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Why Are Joe Manchin and John Hickenlooper Already Endorsing Kyrsten Sinema?

The two Democratic senators have expressed support for Sinema, who switched her party to independent, over Ruben Gallego, who is running as a Democrat.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

After Arizona Representative Ruben Gallego announced his candidacy for Kyrsten Sinema’s Senate seat on Monday, most congressional Democrats remained noncommittal about who they will back (if not, perhaps, hinting support for Gallego).

There were two notable exceptions, however: West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Colorado Senator John Hickenlooper, per Punchbowl News. “I think having a voice like that—she says what she thinks. And I think she adds value to the caucus,” Hickenlooper said. “The problem is she’s too moderate as a Democrat—well, that’s half the time what they say about me!”

Hickenlooper also nodded toward Senators Angus King and Bernie Sanders as two independents who caucus with the Democrats, citing them as examples for why Sinema should apparently be seen no differently. “I can’t imagine not supporting her,” he said.

Manchin, meanwhile, said he’s “totally supportive” of Sinema and said leadership “should support someone who brings basically some peace, if you will, or some rational thinking on some of this stuff without being pushed far left and far right.”

It’s understandable why most Democrats aren’t expressing their preferences one way or another. It’s still very early, and Sinema is still a voting and committee-sitting senator in a narrowly Democratic-led Senate. What’s more fascinating is why senators would so publicly express their support for Sinema given how early it is, how Sinema has not even expressed her 2024 intentions, and how Kari Lake or some other far-right Republican may soon announce their candidacy, raising the stakes of the race all the more.

Manchin’s early support for Sinema is unsurprising in a “Manchinema” universe that has plagued politics over recent years, obstructing a voter-won Democratic agenda and watering down legislation in favor of corporations at the expense of everyone else.

Hickenlooper’s support, on the other hand, seems less immediately intuitive. A look at his record at least presents an ideological affinity between him and Sinema. A longtime fossil fuel–favoring politician, Hickenlooper has been a linchpin for corporate influence in government. Hickenlooper famously shilled for fracking at a 2013 hearing, as he described drinking a glass of Haliburton-produced fracking fluid alongside Haliburton executives.

He was one of seven Democrats that joined Republicans to block a fracking ban in 2021.

Hickenlooper has shifted somewhat left on climate, perhaps propelled by the moment or by the 2020 primary challenge against him by Andrew Romanoff, endorsed by the likes of Bill McKibben and the Sunrise Movement. Still, Hickenlooper seems to find some kinship with his fellow “too moderate” Sinema.

The entrance of a Republican like Lake into the race, as well as Sinema’s moves from here on out, will indicate how eager Democrats actually are to rid themselves of her antics and how far they’re willing to go (and risk) to make it happen.

White Nationalist and Nazi Nick Fuentes Is Back on Twitter

Elon Musk’s Twitter has reinstated Fuentes’s account. Just last week, Fuentes called Hitler “really fucking cool.”

Zach D Roberts/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Nazi, white nationalist, and Taliban fan Nick Fuentes is back on Twitter.

Fuentes was originally banned from Twitter in July 2021 for his dangerous and violent rhetoric about people of color, women, Jewish people, immigrants, LGBTQ people, Covid-19, and much more.

Even after being banned from Twitter (and several other social media platforms), Fuentes continued his venomous tirade against everyone and everything in the world that is not him. He has proudly said he’s “just like Hitler,” has called for the right to embrace becoming a “truly reactionary party,” and has said that “Catholic monarchy, and just war, and crusades, and inquisitions” are much better than democracy.

Just last week, Fuentes called Hitler “a pedophile … also really fucking cool.”

And now Elon Musk’s Twitter has brought him back.

Fuentes proudly announced his return Tuesday morning:

Musk’s reinstatement of Fuentes legitimizes all the vicious garbage the Nazi has spewed, and essentially returns to him a massive avenue to spread it further:

And in an era of Twitter where the “For you” tab seems to operate more like a TikTok-ified right-wing funnel, amplifying accounts that many users would have no business seeing, the danger of Fuentes’s return cannot be overstated.

The reinstatement comes after Musk’s repeated failed attempts to bring Kanye West, known now as Ye, back to Twitter. In December, West appeared alongside Fuentes on Alex Jones’s InfoWars, where he peddled Nazi propaganda, Holocaust denialism, and support for Hitler. Later that night, he posted a swastika. Musk reneged and finally resuspended West. This episode was shortly after West and Fuentes shared a dinner with former President Donald Trump—one that relatively few Republicans denounced, by the way.

