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Marjorie Taylor Greene Commits Borderline Sedition

It seems the Georgia representative has forgotten about the Fourteenth Amendment.

On Monday, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene showed yet again that she can’t commit to the bit of even pretending to be reining herself in from far-right extremism. Instead, she’s looking to escalate the conservative-fostered culture war into a civil one.

Greene’s call for a “national divorce” comes after the representative has complained over and over again about Democrats apparently trying to “divide” America. It also follows her attempted “rebrand,” as she has tried to straddle the lines between the furthest right parts of her party and some portions of the establishment wing.

The new narrative stems in large part from Greene’s allyship with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, as he sought to attain the speakership last month in a historically grueling selection process. The House speakership vote left the Republican leader domineered by a select group of far-right members who secured radical rules changes and key committee spots, even usurping other Republicans who supported McCarthy from the beginning. Greene, though, toed the line, by virtue of having the history she does as one of the ring leaders of that radical caucus while urging members to support McCarthy. She now sits on both the House Oversight and Homeland Security committees.

Greene, who McCarthy has since said he would “never leave” and “always take care of,” is said to also be attempting this balancing act in order to posture herself up as twice-impeached former President Donald Trump’s 2024 VP pick if he wins. 

Earlier in January, when Greene was asked about her beliefs in QAnon, the representative suddenly distanced herself from one of the key characteristics of her congressional career: reactionary conspiracy.

“Like a lot of people today, I had easily got sucked into some things I’d seen on the internet,” she said. “But that was dealt with quickly early on. I never campaigned on those things. That’s not something I believed in, that’s not what I ran for Congress on, so those are so far in the past,” she claimed.

QAnon supporters were among the most aggressive rioters who attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021—an attack Greene herself played no small part in helping to incite. A riot too, that Greene recently claimed she “would have won,” if she and Bannon had a stronger role in organizing it. “Not to mention, it would’ve been armed,” she said.

Win or lose, numerous January 6 rioters were arrested on charges of sedition—an action that Greene herself is whipping up once again with her own seditious tweet calling to split the country. After becoming speaker, McCarthy proudly led a reading of the Constitution on the House floor; it seems Greene was absent for the part on the Fourteenth Amendment.

Greene’s attempts to straddle the lines between the establishment and the most extreme parts of her party don’t actually make much substantive policy difference. Greene can ally herself with McCarthy, or pretend to disavow QAnon beliefs—none of it matters. Even pretending to be “reasonable” in America’s Republican Party just means you may present yourself as only far-right, instead of far-far-right.

The agenda is still largely the same: which is to say, demonize gay and trans people, attack people’s right to choose, and cut social spending that millions of people rely on. In other words, the agenda is to embrace the right-ward shift Trump only accelerated. It doesn’t matter which “wing” a Republican may present themselves to be a part of. Don’t believe it? Try counting how many times any announced or potential GOP presidential candidate—from Nikki Haley to Ron DeSantis, to Tim Scott—have actually, forthrightly said anything bad about Trump, the opponent they’re supposed to want to beat.

Biden Officials Hesitate to Update Rail Brake Guidelines for Fear of Pushback

Asked the disastrous Ohio train derailment, Biden administration officials said Congress should take the lead on updating brake guidelines for trains carrying hazardous materials.

Joe Biden
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Now that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and the state’s congressional delegation has finally admitted they need more help from the federal government, the Biden administration is deploying more resources to East Palestine in the wake of a disastrous Norfolk Southern train derailment.

But when asked in a press call Friday about reviving an Obama-era rule mandating trains carrying hazardous and flammable materials to have updated electronic brakes instead of Civil War-era ones, Biden administration officials deferred, saying that they are hoping for Congress to lead such efforts. Citing lawsuits against the Obama-era rule, officials seemed to forget that their boss was elected to be a leader.

Officials even cited opposition from the rail industry as cause for concern in revitalizing the rule.

“We did get strong pushback from industry for that rule in 2016,” said one official. “Additionally from Congress, in pushing back on the [electronically controlled pneumatic brakes] component of the rule.”

Officials did say they are working on proposing rules to require a minimum of two-person train crews, something rail workers have asked for. The Department of Transportation is also developing a rule requiring railroads to provide real-time information on the contents of tank cars with hazardous materials in case of an incident. But the White House did not address plans for the Obama-era mandate on brakes, or specify a timeline for the two rules they do claim to be working on.

In the aftermath of a disaster that has clearly galvanized people across the country, it would be malpractice for the White House to not meet the moment. Rather than wait for Congress,  Biden could declare to the public that these companies, which help over 1,000 trains derail every year, will be held accountable. Press for the rule, force members to show their cards, reap the benefits.

