to have a habit of saying things that are bad for the legitimacy of Trump’s case, appeared on Fox News Thursday night to discuss Trump being disqualified from the Colorado and Maine 2024 primary ballots. Trump has appealed the Maine decision, an indication he intends to take the case to the Supreme Court if necessary.
“I think it should be a slam dunk in the Supreme Court. I have faith in them,” Habba told host Sean Hannity. “People like Kavanaugh, who the president fought for, who the president went through hell to get into place. He’ll step up, those people will step up.”
“Not because they’re pro-Trump, but because they’re pro-law, because they’re pro-fairness. And the law on this is very clear.”
Habba: I think it should be a slam dunk in the supreme court. I have faith in them. You know, people like Kavanaugh, who the president fought for, who the president went through hell to get into place. He’ll step up. pic.twitter.com/gQo1h55t6N
— Acyn (@Acyn) January 5, 2024 Habba was referring specifically to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whose confirmation hearing was rocked by multiple sexual assault allegations. After a lengthy process, made especially painful by coming so soon after the #MeToo movement began, Kavanaugh was confirmed to the court. Trump did not actually do anything to help Kavanaugh except complain a lot on X, formerly Twitter.
As for Habba’s claim that the “law on this is very clear,” it actually isn’t. That’s why the Supreme Court might need to weigh in on the issue of Trump’s eligibility.
Trump was disqualified from the primary ballots in Colorado and Maine after the Colorado Supreme Court and Maine secretary of state determined in December that he had engaged in insurrection and was therefore constitutionally ineligible to run for president.
Dozens of similar cases are either ongoing or already decided in other states—and some of the outcomes have been the complete opposite. The secretaries of state in Michigan, Minnesota, and California have all determined that Trump will remain on their presidential ballots.
Multiple legal scholars have urged the justices to resolve the issue and provide a single rule for all states, instead of having a messy mix of some state ballots with Trump’s name and some without. It’s unclear how the Supreme Court will rule, though. Many of the justices, including some appointed by Trump, are hardline textualists and could actually rule that the Fourteenth Amendment applies to Trump, disqualifying him.
More on Trump’s legal woes:
Twitter’s algorithm is promoting what may be the most unsavory conspiracy theory yet: that the Perry, Iowa, high school shooting is somehow part of a larger Jeffrey Epstein cover-up.
Since Wednesday evening’s release of 943 pages of court documents related to Jeffrey Epstein’s child sex trafficking ring, the conspiracy theories have run amok. But now, X (formerly known as Twitter) is helping take it to the next level.
One post by a verified QAnon promoter became the center of attention, garnering the most views on the floundering social media platform for claiming that the Perry shooting was a “false flag” to “distract the media” from the release of the documents.
“Not even 24 hours after the Epstein court document was released we have multiple victims who were shot at Perry High School in Perry, Iowa,” posted user @ShadowofEzra, mere moments after 17-year-old student gunman Dylan Butler opened fire on his classmates, killing at least one person and leaving another five injured. It received more than 1.5 million views by the time of publication.
“Make no mistake this is a false flag to distract the media from discussing anything in relation to Jeffrey Epstein and his clients. As more names will be released in the coming days we expect more serious distractions and false flags,” the account added.
It was just one of dozens of QAnon accounts sharing the same sentiment.
The false flag disinformation narrative about the Perry High School shooting is spreading pretty quickly on Twitter/X, probably because the platform is leaving up all of the initial posts, which are among the first posts you see when you search for info about the shooting. pic.twitter.com/kK4O2obnID
— Caroline Orr Bueno, Ph.D (@RVAwonk) January 4, 2024 The wide spreading narrative is an entirely fabricated one, likely influenced by the conspiracy theorists’ own social media algorithms, which have been widely documented as drastically influencing users’ newsfeeds. Since Facebook was hounded for its role in promoting false news articles and memes planted by Russian-connected troll farms meant to influence the 2016 presidential election, social media algorithms have been roundly criticized for isolating users in feeds stacked with what they’d algorithmically prefer to see rather than what is actually happening.
In reality, practically every major news outlet has covered the recently unsealed documents—in just the last 24 hours, Google has recorded more than 3.8 million new items pertaining to the nine-years-in-the-making release, chief among them articles from reputable news outlets around the globe, including The New York Times, Al Jazeera, the BBC, the Associated Press, The Washington Post, and thousands of others.