Fuentes’s return follows the reinstatement of other Nazis such as Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo-Nazi publication The Daily Stormer. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jordan Peterson, vicious transphobe Megan Murphy, and Trump himself round up other prominent individuals who have had their accounts reinstated after committing various and numerous Twitter policy violations.

Gavin Newsom Says Second Amendment Is “Becoming a Suicide Pact” After Yet Another Mass Shooting

At least seven people were killed in the Half Moon Bay shooting. California is reeling from three mass shootings in three days.

Mario Tama/Getty Images
California Governor Gavin Newsom stands near the scene of a deadly mass shooting at a ballroom dance studio on January 23, in Monterey Park, California.

California Governor Gavin Newsom slammed the Second Amendment as his state reels from its third mass shooting in as many days.

Newsom was visiting Monday evening with victims of the tragic Monterey Park shooting when he received reports that there had been another shooting in Half Moon Bay, which killed seven people and injured one more.

Just a few hours earlier, he told CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell that the Second Amendment, which many Americans believe guarantees them unfettered access to guns, is “becoming a suicide pact.”

“Nothing about this is surprising. Everything about this is infuriating,” he said of the Monterey Park attack.

The Half Moon Bay attack is California’s third mass shooting in just three days. A 67-year-old gunman opened fire on a mushroom farm and a nearby trucking facility. The victims were primarily Chinese laborers. It came just hours after a shooter attacked a gas station in Oakland, killing one person and wounding seven others. The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as one where four or more people are shot.

The Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay attacks are the deadliest in their respective counties’ recent history. The Half Moon Bay massacre was the thirty-seventh mass shooting in the U.S. in 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive. There has already been another mass shooting since Half Moon Bay, meaning there have been more mass shootings than there have been days this year.

California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but they’re not foolproof when regulations at the national level have so many loopholes. As The Washington Post noted, “The state’s strict gun laws are incapable of fully preventing gun violence in a country where gun ownership is widely considered a constitutionally protected right, firearms move freely between states with vastly different regulations and gun-control measures are dotted with exceptions.”

The Problem With Jeff Zients, Biden’s New Chief of Staff

The White House is planning to appoint Zients, a former private equity executive accused of “profiteering in health care,” as the next chief of staff.

Jeffrey Zients sits at a table with a binder, notepad, and pen in front of him (right profile shot)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

It’s been a day since President Joe Biden picked Jeff Zients, his former Covid-19 response adviser, to replace Ron Klain as his chief of staff, and the reaction has not been pretty.

Zients comes from the private equity world and is estimated to have a net worth of between $89 and $442 million, according to MarketWatch. He made a lot of this money investing in health care corporations. Zients’s investment fund, Portfolio Logic, featured multiple firms that paid millions of dollars in settlements for alleged Medicare and Medicaid fraud. He was also one of the original investors in the popular Washington, D.C., bagel chain Call Your Mother (one of the few local restaurants the Bidens have frequented).

Zients served under President Barack Obama as director of the National Economic Council and acting director of the Office of Management and Budget. He won praise under Obama for helping to repair the website after a bungled rollout, and again under Biden for his handling of the massive Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

But he only served as Biden’s Covid czar for a year, stepping away after the administration was accused of failing to prepare for the delta and omicron waves, sharing confusing messaging about testing and booster shots, and allowing Covid prevention funding to dry up. Both Public Citizen and the Center for Economic Policy and Research criticized Zients’s tenure, particularly his refusal to allocate resources for vaccination efforts abroad.

Jeff Hauser, founder of the nonprofit Revolving Door Project accused Zients of “profiteering in healthcare” and said Biden risks his legacy with the nomination. Progressive groups are worried that Zients will be less amenable to the causes that they and even the Biden administration have championed. Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, expressed hope that Zients will prove them wrong.

“Ron Klain has been an open ear and even-handed engager of actors across the Democratic Party,” Green said in a statement. “Whomever the next chief of staff is, that will be the continued hope and expectation.”

Who Is Brandon Johnson? More on the Chicago Mayoral Challenger With a History in Organizing

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson says Chicago deserves a progressive mayor “willing to invest in people.”

Chicago mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson smiles and holds his arms out
Erin Hooley/AP/Shutterstock
Chicago mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson speaks to supporters during a public listening session at Principle Barbers, in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago.

In the past 34 years,* there have been only three mayors in Chicago: Richard Daley, from 1989 to 2011; Rahm Emanuel, from 2011 to 2019; and Lori Lightfoot since then. Now a field of nine candidates are running to unseat Lightfoot next month and become Chicago’s mayor. Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson sat down to talk to The New Republic about how he’s looking to come out of left field and upset expectations.