While the White House balks at updating outdated federal guidance, the administration does at least seem to be taking stronger action, now that the Ohio delegation has allowed them to.

The administration is sending medical personnel and toxicologists from the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct public health testing and assessments. Residents continue to have concerns about the air, water, and soil safety in the community, and whether it is safe for them to still be there at all; government-sent epidemiologists, environmental health scientists, and more will be tasked with supporting the community.

The EPA has maintained they will hold Norfolk Southern accountable to cleaning up the site—including soil remediation of the derailment site. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board, alongside the Department of Transportation and other agency officials, are also conducting an investigation into the derailment.

Administration officials claim that, once the investigation is complete, the government “will use all available and appropriate authorities to ensure accountability and improve rail safety.” But it is unclear how far the White House is willing to go to actually lead the charge for reform, instead of waiting to see how much congressional support may magically appear.

In his State of the Union, Biden promised, over and over again, to “finish the job.” But only dealing with this disaster after the fact is not an achievement. The deregulated rail industry helps over 1,000 trains derail every year; any action the administration takes now that is not accompanied with broader systemic change is a failure. The administration is already trying to do the job of supporting people—why not finish it?

Five Other Laws That Rick Scott’s Plan Would Still Sunset

The Florida senator said his plan will no longer end Medicare or Social Security. He didn’t say anything about other federal laws.

Rick Scott
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Rick Scott insisted Friday that he never intended to sunset Social Security and Medicare, but his plan to socially and economically overhaul the United States would still affect other laws.

The Florida senator unveiled his 12-step “Rescue America” plan in February 2022. A part of one of those steps was a plan to sunset “all federal legislation” every five years and have Congress re-vote on those laws. He amended that point Friday to specifically exclude Social Security, Medicare, and the U.S. Navy, but the rest of the language remains unchanged.

Scott’s proposed plan is, frankly, implausible. During Donald Trump’s presidency and the first two years of Joe Biden’s alone, Congress passed more than 4,000 laws. Scott’s proposal would include every law ever enacted.

There just isn’t enough time in the world to review every single federal law every five years. But giving Scott the benefit of the doubt, here are five of the many laws that would have to be re-passed under his proposed plan.

1. The Affordable Care Act

Also known as Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010 with the goal of making health care more affordable. It also sought to lower medical care costs and expand Medicaid. Republicans have been trying to dismantle the act since it was enacted. Under Scott’s plan, this act would have to be re-voted on and would be unlikely to pass the currently Republican-controlled House. Medicaid requirements could be changed, or the program could be done away with altogether.

2. The Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 to regulate water pollution. Under the law, the Environmental Protection Agency has been able to create pollution-control programs and water quality standards. Scott’s plan would require this law to go before Congress again for a vote.

3. The Equal Pay Act

The Equal Pay Act became law in 1963 and protects against wage discrimination based on sex. It covers all forms of financial compensation, including overtime pay, bonuses, and life insurance. Republicans, however, seem bent on enacting laws that restrict the rights of women and gender minorities.

4. The Civil Rights Act

The Civil Rights Act was signed into law in 1964. It banned racial discrimination in public places and employment, and required that schools and public facilities be integrated. Considering the fact that House Republicans are trying to pass laws that would decrease protections against discrimination, it’s unclear that this act would pass if it had to be voted on again.

5. Laws against child pornography

The United States has multiple laws protecting against child pornography, and all of them would have to go before Congress for a vote under Scott’s plan. These would be likely to pass again, as there have been multiple bipartisan pushes over the years to increase child safety, particularly online. In his plan, Scott insists that “if a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.” But if everyone agrees a law is worth keeping, why waste everyone’s time going over it every five years?

Fox News Hosts and Higher-Ups Secretly Mocked Donald Trump’s Election Conspiracy Theories

A new lawsuit reveals text messages between Fox News staffers that show they didn’t believe Trump’s conspiracies, even as they pushed them to their viewers.

Fox News host photos on billboard on giant building in New York. Cars drive by in front.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Fox News personalities Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity, adorn the front of the News Corporation building.

Fox hosts including Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity all thought conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 presidential election were a bunch of baloney. At least, that’s what their own words express in newly-surfaced texts released by a $1.6 billion lawsuit against the network.

After twice-impeached former President Donald Trump lost to President Biden, he primed the pump of conspiracy theories about the outcome of the election: fraud, stolen votes, suspicious machines, you name it. Two of the people helping stir up these theories were Trump’s lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell. The pair spent a considerable amount of time pushing a conspiracy theory about election technology companies Dominion and Smartmatic, accusing them of conspiring to flip votes from Trump to Biden.