Meanwhile, there were 134 incidents of gunfire on U.S. school grounds in 2023—translating to an attack less than every three days, according to data from Everytown for School Safety, a statistic that unfortunately makes the occurrence of a school shooting more likely than not, Epstein’s revelatory case files be damned.
But not everyone, including some candidates for the highest offices in government, appear to have performed even that miniscule amount of research before sharing their own conspiratorial opinions on the matter.
“Not even 12 hours after the Epstein documents are released there is a mass shooting at a high school in Perry, Iowa,” posted Florida Republican Lavern Spicer, who is running for the state’s 24th Congressional District.
“I ain’t saying nothing,” she added.
X’s algorithmic choices on Thursday add to growing concern about the direction of the platform under Elon Musk, who has himself shared antisemitic and conspiratorial rhetoric that ultimately drove dozens of the company’s biggest advertisers, including Disney and IBM, off the platform.
Oklahoma, one of the worst states in the country for child hunger, has rejected a federal program that would have provided food for low-income children over the summer.
The summer EBT benefits program launched nationwide in 2023, after being pilot-tested for a few years. Under the program, eligible families would have received $40 per eligible child, per month, in the form of a pre-loaded card that can be used to buy groceries. The benefits work in conjunction with other food aid programs such as SNAP and WIC.
The deadline for states to indicate they intended to opt in to the program was on January 1. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s office said they were concerned that states had to opt in before the exact rules of the program had been finalized. Stitt’s office also said that the program could incur new administrative costs. (All of the benefits are funded by the federal program, and states simply have to pay half the cost to run the actual program.)
But gubernatorial spokeswoman Abegail Cave argued that the summer EBT program was unnecessary. “Oklahoma already has multiple programs to serve food-insecure children across Oklahoma,” she said.
Chris Bernard, the president and CEO of Hunger Free Oklahoma, pointed out that about 20 percent of children in Oklahoma currently experience food insecurity, while about 60 percent rely on free or reduced-price school lunches.
“We’re one of the worst in the nation, and that’s been true for a while now,” Bernard said. “Parents are going to skip meals, or you’re going to stretch meals farther. The charitable side will try and fill that gap. But there are going to be some struggles.”
Although Oklahoma has rejected the summer program, the Cherokee and Chickasaw Nations, both of which are located in the Sooner State, are opting in. The Cherokee Nation joined the program when it was still in its pilot stage, and leaders reported helping feed 7,000 children in the summer of 2023.
“I wish Oklahoma was participating. It’s frankly mystifying as to why they’re not participating for a relatively small administrative cost, bringing federal tax dollars back home in the form of a benefit for low-income families. That’s, to me, as much of a no brainer as you could get. I’m baffled as to why the state of Oklahoma is not participating,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.
It’s not just Oklahoma: A total of just 39 states, territories, and tribal nations have indicated they plan to join the program this summer, according to the U.S. Food and Nutrition Service.
This, unfortunately, follows a larger trend of politicians apparently wanting kids to go hungry. In June, the Republican Study Committee released a proposed budget for 2024. One of the party’s professed priorities is to eliminate the Community Eligibility Provision, or CEP, from the School Lunch Program, because “CEP allows certain schools to provide free school lunches regardless of the individual eligibility of each student.”
Texas Representative Troy Nehls showed his true colors on Wednesday, refusing to back any sort of border deal because he claimed it could help President Joe Biden’s slumping poll numbers.
“Let me tell you, I’m not willing to do too damn much right now to help a Democrat and to help Joe Biden’s approval rating,” the MAGA Republican told CNN.
“I will not help the Democrats try to improve this man’s dismal approval ratings. I’m not going to do it. Why would I? Chuck Schumer has had H.R. 2 on his desk since July. And he did nothing with it,” Nehls added.
Republican loyalty to H.R. 2, an asylum-limiting immigration bill that passed in the House with zero Democratic votes, has proven to be an unstoppable headache for Congress with an almost zero percent chance of passing in the Democratic-controlled Senate or being signed by the president.
That hasn’t stopped House Republicans, more than 60 of whom traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday, from rejecting any sort of bipartisan deal on border security.
And Nehl’s confession on Wednesday may hint at the reason why: Republicans care more about who sits in the White House than doing anything about the border situation they keep harping on about.