Johnson, a teacher and organizer, has emerged among the top candidates in a race that requires the winner to cross a simple majority threshold. If no candidate reaches at least 50 percent in next month’s election, which is the likely case, the top two vote-getters will proceed to an April runoff. Johnson, whose candidacy garnered no opinion from more than 70 percent of voters as recently as last month, is already putting up a formidable fight.

Polling averages from the four most recent polls have Representative Jesús “Chuy” Garcia leading the pack at 20.75 percent, conservative Democrat and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas at 18.25 percent, Lightfoot at 15.2 percent, and Johnson at 13.55 percent. Johnson has also been endorsed by SEIU’s Local 73 and Chicago Teachers Union and officials like Representatives Delia Ramirez and Jonathan Jackson (son of Reverend Jesse Jackson). Such endorsements led Johnson to outpace every other candidate in fundraising over the final quarter of 2022, much of the money coming from unions.

One of 10 children in a household fathered by a pastor and carpenter, Johnson told TNR his upbringing was “where you learned, right away, how to lean on one another.” That lesson guided Johnson’s path forward, toward a politics that embraces that spirit.

“Chicago can be better with a progressive mayor who loves people and is willing to invest in people,” Johnson said. “The safest cities in America all have something in common: They invest in people.”

After obtaining his master’s degree in teaching, Johnson began teaching social studies in the Chicago Public Schools system. In 2011, he joined organizing efforts with the Teachers Union, helping organize the 2012 Chicago teachers’ strike that earned teachers a 17.6 percent pay rise over four years. The strike also reframed education reform efforts to speak more directly to student concerns: class sizes; funding for music, art, and physical education; paid teacher preparation time; and less standardized test emphasis.

In 2018, Johnson ran against an incumbent to become a Cook County commissioner, member of a board overseeing the second-largest county in the United States. Since serving on the commission, he led the passage of a housing ordinance that took on rental discrimination against people with criminal histories. He also supported the Chicago Public Schools’ strike in 2019, appearing at a solidarity rally and writing newspaper opinion letters in support of striking teachers and staff.

Now, in a race where crime and public safety have steered the conversation, the progressive is rejecting the decades-long “tough on crime” stance. “This so-called toughness that politicians or insiders have just been recycling over the past 40 years has failed us—in the most dramatic of ways,” Johnson said. He points to Chicago being among the cities with the highest police spending per capita in the country, while schools and mental health facilities shutter. “What’s most disturbing, whether it’s Lori Lightfoot, whether it’s Congressman Garcia who has essentially copied and pasted the same so-called public safety plan of the person he endorsed four years ago, they’re using the same stale failed talking points and policies that have not kept our community safe.”

Johnson proposes investing more in areas like mental health and housing, but he also wants to fully fund year-round youth employment opportunities and create an Office of Community Safety. He is seeking deeper crime prevention rather than just crime response.

“This is not radical, right? The fact that employment and investment in people is considered a progressive idea, and is not just a humanitarian idea, tells you everything that’s wrong with the same old stale politics and policies that continue to make it to debates,” Johnson said. “They shouldn’t be allowed to debate failed policy. We should just retire any policy that has failed people for the past 40 years.”

Johnson is a man buoyed by hope while having plenty of reasons not to. He has taught in a school system where he says even his students wished he taught at a “good school.” And he has seen how the coldness of the world can leave someone. “My older brother Leon was my hero. He was very talented, but he had untreated trauma. He died addicted and unhoused. If the city and this country actually provided more support to mental health—if those resources were available for my brother, I do believe he would be allowed today to see his grandchildren.”

Yet he’s channeled those experiences into his candidacy. “The city of Chicago can be saved by doing what safe American cities do, and that’s what I’m gonna do as mayor: invest in people and the services that people rely on and those that actually do the work.”

With just over a month to go, the road ahead certainly is not an easy one. But Johnson has already convinced thousands that his vision is worth hoping for.

“I’m grateful that there is so much hope that we can provide the city,” Johnson said. “And to transform this city into a place where it’s safe for everyone … it’s very humbling to be in a moment where this could be a historical moment that people will look to for guidance as other cities look to do the same thing.”

* This post originally misstated the number of years in which Chicago has had only three mayors.

M&Ms Gets Rid of Candy Mascots After Fox News Wouldn’t Stop Complaining About Women Characters

M&Ms is putting the spokescandies on “indefinite pause,” after right-wing backlash to the women mascots’ shoes, weight, sexuality, and mere existence.