The theory was, of course, false, and was rejected in court. Afterwards, Dominion sued the pair for defamation and filed a massive $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News for its role in propagating the conspiracy theories and lying to their viewers.

In the latest filing of the lawsuit, numerous Fox employees were revealed to have expressed their concern both about the conspiracy theories, and the purveyors of them—including some even among their own ranks.

“Sidney Powell is lying. Fucking bitch,” Carlson told his producer Alex Pfeiffer.

“Sidney Powell is a bit nuts,” Ingraham texted Carlson and Hannity. “Sorry but she is.”

“F’ing lunatics,” Hannity said about the theories and Fox guests promoting them.

Just as well, even while they may seem to have understood (as even a fifth grader could) the absurdity of these claims, the trio’s hands were still very dirty. On November 12, 2020, in a group chat, the three complained about Fox reporter Jacqui Heinrich fact-checking a tweet by Trump that mentioned Hannity’s and Lou Dobbs’s broadcasts about Dominion. Heinrich merely pointed out that election officials said there was no evidence of voting system malfunctions. Straightforward enough.

“Please get her fired. Seriously…What the fuck? I’m actually shocked,” Carlson told Hannity.

Hannity responded, saying he had already sent Henrich’s fact-check to Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott.  He continued “I’m 3 strikes. Wallace shit debate[.] Election night a disaster[.] Now this BS? Nope. Not gonna fly. Did I mention Cavuto?”

Scott texted Fox News Senior Executive VP for Corporate Communications Irena Briganti that “Sean texted me.” “She [Heinrich] has serious nerve doing this and if this gets picked up, viewers are going to be further disgusted.” Heinrich deleted her basic fact-check tweet by the next morning.

Given the Fox’s big three themselves openly hosted and supported these “lunatics,” some of their own coworkers took issue with them, too.

“If Trump becomes a sore loser we should watch Sean especially and others don’t sound the same,” Murdoch wrote in a message to Scott, expressing concern about hosts aligning with Trump and his conspiracy theories.

“Crazy Tucker and crazier Hannity,” Brian Farley quipped about the duo. “Hannity is a little out there,” said Fox SVP and former Trump Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah.

“This dominion shit is going to give me a fucking aneurysm—as many times as I’ve told Laura [Ingraham] it’s bs, she sees shit posters and trump tweeting about it…” Ingraham producer Tommy Firth texted to Ron Mitchell, one of the executives who oversees Ingraham’s show.

Ultimately, the texts reveal how little Fox cares about actually delivering news, or about the consequences of that indifference (like a riot in the Capitol). Moreover, it reveals how little they think of their audience, even while showrunners themselves know they are serving their viewers “bs.”

As Fox producer Justin Wells texted Carlson’s producer: “We’re threading a needle that has to be thread because of the dumb fucks at Fox on Election Day. We can’t make people think we’ve turned against Trump. Yet also call out the bullshit. You and I see through it. But we have to reassure some in the audience.”

Rick Scott Finally Caves, Changes Plan To Sunset Medicare and Social Security

The Florida senator says he didn’t really mean it, okay?

Rick Scott speaking to reporters
Anna Rose Layden/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Rick Scott wants everyone to know that when he said “all federal legislation” should sunset after five years, he didn’t mean programs such as Medicare or Social Security.

The Florida senator has come under fire since the State of the Union, when President Joe Biden called out “some Republicans [who] want Medicare and Social Security to sunset.” Although he didn’t name names, it was a direct reference to Scott’s year-old proposal to sunset laws and re-vote on them every five years.

By Friday morning, Scott had amended the language in his proposal to specifically exempt federal entitlement programs.

The edits also included a note directly to Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: “Note to President Biden, Sen. Schumer, and Sen. McConnell—As you know, this was never intended to apply to Social Security, Medicare, or the US Navy.”

So there!

Biden scored a big win during the State of the Union address when he appeared to get Republicans to agree not to cut funding for Medicare or Social Security. Both McConnell and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have criticized Scott’s proposal. Even Donald Trump, who tried to cut the programs’ funding every year he was in office, bashed Scott’s plan.

Despite Scott’s sudden about face, Republicans have, by and large, tried to end the entitlement programs since they began in 1935. Since the party took control of the House of Representatives in January, they have been weighing options to slash Social Security and Medicare, ostensibly in order to curb federal spending. GOP lawmakers are threatening to hold the debt ceiling hostage until the federal budget is reduced, and Social Security and Medicare are on the chopping block.