“When the House clings to H.R. 2 as the only solution … we’re not going to get a deal,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday. “We’re willing to meet the Republicans a good part of the way. I think now in the last few days, many Republicans have begun to realize that we are willing to do that and how serious we are about getting this done.”
The transparently vacuous approach to building a border wall is not an uncommon party trick for conservatives, who have been so inoperative on their self-proclaimed party objectives in recent years that their own caucus has taken to railing against them on the House floor.
In November, Representative Chip Roy laid into his party for failing to pass any laws or reach meaningful policy goals that could translate to campaign talking points, leveraging years of inaction at the border under Trump’s presidency as his primary example.
“One thing. I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing. One. That I can go campaign on and say we did,” Roy said. “One!”
“With all due respect to former President Trump, they sure as hell didn’t get border security done when we had the White House and the House and the Senate,” Roy said. “Talked a big game about building a wall and having Mexico pay for it. Ain’t no wall, and Mexico didn’t pay for it, and we didn’t pass any border security.”
Donald Trump has lost another battle with E. Jean Carroll, and he’s handling it in a classic fashion: by completely flying off the handle.
Over the span of about 30 minutes Thursday morning, Trump made 31 posts about Carroll on Truth Social. Although he didn’t say anything himself, he shared stories from conservative outlets attacking her and comments from internet users calling her “creepy.” He also shared media interview clips and social media posts that appear to come from Carroll, all stripped of context so as to paint her as some sort of sexual deviant.
Trump’s gross little rampage is likely the result of a Wednesday court ruling rejecting his latest attempt to delay his upcoming trial for defaming Carroll. The trial is due to start on January 15.
In May, a jury unanimously found Trump liable for sexual abuse and battery against Carroll in the mid-1990s and for defaming her in 2022 while denying the assault. He was ordered to pay her $5 million in damages.
The upcoming trial is for comments Trump made in 2019, when he said Carroll made up the rape allegation to promote her memoir. Presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that since Trump has already been found liable for sexual abuse, his 2019 comments are by default defamatory. Carroll is now seeking up to $12 million in damages.
Trump has tried to argue that he has presidential immunity from the second defamation lawsuit, which Kaplan has repeatedly rejected. A main reason behind Kaplan’s decision is the fact that Trump waited three years before bringing up his immunity defense, and then another seven months before he actually moved to use that defense.
Trump appealed Kaplan’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which ruled against him in mid-December. The three-judge panel also determined that Trump had waived his right to claim immunity by waiting for so long to bring up the potential defense.
Trump filed a motion for the entire array of the appeals court’s judges to rehear his case. The Second Circuit denied his request Wednesday, without explanation, per standard procedure. This is likely what sent Trump over the edge.
And now, thanks to his creepy Truth Social posts, Trump may have handed Carroll another chance to take him to court. Allison Gill, a former Veterans Affairs official and host of the podcast Mueller, She Wrote, pointed out that Carroll could ask for an injunction to stop Trump from continuing to make potentially defamatory statements about her.
“If an injunction is violated, jail is a remedy, as are additional fines,” Gill wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
A new survey suggests that an increasing number of Republicans view Donald Trump as a person of faith, with Trump earning higher ratings than even some of the more vocally religious members of the Grand Old Party, including former Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Mitt Romney.
Despite Trump’s sin-filled legal tribulations, 64 percent of Republicans reported that they viewed him as a person of faith, according to a new poll conducted by HarrisX for Deseret News in November, up from 53 percent in a similar poll conducted in October.
The poll was conducted among 1,012 registered voters between November 21 and 22, 2023, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Trump ranked head and shoulders above his competitors in the upcoming GOP primary. Trump’s primary rival, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who converted from Sikhism to Christianity was viewed as a person of faith by 44 percent of surveyed Republicans, leaving Florida Governor Ron DeSantis once again with the short end of the stick—just 34 percent of Republicans saw the onetime potential Trump usurper as a person of faith.
Trump also topped Pence, one of the most vocal Christian evangelists in U.S. politics, by a margin of 8 percent. Even Romney couldn’t compete, with just 34 percent of Republicans viewing him as a person of faith.