Screenshot/Fox News

Cancel culture has gone too far: After widespread right-wing backlash over being too “woke,” M&Ms are doing away with their decades-old talking candy mascots.

Earlier this month, M&Ms introduced a limited-edition package with all-female M&Ms, including a new purple female character, as part of a campaign to celebrate women in business. But on Monday, Mars Wrigley announced it was replacing the talking M&Ms entirely with comedian Maya Rudolph.

The decision comes after what is objectively the weirdest news cycle at Fox News. Host Tucker Carlson complained bitterly about the new character, apparently having nothing better to do than body-shame the purple peanut M&M. This comes almost exactly a year after he devoted an entire show to decrying how the green and brown M&Ms were “less sexy” since they changed their footwear.

Another panel on Fox News began by asking, “Will M&Ms still melt in your hands if M&Ms are trans?” (There were no trans or nonbinary M&Ms.)

All of the changes at M&Ms are clear attempts to capitalize on any social justice trends of the moment, but not only is Carlson oblivious, he somehow is not the only one taking changes to a cast of anthropomorphized candies so personally. Conservative author Brigitte Gabriel demanded, “Why does the left hate men so much?” British tabloid The Daily Mail also accused the candy brand of being “woke.”

The talking M&M “spokescandies” we know and love were first introduced in 1994. Over the years, they have appeared in countless advertising campaigns, including a classic Christmas ad.

The Monterey Park Shooting Was the 33rd Mass Shooting of 2023

There have been more mass shootings in America than days in the new year.

Eric Thayer/Getty Images
People near the site of a deadly shooting on January 22, in Monterey Park, California

The tragic Lunar New Year shooting in Monterey Park, California, is the thirty-third mass shooting in the United States so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Since a gunman opened fire in a dance studio Saturday night—killing 10 people and wounding 10 others—and attempted to attack another, there have been another three mass shootings, bringing the total to 36 this year.

There have been more mass shootings than there have been days in 2023.

The Monterey Park shooting is one of the worst in California’s recent history. The shooter, who has been identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, used a magazine-fed semiautomatic assault pistol with an extended magazine attachment, according to police. It is illegal in California to possess this type of gun with an extended magazine.

Police say they still do not know the suspect’s motive. Initially, because the attack targeted an Asian ethnoburb on Lunar New Year’s Eve, an important time for the East and Southeast Asian diaspora, many members of the Asian American Pacific Islander community feared that the shooting was the latest escalation of anti-Asian hate spurred by former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about the Covid-19 pandemic.

The shooting has already spurred calls for tighter gun controls, a highly contentious topic in the United States. California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but clearly they’re not foolproof. The issue, though, is not California’s rules; it’s the lack of regulation at the national level.

As The Washington Post noted, “The state’s strict gun laws are incapable of fully preventing gun violence in a country where gun ownership is widely considered a constitutionally protected right, firearms move freely between states with vastly different regulations and gun-control measures are dotted with exceptions.”

The Supreme Court ruled last year that Americans can carry handguns for self-defense, making it easier to acquire concealed-carry permits nationwide. Meanwhile, a gun manufacturer recently brought back the “JR-15,” a child-size AR-15 rifle.

Ruben Gallego Is Running to Unseat Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona Senate Race

The Democratic representative faces a potential three-way race in 2024, since Sinema announced her switch to independent.

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Days after Kyrsten Sinema gallivanted around the Davos World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alps with the world’s richest people, Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego officially announced his campaign to unseat the Arizona senator.

“If you’re more likely to be meeting with the powerful than the powerless, you’re doing this job incorrectly,” Gallego said in his announcement.

Gallego is a former Marine who served in the Lima Company, one of America’s hardest-hit units in the Iraq War. Elected to the Arizona state House in 2010, Gallego led the charge to grant in-state tuition status to veterans living in Arizona. He has served in the House of Representatives since 2014 and has been a chief advocate for veterans there as well.

In a 2024 race that has already generated much intrigue, Gallego will benefit from a groundswell of Democratic and even independent support against Sinema. Polls have shown massive Democratic preference for Gallego over Sinema; independent voters have expressed net favorability for Gallego at +31 points, while Sinema was net negative at -39.

Sinema’s recent decision to become an independent, however, complicates things slightly. One recent poll has found that a three-way race between Sinema, Gallego, and failing Arizona gubernatorial candidate and right-wing extremist Kari Lake could result in a slim Lake victory. The poll found Sinema garnering a meager 13 percent, with Gallego netting 40 percent and Lake edging by with 41 percent.