Scott initially tried to deflect Biden’s accusation that he wanted to sunset the programs by doubling down on his plan to cut the programs.

But as he made abundantly clear Friday, that was never actually the plan. Ok, guys?

John Fetterman Checked Himself Into a Hospital for Depression, and That’s a Good Thing

The Pennsylvania senator is seeking care in the public eye, which will surely remove some of the stigma around depression.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman checked himself into a hospital for clinical depression, his chief of staff announced Thursday.

Fetterman was evaluated Wednesday night at Walter Reed Military Medical Center, and his doctor recommended he receive inpatient care.

“While John has experienced depression on and off throughout his life, it only became severe in recent weeks,” Adam Jentleson said in a statement. “The doctors at Walter Reed told us that John is getting the care he needs, and will soon be back to himself.”

Fetterman’s decision to receive inpatient therapy is bound to attract some negative opinions. He was constantly questioned about his fitness for office after he had a stroke during the campaign.

But getting treatment, and announcing publicly that he is doing so, is important. Letting depression go untreated can take a serious toll, both physically and mentally. Seeking care in the public eye will help remove some of the stigma around the illness.

Fetterman was briefly hospitalized last week after experiencing lightheadedness. Doctors said he had not suffered a second stroke.

Fetterman’s wife Gisele praised him for getting treatment. “After what he’s been through in the past year, there’s probably no one who wanted to talk about his own health less than John,” she said on Twitter. “I’m so proud of him for asking for help and getting the care he needs.”

Norfolk Southern Trail Derails in Detroit, Michigan, Days After Crisis in Ohio

This is a sign of our failing infrastructure.

Workers standnear a derailed train
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Workers clean up a seven-car Canadian National Railway train derailment in Detroit, Michigan in 2004.

While residents of East Palestine, Ohio are still navigating the chaotic aftermath of their own Norfolk Southern train derailment, another of the company’s trains has derailed outside Detroit, Michigan. At least six cars were rooted off the track Thursday morning.

The incident occurred in Van Buren Township; the community’s public safety Facebook page reported no injuries, and no evidence of exposed hazardous materials. The page reported that one car contained liquid chlorine, but was not among the six uprooted cars.

“One railcar that derailed contained agricultural grain and the remaining cars were empty. No hazardous material release to soil or waterway (located approximately 900ft to the NW),” Incident Management Specialist Travis Boeskool said in a statement on Facebook. “Norfolk Southern has equipment on-site and is removing/uprighting rail cars. They anticipate having the railcars removed and (the) rail open later today.”

The page also noted an immediate response from numerous officials, including Representative Debbie Dingell who activated FEMA and an EPA response team.

“After the recent incident in Ohio, Van Buren is going to know we are safe before we disengage from this event,” the township concluded.

The far-right already seems to be pouncing on the incident as proof of conspiracy amok, particularly after the derailment in East Palestine.

But in reality, from 1990 to 2021, there were at least 54,539 accidents in which a train derailed, according to the Bureau of Transportation. That is an average of 1,704 derailments per year.

So while it may certainly seem as if these crashes are happening at a suspiciously inordinate pace, that feeling actually just comes from an exposure bias from the media finally directing more attention to our poor infrastructure and accompanying regulation.

In the same way every new day seems to hold the possibility for another mass shooting, or another instance of police brutality, so too does it hold the possibility for another failure of our infrastructure. There’s not some new conspiracy—we’ve had a bad record of standards for years. Maybe with all this attention we can actually do something about it.

Norfolk Southern Pulls Out of Ohio Train Derailment Town Hall, Citing Safety Concerns

The rail company decided not to attend the town hall in East Palestine, Ohio.

Phil Zhang/Xinhua/Getty Images
rain wreckage from the February 3 derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

On Wednesday evening, hundreds of community members piled into the East Palestine High School gymnasium for what was originally slated to be a town hall with representatives from Norfolk Southern, the company whose train upended the Ohio community nearly two weeks ago.

The residents came with questions about the symptoms they’re feeling, whether it’s safe to be in the community, and how they will be supported in the midst of the crisis.

But Norfolk Southern, the primary culprit of the residents’ woes, pulled out of the event last minute. Citing concerns for their employees’ safety, the company said they will “remain in East Palestine, respond to this situation, and meet with residents.”

Now, it is not out of the question that employees may have faced credible threats. (Perhaps explicitly outlining some of them may have given more credence to the notion.) Nonetheless, it is understandable that residents may feel betrayed by a company citing safety concerns as they themselves grapple with an array of concerns for their own safety after the company’s disaster.