However, Trump’s ranking as a person of faith differs from how Republicans view his religiosity, and that’s where Pence and Trump trade places. Sixty-two percent of Republicans said they viewed Pence as religious versus 47 percent who said the same for Trump.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden, who attends mass every week, per his White House schedule, was only branded as a person of faith by 13 percent of Republicans—though slightly more, 26 percent, conceded that he was religious.
When prompted to explain why they felt Trump was a person of faith, few respondents pointed toward the former president’s actual religious practices. Sixty-seven percent of surveyed respondents replied that it was instead because they viewed him as someone who defends people of faith in the United States. More than half (54 percent) said that they viewed him that way because he “cares about people like me.”
People who described Biden as a person of faith, on the other hand, said so in part due to perceptions of his character, describing the president as honest and trustworthy (48 percent), ethical (47 percent), and having a strong moral compass (52 percent).
A group in Arkansas is working to get abortion protections on the state’s 2024 ballot. But experts warn that the measure would actually open the door to more government intervention in reproductive access.
The fight for abortion access is increasingly playing out through ballot measures, which have led to multiple wins even in otherwise deep-red states. But should the Arkansas ballot succeed, it would actually provide fewer protections than Roe v. Wade did, according to a Wednesday report by Slate.
The proposal—which is still awaiting a decision from the state’s attorney general—comes from a ballot committee called Arkansans for Limited Government, or AFLG, which was founded by the democracy nonprofit For AR People. The measure would only codify abortion through 18 weeks of pregnancy, far short of the generally accepted 24-week mark for viability (when a fetus can survive outside the uterus). Roe had allowed abortion up to 24 weeks.
Arkansas currently bans all abortion, with only narrow exceptions to save the life of the pregnant person. Democratic attempts to pass laws expanding abortion access have failed. AR People’s executive director, Gennie Diaz, told Slate her group created a ballot measure they believe both sides can ultimately accept as a more moderate approach.
Even though the measure clearly allows the state to continue banning abortion, just at a later point, Diaz argued the measure is “threading the needle with Arkansas voters on what they view as limited government.”
“It’s not meant to be a parlor trick,” she said, arguing that adding some restrictions would appeal to people who consider themselves “pro-life.” “Honestly, it’s not palatable to either end of the spectrum, and that’s intentional.”
But if the ballot measure was drafted with anti-abortion voters in mind, it doesn’t seem to have worked. The group Arkansas Right to Life is already slamming the measure as allowing “abortions up to the moment of birth.” Of course, that’s completely inaccurate on two counts. First, abortions do not occur up to the moment of birth. Second, a pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, whereas the measure bans abortion after only 18. Still, it’s a sign of what anti-abortion Arkansans really think of the measure.
AFLG, meanwhile, is not affiliated with Planned Parenthood, nor is it publicly supported by any abortion providers or ob-gyns. Diaz said they consulted reproductive health experts on the ballot measure, but abortion rights experts say the initiative could do more harm than good.
Erika Christensen of the group Patient Forward, which supports broad abortion protections, said limiting abortion to a specific point is “willfully ignorant.” She pointed out that a pregnancy can turn fatal for either the fetus or the patient at any point. What’s more, abortion restrictions of any kind stigmatize the procedure and allow the state to monitor and even criminalize pregnancy outcomes. And as with all abortion limitations, the “most under-resourced and over-policed” people, such as women of color, will be hit hardest.
There is also rapidly growing evidence that complete abortion access might actually stand a chance on the Arkansas ballot. Since Roe was overturned, multiple Republican-led states have put the question of abortion on the ballot—and every single time, voters choose to dramatically increase protections. Trying to roll back the 24-week abortion standard could set a dangerous precedent for other red states.
Tresa Undem, who co-founded the nonpartisan polling firm PerryUndem, has followed abortion opinions for two decades. She warned that even though AFLG said its ballot measure language had polling support, it’s possible the questions asked didn’t capture the whole picture.
What’s more, Undem conducted a national poll over the summer to see if voters were more likely to support a ballot initiative proposal that mentioned viability versus one that didn’t. She found voters preferred complete, expansive access by 15 points.
“I was kind of blown away, frankly,” she told Slate. “That’s a pretty new sentiment.”
And that’s why, “in the post-Dobbs world, I just think anyone who’s working on this issue needs to really be careful about assumptions,” Undem said. “People can die.”
Source : New Republic