Of course, the poll is just one poll, and it’s only the dawn of 2023. Moreover, Sinema has not expressed her intentions for 2024, nor has Lake officially announced any plans. But there have been heavy rumors of her intention to run for Sinema’s seat, and she has urged her supporters to “mark your calendars” for January 29.

If Lake does run, the pressure is on Sinema to decide, first, whether she will run at all and then whether she will do so in the Democratic primary or mount a cynical, completely ego-driven campaign as an independent. Being a political independent is nothing to look down upon, but someone pretending to be an independent when their entire politics is driven by the interests of the rich and powerful is simply embarrassing.

It Seems George Santos’s Old Wiki Account Confirms His Drag Past (With Some Random Lies Thrown In)

The Wikipedia page for “Anthony Devolder,” one of the names Santos went by, says he won several drag pageants, starred in Disney Channel shows, and was in a movie that doesn’t exist.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Representative George Santos has called the reporting and photographic (and now videographic) evidence of him having done drag in the past “categorically false” and “outrageous.”

Now it seems one of his alternate identities has added even more evidence to the pile.

In a Wikipedia page rife with spelling and grammatical errors discovered by Politico Friday, someone with the name Anthony Devolder wrote on his user page that he “startted his ‘stage’ life at age 17 as an gay night club DRAG QUEEN and with that won sevral GAY “BEAUTY PAGENTS.’” The page was last updated in April 2011.

Devolder (one of Santos’s many aliases) also wrote that he was in a few television shows, including The Suite Life of Zach and Cody and Hannah Montana—as well as the 2009 film The Invasion, starring “Uma Turman,Chris Odanald ,Melllisa George and Alicia Silver Stone.” This movie doesn’t exist; The Invasion of 2007, however, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, does.

The Wikipedia user page reportedly contains information that aligns with Santos’s background, like his exact birthday. His office did not provide Politico with comment, but it’s tough, as with most of Santos’s lies, to see how he can even provide an alternative explanation.

Other accounts likely attached to Santos, like Georgedevolder22, have been active in more recent months, editing the public-facing Wikipedia page for then-Congressman-elect Santos, including edits to Santos’s personal life and removing the name “Anthony Devolder,” so the page would read George Santos. Numerous accounts linked to “Georgedevolder22” have been banned by moderators due to suspicion of their linkage to each other.

All the lies come after one weeklong chapter of the enormous book of lies Santos has written. Just this week, Santos has been revealed to have raised and stolen funds meant to save a homeless veteran’s dying dog and lied about his mom being at 9/11.

For the sake of any dignity Santos still has, and for the sake of reserving ink for members of Congress who didn’t lie about practically every single part of their lives, may the book conclude soon.

Read more at Politico.

March for Life Speaker Uses Damar Hamlin’s Cardiac Arrest as Proof Abortion Should Be Banned

Former NFL coach Ted Dungy thought he did something with this analogy.

Screenshot/March for Life YouTube

One of the keynote speakers at the anti-abortion-rights March for Life on Friday invoked football player Damar Hamlin, who is recovering from cardiac arrest, as an analogy for why abortion should be banned.

Buffalo Bills safety Hamlin collapsed during a nationally televised game on January 2 after he was struck in the chest, stopping his heart. He was hospitalized for nine days, and while he has made a remarkable recovery, his spokesman says the 24-year-old has a long way to go.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dungy somehow decided this was the perfect comparison to banning reproductive freedom. While speaking at the March for Life, the first since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Dungy argued that because everyone came together to hope that Hamlin would live, they should also hope that people won’t choose to get abortions.

There is, of course, no comparison. Hamlin suffered a medical tragedy. Abortion is a private decision. And it’s worth noting that in spouting off about innocent lives at risk, Dungy makes no consideration for the life of the pregnant person, whose entire world might be negatively upended by the arrival of a child.

Since the loss of the nationwide right to abortion, restrictions on reproductive rights have been growing ever tighter. This week alone, Kansas lawmakers introduced a bill that would allow counties and cities to ban the procedure, undermining a vote last year by state residents, and Arkansas introduced a bill that would let prosecutors charge people who get abortions with homicide.

This kind of twisted logic coming from Dungy isn’t a surprise. The former NFL coach is extreme in his views. He has for years advocated against LGBTQ rights, and this month spoke at an event hosted by a deeply anti-LGBTQ preacher. The day before coming to Washington, D.C., for the march, Dungy said that public schools are giving litter boxes to students who identify as cats. This is a widely debunked far-right conspiracy theory that stems from a refusal to let trans kids use the bathroom they want in school.