The event on Wednesday instead proceeded, less as a town hall, and more as an open house space for members of the community to directly interface with people including Representative Bill Johnson, Ohio and U.S. EPA representatives, local and county health officials, and state natural resource and agriculture officials.

“I need help,” Mayor Trent Conaway said about being forced into national attention, and whether he has a message for U.S. EPA head Michael Regan who is visiting the town Thursday. “I’m not ready for this. I wasn’t built for this. I always thought of myself as a leader. I will do whatever it takes.”

Conaway’s constituents, however, have found him to be admirable in his commitment to indeed doing “whatever it takes” to support them.

“I’m going to be having a meeting with him soon, he asked me to come and make an appointment and come and sit and talk with him,”  said resident Ron Arter, who attended the event Wednesday. “And I think that’s stand-up.” Arter said he did not feel as warmly about Representative Bill Johnson, however. “He didn’t help the situation at all, he kind of frustrated quite a bit of people.”

The community gathering may not have gone completely smoothly—emotions were understandably high-octane, the situation itself is so massively unprecedented for both residents and officials. But it still displayed what a proper society offers: space for the community and government to directly connect and exchange information.

This kind of symbiotic relationship (the people communicating their concerns to inform officials; officials offering their guidance and shaping their action based on community input) is what should be conducted regularly, not just in the aftermath of travesty or injustice. In doing so, disasters like this might even be evaded in the future, and the whims of a corporate entity would seldom be of concern.

In the meantime, residents wonder how companies like Norfolk Southern get away with what they do, like contaminating the soil as they “cleaned up” the derailment site. “The EPA should have shut everything down when they saw it,” said Arter. Despite Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s rejection for further help from the Biden administration, some are demanding a stronger federal response. “That way the railroad just doesn’t steamroll everybody,” Arter said.

Georgia Grand Jury Report on Trump Election Interference Says at Least One Witness Lied

The report doesn’t name names, but it does recommend indictments.

Donald Trump
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A Georgia special grand jury report into Donald Trump’s actions after the 2020 election found that at least one witness who testified before the panel lied under oath.

The report also found no evidence of “widespread fraud” in the 2020 election in Georgia, where Trump sought to overturn election results.

Parts of the highly anticipated report were released Thursday by a judge in Fulton County, Georgia, where District Attorney Fani Willis is investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to interfere with the presidential election.

“A majority of the Grand Jury believes that perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it,” the report said. “The Grand Jury recommends that the District Attorney seek appropriate indictments for such crimes where the evidence is compelling.”

Willis and her team have investigated and subpoenaed dozens of witnesses including Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Michael Flynn, and Lindsey Graham. Even before the report was released, it was known Giuliani and 16 Republicans who falsely claimed to be Georgia electors could face criminal charges.

The released portions of the report did not give names for people who perjured themselves or for those who should face criminal charges.

While there is not much new information in the released parts, the report does provide more proof against Trump’s ongoing claims that the election was stolen from him.

You can read the full report release here.

Kentucky Supreme Court Leaves Near-Total Abortion Ban in Place

The court will not allow abortions to resume in the state, sending the question back to a lower court.

Protesters encourage voters to vote no on a ballot initiative that would add a permanent abortion ban to Kentucky's state constitution, on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol on October 1, 2022.

The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday to keep a near-total ban on abortions in the state until a lower court can decide whether or not the law is constitutional.

Kentucky currently only allows abortions to save the life of the pregnant person, under a trigger law that kicked into effect when Roe v. Wade was overturned. A separate ban prohibits abortion after six weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant.

Judge Mitch Perry had halted both laws in July, arguing they violated the state constitution’s right to privacy and self-determination. Just weeks later, Appeals Court Judge Larry Thompson overturned the injunction. Lawyers for Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center, Kentucky’s two abortion providers, filed a lawsuit asking the state Supreme Court to reinstate Perry’s injunction.

The high court heard arguments for the case a week after the midterm elections, when Kentucky residents voted against amending the constitution to explicitly say that it does not protect the right to abortion.

Justice Debra Hembree Lambert wrote in Thursday’s majority opinion that Perry’s court had “abused its discretion by granting the abortion providers’ motion for a temporary injunction.”

The ruling comes the day after a Republican lawmaker introduced a bill that would let the state prosecute a person who gets an illegal abortion for criminal homicide. The proposed legislation was so controversial that it even drew pushback from Kentucky’s anti-abortion Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who said it “strikes the wrong balance” and called on the state legislature to reject it.

Cameron, a Republican who is running for governor, warned the bill would wrongly target women who terminate pregnancies. However, he also defended the other two abortion bans at question in the case before the Supreme Court.